Starblade: Operation Blue Planet (lost build of unreleased arcade game; 2002)
In 2001, Namco developed a new arcade cabinet utilizing the Namco System 246 arcade board titled "ORBS" (Over Reality Booster System). The cabinet featured a seat module that would slide into the cabinet, a 5.1 channel Dolby Digital sound system, and a globe-shaped surface for projectors. Starblade: Operation Blue Planet was the only known game developed for this kind of cabinet. It was intended as a sequel to the 1991 arcade game Starblade and would have been released sometime in 2002.
Production and Status
Operation Blue Planet was in production at Namco for its System 247 hardware, an arcade board based on the internals of the PlayStation 2. The idea for the game came from director Higashiyama Asahi's personal love for the original, believing its first-person gameplay would work well with the O.R.B.S. machine. He lead a small team of employees during production; among these was "Sadahiro", a designer for Galaxian3: Project Dragoon, which was the game that inspired the original Starblade. The game was designed to be simplistic in response to Japan's shrinking arcade game industry.
The game was presented at the Amusement Machine Show in 2001, and was one of the most popular games at the show, reportedly possessing a 70-minute wait to play the game. Only one level was playable to the public, and a "to be continued" message was displayed upon completion. It was received favorably by news outlets, who applauded its realistic graphics and immersive arcade cabinet. Despite its praise, it never made it past location testing, resulting in the cancellation of the game and O.R.B.S. cabinet. No official reason was given for its cancellation, however it is believed the manufacturing cost of O.R.B.S. and the sharp decline of the coin-op industry in Japan were to blame.
A gameplay video was uploaded on November 26, 2007, showing a small segment of the game. Namco Bandai themselves uploaded a complete playthrough of the demo, which was uploaded on October 5, 2011. Around that same time, the game was added to the United Galaxy Space Force website in the UGSF timeline.
The game has not been released for any home video game platform and has not been dumped on MAME or any other emulator.