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 music

Music for Geist Force Dreamcast was taken from the prototype. Audio uses the same format as the Saturn SDK. There are 5 different tracks. These are catchy electro sounds that stick well to the spirit of the game.

track01
00:00 / 02:17
title
00:00 / 01:57
track00
00:00 / 02:29
LXG8E4.STR
00:00 / 01:13
subboss1
00:00 / 02:54

Geist Force Dreamcast Original Sound Track (Youtube)

Text and audio dialogues

All lines of text and audio dialogue, in Japanese, are present in the game files. Many of them are unused.

While testing the prototype, STAGE 6 is empty, it is not finished. This level has its dialogues which make it possible to understand, to interpret the unfolding of the mission as if the development of Geist Force would have been to the end. We also learn the name of some areas. Here is an example :

stage6,L6C1E1D1,L6C1E1.STR,アルファチーム、よくここまでたどりついた さて、偵察隊によってス・サニア星最大の衛星、ボレアスに敵の基地が存在することが確認された

stage6,L6C1E1D1,L6C1E1.STR: Alpha Team, you've come this far. Our reconnaissance team has confirmed the presence of an enemy base on Boreas, the largest moon of the planet Susania.

stage6,L6C1E1D2,L6C1E1.STR,情報によれば、敵は月の内部に集結しているらしい

stage6,L6C1E1D2,L6C1E1.STR: Intelligence suggests the enemy is regrouping inside the moon.

stage6,L6C1E1D3,L6C1E1.STR,この第7艦隊は周辺の敵をおさえる 君たちはボレアス内部に潜入し、敵基地を襲撃せよ 健闘を祈る

stage6,L6C1E1D3,L6C1E1.STR : This Seventh Fleet will control the enemy in the area. You must infiltrate inside Boreas and storm the enemy base.

stage6,L6C1E2D1,L6C1E2D1.STR,ボレアス…?母さんの月…

Stage 6, L6C1E2D1, L6C1E2D1.STR, Boreas...? Mother Moon...

stage6,L6C1E2D2,L6C1E2D2.STR,え?

stage6,L6C1E2D2,L6C1E2D2.STR,What?

stage6,L6C1E2D3,L6C1E2D3.STR,ルックも覚えてるでしょ、母さんがボレアスで遺跡の発掘をしてたって それが通信施設みたいなものだったんだけど、結局よく分かんないまんま、内戦が終わっちゃって…

stage6,L6C1E2D3,L6C1E2D3.STR, you remember my mother was digging some ruins in Boreas, it was like a communications facility, but in the end, I don't know, the civil war was over and...

stage6,L6C1E2D4,L6C1E2D4.STR,今はどうなってるんだ、その遺跡って?

stage6,L6C1E2D4,L6C1E2D4.STR, What's up now, these ruins?

stage6,L6C1E2D5,L6C1E2D5.STR,そのまま封印されて、ほったらかし 母さんは月を見るたんびに、「あとちょっとで分かったのに」って言ってるけど

stage6,L6C1E2D5,L6C1E2D5.STR,They were locked up and left alone. Every time Mom looks at the moon, she says, "I almost knew."

L6Z1E2.STR
00:00 / 00:04
L6C1E2D5.STR
00:00 / 00:08
L6C1E2D1.STR
00:00 / 00:03
L6C1E2D2.STR
00:00 / 00:00
L6C1E2D3.STR
00:00 / 00:11
L6C1E1.STR
00:00 / 00:26

You can download the Geist Force dialogue pack below:

Geist Force Dialogue Pack (Reverse Engineering)

Textures

As for the dialogues, many of the textures present on the GD-R are not used in game. It is possible to imagine unknown environments, new characters and even what the end of zone bosses could look like with their different transformations.

The 12 different characters (Icon during the dialogues):

face2.MBmp.png
face11.MBmp.png
face6.MBmp.png
face12.MBmp.png
face5.MBmp.png
face7.MBmp.png
face4.MBmp.png
face8.MBmp.png
face9.MBmp.png
face1.MBmp.png
face3.MBmp.png
face13.MBmp.png

Each line of dialogue is accompanied by a talking head file, and in this file there is a face texture, seen above, as well as textures for the body, teeth and optional overlays like helmets and masks. The most interesting part is, if you've been paying attention to the in-game conversations, you might have noticed that they're lively. There are also textures for the teeth. These textures aren't just displayed as static images, but are applied to a few polygons, which are then animated to make the characters talk and give them ambient animation.

Example of a boss not implemented in the prototype (ALIEN QUEEN STAGE 6):

Phase 1

BAACK.MBmp.png
HOOD.MBmp.png
CHEST.MBmp.png
HEAAD.MBmp.png

Phase 2

HOOD.MBmp.png
weakptb.MBmp.png
mouth.MBmp.png
armpit1.MBmp.png
weakpta.MBmp.png

Phase 3

HOOD2.MBmp.png
ARRM2.MBmp.png
EGG2.MBmp.png
BAACK2.MBmp.png

Looks like when the player fights the Boss , he changes his textures to a bloodier version.

If STAGE 1 contains a boss encounter while playing the Prototype, the Arenas for the Master's encounters on other levels are empty. The Boss textures of all the maps are present on the disc. Animations are also there.

You can download the Geist Force texture pack below:

Geist Force Textures Pack (Reverse Engineering)

The differences between the 2 known prototypes

Binary files 1998/1ST_READ.BIN and 1999/1ST_READ.BIN differ
Only in 1998: CDWARNING.PCM
Only in 1999: LEGIT.DMMY
Binary files 1998/MIFF/FONT/KANJI.BIN and 1999/MIFF/FONT/KANJI.BIN differ
Binary files 1998/MIFF/GENERAL/EFFECT/ENVMAP6.MIFF and 1999/MIFF/GENERAL/EFFECT/ENVMAP6.MIFF differ
Only in 1999/MIFF/STAGE6/OBJECT: CONSTRUCTIONDEBRIS.MIFF
Only in 1999/MIFF/STAGE6/OBJECT: REFLECTIVEBALLS.MIFF
Only in 1999/MIFF/STAGE6/PATH: DFAREA.MIFF
Only in 1999/MIFF/STAGE6/PATH: DFAREA_1.MIFF
Only in 1999/MIFF/STAGE6/PATH: DFAREA_2.MIFF
Only in 1999/MIFF/STAGE6/PATH: DFAREA_3.MIFF

Binary files 1998/MIFF/STAGE4/EVENT/CUT3.MIFF and 1999/MIFF/STAGE4/EVENT/CUT3.MIFF differ
Binary files 1998/MIFF/STAGE4/EVENT/CUT4.MIFF and 1999/MIFF/STAGE4/EVENT/CUT4.MIFF differ
Binary files 1998/MIFF/STAGE4/EVENT/CUT5.MIFF and 1999/MIFF/STAGE4/EVENT/CUT5.MIFF differ
Binary files 1998/MIFF/STAGE4/EVENT/CUT6.MIFF and 1999/MIFF/STAGE4/EVENT/CUT6.MIFF differ
Binary files 1998/MIFF/STAGE4/EVENT/CUT7.MIFF and 1999/MIFF/STAGE4/EVENT/CUT7.MIFF differ
Binary files 1998/MIFF/STAGE4/EVENT/CUT8.MIFF and 1999/MIFF/STAGE4/EVENT/CUT8.MIFF differ
Binary files 1998/MIFF/STAGE4/EVENT/SCRIPT.MIFF and 1999/MIFF/STAGE4/EVENT/SCRIPT.MIFF differ
Only in 1998/MIFF/STAGE4: LUC

You can download the 313 differences between the 2 Geist Force prototypes below:

Geist Force prototype differences

Conclusion of the work of Reverse Engineering

Only level 3 is missing. Level 4 and Level 6 seem incomplete. Levels 1, 2 and 5 seem to be complete, judging by the files.

Geist Force had to be canceled during its assembly phase. It would have taken, no doubt, between 6 and 8 months to complete and polish it.

It would be possible to finish it but it would require the source code of the game. Of course, we could not finish it 100% but implanting the enemies and the bosses in all the levels would already be satisfactory. This would be a long-term project taking many years. This is the first time that this opportunity has arisen!

Thanks to Sifting for his Reverse Engineering work, thanks to him we en  learn more about this Dreamcast Star Fox .

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