Even now, in those corners of the Internet devoted to the machines of the early 80s, the possibility of unearthing a copy of Mire Mare is still talked about - in spite of the fact that there was never any proof of its existence beyond a single mention of the name. Some people are just mental.
The story behind it goes like this: one of Ultimate's early Spectrum releases, Underwurlde, ended with the player locating one of three possible exits. Each of these acted as a carefully vague mini-preview of the next instalment in the Sabreman saga, one pointing the way to Knight Lore, another to Pentagram and the last of the three to Mire Mare. As it turned out, this final title was the only one that failed to materialise.
The omission was never intentional, as work did begin to some extent on a game that would have been more akin to the top-down Sabre Wulf than any of the isometric Filmation titles which dominated Ultimate's later years. The basic game design and cover art were both completed, but when the actual coding aspect became entangled in the chaos of the company's hectic career-peak schedule, it became inevitable that Mire Mare would never see the light of day...
Before Battletoads, there was Wrestlerage; on the SNES, at least. This 1991 side-viewed grapple-fest aimed to capitalise on the success of the two NES wrestling titles previously produced by Rare, but also to break away from the restrictive ring-based play of the licensed games by taking the action out into the streets / parks / fairgrounds / building sites / anywhere else with a bit of free space.
Starring a cast of eight fictitious brawlers ranging from Mr. Mangler through to the Silver Bullet, Wrestlerage was set to transpose the best elements of the popular wrestling game onto a Double Dragon-style scrolling urban background, each of the fighting arenas around three screens in length. The traditional attacks of such games (both unarmed and weapons-based) would be joined by dropkicks, pins, grapples and unique attacks such as carrying your opponents bodily around the screen and even, if the mood took you, bouncing their heads off various pieces of background scenery. A mode of play was even planned where all the contenders jumped into one big on-screen free-for-all rather than slugging it out head-to-head.
But these ambitions were to remain unrealised when, at around 60% complete, the lack of a licence or an already successful version which the marketers could use as a core selling point finally sealed Wrestlerage's fate. In
a tricky period for the console market, with punters becoming more cautious than ever about how their money was spent, the sad fact was that none of the potential distributors were willing to take on board the risk of an original game. And so the way was left clear for the Battletoads conversions instead to become Rare's first SNES outings...
A conversion of the original yet obscure 1990 coin-op of the same name, Rare's Exterminator for the NES saw you playing the part of a pest control officer moving from building to building with the task of clearing out all the insects and other foes (animated toys, possessed household objects, you know, the usual sort of thing) to be found in each.
With no actual arcade machine on hand, the conversion team were forced to make do with a video of someone else playing through the original game: in spite of this setback, however, they still managed to get working versions of the first few levels up and running while the project was underway...
The fact that the on-screen player sprite was a floating disembodied hand made the game an obvious candidate for Power Glove compatibility - but ironically this extra touch played a large role in the title's failure to ever reach the shelves. Poor sales of the Glove accessory itself and, again, the lack of an established market for the game (the coin-op hadn't achieved a massive profile for itself) made continuing with the project all but pointless, so the team simply dropped it and moved onto whatever was next in line.
Not an abandoned project as such, Brute Force was, for some time, the game we know as Killer Instinct today. The compulsory trademark check is a lengthy and knee-breakingly expensive process which can come relatively late in a project's life, so it's nothing out of the ordinary to have to change the original title two or three times before arriving at a name that hasn't already been stamped with a copyright somewhere in the world.
A fair chunk of KI's development was carried out under its working title, much of which was substantially changed before the final version hit the streets - names, character designs and gameplay elements underwent constant surgery during Brute Force's life. This early Glacius render shows how the character evolved from what was fundamentally your common or garden alien killing machine into a far more interesting figure of persecution (no, really): while the initial female character, known as both 'Roxy Rave' and 'Wanda' during her brief existence, served as a very early prototype for Orchid. A couple of Roxy's most endearing assets were, of course, faithfully retained. Ahem.
It's common knowledge to most die-hard KI fans that Cinder was previously called 'Magma' and 'Meltdown', but those are far from all the name changes that came about during development. In fact only Jago, Glacius and Eyedol survived with their original names intact: for example, how many of you knew that Riptor was once referred to as 'Toxin', Spinal as 'Argo', Sabrewulf as 'Newton' and Combo as, er... 'Mr. Fist'? So you see how badly things could have turned out. Think yourselves lucky.