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Report on canceled Wii game describes a Nintendo studio torn by toxic dysfunction

Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

An investigation by the Unseen64 podcast into the outright failure of a long-in-development Wii game offers a harsh view of western developers and Japanese managers who could not work together at all, ultimately killing a costly project.

Project H.A.M.M.E.R., (pictured) as it was called at E3 2006, was to have been a core-gaming title for the Wii, with development beginning in deep secrecy as the console had yet to be announced. In the end, reports Unseen64, developers directly accused Japanese management of nationalism and outright racism in their dealings with the American workers.

Unseen64 quotes unnamed NST alumni who said the tipping point came with the dismissal of the game's head designer, cratering NST's morale. To that point things had not gone well, with NST unable to churn up an interesting or even fun experience from the repetitive motion-control gameplay Project H.A.M.M.E.R. offered, and Japanese management unwilling to consider a total overhaul.

Unseen64 says the game later was visually overhauled into a typically casual Wii experience called Wii Smash, but it was still left with the same boring and repetitive gameplay.

NST, which had developed the snowboarding game 1080 Avalanche for GameCube and Metroid Prime Hunters for the DS, still exists but has not produced anything resembling a major title since this failure. Its last packaged-goods game was 2010's Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem! for the DS.

Unseen64's comprehensive 10-minute report is full of even more detail about the game and its downfall, and is highly worth the time. Polygon has reached out to a Nintendo of America representative to ask if the company wishes to comment on the report.

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