It’s been eight months since the last time Antonis Pelekanos provided an update for The 90’s Arcade Racer. So, we’ve dug around to find out what happened to this throwback arcade racer. What we found is somewhat conjectural, but no less disappointing.
The 90’s Arcade Racer is likely dead.
There’s evidence to suggest it’s become vaporware or has spawned a different game altogether. The last update states development was coming to an end. It showed footage that looked really polished, presumably supporting this claim. However, the last paragraph upset many backers with the announcement of an entirely new game, The TakeOver.
“With 90s arcade racer’s [sic] development coming to an end,” the update ends, “I decided to spent [sic] some time on another project i started a while ago.”
Backer comments at the time were optimistic, some were even excited about the new game. But as the weeks went on with no updates or news, that sentiment turned. “WE JUST WANT SOME INFOMATION [sic], YOU BASTARDS!” cries the latest comment.
Keen eyed backers may have noticed an unusual detail in a video found on Antonis’ personal Youtube channel. Uploaded in May 2015, it’s titled “90’s Arcade Racer 60fps Wii U gameplay.” The video shows the game running well on the Wii U. But the first 14 seconds showcase a “90’s Super GP” logo in the bottom right corner. At an event held by Nicalis, the game’s publisher, the name change appeared again as one of the publishers upcoming games.
A name change is typically innocuous, and “The 90’s Arcade Racer” is more a description than a name. But the name change isn’t reflected on the Kickstarter or given in any of the updates. You’d think a name change from 18+ months ago would be worthy enough news to inform backers
Six days before the campaign ended, Nicalis signed on as a publisher and develop iOS, Android and Wii U ports. If you don’t recognize the name, Nicalis is an indie publisher with a history of announcing ports that never happen. A Wiiware version of La-Muluna didn’t happen. Legend of Raven’s Vita port took priority over the 3DS version, while a PS4/X1 port was announced but still hasn’t been released.
This is a company that has a reputation for undertaking the role of porting games and not delivering. A post on the now defunct AngelComm shows the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 as release platforms for 90’s Super GP. Neither of which made the original Kickstarter page. Luckily forum-goers at Sega-16 manged to grab this screenshot.
It’s a shame to think the game won’t release on the original stated platforms, PC and Mac. The game runs on the Unity engine, which makes developing for multiple platforms relatively painless. It doesn’t make sense to add PS4/X1 ports and axe the PC version. With progress nearly complete, the Wii U version is likely fine, but that’s mere speculation.
On the other hand, this could just mean Nicalis will be working on current gen console ports as well as the original platforms. It wouldn’t be surprising if the PS4 and X1 ports never see the light of day.
We’ve contacted Nicalis and Antonis for clarification. Neither have yet to reply.
It seems like such a waste. The latest gameplay footage showed what looked like a finished game. For it to disappear now seemingly due to porting issues with a bad publisher is a travesty. But it serves to highlight exactly what “crowdfunding is a gamble, not a pre-order” really means. You’re not just betting on a developer being good at making games, you’re betting on them being good business people as well, and marketers, and software engineers, and PR reps. All signs point to Nicalis being a poor and unreliable publisher. Despite the warnings, Antonis signed with them anyway.
Remember, nothing you back is a guarantee until you have it in your hands. Even then, that doesn’t guarantee quality.
Additional reporting by Bryan Rumsey.