Prototypes in Battle for Mata Nui?

Battle for Mata Nui was a Macromedia Shockwave game released during 2002. In this real-time isometric strategy game, you control the Matoran, Toa, and Turaga of Le-, Ta-, and Ga-Koro as they try to fend off the Bohrok swarms.

As a kid, the sprites in BfMN looked odd to me, but the only thing I noticed was that Tahu has Vakama’s firestaff instead of his normal fire sword. However, when I ripped the assets from the game recently, I gave the sprites a closer look, and noticed all sorts of interesting things:

(special thanks to r543 for noticing the slizer-like torsos.)

From the number of Slizer elements, especially considering that the Boneheads of Voodoo Island used Slizer heads as feet, I think these sprites are based off of undocumented prototype 3D models. How those pre-2001 models ended up being used as reference for a 2002 game is a mystery, though. My best guess is that when Lego commissioned this game, they sent the game devs a bunch of miscellaneous assets without vetting them too carefully. (This could also explain why some elements are reused from the 2001 Bionicle GBA game.)

Once I finish ripping the Bohrok sprites and the background tiles, I plan on submitting all the assets to Spriters’ Resource. Until then, here are the Toa, Turaga, and Matoran: https://imgur.com/a/fJIwXuq

16 Likes

Battle For Mata Nui? I’ve never heard of it.

This is pretty cool! Obviously something fishy went on to get the sprites looking as they did, and the idea of some previously unknown Mata prototypes is pretty fascinating.

Can’t really say for certain if that was the case from these sprites alone, but the differences are pretty clear. It’s certainly possible that there might have been some mid-development models when they were lacking certain pieces like the torsos or the feet, but it’s odd to me that other custom molds like the masks, Mata hands, and some Mata limbs appear to have already been finalized.

1 Like

It’s a Bionicle squad-based RTS.

You’re right, it’s a weird mix of final and not-so-final pieces, but from squinting at prototype images I don’t think that’s necessarily a contradiction. Take a look at the light blue Toa in these two images:

https://biosector01.com/w/images/bs01/7/7b/Proto_rahi.jpg
https://biosector01.com/w/images/bs01/b/bb/Proto_rahi_large.jpg

I’m assuming the blue parts are all prototypes. To me, the torso, head, and limbs look to have near-final designs, but the feet are still not finalized. My theory is that the models in this game slightly predate the prototype shown here.

3 Likes

What in the heck are those images from what

Scroll to the bottom, Faber’s old turaga files.

1 Like

Actually, I think these are from a German TV show called Planetopia that had an episode on Bionicle back in 2001. BZPower reported on it and posted a few screenshots, but they’ve unfortunately been unavailable for some time. The footage itself is lost.

I guess it goes without saying, but if anyone has more screenshots (or video footage) from this program, then I would absolutely love to see them.

edit: I found these screenshots in the BS01 “prototypes” gallery, which has another screenshot from Planetopia (featuring a Dooheads canister). The “concept art” gallery is also worth checking out.

1 Like

Why?..
I remember that game! It was great, though I remember the pirouetteing Bohroks were too hard for 8-year-old me until I realized I could just spam them with bees.

I just yesterday finished collecting every Toa Mata, and comparing them to my Toa Nuva, it was obvious the feet and torsos of the Mata were designed FOR the Nuva, and the torsos awkwardly filled their gaps with balls and sockets without armor. It’s interesting that these sprites (in 2002) were based on prototypes of the Mata prior to the advertising for their first set releases.