Nuon Games and Enhanced Movies (partially found unreleased games and special edition movies for the Nuon DVD/game system; 2000-2003)

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FEATURED

Bust A Move 4 Box.jpg

Official box art of the unreleased Nuon port of Bust-a-Move-4.

Status: Partially Found


The Nuon-enhanced DVD players, originally known as “Project X”, were a series of DVD/Video game combination units manufactured by Samsung, Toshiba and RCA during the early 2000s. The Nuon processors that differentiated these units from regular DVD players were produced by VM Labs. The idea behind this collaboration was that VM Labs would focus on developing and enhancing the Nuon processors and developing games while other companies would handle the manufacturing of the consoles. The intention was that the Nuon chip would become the new standard for video processing on DVD players and would greatly expand their capabilities. Later on in production, it was decided that special edition versions of movies would be released with special features such as smoothly zooming into and panning around the screen. These features would only be available on DVD players that used the Nuon chip.

However, the Nuon was a financial failure with only eight games and four enhanced movies ever officially released. A combination of the dot-com bubble burst, the 9/11 attacks, competition with other sixth-generation video game consoles (primarily the PlayStation 2 and Xbox), and simply running out of money due to low returns on licensing ruined the company. VM Labs declared bankruptcy and was bought out in 2002 by Genesis Microchip. Genesis Microchip then dropped the platform in 2003, and that was the end of the Nuon.[1] The following eight games comprise the entire official Nuon game library: Tempest 3000, Iron Soldier 3, Space Invaders XL, Ballistic, Merlin Racing, The Next Tetris, Freefall 3050 A.D., and Crayon-Shin-Chan 3 (South Korea only). The following four movies were given official Nuon-enhanced releases: Bedazzled (2000), Dr. DoLittle 2 (2001), Planet of the Apes (2001), and The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984) [2][3]

However, multiple other projects were in development at VM Labs prior to the discontinuation of the Nuon. Enthusiast sites, such as Nuon-dome, list as many as 38 games that were discussed and three more enhanced movies that never saw the light of day [2][3] However, the last working archive of the official Nuon website only features eight currently unreleased games marked work-in-progress [2]

Games

The one existing unreleased Nuon game prototype, Bust-a-Move 4, is currently held by a member of the Nuon-dome fansite, who has posted a review of the game and two videos of the game in action. The user received the game in October 2001 from VM Labs to help with playtesting and claims the game is nearly 100% complete and working, though the two-player mode causes performance issues [4] However, the current holder does not want to release his prototype to the public.

No other Nuon game prototypes are known to exist. However, descriptions and cover art for some of the alleged 38 games are present on either Nuon-dome or archives of the original official site. The latest working archive of the official Nuon site lists aMaze, Myst, Monopoly, Bust-A-Move 4, The Game of Life, Speedball 2100, zCards, and Breakout as all being in development at the time. The site contains working links for pages specific to Bust-a-Move-4, Myst, Monopoly, and aMaze containing box art, descriptions, and even screenshots. Monopoly shows up in the archives of the VM Labs online store, though it is marked as coming soon [5]

Very little information remains for the other games. Prototype footage from the Nuon version of aMaze exists on YouTube, and two concept videos for Native for the Nuon have surfaced. The Nuon-dome fansite has descriptions for some other games, but no new box art is present and most screenshots are marked with disclaimers that they are from different systems.

Movies

While information on Nuon games is elusive, more information is available on the movies. The three movies that were known to have unreleased Nuon-enhanced editions were Galaxy Quest (1999), Stigmata (1999), and The Toxic Avenger Part III: The Last Temptation of Toxie (1989). A prototype of a Nuon-enhanced version of Galaxy Quest was featured at the VM Labs booth at CES 2001 [6] According to a reporter, Dexter Davenport, this prototype contained “a feature that could show all the best lines from the movie, enabling the viewer to get an overview of the movie from different perspectives."[7] Not much else is known about this demonstration disc or any other planned or implemented features. Also, alleged Nuon-enhanced movie prototype discs for both Galaxy Quest and Stigmata appeared on an eBay auction. According to Nuon-dome, the auction was a former employee at VM Labs and was taken down because the contents were considered stolen property. The contents were then destroyed [8][9] All that remains of these auctions are the images of the two prototype discs.

No known prototype disc of The Toxic Avenger has surfaced, and the only evidence is discussions from The 2001 Chiller Theatre Expo. The Tox Box, a box set containing part 1, 2 and 3 was intended to have a fourth disc containing Nuon-enhanced features. Toxic Avenger Part III was also supposed to have Nuon-enhanced features. [10] The Tox Box was released in 2002, but the Nuon-enhanced features were not present. It is not known why these features were cut, though the Tox Box was also slated for a Summer 2001 release at the time of the expo.

Availability

It is unknown if any other footage of Nuon prototype games or movies exists. In addition to CES 2001, the 2001 TromaDance festival apparently included Nuon DVD demonstrations, as VM Labs was a sponsor, though any footage of unreleased Nuon games from either has yet to surface [11]

Status Summary

Special Edition Enhanced Movies

Title Status
Galaxy Quest Lost
Stigmata Lost
Toxic Avenger III Existence Unconfirmed

Games

Title Status
aMaze Lost
Atari's Greatest Hits Existence Unconfirmed
Battleship: Surface Thunder Existence Unconfirmed
Boggle Existence Unconfirmed
Breakout Lost
Bugdom Existence Unconfirmed
Bust-A-Move-4 Found
Dragon's Lair Existence Unconfirmed
Dragon's Lair II: Time Warp Existence Unconfirmed
Hoyle Card Games Existence Unconfirmed
Jeopardy Existence Unconfirmed
Knockout Kings Existence Unconfirmed
Madden NFL Football Existence Unconfirmed
Monopoly Lost
Myst Lost
Native II Lost
Need for Speed III Existence Unconfirmed
New Scrabble Existence Unconfirmed
NUON Board Games Existence Unconfirmed
NUON Casino Existence Unconfirmed
NUON R.C. Racing Existence Unconfirmed
Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure Existence Unconfirmed
Pong Existence Unconfirmed
Power Excavator Existence Unconfirmed
RC de Go! Existence Unconfirmed
Risk 2 Existence Unconfirmed
Riven Existence Unconfirmed
Shanghai: Mahjongg Essentials Existence Unconfirmed
Sorry! Existence Unconfirmed
Space Ace Existence Unconfirmed
Speedball 2100 Lost
Spider-Man Existence Unconfirmed
Star Trek: Invasion Existence Unconfirmed
The Game of Life Lost
Tiger Woods PGA Golf Existence Unconfirmed
Wheel of Fortune Existence Unconfirmed
Yahtzee Existence Unconfirmed
zCards Lost

Gallery

How-To-Play Section from the Bust-A-Move-4 Prototype (Courtesy of KevInBuffalo).
Gameplay footage from the Bust-A-Move-4 Prototype (Courtesy of KevInBuffalo).
Gameplay footage from the unreleased (and unresurfaced) aMaze (Courtesy of KevInBuffalo).
Concept video for the unreleased version of Native for the Nuon (Courtesy of KevInBuffalo).

References