Blades of Passage
Blades of Passage was cancelled in early 2000.
Platform: Nintendo 64-DD
Publisher: Nintendo
Developed by: Pixelplay
Format: 64MB Nintendo Magnetic Disc (NMD)
64MB Cartridge
In the late 1990`s, Nintendo had a strong american arm as part of the Nintendo 64 push, leading to games like Rogue Squadron and Goldeneye. They had a variety of internal deals with developers to build games, not just for the standard console, but also for the upcoming N64 DD, a magnetic disk drive that allowed for both rewriteable data and storage that would be cheaper than cartridges.

Blades of Passage (usually known as Project Edge) was an unreleased Action-RPG for that console, planned to be a next-gen take on Secret of Mana (and a launch-title…) It`s core focus was to be four-player multiplayer throughout the entire campaign.

Development

By the time I arrived at the studio, the project was in a state of flux. Nintendo first postponed and then cancelled the USA launch of the 64-DD, and then not too long after 64MB cartridges became a feasible reality, the marching orders were given for all projects to go to the GameCube instead if possible. Our project hung in the balance for some time as Nintendo decided whether or not to fund the move up.

I was hired very late into development as a 3D Modeller, with the eye to move over to Design when it made sense. I started to contribute some models and level environments, but slowdowns in the project forced me to switch to campaign and story design during the final months. (Tools in the days of N64 were tremendously primitive compared to today, so I suppose this wasn’t surprising.) The game was playable, complete with audio (courtesy Neil Voss), multiplayer, and more than a few performance improvements due to some of the (infamous) secret opcodes. But it was nowhere near finished, and a constant struggle was had to reach graphics targets without killing performance.

Aftermath

Project Edge was nowhere near finished, but as the founding and sole project of the studio, there was a lot of hope behind it until the end. The studio had a tremendous sense of start-up pride. Working directly with Nintendo (on an RPG no less!) was a dream for many developers, and years had gone into the game already. So as you might imagine, losing the project changed the fabric of the company on the spot. Shortly after the game was shelved, the studio was reformed into Orbital Media, and N64 hardware was changed in for early Game Boy Advance development kits.