Within the book is an in-depth and detailed 16 page story about the unreleased Deathwatch by Data Design Interactive for the Atari Jaguar platform. A title where very little light has been shed until now. We speak to second lead developer Ben Whitlock, designer John Court, artist Richard Priest, musician Darren Wood, producer Eamonn Barr and also include input from Dale Johnstone, Stewart Green and Simeon Hankins.
The game originally had a working title of “Bug” and was a multi-directional 2D platformer with beautifully painted and scanned backgrounds – sort of like Rayman, but with inspirations from run and gun titles such as Midnight Resistance and Super Contra. It was a concept from the brains of designer John Court, and which DDI took a real shine too from his sketch book concepts.
As well as the complete timeline of events and quotes from the developers, the book includes a series of specially re-pixelled screens from grainy screenshots and utilizing sprites that were recovered during research into the game. We were fortunate to have been provided with a series of art assets from the game, including concept sketches thanks to the combined efforts of John Court, Richard Priest and Ben Whitlock. Many of which there wasn’t space to include in the book, so here they are for you now and previously unseen.
In addition to this, a design document was recovered by Ben and has been allowed to be included here as a PDF download, full of detailed information about the planned levels and concepts. As for the game itself, sadly it seems to be completely lost – but it is hoped that something will turn up in the future.
Although rumoured to have been completed, the game was actually cancelled at around a 50-60% complete stage, when DDI decided to drop the title when Atari kept stalling on feedback and payments for milestones. Atari even at one stage wanted DDI to turn the game into a fully 3D title, but DDI refused after the lack of engagement and confidence with Atari over the course of its development. Focus switched to projects that paid, and on time.
There apparently exists a later video showing a far more advanced version of the game before the cancellation was made, showing some of the end of level guardians. We hope to have this found soon to bring to you. For now, you can check out the Atari Explorer Online E3 video of the game which has been doing the rounds – below is a link to the best quality version from Urs Koenig.
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This game could be great one if they manage to finish it, but I also understand why they decided to move onto other projects.