New Geist Force Dreamcast prototype, in the heart  of the milky way

Geist Force was being developed by a new in-house team of developers at Sega headquarters in Redwood City , CA. They were new and relatively inexperienced. This is probably one of the reasons they took so long and why in the end the game was not rated as good enough.

Geist Force's cancellation was due to the game's budget overrun. Japan were unhappy with the title's progress after 18 months of development. Sega Japan decided to stop funding and took the opportunity to cancel all other Sega of America (studio name) games in development.

“I worked as an internal tester at Sega, their headquarters in Redwood City, CA (we then moved to San Francisco ). I tested a few new games there. When I started, the very first one game I was put on was a Dion Sanders soccer game for Saturn that ended up getting canceled. I also tested a shooter for Dreamcast called Geist, which was supposed to look like Star Fox 64 , but it was also canceled "

"If only he hadn't had such a difficult development journey, he probably would have been a success!"

"Geist Force has been canceled  because its development took A LOT too long and was not going well. Development started long before the Dreamcast launched and was no further ahead than what we see in builds when the Dreamcast was on the verge of dying out.  It's a shame because it could have been a really cool Star Fox clone. "

Geist Force Sample Dreamcast.jpg

My trailer including, the intro, stage 1, stage 5 and a new cutscene!

The game Geist Force certainly helped inspire a "spirit" (German translation of geist) of optimism for Sega when it was unveiled in 98 at the Tokyo Game Show . The visual effects of this sci-fi shooter were breathtaking. Nothing had sparked more interest in Sega's new console than these previews of Geist Force . We unfortunately know the rest ...

Video  presentation at the Tokyo Game Show

Overall the game is really reminiscent of  Starfox . The player evolves  on the screen when seeing his ship from behind. It is then necessary to face the adversaries who arrive in waves.

This prototype suggests a game that still had some great trumps up its sleeve. We Weren't Going to Say No to a Lylat Wars Clone  ! Kill the most enemies with a single missile shot, we would have asked for more !!!

Geist Force was not going to revolutionize the genre. Some ideas were good, like the possibility of destroying part of the decor. We were going to put people on the streets by destroying their houses!

With a good calibration of the difficulty, an adjustment of the number of enemies present at the same time (there are not enough of them), a tweaking of the graphics, it could have been a good game, especially for one of the first to have to go out on Dreamcast. He could never have dethroned the Nintendo juggernaut.

Geist Force Dreamcast stage 1.jpg
Geist Force Dreamcast stage 5 exploration.jpg
Geist Force prototype Dreamcast stage 5.jpg
Dreamcast unreleased Geist Force beta stage 1 rock.jpg

Information meteor shower from the Kuiper belt

Gheist Force Main Title.jpg
Geist Force Dreamcast beta character.jpg

History does not tell us if the Voyager probe encountered Geist Force spacecraft in infinite space.黃心健 Hsin-Chien Huang , the game's artistic director, passed them on his way:

"I was the artistic director in charge of 6 artists + 1 artistic director. The studio, called  SEGA of America , consisted of 4 programmers, 2 game designers, 1 producer, 8 artists. "

The storyline was based on a human who arrived on a planet and befriended a local alien. Then a strange creature that had the ability to turn a machine into a monster appeared. So the human and the alien allied to fight it. The model of the game was Star Fox.

"All the artistic elements were done, the basic flight mechanic had been implemented, so that you could fly through all the levels. 2 maps had been made by the programming team (also with the boss of each level). The 6th was to take place in space. It involved special flight mechanics and was not completed. "

Dreamcast Geist Force map 4 intro.jpg

"It was fun working on this game. I am very sad that it was canceled, because I think it could have been a great and fun game ..."

Inspired by Alien films and some Japanese manga, the Team's mission was to create a 3D Shmup on Dreamcast. This Rail shooter was unfortunately canceled. The reason was that the management had decided to close the studios after the end of the development of Geist Force. But this information leaked and the programming team decided to quit before being fired.

"Game development is about solving a continuous succession of problems."

Another major info, a 2-player mode was planned, he confirms to us. Probably for Adventure mode!

Finally, he offers us 2 videos related to Geist Force. The first was the initial animation proposal for the game (at 1:00). The second is a technical setup video.

Dreamcast prototype Geist Force stage 1 intro.jpg

Geist Force, initial proposal animation, video presentation at E3 1998

Geist Force, technical configuration video

After research, the original animation proposal video is the one used at E3 1998 to present the game to journalists. Bernie Stolar had said it was in real time when it was wrong. The trade press had been disappointed when they saw Geist Force at TGS 98 a few months later. An old article mentions a stint of a few seconds with a giant spider in a canyon (0:57) as well as floating islands with towns built on them followed by a fight against a species of jellyfish (2:08).

The particularities of this new prototype of Geist Force:

Even though Geist Force leaked back in 2012, finding a new prototype version of the game is always nice, a real honor. It is now possible to see the evolution of the title between the 2 betas, the differences being visible to the naked eye. This prototype version is older than the known one.

Before getting to the heart of the matter, the differences game, it is good to recall some commands of Geist Force and that it has a debug menu:

The orders :

  • joystick: move the ship

  • d-pad: choose between the different bomb attacks of button B

  • A button: shoot lasers

  • Hold A: Lock multiple enemies, releasing A after targeting allows you to shoot locked enemies.

  • B: shoot multiple missiles in a burst.

  • X + A: another multiple missile attack

  • X: speed increase

  • tap X: barrel

  • Y: short deceleration capacity

  • L or R: tilt left and right respectively, L does not work exactly like R (sometimes you have to press R then L for tilt L to work).

  • L and R at the same time: brings the ship up in altitude very quickly.

  • L + R + START simultaneously: pauses the game, pressing this combination will pause it.
    In 'level selection' mode, unplug and re-plug the controller twice, in order to automatically start the game without a debug menu.

The debug menu (plug in a Japanese keyboard that has the "S3" button in controller port 2):

  • S3: Open debug menus

  • D: Open debug options

  • U: Open user options

  • S: pause the game

  • T: Button for switching the menu screen
    Arrow keys: navigate in the menu (after pressing a letter)

  • F12: Suicide the player's ship

  • F1: Gives the player's ship 9999 shield points

  • Z: rapid-fire laser for the player

Dreamcast beta of Geist Force stage 4.jpg

When you start the game, you get to a level selection screen. Some are unplayable like stage 3 which does not charge or stage 4 which has an invisible barrier above the snowy ridge. Other lands do not have enemies, however they are explorable, like number 5 or Mike's Room (I will come back to this later). Map 6 is absolute nothingness, you will see !!!

Old prototype

Dreamcast Geist Force old beta.jpg

New prototype

Dc Geist Force new beta.jpg

Looking at this window in detail, we can notice that the build number, date and time are not present.

Stage 2 has  its share of change. At the halfway point, crossing the debris of a crash of an unidentified flying object, the enemies, balls crossing the screen, have a green color and not red. Their appearance is of little importance, they are easily dodged!

Not far from there, at the end of this passage, we should meet 4 monsters which apparently have not yet been implanted. We can therefore continue on our way without fear of having scratches on our space zinc. The bodybuilder must have preferred the old prototype!

Map 5 is  the most interesting of this beta. The level's long, endless intro cutscene does not yet exist. We start directly by piloting our death machine that kills. It was impossible to visit it completely due to a limitation of the scenery. No longer present, we can go to a place that was to serve as an arena against a boss, a kind of power generator. (See the video at the beginning)

Old prototype

Geist Force Dreamcast old prototype red monster.jpg

Old prototype

Geist Force old prototype Dreamcast whit monster.jpg

Old prototype

Dreamcast prototype Geist Force old prototype whit animation.jpg

New prototype

Geist Force Dreamcast new prototype green monster.jpg

New prototype

Geist Force new prototype Dreamcast no monster.jpg

New prototype

Dreamcast prototype Geist Force new prototype whitout animation.jpg

In the photos above, animations, tiny though they are, do not appear on the screen.

Stage 6, if we can call it a level, contains absolutely nothing at all, the sidereal void. The development of the game had to stop at this point. When starting this area, you should see huge spaceships appear with strange textures. They are not there.

Old prototype

Unreleased Dreamcast Games Geist Force stage 6.jpg

New prototype

Unreleased Geist Force Dreamcast games stage 6.jpg

Don't expect to find a more complete build one day. We certainly have the most advanced playable prototypes.

By browsing the Geist Force files, we were able to extract 2 videos. They are not present in the game. The first is a cutscene that you will also find in my youtube video (from 6 minutes 50). The second concerns a Panzer Dragon Saga video with music from Sonic CD . We believe internally Sega has it  used  to experiment with the video codec. They added music to it.

 

They were already present in the old prototype.

Sequence not used in game

Panzer Dragon Saga, codec test

The advantage of the " Mike's room " option is that it  lets fly around the map. By loading the  Normally, the ship is stuck on a rail, because it was a " Rail Shooter " type game. The fixed rail prevents full exploration of the different maps.

Mike's Room Geist Force Dreamcast map 6 version 2.jpg
Mike's Room Geist Force map 4.jpg

In the current configuration, the Mike's room is programmed to load files from level 1. It has been shown that  rename files  for later levels so that they have the same name as level 1 will allow other maps to be loaded and played in the Mike's room (which will make them fully explorable). The downside is that you will have to make / use a new CDI to load a different level each time.

In CDI files, there are directories named STAGE0, STAGE1, STAGE2, STAGE3, STAGE4, STAGE5, STAGE6. These directories contain subdirectories containing level geometries, objects, and scripted events. The technique to load a new level is to replace the contents of the TERRAIN and OBJET directory of Stage0 with the contents of the TERRAIN and OBJET directories of State1 / Stage2 / Stage3 etc.

The trick is similar to the one used for Agartha except that it is impossible to create a compilation as for the survival of No Cliché .

Take a tour in map 4 and map 6v2 of Mikes'Room , you will have funny surprises. You will be able to download them below (the tests of burning on a CD-R were not carried out for these).

Important

prototype Geist Force dreamcast.jpg
  • While playing on an emulator, only NullDC can launch Geist Force whether with the CD-I or with the GD-I. The introductory cinematic will remain frozen, it is possible to skip it with the action key. A freeze also occurs in the middle of stage 2.

  • By playing with GDEMU whether it is with the CD-I or the GD-I, the kinematics, this time, will work. Unfortunately, the freeze in stage 2 is still present.

  • By playing with the console, by burning the game on a CD-R, the kinematics will be problematic but it will be possible to browse the whole of map 2.

You can download it below, it includes a CDI to burn your game, the original GDI dump and all the levels for the "Mike's Room".

New prototype of GEIST FORCE  for Dreamcast

Thanks:

  • in the pen of a friend wishing to remain anonymous for the correction of the article

  • to Sizious for the creation of the CD-I.

  • to ShindouGo who took on the role of beta tester on GDEMU, for the creation of the Mike's Room CDIs

Please feel free to check out " other canceled games " that I have found. For the more curious among you, I have created a " list of all unreleased from the Dreamcast ".