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Project H.A.M.M.E.R., the quiet death of a Wii game

by Eric Frederiksen | July 8, 2015July 8, 2015 6:30 pm PDT

Remember Project H.A.M.M.E.R.? Me neither, until I checked out some videos and felt the memories come rushing back. Project H.A.M.M.E.R., or Machinex as it was going to be titled, was announced as being in development for the Wii back in 2006. We heard of it only a couple more times before it disappeared completely. Youtube channel Unseen64, a channel devoted to digging up the weird, unusual stories of Nintendo, has put together a tale of understaffed development, butting heads and apparently some plain old clash of cultures.

The game, which we’ll call Machinex, began life in 2003 in development at Nintendo’s in-house western studio, Nintendo Software Technology, which had worked on titles like Wave Race: Blue Storm and Metroid Prime Hunters. Machinex was a game that had you playing as a cyborg with a giant hammer, swinging the Wii remote around to simulate hammer action on-screen. It’d been in development for nearly three years before it was finally shown at E3 2006, and was quite far along.

The game was apparently not very fun, though, and both the development team and studio management agreed that something needed to be done. This is where things start to get rough. The two groups didn’t see eye to eye on just how to go about that, with the development team wanting to make the core mechanics more fun and the management looking for an overhaul of the game’s environments. The two groups continued to butt heads as development moved ahead in fits and starts. Eventually, though, according to anonymous members of the team, the Japanese management simply stopped listening to the western developers. They were told things like, “You wouldn’t understand, you’re not Japanese.” Well, that’s a good way to help morale.

Team morale had plummeted, and members of the team left one after another. Management requested a total visual overhaul of the game, and development attempted to comply, though management was never satisfied. They even tried to scrap the game completely and go with a casual version that used the hammer mechanics and nothing else, though that disappeared as well. In 2009, Nintendo’s head of PR at the time said in pretty clear terms that resources had been shifted away from the game.

The game really does look pretty generic, and it’s not likely it would’ve done well in the states we’ve seen it, but the development team clearly had some ideas they weren’t allowed to communicate, so who knows what Machinex could’ve been. Nowadays, NST is relegated to making small digital games, instead of large, meaningful contributions to Nintendo’s software lineup and stable of applications.

Check out the whole story above with Unseen64‘s in-depth investigation.


Eric Frederiksen

Eric Frederiksen has been a gamer since someone made the mistake of letting him play their Nintendo many years ago, pushing him to beg for his own,...

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