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  • Joined: 27 May 2015
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Unreleased Master System game - Wallball-3D
Post Posted: Wed May 27, 2015 2:58 am
Hello everyone,

This is my first post here, but I'm a longtime fan of the site.

I've been doing some research on unreleased games for various 8-bit platforms recently (which has always been an interest of mine), and I thought this bit of information might be of interest to readers here.

In the 1987 Winter CES report in the February, 1987 issue of Computer Entertainer newsletter, they mentioned this unreleased game in their article on the new Sega 3D glasses:

"Another new peripheral, the 3D Imager with glasses, was shown in a darkened room with Wallball-3D (a raquetball game) and 3D Gunner (a space shooting game for use with the Light Phaser)."

"A $65 package, 3D Imager with Glasses and Wallball-3D, was announced at CES, Two weeks later, however, Wallball-3D was scrapped due to lukewarm response from show-goers."

This somehow rang a bell with me, so I went digging through my classic Japanese game mag collection and came up with one further reference, from Famitsu's own 1987 Winter CES report. They describe the 3D glasses, and then say this (my translation):

"However, the only two games that used them are 3D ping-pong (hit a bounding ball within a 3D screen with a racquet) and a shooting game set in space..."

They were impressed with the 3D effects, but criticized the games as being too dull and repetitive. So, that take seems to sync up nicely with Computer Entertainer's report of show-goers dissatisfaction with it and its subsequently quick cancellation.

From these accounts, one can perhaps surmise that this was basically a glorified tech demo masquerading as a game, probably rushed out because they wanted to get the glasses on the market quickly but hadn't yet had the time to come up with something better to showcase them.

As a side note, in addition to this bit of info, I did a complete comb-through of the 1986/1987 Sega-related content in Computer Entertainer, and while there were no other unreleased US SMS games of note listed (aside from Woody Pop, Bank Panic and the Graphic Board) there were a few early game titles that ended up changing:

All-Star Wrestling (became Pro Wrestling)
Slap Shooter (became Great Ice Hockey)
Space Ace (became Astro Warrior?)
Great Tennis (became Super Tennis)
Great Boxing (became Rocky)
3D Gunner (became Missile Defense 3D)

The most interesting title here is Great Boxing, which was listed that way for a few months before becoming Rocky. It would be interesting to know (if they had been working on it for a while before applying the movie license) how the boxer graphics might have been different, etc.
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Post Posted: Wed May 27, 2015 7:06 am
Very interesting, thanks for researching that and taking the time to go through Computer Entertainer!

I'd assume that Slap Shooter became Slap Shot ? We have a proto of Slap Shot called "Slap Shoot", however it is a 1989 game which may be a little late compared to the mentions in Computer Entertainer. However if Great Ice Hockey was never mentioned prior to that maybe Slap Shooter was actually a codename for Great Ice Hockey.

Great Tennis is the name of Super Tennis in Japan (it is actually a bit odd because the box says Great Tennis but the ROM content says Super Tennis).

If you have time could you post the Famitsu photo/scan and perhaps the Computer Entertainer references as well ? Never a bad thing to keep those in context.
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Unreleased Master System game - Wallball-3D
Post Posted: Wed May 27, 2015 2:27 pm
There are pictures of Slap Shooter at TAFA.
http://flyers.arcade-museum.com/?page=flyer&db=videodb&id=4012&image...
It looks much more advanced than either Great Ice Hockey or Slap Shot; too advanced for the SMS HW maybe, even though it says it is running on Sega System E.
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Post Posted: Wed May 27, 2015 7:34 pm
According to Sega Retro, Slap Shooter and Slap Shot are not the same game. Slap Shooter was released on the System E arcade hardware. Perhaps a Master System version was planned but cancelled.
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Post Posted: Thu May 28, 2015 1:13 am
Regarding Great Tennis/Super Tennis, I always thought that was strange as well. One theory is that Sega thought that since it was a card game, and all the other "Great" sports titles were on cart, they may have wanted to differentiate them somehow in the US market, where the sports titles were very important for them in the early days?

Very interesting info on arcade Slap Shooter there. Looking at the screens on the flyer, it seems obviously related to Great Ice Hockey, and was definitely a System E game. I can't find any evidence that it was actually released, though! I combed through my 1985 to 1987 issues of Beep and Game Boy (who both covered Sega extensively) and could find no reference to it so far. It's possible (but doubtful) that Gamest could have had something on it at the time, but my issues aren't handy at the moment (I have a bunch of stuff stored in Japan that I need to have shipped back over). In any case, when it was announced in the US, it was definitely the initial name for what became Great Ice Hockey. The first three Computer Entertainer scans I've included are from the July, 1986 issue, where they reported on the Summer CES. You can see it referenced in the main article (second page) and then listed in the monthly "Availability Update" section. It was listed under that name one more time (in the August issue), and then by the September issue the name had been changed to Great Ice Hockey, as you can see in the scan. Interestingly, it seems to have been intended as one of the launch titles, but ended up slipping a couple of months.

One other thing you might notice from the sequence of scans here is that it seems Marksman Shooting and Trap Shooting were initially intended to be separate games, but then they thought better of it and combined them.

I've included the Computer Entertainer and Famitsu scans referencing Wallball-3D at the 1987 Winter CES as well. The Famitsu piece is part of a larger article on Sega's CES display that includes an interesting interview with SOA's Steve Hanawa. They ask him about the SMS disk drive and he says that while it had completed development and was ready to be released at any time, they were questioning whether it was really necessary in the current market. He also claims that they had shipped around 300,000 systems by that time (in comparison to roughly 1,000,000 for the NES) and that the FM unit was currently in development.
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Post Posted: Thu May 28, 2015 5:22 pm
Jesus christ, what's with those scans.
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Post Posted: Thu May 28, 2015 5:28 pm
Looks like some optimising for sharp text that really didn't help the images.
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Post Posted: Thu May 28, 2015 5:31 pm
There was 1400 pages to scan it's already a miracle that Frank did it :) Those rare magazines are very valuable for a lot of people.

http://www.smspower.org/forums/15291-ComputerEntertainerNewsletterTheVideoGameUp...
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Post Posted: Thu May 28, 2015 6:33 pm
Yeah, the CE scans get a bit weird at close range. But it's quite readable overall. The only real problem is that some of the letters get lost at the margins sometimes. I think this is because these issues were stored in big binders and it seems they (people at archive.org, I believe?) scanned them right out of those rather than taking each individual issue out so that they could be laid totally flat. It was a herculean task though, so you won't find me complaining! They're incredibly valuable from a historical perspective.

In any case, the only scan there that's actually my own is the bit from Famitsu. It's a funny thing, by the way. The only source that really covered the US SMS market circa '86-'88 aside from CE was Famitsu. They had a guy in New York (he eventually ended up in San Francisco), and he reported on the US game scene from the first issue on. It was mostly NES-focused as you might expect, but there were plenty of interesting pieces on Sega as well.
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Post Posted: Thu May 28, 2015 8:03 pm
Super Tennis was referred to as Great Tennis in this 1986 Ariolasoft catalogue too. Great Ice Hockey was known by it's final name by then, although it didn't end up getting released in Europe in the end. That catalogue also refers to Miracle Land, which was the working title for Alex Kidd in Miracle World.

I think I've seen Wallball-3D in Japanese lists of unreleased games, but no further details about it, so thanks for posting this info.

Bock wrote
There was 1400 pages to scan it's already a miracle that Frank did it :) Those rare magazines are very valuable for a lot of people.

http://www.smspower.org/forums/15291-ComputerEntertainerNewsletterTheVideoGameUp...


That's such a fantastic resource, I spent last night going through all of them from 1986 onwards. It's pretty much a chronology of every US announcement, release, delay, cancelation, name change, and even changes in development such as Enduro Racer getting cut down to 1Mbit. I shall collate it over the weekend and post all the SMS content in that thread.

Enduro Racer is just one example of an SMS game which is quite different from the arcade game it is based on, so it's possible that Great Ice Hockey was originally meant to be just a loose interpretation of Slap Shooter.
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Post Posted: Thu May 28, 2015 9:18 pm
BKK wrote
I think I've seen Wallball-3D in Japanese lists of unreleased games, but no further details about it, so thanks for posting this info


Hmm, I don't think I've ever seen a reference to Wallball in Japanese. Maybe you're thinking of Moonball? A mysterious piece of Sega vaporware that was listed in a few ads circa '87 along with similar items like Superman and Billionaire 3D. I'm still hoping to find further reference to some of those in my Japanese mag collection, but it seems unlikely at this point.

After reading through all of CE, I'm convinced that it is the single greatest chronology of the entire US home gaming scene in the 1980s. As just an example of what you can find by using it and then doing some further cross-referencing research, check out this entry on a previously unknown cancelled US computer port of The Black Onyx from '85/'86 that I submitted to Games That Weren't 64:

http://www.gamesthatwerent.com/gtw64/the-black-onyx/
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Post Posted: Thu May 28, 2015 9:38 pm
Yeah, I may well be confusing it with Moonball (which might be Cube Zone, which is thought to have been Galactic Protector). Incidentally, this Chicago Tribune article mentions Wallball-3D and 3D Gunner.
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