SourceFeeling bored due to Coronavirus? Fear not, Gaming Alexandria is here. Today we have released Viewpoint 2064, an unreleased Nintendo 64 game which was shown off at Space World, also known as Shoshinkai. Massive thank you to the anonymous user who donated this to us for a release. Don’t forget to check out the awesome coverage by Hard4Games on this prototype!
Viewpoint 2064 was a 3D vertical shmup being developed by Racdym to be published by the series owners Sammy Corporation. It was a sequel to the original Viewpoint which released in 1992 for Neo Geo’s MVS arcade system and AES home console including a Neo Geo CD version, published by Sammy and developed by Aicom.
Viewpoint was one of Sammy’s first games since they withdrew from video games temporarily in 1980. They previously had only entered the industry during the Space Invader boom with ST Space Invader and ST Galaxian in 1980, dealing in licensed production as a safe way to test the waters. Viewpoint was sold on its three-quarter viewing angle, diagonal scrolling, and pre-rendered 3D assets, and Sammy called the game innovative and a visual masterpiece. While some earlier STGs used diagonal angles such as Sega/Gremlin’s 1982 arcade title Zaxxon, Viewpoint was nevertheless highly received for its difficult gameplay, smooth visuals, and unique soundtrack., This spurred Sammy to make efforts to grow in the game industry, absorbing developer Aicom in the process.
Viewpoint 2064’s first known announcement was in August 1999, when Nintendo announced their Space World August 1999 lineup. The game was playable at both Space World and the September 1999 Tokyo Game Show. In Nintendo’s Space World guide book, it was given a half page advertisement and was listed as 100% complete, set for a November 11th, 1999 release date for ¥7,800.
When IGN64 did their Space World 1999 coverage, on August 27th, 1999, they reported that Sammy was in talks with several International publishers, but that no US release date was currently planned. Despite being listed as 100% complete Viewpoint 2064 was not simply delayed to Q1 2000, but disappeared completely soon after the show with some magazines and websites stating it had been canned. However, a year later on August 14th, 2000, IGN reported that Viewpoint 2064 was scheduled to appear at the upcoming Tokyo Game Show and was set for a November 24th release date. It was listed on the organisation’s Computer Entertainment Supplier’s Association (CESA) website, also with a release date of November 24th, 2000, for a then undecided price.
Meanwhile, Tsutaya, a chain of book and video rental stores, posted Viewpoint 2064 for sale on their website. This listing had a release date of November 17th, 2000, some preliminary box art, and a description of the game. All this information makes it likely that other retailers had been informed about the upcoming release as well, but Viewpoint 2064 did not hit this date, and by 2001 the game had been quietly cancelled.
Out of all of the versions of Viewpoint that were released, Viewpoint 2064 was the only one that was developed as a true sequel, with entirely different levels, mechanics, graphics, progression, and a story. The plot sees the player’s space soldier fighting in a war against insect invaders, but being distracted by a voice calling out to him through space. This turns out to be a large flying eyeball creature of unknown origin which, once hearing about the soldier having no memory of his past, promises them a stone that evokes memories lies on planet T3.
The player follows the mysterious eyeball’s instructions while attempting to reach the stone. Each ending and Memory File adds to the story, helping you to discover what’s going on and slowly recovering the player’s memories.It is revealed the planet T3 was once called “Earth” and that the player was once a laboratory researcher with an assistant/lover named Reiko. The extraterrestrial floating eye is named “Kureaboyasosu”, a Japanese gairaigo of the English word Clairvoyance.
2064 has branching paths system with 15 stages, unlike the linear original with only 6 stages. When the player completes a path they receive an ending known as a Memory File, in which the player soldier regains some memories which reveal plot details. To get more Memory Files the player must complete the game multiple times, to see the other stages. But, despite having 5 final stages, only 3 Memory files are accessible through normal gameplay in this prototype, and the stages must be played in a specific order to see all 3 endings (Stage 14, Stage 11, Stage 13). If players complete the final stages in any order other than this, the prototype will either crash or the game will randomly play cutscenes from the middle of the game in place of a new ending. It’s unknown if more endings were planned or if the game actually intended for only 3 endings.
Gameplay in the prototype is extremely simple even by most shooting game standards. Player’s have options to set the difficulty of the game from either normal with 2 continues or hard with 1 continue, set their amount of lives, and choose from a few control options. Viewpoint 2064 replaced the charge shot for the original with the ability to lock onto up to 8 targets. It’s worth noting that in the build shown at Space World 1999, players could only lock on to 6 targets and the shots fired by the Stage 3 boss were slightly different. Also, the targeting reticle and score display are different than the Space World version, and this prototype has power up options displayed instead.
Viewpoint 2064 adds 3 powerups with the fire, lightning, and ice which orbit the players ship. The power ups are called “options” like in R-Type, though players can’t switch between the different types and are stuck with whatever they pick up. Each powerup increases firepower and blocks shots on the side. The Fire and Lighting power ups function properly, but the Blizzard power up does not change the shots at all, and the player fully invincible instead of anything ice-related. The side shields can also be moved in front of the player ship and can block incoming fire, but prevents players from shooting. Any blocked shots are absorbed into the energy meter, which when full lets players use a powerful wave cannon blast.
This prototype saves to 4 kilobit eeprom, saving settings but not scores. In some ways it feels nearly finished, not requiring the Expansion Pak to run and having Rumble Pak support. Several debug features are left in this prototype build. At any time if players hold L and press up on the D-pad they are returned to the title screen. Also, if players have a 2nd Controller plugged in, pressing L and R will freeze the player’s ship in place at which point the camera can then be freely moved using the C-buttons, D-Pad, and joystick.
Despite most game contents being near finished, several features are not functioning and there are several bugs.
Unfortunately, the prototype has no named credits so any information about its staff from Racdym or Sammy is currently unknown. If the few minor issues were fixed and the game was released as is with the same content as this prototype, it’s likely Viewpoint 2064 would have sold poorly as it is very rough in many areas by 1999 standards. Controls are smooth and the game does attempt some 3D viewpoint shifting and environmental hazards, but these are expected basics of the genre which weren’t going to turn the industry’s head by 1999.
- At the end of levels when players are prompted to select a new branching stage, sometimes the prototype does not allow the player to choose, as the conditions needed to branch were not yet implemented,limiting some stages to only the Stage Select screen.
- Some objects such as boxes and walls can be flown through and don’t do damage or have any collision whatsoever.
- A few cutscenes have odd out of place textures, and some enemies don’t have any death animations or explosions and simply disappear when killed.
- A “Vs Boss” option on the main menu is unselectable and was likely a way to skip directly to bosses or a boss rush type mode.
- On the status screen there is a “invisible items” counter, and it appears these mysterious items are not actually implemented in any of the levels and their purpose is not clear.
- One Emerald Circuit Stage starts players inside an enemy meaning they take unavoidable damage immediately.
- In some stages enemies won’t appear at all for oddly long stretches, as if the level wasn’t done being built by level designers.
While no official reason for cancellation was given, there are many inferred reasons why this could be. Since the 1999 November to December holiday season was very crowded with smaller devs and high profile blockbuster games competing for N64 space it’s possible Sammy wanted Viewpoint 2064 delayed into 2000 in order to polish the game and avoid competition. It’s also possible the game wasn’t held back for market reasons, but rather due to unknown development issues it simply missed the original deadline.
In general, Shoot ‘em ups were losing popularity in the United States. With these shmups primarily being popular in Japan, hardcore fans leaned more towards Sega Saturn and PlayStation, which had dozens upon dozens of shmup. With Star Soldier being the only mainstream offering on Nintendo 64 at the time reflected poorly on the system as another underrepresented genre, which may have made the entire genre seem unsuitable by publishers on the console.