Here we have an unreleased game with quite a story behind it, well atleast as to how it ended up in the hands of the public considering the fact that it went
unreleased. Tommy Thunder was under development way back in 1997 at Player1, known for Nintendo64 titles such as Robotron64, Hercules: The Legendary Journey,
Blues Brothers 2000 and Milo's Astro Lanes.
Tommy Thunder pretty much passed under the radar though, I don't think it was ever really mentioned by the media eventhough Player1 actually did have a publisher
for their game in development. American Software Corporation, also known as ASC Games, was up for the task of releasing Tommy Thunder.
Anyway back in the day Player1 one had a link from their website to their ftp site, for everyone to browse, even as anonymous user. Sometime late 1997 I and I
believe lots of other people downloaded a couple of zip files from the ftp, freely available to anyone visiting. The two files were robo64.zip and thommy.zip.
Unfortunately for everyone the two files were password protected and no one was able to retrieve the password back then and while almost everyone was able to determine
that robo64.zip probably was Robotron64, it was anyone's guess what tommy.zip was, one guess was a working title for Robotron64.
Fast forward to 2008 a user on the lostlevels.org website called "herpetic.adventures" made a thread about the old tommy.zip from Player1's FTP site and how he
had been able to crack open the zip. Tommy.zip turned out to be an old N64 project by Player1, the complete title being Tommy Thunder. Tommy Thunder definately
most likely wasn't Player1's first N64 game as Robotron64 had already been completed and released.
Tommy Thunder was to released by ASC Games, also known as American Softworks Corporation, and worked out of Darien, Connecticut, until it closed its doors in
January 2000. ASC Games had a couple of other N64 games in the works, Animaniacs Ten Pin Alley and Jeff Gordon XS Racing, however neither of these games were
released either and ASC actually didn't manage to release a single N64 game. Jeff Gordon XS Racing was also going to be released for the PlayStation, and
Tommy Thunder later changed lane - to become a Playstation game, but neither of those projects happened either. Jeff Gordon XS Racing was supposed to be
available sometime during 1999 for both PlayStation and the N64.
The creative master mind behind Tommy Thunder was George Weising and the game was being programmed by Marcus Goodey, who also made Robotron64.
(George Weising) What you have is an early N64 Prototype of Tommy Thunder. The game got
signed by ASC games and switched to PlayStation. We made it pretty far
into production before ASC Games ran out of money and were forced to
cancel the project. Owell.. We actually submitted it to Ken Lobb when he when at NOA.
Justin Siller was brought in as lead designer as well as associate producer on the Playstation version and seems to remember things a little different.
(Justin Siller) That was a loooong time ago. You had me doubting myself, as I couldn't recall N64 development on it, but digging
around, I guess they initially targeted N64 and switched to PSX. Most likely, N64 was not capable even in theory of accomplishing what the ambitious design
called for. The truth is, I was not there very long, but the PSX development reached no further than the video.
The game at the time I left was only at prototype stages and not really even first playable. I was brought in to take over daily design duties and creative
management so George could focus on other duties as an exec. George's design was extremely ambitious, technically, and based upon our team size and schedule,
I was tasked to prune it. As you can see in the youtube clip, there was only Tommy running around the most basic geometry.
Programmers were attempting to create a robust engine that would stream sectors of the map in on-the-fly. Tommy was to have various equipment and power-ups that
would alter how he traversed terrain (anti-grav boots), numerous weapons, and creatures would have complex AI specific to each species (including enmity against
other species.) Not very impressive by today's standards, but this was PSX era.
From what I know, Player1 dissolved not long after my departure. Therefore, Tommy Thunder never went much beyond the design and prototype phases.
Unfortunately for Player1 they made some bad decisions along the way which untimately forced the small game developer to close its doors.
(Holly Hirzel) We closed the company. A string of bad luck with publishers and the mistake of betting on the Dreamcast instead
of the Xbox bascially sunk us.
The build date of the Tommy Thunder binary found on Player1's ftp site was most likely October 2, 1997, which is the file creation date.
(George Weising - After having seen the old game) Ya.. It blew me away! that was such an early test...
Already on February 25, 1998, Tommy Thunder was mentioned as "now a PlayStation title" by a Factor 5 employee,in an interview with IGN.
Well, even on the Super NES and the Amiga, there were tons of titles that were like our Turrican. Right now, the only title that resembles our game a little is
on the PlaySation, One. But even after playing it for a few seconds, I can immediately tell you that our game will play differently, the whole feel of it will
be different. And the same thing is going to happen with those other games. I'm curious about the Player 1 title with the grappling hook [Tommy Thunder, now for
PSX], it's supposed to be like Contra with Metroid elements and I've heard that those guys really liked Turrican on the Super NES (laughs).
Mentioned below are some of the people who were involved in the making of Tommy Thunder:
George Weising (Producer)
Marcus Goodey (Programming)
Justin Siller (Level Designer, Associate Producer - PSX Version)
Douglas W. Cope (Lead Artist - PSX Version)
I'd like to thank George Weising, Justin Siller and Holly Hirzel for helping me, make this small tribute to an unreleased N64 game, by answering a few questions.