Although Ubisoft released a video game based on the hit television series Lost several years ago in the form of Lost: Via Domus, it's not the first game to spring from the popular and perplexing narrative. As the mysteries of Jacob, the Man In Black, the DHARMA Initiative, the Candidates, and other such things start to wind down in advance of the Lost series finale, I decided to dig into my vault of video game prototypes and share several examples of unreleased Lost interactive adventures from the era when series creator J.J. Abrams and executive producers Damon Lindelof & Carlton Cuse attempted to bring the narrative to life via video games instead of television. Enjoy a rare look at these lost games of Lost.
Who will replace the Island's mysterious caretaker? A mysterious force known only as Jacob has brought seven people together to fight it out for the job of island protector. This arcade fighting game prototype dates back to 1993 and features actual digitized images of enigmatic characters such as Jack, Sayid, Sawyer, and the perpetually sneering Benjamin Linus. There's even a special hidden character included: Mr. Eko, who is unlocked by playing the game continuously for forty-eight days until he appears from the other side of the island to challenge the player. Alas, the project was shelved due to balancing issues. During late testing it was discovered that it was impossible to defeat the final boss.
The project was eventually sold to Midway who dumped the existing assets and replaced them with different characters and mythology. I'm not really sure what became of that development.
Daniel Faraday's Physics For Children
This edutainment title planned for the Nintendo Entertainment System aims to teach children how to understand and solve physics equations such as the Valenzetti Equation and the Lorentz Invariance using the friendly face of physicist Daniel Faraday as a guide. Players take control of Faraday's lab rat, Eloise, to nudge numbers and operators into proper positions within the equation. Constant frustration led to poor results from youth focus groups doomed this title to oblivion, although Nintendo later picked up the idea and replaced the complex equations with basic arithmetic lessons of variable degree and Faraday himself with one of their own mascot characters.
From the dawn of our species, Man has been blessed with curiosity, so it should come as no surprise that the earliest known Lost game, Room 23 for the Atari 5200 from publisher DHARMA Interactive and developer Sinneslöschen, promises that players will find enlightenment after repeated sessions. While it was actually released in 1982 (making it the only example on this list to reach the market), it was eventually recalled after players reported suffering from intense stress, horrific nightmares, and even suicidal tendencies. Reaching an infamous stature just in time for the great crash of 1983, some say that Room 23 was a sacrifice that the video game industry demanded.
Starring DHARMA Initiative on-Island head of research Stuart Radzinsky, players take control of the hot-headed scientist as he explores the Island and creates a map of his findings on a blast door inside the subterranean Swan Station. This side-scrolling action platformer for 16-bit consoles was completely rebranded to remove the Radzinsky character and backstory after the fledgling ESRB rated the game M-for-Mature due to the controversial ending in which Radzinsky commits suicide by putting a shotgun in his mouth and firing it, leaving a bloody stain on the Swan's ceiling. Ultimately the publisher grew tired of refusals to fix it, and eventually gave notice to the developers that they could go now.
Following on from the success of interactive text adventure Zork, 1983's Hume allowed players to experience life from the perspective of Desmond Hume, a man living alone in the Swan Station tasked with pushing a button every 108 minutes in order to save the world. Unfortunately, life as Hume is downright boring, as there's nowhere to go and little to do inside the Swan. Lack of interest from retailers killed this project before Episode I could be completed, and the continuation of the storyline in which an explosion rocks the Swan Station hatch one night was never completed. DHARMA Interactive ceased operation shortly after this project collapsed, so whatever was intended to happen to the star character next will remain forever lost. DHARMA's final message to the market can be found as a comment in Hume's source code: "See you in another life, brotha."