Looney Tunes: Space Race (lost build of cancelled original Nintendo 64 version of Dreamcast/PlayStation 2 racing game; 1998-1999)
Looney Tunes: Space Race is a futuristic kart racing video game published by Infogrames and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, released for the Sega Dreamcast in November 2000 and later ported to the PlayStation 2 in early 2002. This game should not be confused with the similarly titled Looney Tunes Racing, a more traditional kart racing game released for the original PlayStation in the year 2000.
The game was originally conceived as a Nintendo 64 title, slated for a spring/summer 1999 release. However, this game was quietly cancelled and the project was moved to another studio, which remade the game from scratch for the Dreamcast.
Looney Tunes: Space Race was first announced in April off 1998, as the very first confirmed Looney Tunes game to be published by Infogrames, who obtained the licensing rights on that same year, and planned to be developed by an unknown studio called New Wave USA.
By August of 1999, the project was moved to another development team, Infogrames Melbourne House, who started to work on a new version of the game around that time, with the then-upcoming Sega Dreamcast being their target platform. According to a source close to Infogrames, slow progress and saturated market in the kart racing genre were stated as the main reasons for the cancellation of the N64 version.
Despite a development team for the game being stapled, There is no information about New Wave USA other than this game as their only project. IGN at the time also stated that the studio Paradigm Entertainment, known for co-developing Pilotwings 64, was also heavily involved in the project. The studio ended up developing Duck Dodgers for the Nintendo 64. Another studio rumored to have worked on the game prior to its first cancellation was Zed Two, which went on to develop Taz Express, also for the N64.
Apart from some screenshots taken from various magazines, a 20 second-long preview can be seen in a promotional VHS tape titled “New Year’s Revolution”, distributed by british gaming magazine N64 Pro, highlighting games that were expected to be released in 1999, including several other Looney Tunes games published by Infogrames. Ironically, none of the N64 Looney Tunes games were released that year, with Taz Express and Duck Dodgers being both delayed by a full year and Space Race being cancelled and moved to the Sega Dreamcast.
The N64 version of Looney Tunes: Space Race contains a similar gameplay basis to that of the final version, though it contains elements that were either scrapped or used for Looney Tunes Racing, at the time in development for the PlayStation by an in-house Infogrames studio called Circus Freak.
Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Wile E. Coyote and Tweety are shown in the surviving footage as playable characters. Tweety would end up becoming a non-playable character in the final version, as the flag holder of every race.
Some of the weapons shown in footage would end up being used in the Melbourne House version of the game, such as the rocket, the portable hole and the falling anvil/safe. However, there are plenty of weapons that only exist in the N64 version, such as the magnet, which supposedly steals other racers’ weapons, throwable pies, a spring, and the Tasmanian Devil. Taz appears as a stage hazard in the final version. Throwable pies are used in Looney Tunes Racing.
Apart from racing tracks set in alien planets, there were also tracks based on classic Looney Tunes cartoons in the works. One of which shows a giant ladybug as a stage hazard and a massive Elmer Fudd head and giant carrots as decoration, suggesting that it was going to be based on Beanstalk Bunny, a cartoon that spoofs the Jack and the Beanstalk tale. A track based on that short appears in Looney Tunes Racing.
Unlike the final version, Looney Tunes Space Race was meant to have a storyline in the N64 version, with Marvin the Martian being the main antagonist of the game, who intended to destroy Planet Earth, but his gadget is stolen by a group of renegade martians, with its pieces scattered around the galaxy. Acme Corporation announces a 30 gazillion dollar reward for the recovery of every piece, prompting every Looney Tunes character to compete with each other in a race across several planets.
The only remnant of this storyline present in the final version is the Acme Corporation’s involvement in the racing championship, providing full coverage of the event as well the weapons on offer. Marvin is a playable character in the Dreamcast/PS2 version, whereas in the N64 version was originally planned as non-playable.
- IGN's article about the announcement of Looney Tunes Space Race, Retrieved March 29, '20.
- IGN's article about Space Race moving to the Dreamcast, Retrieved, March 29, '20.
- IGN's article about Paradigm Entertainment working on the game, Retrieved March 29, '20
- IGN's preview of the game, highlighting its plot, Retrieve, March 29 '20