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The Apprentice 2, Pipe Dream or Reality?
The simple answer is a mix of both! First however what have we learnt? Any ardent fan of the hapless wizards original outing in The Apprentice should be familiar with the fact that a sequel was penned for release. We know this thanks to some artistic impressions released by cdidev, a former CD-i developer from the games producer SPC Vision. Memories seem to be somewhat hazey when developers were quized on the subject. Were these Apprentice 2 stills simply produced to persuade an extension of the contract SPC Vision had with Philips? Maybe Philips requested work to commence on the sequel? With the recent uncovering of a prototype for The Apprentice 2 we can finally answer some of these questions and piece together the mosaic that formed the game.

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Three Tribes

The tale of The Apprentice is well documented as a jewel in the crown for Philips CD-i platform, coming at the perfect time when Philips Media was trying to pitch the format not only as a multimedia device but also a place where games could be a success. However when we turn our attention towards the proposed sequel the story can become a confused and tangled mess. Much to our surprise we discovered that The Apprentice 2 recieved the concept treatment from three different studios! Besides SPC Vision, PixelHazard and also Line Up produced original material intended for the sequel. In these circumstances it's sometimes best to start with what we know!

Marvin's Revenge

As an offshot of SPC Vision, PixelHazard worked upon some concept artwork mocking what the in-game action could look like and has been viewable in the public domain for some time now. Following in typical SPC fashion the crew at PixelHazard evidently intended to fit an impossible amount of 'cuteness' into each level. The game is also referred to as 'Marvin's Revenge' with the level design seemingly lifting the blue prints from the original with vertical levels for Marvin to traverse.

Obviously we can see the work of one Luke Verhulst with the inclusion of a nude manga style anime chick! As the levels littered with semi-clothed girls in The Apprentice is testamount. Evidently his love of Manga hadn't cooled off over the years!

Marvin's Mountain

Something that we did not know was a second studio outside of PixelHazard known as Line Up had also been commissioned to produce some concept images for The Apprentice 2! Having worked with SPC Vision on the original game designing a great deal of the lush introduction sequence, the studio was a logical choice. As Angelo Bod, the founder of Line Up describes...

Angelo Bod: Apprentice was a success on the CD-i. Due to the style of cute graphics originally designed by Luke Verhulst. Philips wanted a flagship game to boost the CDi Platform. Not only as a multimedia player, but as well to show it's capabilities as a games console like Nintendo and Sega. We were asked to do a demo for Apprentice 2, which had to be approved again by Philips Multimedia. This product unfortunately never saw the daylight, because the CDi platfrom was already dying. We had 1 week to come up with concept sketches and idea's for this platform game, which wasn't easy.

Outside of the concept image featuring a snowed in shack, Line Up even produced some animations demonstrating to limted effect how the game could play out. This includes a title screen referring to the sequel as 'Marvin's Mountain' before a huge snowball smashes through the letters. The other two screen shots provide a little action of Marvin jumping around in front of the shack pictured in crisp detail above.

SPC Vision - The Prototype

Before you get too excited we should make clear that this prototype is not a full game. It uses graphics from the original game and forms more of a technical demo than any playable software. This is with good reason. The loss of a few key developers who worked on the original had a significant impact on Philips confidence in the studio to produce another quality CD-i game. This tech demo was created to alleviate such concerns and hopefully guarantee further funding for the sequel. Unfortunately this was not to be, yet even from this simple tech demo we've learnt a great deal.

Feast your eyes upon The Apprentice 2 'Tech Demo' with this composite screenshot...

Did you notice it's very wide? Well the boffins at SPC HQ were playing around with not only vertical scrolling used in the previous Apprentice adventure but also dabbling in a little side scrolling action! Although at this early stage the engine somewhat clunks along rather than a smooth transition in view. Still it's exciting to discover that the SPC crew we're experimenting with the format from the previous game in an attempt to better an already universally excellent title.

So, 'Pipe Dream or Reality'? It was definately, maybe and probably on the cards to take CD-i by storm in a second encounter of Marvins pixelated glory.

This Article was written by Devin

Read more about the original game on The Apprentice game page. With additional documented resources available from an authentic SPCer 'cdidev' and his website CD-i Developer Home Page. Thanks to the guys at Line Up studio including Angelo Bod, Uco Egmond and Joost Egmond for the excellent Apprentice concept work.

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