Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Unreleased: Drac's Night Out

The podcast I was hoping to have ready this week isn't going to make it on time, so instead I'm going to share some information about an unreleased game that turned up while I was doing some research.

Parker Brothers circa 1990 was planning a vampire-themed game for the Nintendo NES as a joint promotion with Reebok.  The game, to be called Drac's Night Out, was designed to promote Reebok's "The Pump" athletic shoes -- the protagonist, a teen-aged vampire (just like in real life), was supposed to "pump up" the sneakers to gain faster speed and higher jumps (just like in real life).  So the whole play mechanic was a marketing device -- not a bad idea, really, though these kinds of ad-driven games rarely turn out well.  The game was scheduled for release in the winter of 1990-1991, according to an article in the November 1990 issue of Video Games & Computer Entertainment magazine.  But it never showed up at retail.

Fortunately, however, a prototype version of the game with a playable first stage has survived into the emulator age, and numerous clips and reviews are available on YouTube.  From these artifacts, we can see that Drac possesses hypnotic powers he can use to freeze villagers, but he can't actually attack them directly.  He has to flip switches to encourage Frankenstein's monster, a ghost, a rolling boulder, a poisonous arachnid, a portcullis, a falling chandelier, an axe-throwing suit of armor, and/or a swinging pendulum... among, one presumes, other elements of classic horror... to knock the innocent civilians out of commission.  Once that's done, he can kneel down and drain them of blood with a pleasantly graphic sucking sound.  Evidence also indicates that the Reebok "The Pump" shoes are simply picked up as an instant power-up, so perhaps the "pump up" mechanic described in the press release didn't pan out in practice.

The available clips indicate that the gameplay got repetitive after a while, but the concept isn't bad, and it has a mid-1980s arcade feel with nicely-animated cartoon sprites.  It's a little different from the typical late-era NES platformer, and it's a shame it never got released.  Here's a playthrough of the first level captured by YouTube archivist mrgamer1 -- enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. Dude, I just got this game in the mail today from a site to review the quality of their repros!

    I think you should cross post this one for sure