There have been a number of high-profile Nintendo games that have flopped. But one of the biggest failures may have been one that you heard almost nothing about. Project H.A.M.M.E.R., a Wii game from Nintendo Software Technology, died after six years of painful development. The game began development in 2003 and was pitched as a core game for the Wii. When it was unveiled at E3 in 2006, the game was reportedly “75-percent complete.” Following E3, the game disappeared until it was officially cancelled in 2009.
In a short documentary by Unseen64, a number of failures at Nintendo Software Technology were uncovered. NST is a US-based studio responsible for games like Metroid Prime Hunters and Mario vs. Donkey Kong. The game featured a cybernetic protagonist with a giant hammer that could be swung into enemies using the Wii motion controller. Ex-members of the team told Unseen64 that Nintendo executives were not happy with the quality of the game, and NST felt the same way. But the two parties disagreed on how to fix the game. NST felt the biggest flaw was that the game was not fun and the game’s core mechanics needed to be overhauled. Management wanted to improve the destructibility of its environments. Eventually, upper management chose to redo the environments and make the game more cartoonish, renaming the game to Wii Crush and replacing the cyborg main character with a “cartoon character.”
In 2009, the game had made no progress so Nintendo Company Limited pulled funding and cancelled the project. By this time, the chief game designer had been fired. When Japanese management refused to consider the ideas made by NST, the staff at NST immediately began leaving the studio. Unseen64 uncovered an internal review showing record low levels of employee morale. Developers at NST accuse the Japanese management of “nationalism.” Most of the staff responsible for hits like Metroid Prime Hunters left NST after the cancellation of Project H.A.M.M.E.R.
Nintendo is not the only company to have had games go through development difficulties. The development of Silicon Knights’ X-Men: Destiny was fraught with poor management decisions. L.A. Noire’s staff also spoke of poor working conditions. Rockstar was only able to save the game after six years of development.
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