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      Game Culture — video games

      Unreleased Games that were Salvaged, Revived, and Released in a Different Incarnation

      We’ve had thousands of games unreleased or lost in the fiery pits of perpetual gaming development hell and it’s really sad to think that most of them would never see the light of day, their spirits wandering the gaming world as pre-alpha builds, beta-builds, and some much worse as just mere game screenshots. However, a few games get removed from the back burner and given new life either by a different game publisher or developer. Let’s look at the interesting stories of these lost video games, salvaged, revived, and released in a different incarnation or form. Kenny from South Park would be proud.

       

      Success sometimes doesn’t warrant a Sequel

       

      Case in point, Final Fantasy Tactics. Now if any of you remember this awesome tactical RPG, you know how much success the game has garnered over the years, so much so that it is considered to be a classic and no game has ever come close in terms of gameplay except for its spiritual predecessor, Tactics Ogre from the Ogre Battle series developed by then Quest Corporation. Following its merger with then Squaresoft, Tactics Ogre director Yasumi Mitsuno worked with Final Fantasy director Hironobu Sakaguchi, an avid fan of the Tactical RPG genre, on finally realizing Sakaguchi’s dream of creating a Final Fantasy game with the gameplay mechanics of a TRPG set in a brave new world called Ivalice. The rest is history. 

      Following the release of Tactics, the developers set their sights on creating a new game. Not the sequel mind you, but a completely different story with subtle references to Tactics called Vagrant Story. Vagrant was also set in the same fictional world of Ivalice. The developers were very much focused on their new story, however, they initiated the idea of a Tactics sequel which would have used 2D graphics due to issues with 3D development at the time. The project was reportedly outsourced to an unspecified developer. The sequel never saw the light of day due to the commitment of the team at that time to Vagrant Story. Mitsuno however confirmed that the sequel was really in the works and even released a few assets. Feast your eyes on this:



      Although the sequel didn’t see a proper release, it did see light in a couple of different forms. Mitsuno’s fictional world of Ivalice was expanded upon and saw a revival similar to a multiversal setting called the Ivalice Alliance. This saw games such as Final Fantasy XII, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift, and even Final Fantasy XIV to be set in parallel versions of Ivalice with allusions to some of the races and classes found in the original Tactics game.



      What if Cloud Strife delved into Jungian Psychology and Philosophy?

      Final Fantasy VII was almost Xenogears. Xenogears was almost  Final Fantasy VII. At one point it was almost a sequel to Chrono Trigger.  Confusing ain’t it? Either way, those statements sound just as absurd to me as it does to you and they’re true. 

      Xenogears was conceived by Tetsuya Takahashi and his wife, Kaori Tanaka as a proposal for the then Final Fantasy VII. Initial concepts revealed that it was set in a fantasy world but once it was pitched, it was deemed too complicated, dark, and unsettling for a fantasy setting by the higher-ups in Squaresoft. Despite this, it was given the green light to be its project. It was then conceptualized as a sequel to Chrono Trigger going under the name of “Project Noah”. At this point, Takahashi was already getting frustrated with the Final Fantasy series and wanted to bring about something original.

      After going through the cutting board once more and arguing with the company over the game’s seemingly difficult approval process, they finally decided to cut the sequel idea and make it a completely original IP. With this decision, concepts had to be tweaked since it didn’t fit the fantasy setting anymore and so added in science fiction elements to finally come up with Xenogears. The husband-wife tandem also thought up the inclusion of Freudian, Nietzsche, and Jung philosophies as part of its theme and story. The very complicated conceptualization and short development time (2 years) almost made the second part of the story unfinished (2nd disc) which according to Takahashi was due in part to the team’s inexperience in creating a full game with the proposed development time.

      However, this didn’t stop Xenogears from becoming one of the greatest RPGs of all time with a lot of review publications sharing the same sentiment that it's a game that needs to be played and experienced by gamers one and all. However, did a sequel ever arise after Xenogears? Unfortunately, it never came to be even if Tanaka confirmed a sequel was in the works and this was because Square was focused on a film project during this time. The culprit? Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within.

      Takahashi was pretty much into the idea of Xenogears having a sequel and this prompted him to leave Square and go independent. He established Monolithsoft in 1999 with the help of Namco and worked on Xenosaga. Sadly, this was neither considered a sequel nor even a prequel, however much of the concepts and some characters were still present in the new series. Thus, from the ashes of Xenogears 2 came about Xenosaga. Not as good as its spiritual predecessor, however, it was still relevant in its way and kept the spirit of Xenogears alive and burning.

       

       

      Doom Guy Slays Development Hell

       

      Wait, you’re still reading this? You’re up for more rollercoaster rides huh? Well here’s a story you might not wanna miss and which I consider as the best comeback from development hell for a game and quite appropriately so. Enter Doom (2016). Or Doom 4 in its early conception. 

       So, some stories start on a positive note right? Well, Doom 4 started exactly that way with John Carmack, then co-founder and lead developer announcing on QuakeCon 2007 that the game was in the works. It was then officially announced the following year with Id Software announcing that it would follow a similar gameplay loop with the original Doom and Doom II and deviating from the survival horror gameplay introduced by Doom 3. So far, so good right?

      Before Doom 4, Id released Rage, another FPS shooter which saw polarizing reviews, however, was praised for its graphics and strong game engine. Doom 4 was intended to follow in the footsteps of Rage, using the Id tech engine 5 with a more “Boots on the ground approach”. A multiplayer component was announced to be developed separately aiming for a 60 fps framerate. The game was touted to be a soft reboot of the franchise and fans should be excited ‘cause it was deep in development. Deep in development hell, that is.

      Id Software saw a lot of internal changes due to it being bought by ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Bethesda Softworks, John Carmack also left to pursue Oculus in 2013 and this left the development in shambles. Although assets were already done for the game, internally, some of the developers expressed their disdain for the playable build, calling it a soulless, spiritless, personality-devoid game, “lame and unfit for a late-night sci-fi channel”, that was more similar to Call of Duty than Doom. Ouch. Naturally, this news started spreading like wildfire when Kotaku released the expose showing the developers’ internal problems in making the game. So they killed it. Doom 4 was canceled. 

      The end right? Nope! Because Doom came back to life, baby! Woohoo! Now I’m just channeling the energy fans had when the then revived Doom (2016) was revealed in QuakeCon 2014. It was more Doom than ever with modern features that made you reminisce how the original Doom released in 1993 revolutionized First Person Shooters. In a video game world bloated with hundreds and hundreds of shooters, Doom 2016 went back to the basics by removing reload, increasing player mobility, black hole pockets carrying huge weapons while introducing new mechanics such as “Glory Kills” a melee execution system that made enemies drop health. 

      Directors, Marty Stratton and Hugo Martin even mentioned that inspiration came from heavy metal and He-Man and the Masters of the Universe featuring a story a bit more juvenile and comical. Doom 2016 was released with very favorable reviews and even won numerous awards and was considered to be one of the best shooters of this generation. Happy ending right? Definitely! Doom Guy is so OP he even beat development hell. Oh and unlike the previous entries in this list, it even spawned a sequel more awesome in Doom Eternal, released March 2020.

       

        

       

      Playable Teaser Gets Stranded on the Beach

       

      Alright, we know that Hideo Kojima is a mad genius right? I mean the guy is such an auteur he has shaken up the video game scene in more ways than one with his Kojimaisms I prefer to call it. Every time the man speaks or does something or releases something everybody listens and watches intently! And I’m not saying that in a hyperbolic sense nor in a fanboy way (okay, maybe I am a Kojima fanboy) but the guy knows what’s up. So when he released P.T. or Playable Teaser as he called it everybody was blown away! I mean why is Norman Reedus there? Who is Lisa? Why is she so scary? Why are there babies in sinks? Why do you loop back to the room whence you start? Why is this game so scary? Why are the graphics so realistically good? So many questions! So little time! So much Kojima! See this was a playable teaser for the new Silent Hill directed by Hideo Kojima and in collaboration with Guillermo del Toro. 

      This was Hideo Kojima at his peak and even if he didn’t make any horror games before this, you would see a lot of the innovations he used in his previous games to be present in P.T. I mean who here would ever forget the dread and scare Psycho Mantis gave us in the original Metal Gear Solid. That scared the bejesus out of me when I was a kid, especially when the controller would vibrate on its own or  Psycho Mantis would dictate the games saved on my memory card. I think it was in Kojima’s gaming DNA all along.

      With P.T. he gave us a glimpse of how a full-blown horror would be without sticking to the usual tropes most horror games would spiral into. This was evident in how he would use claustrophobia and the looping game mechanics as a way to evoke genuine fear and vulnerability while still maintaining the urge to push on because of curiosity. This prompted a lot of fans too to form communities and discuss the game’s secrets and theories showing how Kojima’s philosophy of connectivity doesn’t just translate in-game but also in the real world. When it was released, P.T. was downloaded a million times on the Playstation Network creating such a buzz that it was considered a Game of the Year or Horror Game of the Year by a lot of reviewers. This however drew a lot of confusion for others due to the nature of the game. Since it was a playable teaser a lot of game journalists did not know whether to classify it as a full-fledged game, a demo, or a different thing altogether. Despite the hype it generated, sadly Silent Hills was canceled by Konami. P.T. was pulled out from PSN never to be downloaded again. This stemmed from the alleged fallout of Hideo Kojima and Konami. Hideo split from Konami in 2015 and formed his studio: Kojima Productions.

      We will never know what happened between Kojima and Konami and it’s sad to think we’ll never see a Metal Gear release again nor a Silent Hill Remake. P.T. was truly stranded on the beach, like a whale on its final death throes never to leave the shore and swim freely. However, this is not to say that the game is truly dead as Kojima retained some of the ideas he used in P.T. and ported them over to his new game, Death Stranding.

      He even got Norman Reedus to return and Guillermo del Toro’s likeness to be included in the game. Even Lisa the scary ghost made an appearance in Death Stranding as the wife of Cliff Unger, the secondary antagonist of the game. Even the babies make an appearance albeit not in a scary form this time but disturbing nonetheless. Even some of the horror elements were carried over like the “Beached things” or B.T. for short. Death Stranding may not have been the PT we deserve but it was a game revolutionary in its own right that introduced to its players the importance of connectivity. It’s a hard game to sell like most of Kojima’s games due to the uncanny nature of its story and gameplay loop however Kojima is never known to stick to safe and proven game tropes and instead is always keen to think outside the cardboard box. Well me, I’m just glad P.T.’s literal spirit is alive and kicking in Death Stranding. Oh, but what I would give to play that game again. 

       

       

       

      Yeah Yeah Beebiss I is solved! Or is it? 

       

      Alright, the last one on this list is such an enigma, the Riddler would probably be summoned from the depths of the comic books and just laugh at how absurdly convoluted and mysterious this game is. I present to you the mystery of Yeah Yeah Beebiss I! If you’re not familiar with this game, well I ain’t too because honestly, nobody is! That’s how mysterious this game is. 

      It started with a June 1989 listing for mail-order video game service, Play It Again. In an issue of Video Games & Computer Entertainment magazine, Yeah Yeah Beebiss I was first mentioned. It was mentioned again in July, August, and September in the same mail-order service. What’s weird is that in October 1989, a nearly identical advertisement was placed by another mail-order video game service, Funco. Some people were arguing that this was a ploy by both mail-order services to prank unsuspecting customers but this was impossible during this time because the two companies were from different states and had possibly no prior contact; this was the pre-internet days. So one plausible theory was that the game was fabricated as a copyright trap, intended to serve as evidence if another games service copied the list and this was corroborated by Neil Levin, one of the Play Again founders wherein he mentioned that the company would often put in fake listings to catch people copying Play it Again. 

      Another theory is that the game was just a mere mistranslation of the NES/Famicom platformer Rai Rai Kyonshis: Baby Kyonshi no Amida Daibouken. "Rai Rai" can be interpreted as "Yeah Yeah" and Beebiss I was a mistranslation of the usage of "Baby". This was not confirmed, however, and the game would be probably misconceived as a different game as in the case of a canceled platformer.  It has been speculated that Yeah Yeah Beebiss I's identity is Super Pitfall 2, a canceled sequel to Activision's 1986 NES platformer Super Pitfall. Whatever Yeah Yeah Beebis was, it was an anomaly at a time when the internet was practically non-existent yet. There are no screenshots, no playable builds, nothing except for that mailing list order screenshot. 

      Even if the game was supposedly non-existent and will probably remain a mystery until the sun is a black hole, a sequel is coming out sometime next year. Surprise, surprise! A collaboration by John Riggs, Mega Cat Studios, and Chip ‘N Cellos, it’s a passion project driven more by the curious nature of its source material with literally nothing to base it upon except for speculative theories. Now that is the culmination of everything we’ve talked about here so far. A non-existent game finally being given life just like its alleged protagonist, a Zombie boy. So does this solve the mystery? Nope! Yeah Yeah Beebis I is still out there, mockingly laughing at us while we still search for clues. But it is alive.

       

       

       A Proper Requiem

      That was such an amazing ride! It felt like going through multiple murder mysteries but this time instead of looking at dead bodies, we’re looking at revived ones. Not like zombies mind you, because these games have been given a new lease on life with their personalities and quirks and we’re all for it. That’s not to say video game development always ends up with slightly happy endings like these but it goes to show how complicated it is and the people who make these are just as real as you and I with ambitions and aspirations that don’t always end up the way they would like to. See that’s just like life in general, things don’t always go our way and some decisions end up on the back burner but once in a while some of them end up in happy accidents that are just as good as our original dreams. Speaking of Yeah Yeah Beebiss, we may never be able to solve what happened before but lo and behold a sequel is now on Steam and Nintendo Switch called Yeah Yeah Beebiss II. For updates on the unexpected sequel and more retro gaming goodness be sure to visit our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Care to have a chat with retro gamers and enthusiasts? Visit our Discord and say meow!

      Monkey Mojo : 6 Facts about Donkey Kong for his 40th Anniversary!

      Monkey Mojo : 6 Facts about Donkey Kong for his 40th Anniversary!

       

      Happy Birthday You Animal!

      This July 9th, Donkey Kong will be celebrating his 40th birthday! Or at least in our world. Canonically, not much is known about his age, but he sure has been at the top of his game for a long time now. He has acted both as an antagonist and protagonist and has shown up in a whole lot of genres of games. But the ape with the red tie still lives on to this day as one of the more popular characters in the pantheon of Nintendo IPs.

      Known as one of the first platformers to have ever existed, the original Donkey Kong game was actually about Mario, then known as Jumpman, well before he found his fame in Super Mario Bros. It featured the plumber trying to rescue his girlfriend, Pauline, from DK’s clutches. And while people who know their DK lore will tell you that the Donkey Kong in this game was actually a younger Cranky Kong, that game will continue to live on in our world as the birth of this iconic ape.

       

       

      Having sold more than 48 million units worldwide across 36 different Donkey Kong titles, Donkey Kong is probably the most profitable ape that Nintendo has ever put out, and with good reason. Spawning critically and commercially acclaimed games of various genres will put any character on the map, and DK has it in spades.

      Of course, aside from playing Donkey Kong games and (hopefully) a surprise announcement or two from Nintendo to complete the number of his games to 40, the best way to celebrate his 40th anniversary is by knowing more about him. And what better way to do that than by hearing about some really interesting trivia about our ape of the hour?


      DK-ception

      Donkey Kong giving a thumbs up
      Do you think this is old school?

      Donkey Kong 64 hits the sweet spot in terms of a 3D platformer during the N64 era, and for good reason. It featured controls that made sense, mechanical breadth, and an emphasis on exploration. And while it doesn’t hold up quite as nicely as Super Mario 64, it still did its job as a solid entry to the series back then.


      However, one surprising thing that you need to consider if you want to beat the game is that to do so, you must be able to clear 100m in the original Donkey Kong game twice to progress in the game! It’s not even a side quest or a hidden mini-game. It’s a requirement if you want to see the ending. So you better know how to play the original DK if you want to finish DK64.


      It’s On like What?

      Donkey Kong wearing a tie, giving a thumbs up with the quote " It's on like Donkey Kong"
      I’ve never heard anyone say this in real life

      This one’s especially weird. The saying “It’s on like Donkey Kong” is patented and trademarked.  Nintendo is known for being fierce when defending their IPs and Donkey Kong is no exception.


      As for why you would ever want to say that or how it even came about, the phrase is actually just a variation on saying “It’s on.”, but adding Donkey Kong in the mix somehow made it more humorous and sharper. And Ice Cube was the first person who publicly said it in one of his raps with a very NSFW title. So, yeah, maybe try to stay away from saying that in public.


      King Donkey

      King Kong with his mouth open, baring his teeth.
      Yeah, totally not the same ape

      Ever wondered why no one is legally trying to fight about Donkey Kong and King Kong’s obvious resemblance, especially with them both being Kongs and them both being apes who kidnapped ladies? Well, there was a lawsuit revolving around that similarity. Universal Studios tried to sue Nintendo for allegedly infringing on copyright, and they did this when they saw Nintendo raking in a huge $180 million in sales for the original DK game.


      The only problem with that was Universal didn’t own King Kong because the story and character was already in public domain by the time DK showed up. Which meant that Universal wouldn’t be able to get a slice of the cash pie that they thought they would get a lick of.


      Gender Swap

      Simian kidnappings have thankfully decreased in recent years.

      Due to the time period that the original Donkey Kong game was released, it was unprecedented to have protagonists that are ladies in video games. Yeah, those were pretty bad times. But this is made even more apparent when the current generations take a look at these older titles and question why they can’t play as a different gender.


      Mike Mika, a video game developer, had a daughter who was pretty disappointed about not being able to “play the girl” despite there being a sprite for Pauline. So as someone adept at game code, he studied and hacked into the original Donkey Kong’s code so that his daughter could play the girl and have Mario be DK’s hostage. What a great dad!


      Simian Story

      That can't possibly be good for structural integrity, DK.

      While not the first game to introduce cutscenes to the video gaming world, it was surely one that helped popularize the concept. The original arcade version of Donkey Kong opened with a scene where Donkey Kong climbs a set of ladders with Pauline in tow, then stomps his feet to create the first level’s layout before taunting Mario and setting the stage for the entire game.


      This is quite significant for several reasons. Donkey Kong turned out to be more popular than anyone ever expected, which, in turn, had more eyes set upon it. And with that many people seeing it, it inadvertently caused these same people to expect stories to be told in their games, which propagated the use of cutscenes in video games.


      Mario, Questionable Pet Owner

      Mario in a bathing suit, walking along the sand with a puppy.

      Hoping he won’t mistreat you, Lil pupper!


      Yep, you read that right. Mario owned Donkey Kong, keeping the poor guy as a pet. So why did Donkey Kong even try to kidnap Pauline? Apparently, it’s because Mario was such a bad master that DK got frustrated with the whole ordeal and kidnapped Mario’s then-girlfriend as revenge.


      At least now you know why that game has the villain as its titular character. DK was just a sad little ape pet who just wanted to be loved by his master. Humans are the real evil or something. But hey, at least Mario became more animal friendly in the later games, right? After all, he would crush goombas underfoot so that he can rescue Princess Peach in later games. Wait a minute...


      Premium Primate

      Happy Early 40th anniversary to you, Donkey Kong! Maybe we should bake a giant banana cake, eh? We're set to stream some Diddy Kong Racing, or play some Super Smash Bros. Our plan for the big day? Nothing but Donkey Kong all day long. No matter which way you want to celebrate him turning 40, you've still got time to round out your collection of all 36 titles!


      So there you have it, some sweet trivia about our favorite anthropoid. Which of these was the most interesting for you? Did you already know any of these? Or maybe you want us to know something about Donkey Kong that we didn’t mention in our list? Let us know over on our twitter page!

      Better Branding with Games

      Better Branding with Games

      Importance of Having Brand Games

      Branded games give your audience an extra way of interacting with your brand. Games are the only form of media that you have to actively engage in to utilize. While music and movies can be enjoyed by an engaged audience, most of that audience is consuming the media passively, with something else on their mind. Video games require active participation to continue the experience, which leads to higher consumer levels of engagement. Increased engagement with a brand will help keep customer retention and drive consumer promotion via word of mouth, which is some of the most effective forms of customer acquisition.

      Branded games can increase purchases of your product or services. Due to increased engagement, customers not only feel more connected to the brand, but they also find themselves thinking about it more, and the often someone thinks about something, the more likely they are to buy that product, service, or the more likely they are to recommend it to a friend. These purchases can provide rewards in the game, giving positive reinforcement which will only add to customer engagement, which then leads to more purchases, and the cycle continues.

      The game can act as an avenue for sales and promotions. The use of the game as a platform to give out coupons and promote sales gives you a way to utilize the gaming market to further enhance engagement that will lead to the cycle of greater engagement and purchases.

      Games can be used as a tool rather than just for fun. Gamifying aspects of anything in daily life will enhance the user experience, so even if your brand game is for your internal sales department, the added level of entertainment can be used to drive performance and otherwise increase the value of your company.

      Games provide avenues of social sharing. Having a game that is addicting and fun to play can encourage players to share it with their friends. If that game then has a high score feature, the players may feel a need to one-up their friends leading to more game time and more engagement with the product, leading to greater brand engagement, bringing more customers in the engagement cycle for your business. If people can share their high scores to a wider audience, like on social media, not only will that share your name with a wide network of people, but it will be in an unexpected way. Unexpected advertising can gain customer attention in greater ways as they are less prone to tuning it out in the way that it happens when ads are in places people know, thus they cannot passively ignore them.

      Giving your app a theme, and releasing it at a key time can not only give you a way to engage with consumers at multiple times throughout the year but can also help build your reputation. For example, apps related to Soccer/Football around the time of the World Cup explode in popularity in the months leading up to the championship game. An app like this for your business can reach a wider audience then you may normally reach because it takes advantage of other events editing that will cross-promote your app, which means that any world cup promotion is in some way promotion for all World cup apps. This same ideology can be applied to events such as the Summer/Winter Olympics, the SuperBowl, the Stanley Cup, or any other large event. These events can provide large seasonal promotions for your business that can be used to keep your business feeling fresh and connected to the people.

      Overall, giving your brand a game will utilize the gaming medium to leverage enhanced consumer engagement, and using this as a tool to create deeper engagement and customer retention. Using a game as a way to enhance consumer connections can be doubled as an extra avenue of communication and ways to keep connected, which is important as a way to find new ways to remain connected in a world of endless advertisements and information.


      How Mega Cat Studios Can Help:

      Mega Cat Studios has been committed to making apps and games for businesses as well as for ourselves. We are focused on the consumer and want to ensure that we are always providing the best experience possible rather than creating a product for a quick sell. We have worked for companies to make apps for the Winter Olympics, for Woodstock, and apps that are used year-round. Our apps are used to increase branding for different companies across a wide variety of sectors, and we have worked on products for food companies, entertainment companies, public sectors, and more.

      Our headquarters is in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but our team is distributed across the globe. Our team works to make sure that you’ll have the best game or platform to engage with your consumer base and keep them captivated with your brand, business, or company.

      Our company has been able to take the technical lead on products across all forms of media, giving us a diverse skill set that we can bring together to complete any project you have in mind. We can take the technical leadership on any upcoming or existing projects and lead you to a product that you’ll be ready to ship out to bring in new consumers as well as strengthening connections with your current consumer base.

      Mega Cat Studios has streamlined our communication system in the house, letting us focus more time on you, and giving you the ability to communicate with us at every facet of production, ensuring that your product is exactly how you envisioned it.

      All-in-all, Mega Cat Studios is a group of dedicated gamers who are looking to share their love of gaming by making engaging products that will keep audiences entertained and continually engaging with your brand to keep consumers excited about your brand.