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DCS 2013 in Review Part III: The Ones That Were Never Meant To Be

We started this feature off by discussing the games that made it out in 2013, then we looked at four games that missed their release dates and now this week we look at the remaining four.

Another important thing to note about Part 3, with the exception of Pier Solar, DCS was positive none of these games would actually release last year or any time in the near future; hence this week’s list is arranged alphabetically rather than in order of release.

Dynamite Dreams

Dynamite Dreams is a Bomberman-inspired, four-player, action-puzzle game designed by French developers Julien Desquenne (aka Patbier) and Nicolas Pochet (aka Poche), with musical contributions by Philippe Vendi. The game was originally conceived as a mini-game for Alice Dreams. The standalone game was revealed in June 2006 as an entry for an indie coding contest known as Dream On 3.

Since then, the game has been in attendance every year at Retro Game Connexion, a convention in France, where the game has been shown in playable form and been entered in the gaming contests. RGC attendees include SEGA developer and creator of Alone in the Dark Frédérick Raynal.

In late 2007, Patbier posted a trailer for the game on YouTube, indicating Dynamite Dreams was due in 2008. The trailer even managed to get the attention of G4, and it briefly made it on American TV. The trailer revealed features that elevated the game to indie level from simply homebrew, and it was no longer perceived as a Bomberman clone, with various multiplayer modes, including one that utilized the VMU. The game also boasted an impressive story mode featuring fully animated cutscenes. The tentative release date for the game was 2008.

The game continues to be a presence at game conventions and occasionally makes it on French TV, however, a definitive release date appeared to be nowhere in site. Since Q4 2012, the game’s status is 90 percent complete. In the past year alone, several convention, gameplay and tutorial videos have been uploaded on Poche’s YouTube channel; the game certainly looks much better than the 2007 trailer.

We reached out to Patbier to discuss why the game did not make it out in 2013. To which he simply responded my “real” job got in the way.

The community is certainly eager to get its hands on Dynamite Dreams, and  when it does eventually come out, it should rival Sturmwind in terms of quality and scope. However, no one in the community can exactly throw a fit or shout foul as the developers have never formally given a release date, opened pre-orders or even finalized a publishing deal.

Just like Hypertension and Scourge, this is our first post acknowledging Dynamite Dreams. At DCS, we don’t really talk projects until we know for a fact that an indie project isn’t vaporware. So for more information check out the game’s official Facebook page.

Ghost Blade

In many ways, DCS regards Hucast as DC:Dev.Team. When most critics talk Dux, they tend to compare it to classic shmups, games that many may not be familiar with. Personally, Dux reminds me of Last Hope only with slick, high-res visuals and an art style that really makes us question whether the visuals are eye candy or just candy. Hence, it was no surprise to us that Hucast’s next game was Dux 1.5, after all NG:Dev.Team’s next game was Last Hope: Pink Bullets.

After Last Hope: Pink Bullets, NG:Dev.Team released Fast-Striker, a horizontal shmup with six stages and three ships. Comparatively Hucast has also announced a horizontal sh’mup with 5 stages and 3 different ships; Ghost Blade, a horizontal shmup with five stages and three ships fell closer our expectations.

However, we were a tad disappointed with the number of stages, to mkae up for the short length the developer revealed gameplay modes such as Time Attack and Caravan Mode (2 and a half minute survival challenge). In order to quail any concerns Hucast shared in the reveal that another team would be developing Ghost Blade, which we assumed meant that Rene Hellwig would be collaborating with another programmer instead of Robert Konrad (KTX Software).

Ghost Blade was formally revealed on Jan. 11, with a feature list and box art. Pre-orders opened simultaneously, however, given the sparse information, we did not cover the game. Gradually, over the weeks, Hucast revealed screenshots and concept art for the stages, and they even held a poll on their Facebook page asking fans to select the type of stages they’d like featured in the final game.

Finally, on April 24, (roughly 2 days after Dux 1.5’s release), a trailer for Ghost Blade was shared on YouTube. The concept art for Ghost Blade was beautiful, and the screenshots were graphically impressive; conversely, the trailer reveal was not so great. The game in action looked like a nice blend of Fast-Striker and Neo XYX, with abundant bullets and actions taking place on screen. However, the background was almost completely static, and the little movement present looked rather awkward. That said, the trailer did start with a warning clearly indicating that the footage was pre-alpha and a work in progress.

Surprisingly, the trailer ended with a winter 2013 release window. Let’s be frank, we knew that was never going to happen. We unsuccessfully tried to pry a comment out of Rene Hellwig, but were unsuccessful; hopefully the next time we hear about Ghost Blade, it will be with a trailer showing footage from the final version, and it will end with a concrete release date.

For more information head on over to Hucast’s blog.

Pier Solar

Little introduction is needed for Pier Solar, but we’ll provide you one anyways. Its origins can be traced back to 2004, while we at the Dreamcast-Scene were busy petitioning SEGA to continue publishing games for Dreamcast. MegaDrive emulation and homebrew community Eidolon’s Inn members were busy working on Tavern RPG.

The Tavern is the name of the community’s forum, and the original game was supposed to have members of the forum as characters, with the original target platform for the game was Mega-CD.

Eventually, the project evolved into an original RPG for the MegaDrive, and after jumping over numerous obstacles and circumventing several road blocks, the newly formed WaterMelon Games triumphantly released Pier Solar on Dec. 20, 2010. The game was a critical and commercial success, selling out three print runs, usually before the cartridges were even pressed.

In November 2012, WaterMelon decided to port Pier Solar to multiple platforms via KickStarter, but instead of being a simple port, it was going to be an HD remake amalgamating pixels with polygons.

Unlike Redux: Dark Matters, the Dreamcast was not the primary platform for Pier Solar HD. Instead, it was part of the stretch goals. WaterMelon’s target monetary goal was $139,000, and if the project reached $150,000, they would port it to Dreamcast. By December 2012, WaterMelon had raised $231,370, ensuring a Dreamcast release along with a dozen other platforms. Pier Solar HD is the second successfully crowd funded Dreamcast game.

The projected release date for the remake was originally December 2013. The community was fairly confident that WaterMelon would be able to release the game before the holidays, but the Dreamcast version was postponed  to March because WaterMelon decided to release the game simultaneously on all platforms.

To read more on Pier Solar click here or pre-order the game at the Magical Game Factory

Leona

Leona’s Tricky Adventure is a clever puzzle adventure in a charming retro look. Explore a world of mystery and cutesy residents and recover a lost paradise by solving logic puzzles. With a story created by the comic authors Musal M. & B. Samuel and the music of the brilliant composer Chris Huelsbeck, Tricky Adventure is a perfect treat for Dreamcast connoisseurs.

After the success of Redux: Dark Matters and Pier Solar HD on KickStarter, KTX Software decided to get in on the crowd funding action and presented Leona’s Tricky Adventure to the community. Unfortunately, KTX pulled the plug on it five days before the deadline. The game failed to pick up any momentum and had only raised £1,794 out of the targeted £35,000.

Selling a puzzle game proved to be more difficult than selling a shmup, but how could WaterMelon and Hucast raise more than double where as KTX Software couldn’t even attain 10 percent of its goal?

The answer can be found at KTX’s official website:

KTX Software Development is an international company whose self-developed products are sold worldwide. Besides the development of pure entertainment software KTX is engaged in research projects in collaboration with the Technical University of Darmstadt to develop concepts and technology for serious games with an office at the University.

KTX holds development licenses from Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony, and relies on a unique development stack, developed in-house at KTX (Kt & Kha), which can directly target all relevant systems; HTML5, mobile systems (iPhone, iPad, Android, Nintendo DS) and even the current game consoles Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Welcome to our website!

I have never read a more corporal introduction to an indie studio. The stoic introduction was coupled with an extremely clinical website. After reading it, I asked myself, “What attracts most people towards the indie scene?”

Let’s look at some of the other developers Hucast introduces themselves simply as the one stop Dreamcast Indie Store, Senile Team is Proudly forgetting decades of video game history, WaterMelon is the Magical Game Factory. 

All the developer’s mission statement are accompanied by a vibrant website that projects the developer’s passion. Also, all of the aforementioned developers have a strong bond with the community.  Indie developers are people like us, with the only difference is they are pursuing dreams that we couldn’t. Even if you don’t share their dreams, you can still relate to them; Senile Team grew up playing Streets of Rage, and their first game was Beats of Rag.

Now that is a retro developer we want to rally behind, so it is little surprise that KTX Software failed to attract the audience they needed.

KTX Software did not cancel the game though, instead they opened pre-orders on TrickyLeona.com. Those who pre-ordered the game were to automatically become beta testers, as well. Although the game was announced for a release date of July 2013, the game was still beta testing until September and since then KTX has gone dark.

We contacted a number of KTX’s clients, and none of them could give us any details on beta testing. Apparently, they were in the dark as well. We contacted KTX Software numerous time, and as of press time, haven’t heard back from them.

We can only hope that this situation can be resolved in 2014. Leona did look fairly complete and ready for beta testing, so we are quite bewildered by KTX’s lack of communication. To read more on Leona’s Tricky Adventure click here, and it is best not to pre-order the game right now.

(Editor’s note: This is not the end of the year in review. So far, we have only discussed the games that were targeted for a 2013 release date. Join us next week as we take a look behind the scenes and finally round everything up with a proper conclusion.)

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Born an entrepreneur, studied to be a psychologist, and now an aspiring journalist. In addition to team Nerds, I am the Editor in Chief for Age-Media and Dreamcast-Scene

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