Games From The Black Hole
Having excitedly backed the Kickstarter for R-Type Final 2 in 2019, I can’t quite believe the finished product is now just a day away as I type this! In anticipation of the release I’ve done two things… I’ve booked a day off work – New Pokémon Snap and Returnal are out the same week so it’s going to be a big one! – and I decided it was high time to revisit the original R-Type Final on PlayStation 2.
The allure of the cancelled game is a strange one. After all, most were cancelled for a reason. But it’s difficult not to imagine what might have been and somehow convince yourself you’ve missed out on a great lost work. In some rare cases that’s actually the case. There’s the scrapped Amiga port of Taito’s Liquid Kids that was finished and shelved before leaking online a few years ago. It’s a genuinely fantastic port. Or there’s Propeller Arena, the Yu Suzuki produced Dreamcast dogfighting game that was ready for take-off in 2001 but pulled at the last minute in the wake of 9/11 and, presumably, not worth the cost of releasing later down the line as the Dreamcast’s sales circled the drain. But in most cases, games tend to be scrapped for one big reason… They’re just not that good.
Can there be any games console more 1983 than the tragically doomed Vectrex? This was the year of the infamous “videogames crash”, a temporary but devastating collapse of the US gaming market caused, to put it simply, by too much product chasing too few customers. Atari’s E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial was the poster child for the crash but the Vectrex was perhaps its most unfair casualty.
Defunct Japanese developer T&E Soft may be best known in the west, if they are known at all, for their range of dry golf simulations but in Japan they were better known for the highly influential action RPG series, Hydlide, which debuted within months of Falcom’s Dragon Slayer, provided some inspiration for Ys and gained fans as high profile as Hideo Kojima and Hideki Kamiya. Now this post isn’t about Hydlide – maybe some day – but I don’t think you can talk about Undeadline without acknowledging the influence of T&E Soft’s most important series. Yes, Undeadline is essentially a vertically scrolling shooter but it’s stuffed with action RPG design and it feels less like a Xevious or 1942 and much more like an on-rails Ys. As you might imagine, that makes it very much up my street!