1982 SEGA Electronics
Platforms: Commodore Vic-20, Intellivision, Atari 5200, Colecovision and Atari 400/800
Tac-Scan was an early vector-based title by SEGA Electronics in 1982. The game uniquely had you controlling up to seven ships at once, each of which could be taken out by enemy fire. As with most of SEGA’s arcade titles of the time, there were plans for home conversions to the Atari 2600, 400/800, Intellivision, Atari 5200, Colecovision and Commodore Vic 20 (probably Commodore 64 too).
However, only the Atari 2600 version was to surface, with all of the other conversions never surfacing. According to Mobygames, the Colecovision port was being handled by Nuvatec, programmed by Jim Wolf and Joe Clark – though development was sadly halted by Coleco with just two stages converted. This conflicts with what an ex-Nuvatec programmer reported back to a poster on AtariAge:
“Tac-Scan was pulled because Coleco was not able to come to royalty terms with Sega. As a result, it never got beyond the background screens before it was pulled, so nothing was saved and there really was no game play yet. Joe & Jim worked on another game after that but I don’t remember what it was. Possibly another that was cancelled.
In any event, Coleco started Tac-Scan BEFORE negotiating the rights, assuming the owner would love to have this done. It pissed off Sega who then wanted far more than the usual amount and Coleco scrapped the game. Also, since Tac-Scan used a vector display for the arcade game, what we attempted to replicate on a TV was far from a decent implementation. So it was good that it was pulled. We were not happy with how it was going to look and we took pride in our work.”
What of the other platforms?
With the other platforms, information is scarce, apart from the Vic-20 edition having some promising developments in 2010. For years, it had been known the developer was Joe Sengir. He was also known to have the only remaining copy of the game, suggesting it was near completion. The suggestion is that the game was likely cancelled when SEGA moved over to the Commodore 64 platform.
Well, in 2010, AtariAge poster Psionic reported that they had obtained a prototype of the Vic 20 edition, around a 95% completed state and an 8K cartridge (lacking a title screen). The game was pretty solid and utilized paddle controls like the Atari 2600 edition. The aim was to tidy things up and produce a limited run physical release of the game in proper packaging. Sadly this has yet to materialize due to complications and production issues. Psionic is still adamant that it will eventually see release.
The prototype was released to the Mega-Cart team and added on their Revision 20 cartridge as a bonus extra. So, we’re trying to see if its possible to obtain a copy to add to the archive.
With thanks to Fabrizio Bartoloni for the heads up.