Like some other companies who were chosen by Nintendo to form the Ultra 64 Dream Team, Paradigm Simulation did not have a lengthy resume of video games to their name when approached to aid in the creation of software for the company’s upcoming platform. Nonetheless, they would wind up rising to the challenge and delivering some of its more iconic titles.
Founded in 1990, the company made its name by creating training simulations for a list of clientele that includes the United States Department of Defense, NASA, McDonnell Douglas, and even Disney. The developers there were already familiar with the workstations created by Silicon Graphics, Inc., whose chipsets were to be a key component of the upcoming gaming console. Between that and efforts to dip their toe further into the entertainment industry through a partnership with Magic Edge, Inc., it was only a matter of time before they attracted Nintendo’s attention.
Before developing any games for what was then known as Project Reality, the company assisted Nintendo by polishing a demo to be shown to key developers and distributors in a whisper suite at the 1995 Electronic Entertainment Expo. Following that, they would work together on what would arguably be one of the most important titles for the Nintendo 64:
As its predecessor was (in the United States, at least) with the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Pilotwings 64 served as one of the launch titles for the platform’s 1996 release. This placed the title in something of a controversial position, as it was one of only two launch titles available for the platform in North America (Japan fared only slightly better, receiving a third title, Saikyou Habu Shogi) — a somewhat enviable position, perhaps, as it was tasked with helping move units with little in the way of same-platform competition. But on the other hand, when the competition that does exist is Super Mario 64, the prospect suddenly becomes a lot more daunting.
Nevertheless, their first release was a success, moving more than one million copies worldwide by February 4th, 1998. But over a year prior to that, the game was successful enough that the company created a division known as Paradigm Entertainment, which accounted for half of all the company’s revenues. Despite that, though, Pilotwings 64 would mark the last time the two companies would work together directly, even though Paradigm had eyes on creating a sequel to their soaring success.
“We presented technology experimentations (based on the first game for PilotWings 2) to Nintendo and they really liked our initial stuff,” Business Manager Gary Bandy told IGN. “But they didn’t for[e]see a time that they could work on it because their resources are in other areas right now. I mean, we put together some stuff that looked great, but you still have to come up with a game and the resources to make it.” At the time, he posited that Nintendo’s focus was on development of the ill-fated 64DD.
Life goes on, and so too did Paradigm’s video game developing career. They developed further titles for the platform, including F-1 World Grand Prix, F-1 World Grand Prix II, and Aero Fighters Assault for publisher Video System before their partnership ended in a lawsuit, citing a breach of contract over the development of a title called Harrier 2001. Following that fallout, they would partner with Electronic Arts (or EA, if you prefer) to deliver one of the Nintendo 64’s better-known titles in Beetle Adventure Racing.
That would be a one-off, however, as Paradigm found a more stable partnership with Infogrames/Atari Inc., who acquired the company in mid-2000 and released a number of their titles for the Nintendo 64 and beyond, including other non-Nintendo platforms. Most of these were licensed titles, such as Duck Dodgers Starring Daffy Duck, The Terminator: Dawn of Fate, Mission: Impossible – Operation Surma, and Terminator 3: The Redemption. Standing out among these was another one-off in 2001 which saw them develop the PlayStation 2 version of a new Spy Hunter for Midway Games:
Unfortunately, the honeymoon wasn’t to last. As Atari went through financial troubles, they sold the developer off to THQ, who unfortunately fared little better with them. Paradigm’s Stuntman: Ignition for the PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 would be one of the company’s best sellers during the second quarter of 2007, shipping more than one million copies, it was nevertheless “significantly below our internal forecast,” according to THQ Chief Executive Officer Brian Farrell.
They would go on to shutter five studios on November 4th, 2008, Paradigm among them. While Paradigm’s General Manager Dave Gatchel would go on to serve in the same role for THQ’s Montreal studio, other members of the remaining staff would move on to other companies.
Interestingly, as of this writing, none of the company’s games have ever been re-released. In most cases, it makes some level of sense, due to the licenses and parties involved, though the most curious of them all is the one that put them on the map to begin with: Pilotwings 64. While Nintendo has released the Super NES original on all three of its Virtual Consoles (Wii, Wii U, and Nintendo 3DS), it has yet to extend the same courtesy to Super Mario 64‘s tag-team partner from the launch of their 64-bit platform.