Thursday, January 7, 2010

James Pond 2 (NES) and Edd the Duck (Game Boy)


In August 1993 a British magazine, Game Zone, printed reviews of 2 games. But were they unreleased, or did they simply never exist at all?
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(Scroll down for better scans of each review)

For some time now I’ve wanted to draw people’s attention to this issue of Game Zone, an old, unofficial, Nintendo-themed magazine by a now defunct British publisher whose name escapes me. It represents either a case of 2 games which were completed, sent out in prototype form for review purposes, and then never released – in which case there could still be prototype cartridges to discover. Or it’s a rather cheeky joke and the games are fictional.


For a bit of context, Game Zone’s editor was Jackie Ryan, a woman who previously helmed some ZX Spectrum magazine I forget the name of, loved for its irreverent humour, and GZ followed this trend by being surreal, sarcastic, and generally a bit weird. Very British, you could argue. It was all a bit silly at times, which is what makes me think these 2 games never existed.



The reviews themselves are the standard early 1990s GZ fare. One tip-off is the screenshots. Normally GZ had some good quality screens, but these are blurry, pixelated and indistinct, encouraging the idea that they were faked. Oh, and both games receive the exact same score: 78%. What confuses the matter is the August publication date, meaning it was likely on sale in July, and had been written during the month of June, and was therefore far removed from any April fool’s joke,.

Click the pics to see an enlarged version which you can read.



JAMES POND 2 - NES

The James Pond 2: Codename Robocod on NES review actually had me convinced for a long time, since the game does exist and was ported from the Amiga to the SNES, Genesis, PS1, GBA, and several other systems. I think there was even a GB version. So a NES port would not be out of the question. No NES ROM archive features information on it, and neither does trawling the internet. If anywhere else has given mention to James Pond 2 on the NES, I’ve not heard it. So, unreleased prototype, or fictional game? I’ve no idea what happened to Martin Pond, the reviewer, but I’ve not seen his work printed anywhere since GZ, otherwise I’d say it’s worth contacting him.


EDD THE DUCK – GAME BOY

Edd the Duck was apparently a children’s mascot of the British Broadcasting Corporation (from about 1 minute). Before my time, so I’ve never seen it. There was apparently a licensed Edd the Duck game released, but for the ZX Spectrum, Amstrad and Amiga home computers. Which, given GZ’s connection to the Spectrum, convinces me that this was likely some kind of surreal joke. The review itself is chock full of weirdness, at one point comparing it to Sonic the Hedgehog, and the screenshots don’t match up with each other. One doesn’t have any hearts, and in the others, there’s no number next to the white square. The reviewer, Nick Griffiths, went on to write for the Daily Mail’s Weekend magazine supplement, doing the film reviews – which I suppose makes him vaguely contactable. EDIT: Googling his name makes me think he may in fact be this author.

Do any readers have any insight into this strange matter? Can anyone claim to have played or seen either of these games? Do they exist, are there prototypes somewhere, or was it all a surreal joke?

12 comments:

  1. I've found a torrent GB games collection that (apparently) features "Edd the duck". There's a difference in pubblisher, although, whereas review states "Beam" and torrent "Zeppelin Games"

    http://www.torrentdownloads.net/torrent/439879/twistedtorrents++gameboy-plete+collection+600+roms+for+wi

    By the way, a game with the name "Edd the duck" is listed in wikipedia, under "List of games for the original Game Boy", but only in the italian Wikipedia

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  2. All I found was a flikr page with some more screenshots.. I think from the same magazine though.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lostlevels/sets/72157618988843816/

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  3. I have a few issues of Game Zone (the multiformat version that did Sega, Lynx and PC-Engine stuff as well), and still find it a fun read to this day.

    Surprised you don't remember Ed the Duck though - I do, and I'm "only" 24...

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  4. I found some more references for Edd the Duck:

    Here's a complete list of GB titles ca. 1994. According to it, Edd the Duck was published by "Laserbeam"
    http://www.textfiles.com/games/CONSOLES/NINTENDO/comgb

    I downloaded one of the torrents that claims to have Edd the Duck in it (http://www.torrentdownloads.net/torrent/388518/Nintendo+GameBoy+620+Roms+plus+Emulator+H33T+1981CamaroZ28), and, guess what, no Edd.

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  5. This is kinda interesting...
    According to GameFAQ Laserbeam Entertainment produced two games for Game Boy: "Baby T-rex" and "Bamse". I've done a quick search for this games and guess what...?
    Bamse and Baby T-rex are the same games, only with characters sprites changed (i guess Bamse was known only in Sweden.....). Aaaaaand, the games sprites looks awfully similar to those pubblished in GZ, referring to "Edd the duck".
    Here, look for yourself:
    youtube video gameplay here

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  6. Hmmm.... The plot thickens!

    Thanks for posting a link to that Flickr page. I'm pleased to see someone else has taken an interest in it. The page says it's from NMS magazine, so if more than one magazine covered it, then it probably was planned. Perhaps the publisher had sent screens for preview purposes and, having played the SNES version, they decided to "create" a review without the game.

    I dunno. The Edd the Duck thing still puzzles me though, being listed but not existing.

    Technically Edd might not be before my time, but I only moved to the UK after he stopped being shown on TV... I think. I never saw him anyway.

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  7. Hello I'm Nick the reviewer of Edd the Duck! (Honestly.) Can't say I remember anything about the game, however I wouldn't have made it all up so some sort of prototype cart must have existed. Perhaps the timing was poor and Edd's strange controller, Andi Peters, quit the Broom Cupboard (you had to be there) and the character was no longer deemed "hip" (you had to be there). As for Martin Pond - lovely chap - I seem to recall he disappeared into the games industry, working for one of the manufacturers.

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  8. Wow, hello! Thank you for posting - I didn't expect the original authors to stop by. Other magazines have invented games as a joke, plus I couldn't find any info anywhere else, so I'd assumed that's what happened here. This might be something for the archivers to start hunting for in that case - they love tracking down unreleased prototypes.

    This must be quite a blast from the past for you. I now feel a bit bad for being so critical of what is a 17-year-old publication.

    What are your memories of it? As a former games journo I can say that nowadays it involves long hours, hard work for very little pay, under sometimes unpleasant management, with some very unethical business practices. Not nice at all.

    I did a search for Martin Pond, it seems he writes scripts for games these days.

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  9. 17 years ago?! Jesus. It feels like yesterday etc. I loved Game Zone and Sega Zone - they had some very funny writers (Duncan McDonald, Patrick McCarthy, Paul Lakin et al - ooh, and Jane Goldman, Jonathan Ross's wife) and you could write whatever you wanted, nothing was deemed too stupid. I remember writing a review of Spiderman as a Swedish person and having him describe global warming as "Hole in sky make the birds heat up". How I (alone) laughed. But I have only fond memories of those times - reasonable pay, free games, being paid to play - until of course the mags folded. Everything good must come to an end.

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  10. It's a Beam/Laserbeam Game alrighty.

    For some reason Edd was not released (It was timing or Liciencing) and Baby T-rex was thrown together in about a week to meet a contractual agreement after Edd Fell thru.

    We're Back was hacked 4 times if you Count Edd. We're Back (Original US), Bamse (Sweeden), Edd The Duck (UK Unreleased), Agro Soar (Australia) and baby T-rex (Europe).

    Unfortunitly I can claim that I helped program this.

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  11. Wow Nick! =) Great to see you online, ^_^. I'm a huge GameZone fan, and made a fanzine that tried to replicate the Cartridge Family, with a "Comedy antics of the team" page, but it wasn't as funny, naturally, ;-). Have touched base with Tim Ponting, Macca, and briefly met Whistlin' Rick Wilson a few times at E3, ^_^. Would love to hear what you're up to these days, ^_^.

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  12. I have no valuable information, but was a great piece to read some more obscure NES trivia/history/stuff -- and quite a bonus to see an original writer visit the post!!

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