Duffy's Dreamcast Collection
These prototypes come from a beta tester who worked for Acclaim. Having passed away recently, this individual's nephew undertook the task of selling them. The "Duffy's Dreamcast Collection" project is a tribute to his uncle, Duffy.
"He was a quiet and very discreet guy, we only saw him a few times a year."
To guarantee the quality of the game, the beta testers analyzed the game in depth and provided feedback to the developers throughout its development. Video game beta testers are the guarantors of the quality of a game and their work is essential and is reflected in the final version to which players have access. They must, in particular, ensure the stability of the game, but also its playability. This job is quite difficult and requires spending a lot of time on a given area or section, playing these primitive builds that are not necessarily exciting and giving extremely detailed and formatted feedback.
"The only complaint he had about his craft was having to play the same things over and over again. You're trying to bug the game and you have to imagine all the things players could do!"
Beta testers seen by Sega of America in 1994
Bugs are obstacles in development that show up in a variety of areas such as gameplay, SEGA standards, on-screen text, and sound. These bugs are categorized into Class A , Class B , and Class C , depending on their severity:
For example, the most wanted and the most dreadful is the Crash Bug. It is classified as A.
A lesser bug affecting gameplay, such as a weapon that cannot be used, is a class B bug.
A graphical issue, such as a visual glitch in the background that does not affect the result of the game, would be classified as a class C bug.
A beta tester can also give feedback on new ideas or things that need improvement. They can then contact the Game Lead or their assistant, who will assign a classification (order of priority) according to the interest of the suggestion.
Testing plays a role that is essential in the design of a game and must be carried out as seriously as possible.
The hardware that the beta tester needed to have :
A tape recorder and VHS cassettes, to record test sessions.
Something to take notes in and be ready to document a bug as soon as it appears.
The known state of the build and the action plan (what should be tested). The game manager or their assistant provided both.
Sega's recommendations to its beta testers :
Getting to know the game. If the game assigned to them was new, they had to play it for an hour until they were sufficiently familiar with it (understand how it works).
Find new bugs; and for that, be imaginative. Nothing was deemed too weird to try in testing. You had to be logical, methodical and analytical.
Reproduce bugs: A SEGA beta tester had to attempt to replicate all newly discovered bugs at least five times using video recordings in order to deduce the probable causes of the bug. They had to figure out the shortest and easiest way to reproduce it.
They had to immediately report all new class A bugs (and important class B bugs) to the project manager or their assistant.
If a game crashed, you had to press the RESET button or turn the device off and on again to see if it was possible to continue playing.
Cheat Functions: They were never to use cheat codes unless specifically instructed to. If a bug occurred via a cheat, the beta tester had to reproduce it with the cheat mode disabled to prove that the bug was not related to this mode. If a bug could not be reproduced without the cheat function, it should not be put in the report.
In fact, this ultimately little-known profession is much more complex than these few examples, but you now have a glimpse of the daily life of these shadow craftsmen who have refined our favorite games.
Acclaim booth at E3 1999
Acclaim's story :
We all know Acclaim for console ports of arcade franchises going strong, like Midway 's Mortal Kombat. Let's not forget the Turok Saga (FPS), started in 1997 on N64 and known for its difficulty; but also my personal favorite, Shadow Man. And who can forget the company logo ?
Acclaim was a strong publisher in the 90s that had an undeniable impact on the industry, from the creation of the ESRB rating system (an organization which estimates the age range that video games are suitable for, and reports about their content through symbols on video game boxes) to the introduction of motion capture in video games.
If their rise was dazzling, their subsequent descent into hell a decade later will testify to the poor management of the company, marred by numerous lawsuits resulting from the greed of its leaders. They were accused of overestimating their profits before a sale of their shares and of reporting false sales figures for the Aggressive Inline and Turok Evolution series. These are just a few examples among many others, unfortunately.
Acclaim was co-founded in 1987 by Greg Fischbach, Jim Scoroposki and Robert Holmes. By 1990, after some success through ports like Star Voyager, Wizards and Warrior, and Double Dragon II, Acclaim was at the top and was close to Activision and EA, placing themselves among the best game publishers in the world.
As a result, Acclaim has become a powerful player in a booming industry, the golden age of video games. Their business strategy which they pioneered was to release a game on as many consoles as possible.
In 1993 , by buying the rights to port games from Williams Arcade, which owned Midway, the company secured Mortal Kombat, one of their biggest hits. The franchise generated more than 4 billion dollars in sales before the end of the 1990s!
For Mortal Kombat, Acclaim had spent $10 million in marketing expenses, an astronomical sum. For the first time, a video game release became a media event, " Mortal Monday".
Around this time, the fact that Sega did not censor Mortal Kombat on Megadrive would tip things in their favor over Nintendo in the console wars.
Acclaim would not benefit from Mortal Kombat 3 or Mortal Kombat 4 (transition of the Saga in 3D). They had gotten rid of the license... a big mistake!
While Mortal Kombat dominated 1993's sales, 1994 was quieter for Acclaim; even with production having doubled compared to previous years, with 20 game releases that year.
The first half of the 1990s was a prosperous period of growth for Acclaim through acquisitions: Acclaim Comics Inc. in 1994; and all four of Iguana Entertainment Inc., Lazer-Tron Corporation, Probe Entertainment, and Sculptured Software in 1995. Some of the Acclaim Comics characters that would become the most famous in video games: Turok and Shadow Man.
They had purchased a 65,000 m² campus and named an associated street Turok Way. They had delusions of grandeur and saw themselves as having dethroned Microsoft !
Acclaim experienced massive expansion and posted its highest revenue ever in 1995, but by the end of 1996, it all came crashing down. They suffered the brunt of the inexorable decline in sales for 16-bit platforms, a change which they had not anticipated. In May 1996, Acclaim ended its fiscal quarter with a first-ever loss when it had made a profit in the same period the year before. To stem these losses, it would have no choice but to carry out a restructuring which will lead to the dismissal of 10% of its workforce.
Consumers shunned Acclaim games. The title Batman Forever released in 1995, strongly criticized, had made the publisher lose its splendor. Those who thought to capitalize on the most awaited blockbuster of the year with an elaborate advertising campaign... lost gamble!
When the Nintendo 64 was released in the United States in September 1996, Turok was to be one of the first ten games to appear on the console. Repeatedly postponed, it was finally released in March 1997. Despite positive reviews, the fate of Acclaim was already set; the press saw in this game the last breath of a dying company, in sheer agony. Turok would contribute to temporarily restore a semblance of repute to Acclaim, which suffered from bad publicity to the point that the publisher was synonymous with mediocrity.
1998 didn't look any better for Acclaim, but they had a few more tricks up their sleeve. Some original titles were on the way, including Forsaken and Vexx, and sequels to Shadow Man and Turok; just enough to keep the boat afloat.
Meanwhile, the company's marketing department lost their minds by displaying shocking advertising campaigns:
Offer to pay traffic fines for anyone caught promoting Burnout 2.
Trying to pay people to put ads on the tombstones of their deceased family members to promote the Shadow Man sequel.
The best one! Give away an Xbox and $500 if you call your kid Turok (hopefully a survey will show the winners were actually paid actors).
These ideas earned Acclaim some pretty bad press, and perhaps this was an admission on their part to cover up the fact that they had nothing innovative and new to present.
Despite a reorganization of all of its studios and the closure of some of them, there was still a desire to capitalize on its most profitable licenses and to develop eye-catching titles for 32-bit consoles, particularly in their sports division. by bringing in well-known figures like world motocross champion Jeremy McGrath. But Acclaim was never be able to raise its head back above water, as sales were no longer paying off (...). In September 2004, Acclaim was declared bankrupt and the few remaining studios had closed permanently.
It's still fun to note that the turn of the 2000s was fatal to many of these sacred beasts of our youth.
Acclaim and the Dreamcast :
Unlike other publishers, to promote their games, Acclaim were the only ones to use White Label (white disc) in black plastic boxes that collectors call "Acclaim Case". Normally, these GD-Roms only had a "Jewel Case" (thin and transparent optical disc packaging). As they decidedly liked to do things differently from others, some promotional games were in the "Acclaim Case" with normal labeled discs.
Studios and publishers generally used the same numbering to designate build of their games in prototype format. It ranged from 0.1 to 1.000 (rarely beyond this) which often designated a final version of the title. 0.1 would correspond to 10% of the development progress of the game while 1.000, 100%. The majority of studios affiliated with Acclaim used their own numbering; for example, DRPRP019 for a South Park Rally .
Acclaim released 21 games on Dreamcast ; they were particularly active on Sega 's latest machine. The titles were not all necessarily of quality. This is one of the main criticisms that people made of this publisher, favoring quantity over quality. Some ports of previous generation consoles' titles to Sega's 128 bit system would do just fine, though, like like Shadow Man. Acclaim would go on to publish a Sega title for the European and American market, F355 Challenge. They would also release the now cult classic Dead or Alive 2 for Europe. We may never have been able to play these 2 games without Acclaim.
There is one game that stands out, and is the only Dreamcast exclusive from the publisher. This would be Fur Figthers, developed by Bizarre Creations (Metropolis Street Racer). It would later be released on PC and then on PS2 in a remodeled version. To try this game is to adapt to it!!!
To learn more about the White Label, a database (the most complete) had been written " The White Label Sega Dreamcast "
Acclaim's hypothetical numbering :
The first two letters would correspond to the console.
DC or DR = Dreamcast
WX = Windows
PS = Playstation 1
P2 = Playstation 2
XB = Xbox (first Xbox)
GC = Gamecube
GA = Gameboy Advance
The next two letters are linked to the name of the game, whether it is in one word or in several words.
As for the last letter, it is still not understood, remaining a mystery. Maybe it could correspond to the prototype build region ( PAL, US, JP )
The trailing 3 digits would be the build number.
Take the Re-Volt number just above, DRRVE017. DR for DReamcast, RV for Re-Volt, E (mystery letter) and finally 014 as build number.
Note: it is only an assumption, sometimes the part related to the name has more letters.
If you are interested in the world of Dreamcast prototypes, an article dedicated to them had been written: "Dreamcast prototypes"
The 53 Acclaim prototypes for download :
This release represents what I publish online for the year. I have been working on this project daily for 4 months. I have lost count of the hours spent on it. If you wish to participate financially in the "Duffy's Dreamcast Collection" project, you can make a donation to me. If you have prototypes, Dreamcast or others, of Acclaim that you want to release and see added to this particular database, you can write to me on the various social networks; I am easily reachable. And it's not over, there will be a part 2!!!
South Park Rally Extraction
Ducati World Date
You will find 44 Dreamcast prototypes, 6 for Playstation, 2 for PC and 1 for Xbox. Some of my old Acclaim releases have been analyzed again (6 GD-R). I took the opportunity to redump these prototypes, the dumps previously made were not up to date. The publisher's White Label (18 promotional discs) were also dumped.
Very few of these prototypes (2 or 3) correspond to final versions or other prototypes of the same existing game.
I didn't make a distinction between the location of the betas (PAL, JP, US), or very rarely anyway. The date of the builds was found by extracting the files with the help of the GD-ROM Explorer program. For Ducati World, I had to do it another way (I doubt it's correct), the date on this application being practically the same for all builds.
Some prototypes have the same date but a different time, others have the exact same date and time but are not similar (F355 Challenge).
The most interesting prototypes have a page dedicated to them. There, you will find a detailed analysis and explanation of the game.
For F355 Challenge, the format of its release is different: it is akin to review coverage like you'd see in magazines.
The download links for the various prototypes will be transferred later this year to " archive.org ". They are currently hosted on the site's server.
You'll find many of Acclaim 's Dreamcast titles in prototype form below. Some are early in game development, some have developer-specific options, and some builds have debug menus.
Many things must have slipped by me. If you find any new ones, do not hesitate to contact me/ I will update the articles with your discoveries.
Game on and have fun!
Prototypes with their own page:
Shadow Man is an action/exploration game adapted from the eponymous comics. It features a Tomb Raider -like view. The character, Mike, walks around in a real-time 3D universe with considerable freedom. All the classic elements of this genre of game, such as running, swimming, climbing, jumping and shooting enemies are present to experience in a very dark atmosphere.
On this page, 2 prototypes of the game are available including a build with an impressive Debug Menu.
Dave Mirra was one of those freaks that feared nothing, and that no one could stop. He was a BMX ace, a stunt pro holding several world records in this discipline. He was the most successful man in X-Games history.
On this page, 2 prototypes (including 1 redump) of the game are available, the differences being numerous.
South Park had built its success on its quirky, borderline vulgar and sometimes very provocative humor. Fans were eagerly awaiting a video game adaptation. After a disappointing attempt at an FPS and a Trivial Pursuit too difficult to be fun, Acclaim tried this time to create a South Park adaptation following the concept of Mario Kart.
On this page, 16 prototypes of the game are available, including 5 with Free Camera.
The NFL license acquired by Acclaim allowed them to offer 31 teams and hundreds of players and of course the NFL championship.
Acclaim, after successful iterations on Nintendo 64 and Playstation 1, came back in force across the Atlantic with NFL Quarterback 2000 on Dreamcast.
On this page, 2 prototypes of the game are available, including 1 with amazing differences.
Spirit of Speed takes the player back to 1937, when cars were starting to get powerful. It was also the last year where all the teams were present before a long while. A time when you had to have a strong heart to compete in real rolling coffins.
On this page, 2 prototypes of the game are available including an early build in the development of the title.
Vanishing Point offers everything we were entitled to expect from a racing game at the time (races, time trials, championships), while adding a Stunt mode.
We had to pilot our vehicles in road traffic, avoiding collisions with other motorists.
2 prototypes are available, the differences being notable.
Here we have a mix between Micro Machines, Mario Kart and other more conventional games.
Acclaim Studios London had planned no less than 28 miniature cars to drive in 14 races.
Re-Volt mixed two great passions of many children: remote-controlled cars and video games.
7 prototypes are available, including 1 that really deserves a look.
Yu Suzuki returned to his first love with a flagship license: Ferrari.
On Dreamcast, we therefore find all the magic of the F355 Challenge terminal, but this time on a simple TV screen. The introduction near the Ferrari factory, and the Gran Turismo-style replay are a real tribute to the prancing horse.
5 prototypes, including 2 redumps, are available (which includes demo versions).
The Fur Fighters are a fluffy group of heroes gathered to battle the forces of the evil General Viggo. Years ago, they fought Viggo and managed to put him behind bars. Today he escaped.
3 prototypes are available including 2 redumps. The new prototype is really nice !
Acclaim's Ducati World exploited the prestige of the famous Italian motorcycle brand "Ducati".
The game offers 2 modes, Ducatilife and Quickrace. Ducatilife mode plays out in a very similar way to Gran Turismo.
4 prototypes are available, including individuals.
The Dreamcast is blessed with two of the best 3D fighting games. Released a few months after the majestic Soul Calibur , Tecmo had also struck a blow!
Dead or Alive 2 is the sequel to a game released on Arcade, Saturn and then Playstation.
2 prototypes are available, an American version and a European version published by Acclaim.
Prototypes without major features
In South Park Chief's Luvshack, you have to answer questions about American history all in colloquial English. Between each series of questions, you will participate in silly and nasty mini-games in the spirit of the cartoon.
The differences being few, we will notice that the date and time of the build appear on the copyright screen of the game (except the prototype dating from October 12).
Download link :
ECW Hardcore Revolution is a Dreamcast wrestling game. You can create your own wrestler or choose from over 40 ECW personalities. It is possible to use weapons such as a table or a baseball bat.
I didn't see anything in particular; maybe I missed something.
Download link :
The White Label Dreamcast "Acclaim Case"
The white labels were also dumped, you can download the 17 existing ones, as well as a 2 in one demo, below:
Not having been able to add the photos of the Cover of the Acclaims Case to the site, you can download them below :
Prototypes for other consoles
Release of a prototype for the Unreleased Xbox " The Red Star " (Aug 12, 2004).
Originally, The Red Star was a 2-book comic. The series was created and scripted by Christian Gossett. The drawing mixes traditional sketches and computer-generated imagery.
In 2003, Acclaim signed an agreement with Archangel Studio, the comic book publishing house, for the adaptation of comics into video games.
The Red Star was unfortunately canceled on Xbox due to Acclaim 's bankruptcy.
Having been unable to add the photos of the prototype sleeves to the site, you can download them below : Scan of the sleeves of the "Duffy's Dreamcast Collection" project
to Jérôme Firon for the corrections to the articles (the French part).
to Iniche for the corrections to the articles (the English part).
to Ehw for his help on some bad dumps that he was able to fix.
to March_42 for his help on the non-Dreamcast part.
More than 200 prototypes, documents and press kits have been dumped or scanned. You will find them to download for free in the section " Releases of prototypes and documents "