Thursday, January 7, 2010
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?
(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?