You may remember a recent Gameological AVQ&A about the cancelled games we wish had made it to release. Nick Wanserski’s answer was Project H.A.M.M.E.R., a Nintendo game whose demise was among the most mysterious on our list. The game made its debut at E3 2006 and was never again seen or mentioned in an official capacity. Last Friday, however, the sleuths at Unseen64, a website dedicated to dredging up and analyzing the remnants of unreleased games, published a video report that paints a tragic picture of Project H.A.M.M.E.R.’s prolonged development and eventual death.
The Unseen64 writer, “Tamaki,” claims to have spoken with former members of Nintendo Software Technology (NST), the American studio that was working on Project H.A.M.M.E.R., which was eventually renamed Machinex behind the scenes. According to his sources, the game lingered for six years and underwent significant overhauls before it was canned for good in 2009. Nobody was happy with the state of the project, but NST’s core American team and the Japanese management could not come to an agreement on how to turn Machinex around. The team at NST recommended an overhaul of the game’s action, which at that point involved little more than swinging around the Wii Remote like it was a big hammer, while the management wanted to emphasize the destructibility of its environments.
As Tamaki and his sources tell it, that clash of philosophies drew out Machinex’s development and killed morale within the studio. The interviewed developers accuse the Japanese management of racism and dismissing their proposals. “Many of us knew how to create a fun game, but the Japanese would not see what we were talking about,” one source says. “They would not listen to the other team members who were not Japanese.” The management’s actions allegedly resulted in an internal review from Nintendo Of America after developers quit NST and the game’s lead designer was fired.
The report does not contain any quotes from Nintendo or Machinex’s Japanese staff members. In the video’s YouTube description, Tamaki says he reached out to the Japanese developers but received nothing but “no comment” in response. As such, the story’s only sources are spurned former NST staffers. But while the picture is incomplete, it’s likely the closest we’ll ever get to an explanation of Project H.A.M.M.E.R.’s disappearance.