Mario Takes America: Phillips Cd-i

Discussion in 'Unreleased Games Discussion' started by Nitrosoxide, Dec 17, 2006.

  1. Nitrosoxide

    Nitrosoxide Resolute Member

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    Although, almost everything on the cd-i has been really mediocre, especially the nintendo-based titles.

    But, super mario wacky worlds did look like it might've been something special.


    Apprantly there, was a third title in development called 'Mario Takes America'


    Anyone heard of this? The premise sounds kinda interesting.




    There's a blurb about it here.

    " While The Black Moon Project covered “ The Lost Mario game †being "Super Mario`s Wacky Worlds" in 2004, less is known about a Digital Video project called ‘Mario Takes America’. A Canadian investor named Howard Greenspan set up Cigam (Magic spelled backwards) Entertainment in Toronto. They talked a great story about Super Mario flying over the Statue of Liberty, travelling with dolphins over the ocean and more which has been highlighted in the UK CD-I Magazine once. The film crew even used a helicopter to shoot some of the more tricky sequences. These were the early days of Full Motion Video, so the development platform was not that stable in their defense. And while the concept was great, the execution was miserable. Other rumours include the mis-use of Nintendo’s Intellectual Property in the way how Mario was treated in the flight over America. The so-called ‘Edutainment’ concept should add a level of teaching about the American culture which should propagate the status of the USA immensely. However, this title was supposed to be the edge of ‘reality’ with a real silicon graphics Mario which should be the first outing of Mario in 3D ever! The game concept was nothing else than impressive but unfortunately none of this came to happening; after the bankruptcy of Cigam in 1994 all the golden plans for Mario were cancelled. Early clips where shown at the CDi 3 Conference in New York in October 1993."






    Full thing is here
    http://www.blog.blackmoonproject.co.uk/2006_03_01_archive.html



    Wonder if anythings left of it. A bit was shown off at that conference so maybe there is.
     
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  2. DrMatt

    DrMatt Active Member

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    This sounds like a similar concept to 'Mario Is Missing' for the NES.
     
  3. Barc0de

    Barc0de Mythical Member from Time Immemorial

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    there's already a topic on this lads :)
     
  4. Nitrosoxide

    Nitrosoxide Resolute Member

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  5. Barc0de

    Barc0de Mythical Member from Time Immemorial

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    my bad, i thought u were refering to wacky worlds :p
     
  6. partspitmike

    partspitmike Member

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    I worked on this game from 1992 to 1994.
     
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  7. Borman

    Borman Digital Games Curator

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    Awesome :) Feel free to share anything that you feel comfortable with. And welcome to the forums!
     
  8. badinsults

    badinsults Peppy Member

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    Well, you convinced me.

    Seriously though, if you did work on the game, it would be great to know some more details.
     
  9. OniLink99999

    OniLink99999 Rising Member

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    I second that - it'd be great to have some concrete information on the game. It always seems a shame to me that developers' hard work can just disappear like this (I know I'd never heard of Mario Takes America before). Regardless of whether you decide to share or not, welcome to the forums!
     
  10. partspitmike

    partspitmike Member

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    Other than the 2 years I worked on this I was never a video game developer. I work doing TV shows and Commercials. Doing the Phillips CD-i game was great the first year when we were creating assets, but the machine could not handle what we wanted to do. At the time I was told Nintendo lost a lawsuit with Phillips and part of the penalty was for Phillips to be allowed to use Mario in a game. They picked a Toronto Company named Cigam who talked a great pitch and promised them the moon and the stars. I was hired on initially as the storyboard illustrator to develop the concepts and they liked what I did so much I was asked to help write and direct the game and run the Art Department.

    At the time the brain trust thought that the best way to get realistic backgrounds was to film them. This was before the Quake 3D engine. The advantage to filming was the realism on one layer and the game art (sprites) were on the layer above, drawn to match shadows and lighting. The look was very much like Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

    Unlike Quake it was not a "sandbox environment" and you could not go anywhere. We compensated by filming strictly defined POV areas like the Niagara River, open channels in the Louisiana Bayou and highways in Monument Valley. That was the best part - filming the background assets all over the US in camera cars, speedboats and helicopters.

    The idea was for Mario to cross the US. If I recall the sequences were.. New York Skyline from a Helicopter, Niagara Falls upper rapids to Falls, Niagara Gorge to Whirlpool, a Detroit Auto Factory (never completed) , Carlsbad Caverns, Florida Space Shuttle Ride, Fort Knox, Louisiana Bayou from Speedboat,
    Vintage Steam Train fight (on top of travelling boxcar),in Texas, Monument Valley Motorcycle Race on Highway, Las Vegas Neon Race (never completed) Los Angeles Car Race on Highway at Night ... all these would end with a final battle at Graumann's Theatre where Mario had to defeat a combination of all the enemies he had met going across the USA. This final sequence was never completed.

    When it came time for the programmers to do the game, the background footage took so much memory to run we were left with very little memory to do the game. The very first programmer quit right after he read the specs on the CD-I player... probably within the first 3 weeks.

    I remember he said " the whole foundation is built on quicksand"

    The Art Department was soon chopping out animation frames left and right the end result looked iffy -- still better than anything else in 1992 but not what I had hoped for. Eventually after two years in development, I guess Phillips got tired of waiting for delivery. The sales of the CDI player were sucking and without Mario - who was supposed to be the "Killer App" -- they were getting even worse.

    Mario Takes America stopped real fast.. i didn't get paid for my final 2 weeks, but all in all I evened out as my first year Christmas Bonus basically covered that.

    Any questions?
     
  11. partspitmike

    partspitmike Member

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    I just sent a very long description... not sure why it has not shown up.
     
  12. Borman

    Borman Digital Games Curator

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    It got caught in the filter. I've approved it.
     
  13. Super David

    Super David Member

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    This was a very interesting read. I guess the only question I have right now is what would Mario's appearance have been like in this game?
     
  14. partspitmike

    partspitmike Member

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    Mario was rendered as he was in the cartoons. It was 2D Animation but we added shading to match wherever the light source was in the background film footage. I know I have a "Making of" Video somewhere on VHS -- not sure if I have any game footage and if I do would I legally be allowed to post it.
     
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  15. StriderVM

    StriderVM Peppy Member

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    Well, reading your post is very cool, what is the basic type of gameplay envisioned like? Is it like an interactive FMV game ala Dragons Lair or is it more like Mortal Kombat style (Assets derived from pictures/FMV but still primarily a 2D game)? Since you mentioned that the footage is actually needed in the gameplay (And ate the CDi memory) I'm guessing the former?

    Ninja Edit : How did you end up in this forum? :D
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2014
  16. OniLink99999

    OniLink99999 Rising Member

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    Thanks for the info partspitmike! That was a really fascinating read. I'm also wondering about the gameplay. Was it in any way a platformer like the other Mario games, or just something totally different? Definitely sounds like the visuals were pretty impressive for the time, so hopefully some images or video of your work will appear online eventually =)
     
  17. Gojiratron

    Gojiratron Rising Member

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    Fascinating stuff. I'm interested in the gameplay style as well and I'd love to see video footage although I can understand why you're not sure if you can post it if you have any. :)
     
  18. partspitmike

    partspitmike Member

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    Hey guys, will try to answer the questions posed above.

    How did I get to this Forum - I mentioned that I worked on a Video Game back in the early 1990s to a friend of mine. He has a friend in Vancouver, Canada who currently works in video games and that person wrote me to ask what it was like in "the old days" That reply got me to thinking about Mario Takes America and I did a google search and found you guys.

    As far as the gameplay went, the style of game was driven by the footage that was shot. The New York Skyline was a 2D side scrolling game shot out the left side of a helicopter. Most of the footage was shot moving towards the action, behind Mario. This was true for the Niagara Falls scenes, The Bayou, the Monument Valley Highway and the LA Freeway scenes. There was a fight on the top of a train with the camera pointed forward on one of the passenger cars where you could see the Koopas climbing up the side of the car in front of you. They would reach your position and fight with Mario. Each enemy had a different fighting style.
     
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  19. partspitmike

    partspitmike Member

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    I sent the paragraphs below as a reply to a private message, but I figure there are no issues with it so I can post it to all here..

    I had a look and all I have from those 2 years are two VHS Tapes... One showing a Making of Promo Video of all the location shooting, full of shots of the Producer as he treated it as pretty much a promo for himself as well as a promo for the game.

    The other video I have is of his "Backup" Video Game. Near the end, things were starting to go bad and he had the art department do a version of Mario Takes America where we replaced all the Mario Sprites with another hero of his own creation called "Metal".

    Metal was a Rock & Roll Star who looked like Dee Snider from Twisted Sister. He had a big Roadie Assistant named "Heavy" (I kid you not) who would help out from time to time. As I said we simply renamed all the sprites and had the programming dept plug the new sprites into the code. MRIONY04 became HEVYNY04 and so on.

    We also did some sequences with Sonic subbing for Mario. At that point I started sending out resumes again as it sure looked as if the company was grasping at straws.

    I believe I also saw the CD-I Zelda Game and played it. It had collision detection issues and was very boring as the CD-I player could not handle too many sprites on the screeen at once. Phillips would send beta versions of their in production games to us to show what other programmers were doing. I guess they may have sent ours out to other companies as well. I only remember a Phillips guy coming out to see us once. They really did not seem to attempt to manage the project at all from what I saw.

    I am reluctant to post any of these tapes as the producer was highly litigious and even though I understand he has passed away I am fairly certain the family is as well.

    I do have some photos of the filming, which may be interesting... though they do not of course show any game play.
     
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  20. MasterOfPuppets

    MasterOfPuppets Site Supporter 2013

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    Even if you do not post any video, it is definitely worth it to back it up to DVD before it degrades to being unwatchable, as it eventually will. And thank you for all the information!
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2014

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