Do you ever find yourself wondering, “What would it be like if Sonic was a naked mole rat instead of a hedgehog?” or “I wonder if Masterchief would ever wear a chef’s hat instead of his helmet.”? No? Well you must lead a very productive life but I find alternatives in the gaming universe very interesting and that’s why today I’ve decided to compile a list of the most fascinating changes in video game history.
It’s hard to imagine a world without the whirlwind antics of everyone’s favourite Eastern barred bandicoot. Though for Naughty Dog, that was almost a reality when they came up with designs for Wuzzy/Willie the Wombat in 1994. Naughty Dog wanted to make a game centred around a character that was “cute, real and that no one really knew about” and that could also become a mascot for the Playstation in the same way Sonic was for Sega and Mario for Nintendo. So the team bought a book of Tasmanian marsupials and whittled the list down to potoroo, wombat and bandicoot.
Eventually the change was made to Crash Bandicoot, a decision that did not go down to well with the Universal big wigs. The marketing director at Universal Interactive Studios insisted that the game and character should be named either Wez, Wezzy, Wuzzle the Wombat or even Ozzie the Otzel(which isn’t even an animal by the way), but they backed down when Naughty Dog threatened to leave.
A lot of work went into Bioshock Infinite, with production beginning in February 2008, five years before it’s release. In fact so much work was done that according to the game’s design director, Bill Gardner there was enough on the cutting room floor to make an extra five or six games. Of five years in development, two and a half were kept a secret as the team from Irrational Games used the code name, “Project Icarus”. Before development took place, there was talk of setting the game during the Renaissance period or even returning to Rapture. Eventually they decided that the claustrophobic feel of Rapture was also limiting their ideas so they decided to flip over to the complete opposite, creating a world within the clouds. The plot also went through a few changes and before setting on American exceptionalism and revolution it was originally going to involve a bunch of nerdy tech geeks fighting the luddites of the world. Which sounds great for a sitcom plot but in the end I think Ken Levine made the right decision.
It’s all well and good hearing about these development stage tweaks and changes but what is really interesting about Bioshock Infinite is that almost every trailer released looked very different from the final product. Probably the most intriguing of these trailers includes ten minutes of game-play. Essentially it was an entire level that was not included in the game with different voice actors, a slightly grittier style and bonus telekinesis abilities. Another noticeable thing are the horses, the mechanical horse that is broken down in the final game walks down the street on it’s last legs while an infamous biological horse can be seen in the background. This horse was present in another differing trailer in which Elizabeth brings the horse back to life by opening a tear in a world where it’s still alive along with the credibility of the Star Wars franchise. Elizabeth’s appearance is also slightly more harsh but her Disney Princess-esque appearance of the final game was a better fit because it added more to the juxtaposition of her character. All in all, we can’t complain about the changes because Bioshock Infinite was a near perfect game but a little piece of me will always hope to stumble upon a tear to a world where the game was not changed and I’d get to play it all over again.
Croc: Legend Of The Gobbos
Sometimes in life, the death of one idea can make way for the birth of another like a caterpillar that blooms into a beautiful butterfly or how the end of Friends brought the world the beginning of Joey. Ok, so maybe that last example wasn’t exactly a happy ending but the story of Croc is much more pleasing. Originally planned as a spin-off to the Mario series, Croc was to be Yoshi’s first 3-D venture.
After Nintendo said no to Argonaut, the company sought out alternate platforms and settled with Playstation, Sega and PC, although Croc was still published on the Game Boy. Yoshi was swapped out for an original character and Croc was born. So it’s a bittersweet story, on the one hand a wonderful new IP was born, while on the other we are still yet to get a 3-D platformer staring the little green dinosaur. If you squint really hard though Croc sort of looks like Yoshi, it’s either that or Yoshi’s Wooly World.
Now for the somber tale of a greedy, stupid corporation that though it knew best(don’t they all) and squeezed all the creativity out of what could have been an incredibly inventive game. During 2011’s E3 conference, Insomniac revealed the trailer for their new quirky, fun, fast-paced four player co-op IP, Overstrike. This trailer caused much excitement amongst the few nerds that actually had friends they could play games with and it seemed Insomniac were on to a winner.
That is when EA stepped in and blew the fusebox on the whole thing. The next time we heard from “Overstrike” it had become Fuse, a pathetic, second-rate Call Of Duty knock-off with absolutely no soul. This was such a disappointment considering the lack of cooperative games there are one the market, especially ones that can facilitate four players… Sorry it just makes me so mad, it’s taking all I’ve got not to swear at the EA executives that are behind this game murder. Aarrgh, F-use, you bunch of Puse, you’re all just Lusers…ah that feels much better.
The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time
It’s hard to imagine Ocarina Of Time any other way but it’s true that the game had been planned in first person perspective. Shingeru Miyamoto wanted the player to be able to drink in the view of Hyrule Field and felt first-person was the best method of landscape sculling. Although once it was decided that a child would be the protagonist, Miyamoto thought it necessary for the player to be able to see the child(not touching that).
Of course jokes aside, third person suits the game much better than first and Ocarina Of Time certainly needs no tinkering. Still, it would be great to be able to play the game in first person if only for the novelty. Which thanks to the Oculus Rift is possible, so if your lucky enough to own a Rift, go, go now! Otherwise as with everything else in life, there’s always Youtube.