Hellraiser

created and published by Color Dreams in 1991, running on Nintendo Entertainment System
type: shooter
genre: Horror
perspective: 1st person push-scroll
player options: single player
game engine: Wolfenstein 3D
languages: eng

Official description

Hellraiser is the first game to use advanced technology that pushes the NES further than ever before. Experience the pleasure of 16-bit performance. Experience the pain of Clive Barker's Hellraiser. Can you locate the strange cubes that open doorways to a dark realm? Can you solve the puzzle of the Lament Configuration? Pinhead, the Cenobites, and all of Hell know the answer. From the darkness far away laughter echoes.
# 2012-01-21 07:00:16 - official description

Description

The main character is trapped in the Hellraiser puzzle box (a cube). A solvable puzzle from the outside (think Rubic's Cube), and some sort of other dimension on the inside. The player can find ways in the game (set inside the cube), to manipulate the outside and therefore solve the puzzle and escape. Of course HellRaiser's assorted buddies in the cube interfere with the main character, this is a 1st-person-shooter after all. Meanwhile, the changing configuration of the cube also changes the layout of the levels on the inside, allowing access to new areas and blocking access to others. Once solved, the player and demons are freed and the player must then unsolve the puzzle in reverse order one demon being banished per move, while also 1st-person-shooting.

The box shown is an early version. The final box for Hellraiser was to be a replica of the Hellraiser cube (big enough for the add-on hardware)

This game was going to use an improved version the Wolfenstein 3D engine (layered and animated textures) and a Z80 CPU. ON THE NES! Two configurations were explored for the Z80 CPU. One solution would have the CPU on the circuit board in the cartridge, more than doubling its retail cost. The other solution would have been an add-on unit, purchased separately, that plugged into the expansion port on the bottom of the NES (It's hidden under a snap-in cover then under a vent that must be cut out). Also included was some programmable array logic chips (PAL) and 4? megabytes of Dynamic RAM. The DRAM was hard wired to the address space of the Z80 CPU and used in the place of CHR ROMs. This meant the Z80 CPU could calculate and render a bitmap (rotate, scale, skew, stretch, squish, shade, add perspective) and push it into the DRAM as if it were a sprite or background title for the NES to use and the NES' CPU wouldn't have too, leaving it free to calculate other aspects of the game. The whole thing could run in parallel with the NES and access the NES' RAM without a memory controller (programmers had to manually prevent conflicts via software). Claims of "16-bit graphics" were made but in reality the graphics were constructed from two sets of 8-bit graphics. The idea was to switch from a frame of one set to a frame of another set at 60 frames per second. The frames were supposed to blend in human perception and create an illusion of one color. While humans can only perceive 30 frames per second, technical aspects of CTRs cause flicker to be perceptible at frame rates of up to 120. On the NES, with uniquely designed Video RAM (at the time), was never intended to display 60 FPS, the flicker was definitely noticeable (in fact the Atari 2600 can do faster frame rates than the NES). Screenshots, video cameras, even some photo cameras, also failed to fully capture the effect and were often perceived as double the horizontal resolution but the two frames sliced up like venetian blinds for every other raster.

The cost for the add-on unit and Hellraiser game separately would have been more than if the CPU was in the cart. But, subsequent games for the add-on (Super 3D Noah's Ark) would have been higher quality games on the NES at normal price. It seems that Wisdom Tree may not have license the Wolfenstein 3D engine directly from id software, instead, Color Dreams did! When Color Dreams switched to being Wisdom Tree, they took the license along.
(Zerothis) - # 2008-08-16 07:55:14

Game Author comment

[From NES Warpzone]"I worked on Hellraiser which you know never was released. They [Color Dreams] had the rights to make the game for several years and just sat on it. I don't know why. We were gonna use the Wolfenstein 3D engine for the game. I remember that the progammer on Hellraiser got the graphics in and the monsters working. It was all very bare bones stuff, but it was getting there and looked like it'd be fun. And then it was abandoned again for other titles." [sic] - Roger Deforest
Roger Deforest - # 2008-08-16 07:40:26 - game Author comment - source

Technical specs

display: raster

Authors / Staff

management

Dan Lawton (director)

coding

Phil Mikkelson (programming)

graphics

Dan Burke (graphics)
Nina Stanley (graphics)
Nina Stanley (art)
Roger Deforest (graphics)
Roger Deforest (art)
Ron Risley (supercart cartridge hardware development)

hardware

Dan Lawton (additional hardware development)

other

Dan Burke (art)

Contributors (3)

AndreaD
zerothis
Sanguine

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Hellraiser title screen.
Hellraiser (Nintendo Entertainment System)
Hellraiser (Nintendo Entertainment System)
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