Shooter (Unreleased, Super Nintendo)
Shooter, a Super Nintendo horizontal space shooter, never actually made it into production but rather served as an in-house tech demo for Punk Development to test scrolling backgrounds.
Before forming Iguana Entertainment, Jeff Spangenberg founded Punk Development under the controlling interest of an Oklahoma City-based publisher called RazorSoft.
Punk Development made TechnoCop, Death Duel, Stormlord, and Vampire Killer (unreleased) for the SEGA Genesis before its Sunnyvale location was closed by RazorSoft and the two companies ceased their partnership together.
Many of the team members followed Spangenberg to Iguana Entertainment in 1991, which became one of the first studios in the U.S. to develop for the Super Nintendo.
Named after the pet iguanas that would roam its Santa Clara offices, Iguana Entertainment later moved its operations to Austin.
The company’s 16-bit development credits include Aero the Acro-Bat, Zero the Kamikaze Squirrel, NFL Quarterback Club, and NBA Jam.
John Carlsen, one of Iguana’s co-founders, immediately recognized Shooter. Carlsen began as a contractor at Punk Development in January 1991 after working for Media Vision, Mediagenic (Activision/Infocom), Atari, and Nolan Bushnell.
“I recall the shooter game, which Jeff Spangenberg created as a test/demo while at the Punk Development office,” Carlsen told me. “I believe that the graphics were created by the late Matt Stubbington, who was another of Iguana’s co-founders, and who I saw paint the original Iguana logo (acrylic on canvas) at the Punk offices on Weddell Avenue in Sunnyvale just before Iguana got its first offices in Santa Clara. It then moved back to Sunnyvale before we moved it to Austin.”
The game demo boots up to a Punk Development logo screen before heading straight into the action.
Player One controls the red spaceship, Player Two, the blue. Both ships can fire with the B button and move up, down, left, or right around the strikingly phallic-looking space scenery. The game can also be paused with the Start button (although the starry background will continue to scroll). A few generic-looking space pods parade around as well as what can only be described as giant grasshoppers (spacehoppers?). Crashing into any one of these floating pieces of space debris will cause the player’s ship to explode. Never fear, after going down in flames, a replacement ship will appear.
Further along in the demo, a skeletal alien structure appears looming in the distance.
Overall, this demo is very basic. A constant, low humming noise makes up the game’s entire audio ambiance, unless if you count the single sound effect that plays during the opening. The scrolling level loops infinitely.
Iguana Entertainment is probably best known for its Super Nintendo and SEGA Genesis home console ports of NBA Jam as well as the Turok series on the Nintendo 64. Acclaim purchased Iguana Entertainment in 1994 for an estimated $25 million (link). Afterwards, Spangenberg left to start an entirely new development company in Austin called Retro Studios. Impressed by the technology behind the Turok games, Nintendo invested in Retro Studios and turned the company into a first-party developer. Retro Studios has since created such triple-A titles as the Metroid Prime series (Gamecube/Wii) and Donkey Kong Country Returns (Wii).