The Hellbound Web
Vaporeware Video Games

Hellraiser 1990
Color Dreams
Nintendo Entertainment System

box "One of the people I decided to write a mail, and tell about my Color Dreams story, was Dan Lawton, one of the founders of Color Dreams and surely someone who had to know something about Hellraiser, I believe it's time to kill all those rumors or verify them as true. Dan Lawton had seen the Hellraiser movie and liked it, so he convinced his partners that Color Dreams had to make a game based on the movie, and they bought the rights, spending from $35.000 to $50.000 for a few years paying the movie studio.

Dan Lawton knew that the NES didn't have the power he wanted for his Hellraiser, so he hired an engineer, Ron Risley, to create a new type of cartridge, the cartridge we all know as the Super Cartridge. The idea for the cartridge was Lawton's, but Risley designed the thing and wrote the supporting operating enviroment. Ron Risley was a pre-med at the time and as he says I'm not a gamer, and lost interest once I had the technical details worked out. The SuperCartridge was a Z-80 based system that intercepted the NES processor's ROM and RAM accesses to manipulate video in real time. It allowed pixel-by-pixel manipulation of the screen (NES was character-based) and also supported panning and zooming in "hardware" (actually background software on the zed) as well as some sprite manipulation.

He was also able to confirm what others claim wasn't supposed to be, that Hellraiser was indeed supposed to be published on the Super Cartridge. He continues As I said, I lost interest in the project after the SuperCart was actually running. I'm a total geekazoid and don't know squat about gaming, so figured I'd probably write dain-bramaged games. I assumed that Color Dreams never did anything with the SC, since they never called with any questions or problems with the design (though Dan could probably have handled all that without my help, it was a pretty complex piece of hardware and the inevitable production snags should have prompted a call).

In addition to Ron Risley's statement about Hellraiser indeed was being developed for the Super Cartridge, Dan Lawton had following to say I liked the movie, and convinced my parteners that it would be great for a game. But the nintendo didn't have enough power to do it justice, so we came up with the idea of doubling the processor power in the nintendo by adding another processor to the video space. The nintendo fetches it's background and sprite images from a seperate memory from the main program memory. Our idea was to share that memory with a second microprocessor which could execute and change those video "tiles", without adding to the overhead on the main nintendo processor.

The nintendo had some kind of 6502 as I recall, but it's been a while. We put a Z80 with DRAM into the video memory, and "dual ported" it so that the nintendo main processor would be able to access it at the same time. Finally, we added some extra zip by putting the video color palette registers in the same place, so that the Z80 could also change those on the fly. The idea was that we could alternate colors between scans of the TV and increase the effective number of colors on the screen.

But Color Dreams also found out that making a good product didn't really matter, you had to get your products into the hands on consumers, which means it had to be on the shelves in the stores, a big problem for all unlicensed companies. Nintendo made it very difficult for anyone without a license to sell their games, there was a video game shortage at the time and store owners were afraid that if they sold unlicensed games along with the, original, licensed products, Nintendo would not ship all of their orders, and video games were where the big bucks were.

So if no one would be able to buy the game, because stores refused to carry Color Dreams games, there was really no point in finishing the Hellraiser game, and who knows if they had finished it, it could've driven them out of business because of low sales. We couldn't afford to spend about $2 million making a very good game. Even a very bad game costs about $200,000 to produce.

The cartridge worked fine, although I was a bit disappointed by the palette register switching effect. You can't alternate colors fast enough, the human eye can catch it. But the extra processor power was incredible. The entire background could be moving with no extra strain on the little nes microprocessor. It would have been perfect for a maze oriented game like HellRaiser was planned to be.

By this time the guys behind Color Dreams had discovered what could earn them a good ammount of money, let them stay in business, and even have enough stores to sell their games, the christian market. As Dan Lawton puts it The christian market was attractive because they didn't have any nintendo games at all, and didn't give a fig about japanese distribution. In fact, if you told them that nintendo might be angry about them selling our games, that made them want to sell them even more. Christian book stores number about 9000 at any given time, and they all wanted to have our games. That's even more stores than Toys R us.

About the possibility of a Hellraiser prototype existing, or atleast the game files, Dan Lawton said The hardware was done, and the artwork was 20% done, there was no programming. It was a 45 degree down angle view, with a maze of stone and walls and pits. So there you have it."

by Martin Nielsen of NES World in "The Story of Color Dreams Part 2"

title screen title screen Title Screens
label Cart Label
flyer flyer Flyers

Hellraiser 199?
Color Dreams

Graphics by Roger Deforest.

"Color Dreams had purchased the Wolfenstein 3D engine. With this engine, they had made Noah's Ark 3D for the Super Nintendo and they planned to make a Hellraiser game for the PC. The game had turned out nicely, but the Hellraiser licensed was about to expire and Doom was released, so Color Dreams really couldn't justify releasing the PC game."

By Dave in an email to Scarecrow

flyer flyer flyer flyer flyer
flyer flyer flyer

Hellraiser 199?
Sony PlayStation / Nintendo Super Famicom / NEC PC-9801

"According to EGM's West Coast editor, Wataru Maruyama (who participated in the project as an artist), the Hellraiser game was loosely based on the movie by the same name, and would have revolved around the goal of your character collecting "charms." Although the license would suggest fairly gory creatures with chains and piercings, the development teams were told to let their imaginations run amok and create whatever they thought the creatures should look like. The only prerequisite was that the characters needed to resemble whatever their assigned names were. The only character that had to be drawn exactly was Pin Head."

"Maruyama explained why the game apparently wasn't picked up: 'According to the developer, Konami pitched the game and the Hellraiser people didn't bite or wanted too much money. [The developer's] not entirely sure. A small attempt was made to change the game enough to avoid lawsuits, but the whole project was scrapped. [The developer] didn't know why Konami looked for artists here [US] since development would have taken place in Japan. As legend goes, it was slated for Japanese PC (probably 9801 series) and as a Super Famicom title.'"

by Lauren and Joe Fielder of GameSpot in "Video Game Graveyard"

Hellraiser: Virtual Hell 1996
Magnet Interactive Studios
Fox Interactive
Windows PC

Doug Barnette - Original Treatment
John Whitemore - Designer
Vijay Lakshman - Designer-Producer
Stewart Stanyard - Storyboard Artist
Mat Weathers - Conceptual & Texture Artist

box "The game was going to be a 640x480 first person adventure game using an engine similar to the 3dRealms build engine [Duke Nukem 3D's engine --tripps]. Similar to, but of course, less functional than. I think we had 8 pretty large levels built, several hundred textures and odd variations, and a bunch of twisted bitmap characters to deal with.

It started to go wrong, pretty much from the beginning. I didn't have enough experience with games to really understand that. Except in retrospect. The company spent a ton of money on the engine. It wasn't a good engine, the company we got it from was a joke, as was their support for it. We used to call the engine "virtual deaf dumb and blind." The original game designer [Vijay Lakshman --tripps] we had on the project got bumped into upper management after a few months on the game and left it in a pretty bad state. The replacement designer [John Whitemore--Scarecrow] was brilliant though and cleaned things up quite well. (That dude by the way is putting the finishing touches on Drakken as we speak)

The two killers of the game were the FMV sequences, which were frankly very corny and really not very well done. We had several people at the company at that time who were only working in video games so they could move into movies at some point. These are the kind of morons who think a movie will save a bad game. The other killer was the engine. It wouldn't work as it was supposed to. It was abysmally slow. We used to jokingly say that the Hellraiser game had the quality of a nightmare, in that no matter how fast you ran, you still felt you were moving slowly. So in the end we had about 95% of the art done for the game, and we were putting a bunch of levels together when it was finally shitcanned.

Publishers liked the game and the license, but they didn't think the engine would ever work. They were right of course. In a small bit of justice however, the company that made the engine had a better working copy they were using for a warhammer game and their publisher decided to kill it with only 3 or 4 bugs left on the list."

by [anonymous] in an email to tripps

Cast of Known Characters

Pinhead               - Lead Cenobite. Played by Doug Bradley on days off from HR4.
The Chatterer         - Cenobite from HR1 and HR2.
Pinball               - A new Cenobite who uses steel spheres as weapons.
Leviathan             - The God of Hell.
Charles "Chip" Reddin - Programmer and inventor at VR Labs. Played by ?.
Janet Perkins         - Senior code tester at VR Labs.
Played by Ginger Tipton.
Player                - Employee of VR Labs. Played by you.

article Entertainment Weekly
? ? 1995
"Pinhead's Progress: The Making of the 'Hellraiser' CD-ROM"
by Harold Goldberg
Magazine Article
photo photo Doug Barnett (in white sweatshirt), Doug Bradley (in pins) and the rest of the development team on the day Bradley came in to film his FMV scenes Photos
screenshot screenshot full-motion video full-motion video full-motion video Screenshots
textures textures textures textures Textures
map 1 map 2 map 3 Maps
box moves 1-3 box moves 4-5 box moves sample screen Box Moves

[ Pinhead audio sample 1 ]    [ Pinhead audio sample 2 ]

Dialog Samples

[ text ]    [ wrap text ]    [ acrobat ]