Earlier this year, there was a Kickstarter campaign for an all-new adventure based on the James Pond character created by Chris Sorrell in the early '90s. The campaign was cancelled when it failed to get anywhere near its £100,000 target.
The whole matter was made all the more confusing by the near-simultaneous announcement that System 3 — which owns the specific rights to Pond's second and most famous outing, Robocod — would be rebooting the sequel for modern-day formats, including the Wii U. Then it all went quiet — as of the time of writing, System 3 doesn't even have a listing for the proposed game on its website.
Mark Cale, CEO of System 3, has since clarified that the game is no longer scheduled to arrive on Nintendo's home console:
The game is in development for PS4, 3DS, Vita, PC and Xbox One. iOS versions are being considered.
Along with the Wii U edition, it would appear that the originally mooted PS3, Xbox 360 and Android versions have also been canned.
Speaking in an interview with Eurogamer, Pond creator Sorrell has revealed that he has had no input in this planned reboot, and feels that the announcement was related to the crowd-funding drive for an all-new adventure:
I've never had any interaction with people from System 3 regarding their reboot of Robocod. I suspect they were just trying to spoil the potential success of Gameware's Kickstarter campaign whilst probably also using the whole thing as a litmus test of whether they should even consider such a product. There are clearly businessmen who see no shame in porting a 23 year old game to a modern platform and pretending it has some timeless magic making it worth a modern gamer's time and money, but it sure embarrasses the hell out of me even when I have no part in it.
Regarding the failed Kickstarter campaign, Sorrell has voiced his disappointment with how things turned out:
There's such a fine line between what makes for a valid Kickstarter project and what simply feels like First World begging. But I was contacted by PJ - the guy tasked to coordinate the campaign by Gameware - and he had some convincing arguments. Build a new game that rewards loyal Pond fans, make amends for the sorry state of the franchise in recent years, have the chance to get paid to work on a new Pond game. Those all sounded like good enough reasons to lend my support. Most of all I definitely had a feeling that if it's going to happen anyway, then I should probably be involved to try and make sure that the new game really does live up to the promises and doesn't end up short-changing fans, again.
Gameware were all too happy to let this be seen as my campaign when it wasn't. We weren't nearly well enough prepared with the kinds of materials necessary to sustain a successful campaign and I couldn't personally spare the time to do much about that. Also, it turned out that the ownership of the IP wasn't as clear-cut as I believed it to be - and was in fact a matter of some acrimony. As I now understand it, Gameware own the rights to the James Pond character and to any new James Pond games, but System 3 own some specific rights to Robocod. It's rather confusing and something I would liked to have known prior to the Kickstarter campaign. I was sorry to see the campaign fall flat, and certainly sorry to feel like we had let down the people that cared most about James Pond.
While Gameware has insisted that it will return to the idea of making a new Pond title, the dismal failure of the crowd-funding campaign could end up ruining the chances of us seeing any further outings from the underwater agent. Were you one of the ones who supported the campaign, and are you sad that it didn't reach its goal? Or, having read Sorrell's comments, are you happy that the project stalled? What about the planned Robocod reboot — were you looking forward to playing it on your Wii U? Let us know with a comment.