Tom vs. Jerry: The Chase is On! (found prototypes of unreleased Super Nintendo action-platformer; 1994-1995)
The title screen of the prototype (April 28th, 1995 build).
Date found: 20 Apr 2019
Found by: Hidden Palace
Tom vs. Jerry: The Chase is On! is the title of an unreleased game for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, based on the classic MGM cartoon duo of the same name. The game was being developed by Software Creations, the Manchester-based studio known for producing such games as Silver Surfer, Plok!, Solstice and its sequel Equinox, and meant to be published by Hi-Tech Expressions, who owned the video game rights of Tom & Jerry at the time.
During its development, the game was known externally as Tom & Jerry 2, though it is unclear if it was a working title or it was meant to be the direct sequel to Hi Tech Expressions' Tom & Jerry, developed by a different studio, Riedel Software Productions, and released for the Super Nintendo in 1992. While the 1992 game was a traditional platformer, The Chase is On was planned to be more action-oriented, with Jerry constantly having to run away from Tom as he collects all pieces of cheese available in the level, although being able to defend himself by carrying a mallet or frying pan, leading Tom to a set of mousetraps, and/or catching special pieces of cheese that grant him superpowers.
The game was quietly cancelled, likely due to Hi-Tech Expressions’ financial troubles in the mid-1990s, which led to its eventual closure in 1997.
Rediscovery and Release
Despite coverage of the game back in the day, Tom vs. Jerry: The Chase is On! became largely forgotten until April of 2015, when YouTube user Steven Seventyeight uploaded a video with gameplay footage of one of the prototypes, showing the ROM cartridge inserted in a modified Super Famicom console.
On April 20th 2019, Hidden Palace announced through their website and social media pages that the game was finally available online. Member of the community Drx found two ROM cartridges of the game in the "German lot", a lot of game cartridges presumably named after the country where it came from, and dumped them online. There are key differences between the two builds:
July 11th, 1994
- The title screen is simply titled Tom & Jerry, and it shows the logo without a trademark symbol;
- The title screen contains an animation test of Tom, displaying all of his animations and (for its time) impressive sprite artwork;
April 28th, 1995
- The title screen uses its full title, with the Tom vs. Jerry part of the logo bearing a trademark symbol;
- The animation test was replaced by still sprites of Tom chasing Jerry. It also contains a high score bar;
- The levels now begin with a title card. These are shorter than in the earlier prototype but with more segments. Each level ends when Jerry reaches the rightmost corner of it.
The game garnered even more attention when Joe Redifer from the YouTube channel Game Sack reviewed the 1995 build in the episode "Unreleased Games 3", praising the prototype for its sprite animations and faithfulness to the source material, claiming that it could’ve been the best Tom & Jerry game if it ever was released.
- Tom & Jerry’s sprite animations make references to several classic shorts, most notably the 1947 short Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Mouse, where a muscular Jerry grabs Tom by the tail and slams him against the floor repeatedly. The sprite animation where Tom breaks the fourth wall and closes down a black curtain after catching Jerry might be a reference to 1955’s Southbound Duckling, a short notable for being one of the very few that ends with Tom emerging victorious over Jerry;
- Hidden Palace claims that, apart from Hi Tech Expressions’ financial troubles, the game was also cancelled due to Ted Turner buying Hanna-Barbera in 1991, leading to the cancellation of several Hanna-Barbera-related projects. This statement is inaccurate because, despite William Hanna and Joseph Barbera being the creators of Tom & Jerry, Metro Goldwyn Mayer was the rights holder of the characters after the duo left the studio to form their own. Ted Turner bought the rights of Tom & Jerry from MGM, as well as most of the studio’s film and television library, in 1986, five years before Ted Turner’s acquisition of Hanna-Barbera Productions.
- Hidden Palace's page of the July 11th, 1994 prototype. Retrieved 23 Jul '19
- Hidden Palace's page of the April 28th, 1995 prototype. Retrieved 23 Jul '19
- Article about Tom vs. Jerry in German magazine Nintendo Fun Vision. Retrieved 23 Jul '19
- Retro Collect's article about Steven Seventyeight's video. Retrieved 23 Jul '19
- Hidden Palace's announcement post. Retrieved 23 Jul '19
- Hidden Palace's tweet announcing the release of the prototypes. Retrieved 23 Jul '19
- GameSack episode "Unreleased Games 3". Retrieved 23 Jul '19