Danthrax (Sega Saturn SHIRO!)

Hidden Palace Releases Prototypes of Unreleased Saturn Port of Hard Boiled

Another unreleased Saturn game made its way into the public’s hands when Hidden Palace released three prototypes of Hard Boiled on its website Saturday.

Photo courtesy of Hidden Palace.

The prototypes are from June, July and August 1997 and were provided to Hidden Palace by the game’s programmer, David “Pipozor” Saulnier.

Hard Boiled is a futuristic rail shooter somewhat in the vein of Night Striker where the player controls a hover vehicle with some ability to rise off the ground while dodging obstacles and shooting energy weapons at enemies. It features five missions with CGI cutscenes and an electronic dance music soundtrack.

Plot-wise, the game is a sequel to a three-issue comic book miniseries in 1990 to 1992 written by Frank Miller and published by Dark Horse Comics.

It was announced in a July 2, 1996, press release by would-be publisher GTE Entertainment as coming to PC, Saturn and PlayStation from French developer Cryo Interactive. As the Sega Retro page for Hard Boiled tells it, GTE Entertainment got out of the video game business before the game was finished, leading Cryo Interactive to publish the PS1 version themselves in their home territory, Europe, in October 1997.

A Japanese publisher, Sieg, handled the PS1 game there the following year on July 30, 1998, but a publisher was never found for the North American market nor for the Saturn or PC ports.

Cryo Interactive released one Saturn game, Atlantis: The Lost Tales, a PAL exclusive adventure game similar to Myst published by Sega in March 1998.

The earliest two Saturn prototypes of Hard Boiled from June and July 1997 lack cutscenes but they’re implemented in the August one. But those earlier protos have options to advance to the next level or return to the main menu when they’re paused, which have been removed from the August build.

The June build also implements true transparency for explosions, but they cause the game to slow to a crawl, especially on mission 3 where there are destructible floating mines in a tube area. The developers apparently solved that slowdown by simply changing the explosions to be opaque by the July prototype.

Hard Boiled has two bosses, one after mission 2 and the other at the end of the game after mission 5. The first boss after mission 2 is working in all three protos, although the VDP2-rendered background isn’t in the earliest build from June.

That build has implemented the second boss’ model but it doesn’t actually do anything. The next build in July, however, does give the final boss functionality.

The June prototype also lacked sound effects and had simpler title cards to introduce each mission, but by the July build, sound effects had been implemented and the title cards were a bit more gussied up.

Additionally, frequent Saturn hacker Bo Bayles discovered German and French localization files hiding within the July and August prototypes — they hadn’t yet been added in the June build.

SHIRO! testing revealed that the prototypes support the Mission Stick controller, but not the analog stick on the Saturn’s 3D pad, although its D-pad still works.

The prototypes were revealed during a livestream in which Hidden Palace also debuted a never-before-released Mega Drive game from Cryo Interactive named Out of the Vortex. Saturday’s reveal of Hard Boiled the first time Hidden Palace has released a Saturn prototype since January last year when it revealed a never-before-seen prototype of Burning Rangers.

The photo that Pipozor provided to Hidden Palace of his Hard Boiled prototype discs revealed a cheat code usable in all three builds.

When the screen appears displaying the game’s logo with a deep voice saying “Hard Boiled,” press the X button, right trigger and up on the D-pad at the same time. A red border should appear briefly around the edges of the screen.

Press the button combination when this screen appears.

Then, upon navigating to the Load Game option from the main menu, you’ll find that all of the game’s missions are unlocked and selectable.

The cheat has an added benefit in the July build: The player’s ship is invincible. Sadly, the June and August prototypes do not enable invincibility when inputting the cheat.

This story originally appeared on Sega Saturn SHIRO!