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#008: Advent Shadow



Advent Shadow
Full Fat

As an industry that pulls in billions of dollars annually, video games is a significant force in the word of entertainment and in many cases outperforms classic forms of media such as movies, television and literature. Yet, despite how profitable the industry has become, you still do not see much in the way of collaboration with significant figures from other forms of entertainment. Sure, every year we receive a new game plastered with Tom Clancy's name on it, but setting aside the fact that the author had passed a number of years ago, he basically had no involvement in the games bearing his name. We have a high-profile collaboration with famed author of A Song if Ice and Fire, George R.R. Martin, releasing in 2022. But by far such collaborations are rare. One of these collaborations was the game Advent Rising, which involved famed science fiction author Orson Scott Card working on the screenplay and dialog for the game. Regardless of Card's political and moral views, he is still a talented author, with Ender's Game his most famous. Advent Rising showed some promise with it's interstellar sci-fi story, and was planned to be the first part of a trilogy. Due to misfortunes that we will discuss shortly, the trilogy never came to be. While little is known about any of the planned Advent Rising sequels, there was also a spin-off game planned that was caught in the fallout. Planned for Sony's PlayStation Portable, Advent Shadow unfortunately was dragged into the recycle bin due to no fault of it's own. 

Advent Shadow was first announced in late 2004, with a planned release date sometime in 2005, potentially as a launch-day or window for the North American release of the PSP. Based in an article from IGN about the game, it appears that when the game was announced in 2004, it had already been under development for some time, thus the suggestion that the game would release sometime around the launch of the PSP in early 2005. Interestingly, had it actually been a launch window game for the handheld, it would have actually landed before the arrival of Advent Rising on the XBOX, as that game released in May of 2005. The game was to be set within the same universe as the console game, but there would have been very little direct connection between the two games. The focus of the game would have been Marin Steel, a female mercenary pilot who does make an appearance in the console game. Although you would have the opportunity to cross paths with the main character of Advent Rising, Gideon Wyeth, the story would be a separate tangent from the console game. It would, however, follow some of the same themes and sub-plots introduced in the console game. The game would also cover many of the same beats as the console counterpart, including stealth gameplay and the use of vehicles, though of course scaled down to work on the less-powerful PSP. Little else about the game was made public, though we do have access to very early gameplay footage that has been included. 

Unfortunately, the failures of Advent Rising would draw down the rest of the franchise. Upon it's release, Advent Rising only received middling reviews, a disappointment considering how much hype had been built up by Majesco for the game. While not a terrible game by any means, it released with a significant amount of bugs that, at it's worse, could cause the game to freeze up. A PC version released shortly after the XBOX debut received higher praise due to a number of fixes that reduced the amount of bugs in the game, providing a better experience overall. The XBOX game also released with the ill-advised 'Race to Save Humanity' contest that asked players to locate a series of hidden symbols across multiple levels in the game in order to win 1 million dollars. The contest was cancelled in August of 2005, with Majesco claiming the reason was "no technically feasible solution that would allow the contest to continue in a fair and secure manner". At the time, I remember rumors circulating that the real reason the contest was cancelled was that Majesco lacked the cash to back up the promised reward. It is certainly possible, though there is no way to prove that hypothesis. Majesco did end up in a financial hole following the commercial failure of Advent Rising and the cult-classic Psyconauts. Although the company was able to survive this, they turned their back on big-budget games and instead turned to the casual and handheld market, where successful games didn't require a huge budget. Advent Shadow would be one of the game cut by this ordeal, which also saw the death of Demonik, a game based on the Martin Scorsese film Taxi Driver, and a PSP BloodRayne game. Unfortuantely, since Majesco still owns the rights to the Advent franchise, there is very little chance Advent Shadow, or any other game in the series will ever see the light of day.



Edited by Inzoreno


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