While much of retro gaming focusses on the tech side of things – whether it’s modding consoles for their best possible video output, or looking at new ways to ensure old games can be played on modern displays and modern hardware – for me the love of retro gaming is really about the history of games as culture. Looking back on what was, seeing how games of the time represented trends or thoughts of the time, seeing how those trends and ideas date and if the concepts are still relevant to us today or not.
And within that historical look back, I’m always fascinated by not only what was, but also what wasn’t. Games that didn’t make the cut for whatever reason. Whether financial pressures forced titles to be abandoned or whole commercial efforts to be shut down, or whether there were other commercial or political pressures to change a game’s release, and if that was the case what ever happened to those unfinished products?
There are very famous cases of these, of course. And sometimes even ones that surprise us when they are finally released many years later – Starfox 2 comes to mind, released by a normally reserved Nintendo on an official emulation system of all things (ironic, considering Nintendo’s myopic stance on emulation, especially in my country). But sometimes there are cases of these cancelled games existing that might initially seem less interesting due to either the game’s content or genre, but I find that there’s always an interesting story behind the scenes.
I recently stumbled across such a game courtesy of an incredible set of deep dive videos produced by Raven Simone, aka Bobdunga on YouTube. The series is titled “The Girl Games of Lost Media”, and takes a look at three games that were tie-ins of rather popular films spanning the 80s, 90s and 00s – “Pretty in Pink”, “Clueless” and “Mean Girls” (another silly passion of mine is 80s and 90s nostalgia, and particularly films of that era that have since dated for better or worse). Raven Simone goes above and beyond digging into the history of “Mean Girls” especially, which seemed to all but reach the finish line of development and was even rumoured to be on shelves in certain parts of the world for a point in time, yet somehow just ceased to exist.
And while the game’s genre, content or premise might not appeal to everyone, I still recommend taking the time to watch these videos. Not just for the great 80s and 90s aesthetic either, but to see how far down the rabbit hole one person can go to find the people that worked on these games, and ask questions about what actually happened.