What you nearly played:
Geist is a German word meaning "spirit." It can be used in a literal sense to mean "ghost" or "spectre," or it can be used figuratively, as in "the spirit of the age." The game Geist Force certainly helped to inspire a "spirit" of giddy optimism for Sega when it was unveiled in the summer '98. The visual effects for this sci-fi shooter were eye-popping; everyone was particularly impressed by the painstaking details--the hyper-realistic puffs of smoke and the sprays of sparks and the sheets of water all seemed to represent a quantum leap forward in game graphics (courtesy of Netter Digital, the company that had done the effects on the Babylon 5 TV show). Nothing stirred up as much interest for Sega's new console as those Geist Force previews. As EGM reported at the time: "The few seconds of footage assured the throng of cynical journalists that this Dreamcast thing was actually going to be pretty cool." The game itself was pitched as being a StarFox for grownups. It would feature similar spaceship shenanigans, but with real human characters and more sophisticated characterizations to match the realism of the terrific visuals.
Why you'll never play it:
As the June '99 EGM observed, "The project has an awful lot to live up to." The folks at Sega obviously felt the same way, and apparently they thought the game fell short of the enormous expectations. After numerous delays and lots of morbid speculation, Geist Force was put to rest and the production team was dissolved. Apparently the "geist" in Geist Force really did mean "ghost" after all. "The artwork was 90 percent done, and would've been very close to what was shown at E3," says lead programmer Nimai Malle. "The programming was 65-70 percent done."
He claims many factors were involved in the game's demise. "Political infighting, of course," he says. "Three separate times, we had to re-rally the team to focus on a deadline, which can really be a drain."
The stunning realism that had been the game's initial selling point also came back to haunt it. Ironically, the fact that Geist Force was less cartoony, less "StarFoxy," became a liability. "There was a lack of confidence about Japanese reception," explains Malle. He is reluctant to lay much blame at the feet of Netter Digital, even though Geist Force represented Netter's first stab at moving from narrative to interactive media. Who knows, maybe Netter's stunning visual effects had done so much to quell early doubts about the Dreamcast console that Sega felt it had already gotten its money's worth out of the project without ever actually having to release the game.
Download Geist Force
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
Sega has a shooter as one of its first Dreamcast games, thereby securing the interest of fans of games like R-Type and G-Darius. Geist (formerly Geist Force) is detail-oriented: For example, the force of explosions blasting from your turrets will damage your ship. There's also apparently some sort of relationship story line: Depending on how you interact with people, you'll be presented with a variety of scenarios and endings. If these early screens are a good indication, Geist is right for the Dreamcast.