50 intriguing cancelled videogames you won't get to play

Feature Aaron Birch 18 Apr 2014 - 06:27

There are a lot of promising videogames that fail to make it to market. We look at 50 of the most interesting...

We all know that, from time to time, games suffer delays and slippages. Release dates are pushed back, developers need more time to work on a game, or a publisher sees a better launch window that may generate more revenue. It's pretty common, and even big name titles can be affected. However, delays aren't the only problem to hit games, and there's a whole graveyard of cancelled titles, with interesting ideas and unique innovations resting in piece as they failed to make it to stores.

Some of these games are cancelled for good reasons. They may not meet the initial design spec, publishers may worry about quality, budgets can dry up, or they may simply be bad, not fit for public consumption. However, some are not necessarily worthy of cancellation, and these are games that we'd actually like to see. These are interesting titles that could well have been good games, or at the very least, have been interesting releases we'd like to try out.

Here are 50 of the most interesting-sounding cancelled videogames for your perusal. It's an eclectic mix, with Hollywood big hitters, 80s cartoons, new IPs, and more. So, have a look at what you could have played.

Dirty Harry

With all of the attempts to re-create crime epics in videogmes, such as Rockstar's GTA and Eidos' Kane and Lynch, it's amazing to think that a game based on one of the most famous, fictional American law enforcers will likely never see the light of day.

Back in 2007, developer, Foundation 9, and publisher Warner Bros. were working on a game adaptation of Dirty Harry. This wouldn't be a simple name on a box, however, oh no, this actually had Mr Eastwood himself on side, using both his likeness and his own vocal talents. It was set to be a 70s police classic that would loosely follow the plot of the film, and looked very promising.

Sadly, Foundation 9 closed its doors before the project was finished, and despite promises to the contrary from WB, the game never surfaced. With the current trend of only releasing big name sequels or movie tie-ins, Detective Callahan may not make his jump into gaming any time soon.

B. C.

Over the years, we've developed a defensive ability to shield us from the exaggerated promises of Peter Molyneux. Whilst he and his studios have made some great games, these titles rarely, if ever, deliver his grand designs, and many of his claims fail to live up to his ever-lofty promises. One title that did spark our interest at the time, though, was B.C.

This was perhaps one of his most ambitious titles, and saw players control tribes of cavemen as they attempted to survive and thrive in a dangerous world populated with all sorts of threats. Throwing the history books to the winds, these dangers even included dinosaurs, despite their extinction by the time man arrived on the scene.

The game, as always, promised the usual Molyneux scale. Not only would your tribe be able to grow and develop as you progressed, but you'd also drastically change the ecosystem as you went. Hunting too many of one species, for example, could destabilise the delicate balance of nature, and this could lead to major repercussions if you didn't take steps to prevent it.

It bore the typical Molyneux feel, a title that was epic in scale, yet accessible and fun, but even Peter himself thought better of it, and considered it too problematic and ambitious, cancelling it before it could emerge.

Thrill Kill

If you grabbed a cocktail shaker, threw in Manhunt, Tekken and a dose of extra sadism, you'd end up with Thrill Kill, a cancelled fighting title that was too strong for EA's stomach.

Taking fighting violence to the extreme (for the time), Thrill Kill was a polygonal gore fest populated with odd characters, such as crazed surgeons, cannibals, and paraplegics to name a few.

The goal was to simply beat your foes into a bloody pulp, doing enough damage to the opposition to activate a kill move, often a decapitation, to eliminate an opponent. There was little pretence here, it was all about the gore, brutal combat and hardcore death metal, with tracks from the likes of Dying Fetus.

When EA pulled the plug, however, the game's commercial future was derailed, and the publisher didn't make it available to anyone else to publish either. Luckily, for those who wanted to play the game, some of the developer's employees decided to leak a nearly complete version onto the Internet, so fans did get to play it, albeit not in a complete, or entirely legal guise.

Six Days in Fallujah

Despite the overwhelming number of war games already on the market, Six Days In Fallujah was a victim of pressure from the media, and families affected by the war in Iraq. Very controversial, even before it was released, the game was set in the city of Fallujah, seeing players take on the role of US Marines sent into the city during operation Phantom Fury. This was a long and very bloody operation in the real war, and quickly sparked outrage.

The real-world depiction of war and use of a real scenario proved to be too much for those affected by the war, and fearing a damaging backlash, Konami, which was set to publish the title, backed away.

The game itself wasn't going to be a typical shooter in the same vein of Call of Duty but would instead attempt to depict the real side of war which the developers claimed would be 'half game, and half documentary', enforcing morality instead of glorying violence. Basically, this was a game that aimed to show what it was really like for those involved in the terrible events of the war. They even had an actual US Marine commander who served in the same operation on board to help make the title as accurate as possible.

Developer, Atomic games ploughed on with the title even after Konami jumped ship, vowing to release its game, but it never arrived, despite being reportedly finished and ready to go.

Faith and a .45

A very promising third-person co-op shooter, Faith And A .45 was an all-action title starring two lovers, Luke and Ruby, who were both crack shots, able to pull off some deadly moves, complete with Sniper Elite-style kill cams.

It was a potentially very interesting cover shooter, and the promise of co-op play, or character alternation if playing solo, was appealing. It looked good, and could have been a big hit. That was before developer, Deadline Games, went under, and took the title with it. Ah well.

Pirates Of The Caribbean: Armada Of The Damned

Disney's Pirates Of The Caribbean is a huge movie franchise, and one that's very popular. With a couple of fairly ropey games failing to do the series justice, it was good to see a game that actually looked like it could be good, that was, until it got canned.

Pirates Of The Caribbean: Armada Of The Damned was to be an RPG that looked like it was part Fable and part Mass Effect, set in a large world that was to be affected by your actions. Not only did it look visually great, the RPG style and open world suited the franchise perfectly. It even had its own identity in the world, with its own story and characters, not relying on the movie's roster to sell it.

Unfortunately, when Disney decided to shuffle its deck of developers and reorganise its studios, the game lost its workforce, and no one else stepped in to fill the gap, and so the project remains dead.

Eight Days

This was one of those games that popped up and surprised everyone at E3 with a trailer that made jaws drop and expectation sky rocket. Developed by Sony's London Studio, this was set to be a PS3 title that brought dynamic gunplay to a storyline set in the Arizona desert.

Then, when the lights came back up and people started to talk about the trailer they've just seen, questions were asked about the authenticity of the project, and whether or not the so-called gameplay trailer was actually a cleverly produced CG movie. This soured a lot of the title's appeal.

The game itself was later canned, reportedly due to the lack of the increasingly essential multiplayer mode, so we'd never get to see if the game was as good as that reveal trailer made it out to be.

Road Rash

There are classic games everywhere getting the re-release or HD up-scaling treatment, and EA's Road Rash is one title that, for some reason, has not yet officially been revisited, and that's not including Road Redemption on Steam Greenlight. We're talking the official series return here, and it was actually set to make a comeback via EA, but was a project of the publisher's Warrington studio, which was closed, killing off Road Rash's return.

Over the years people have shown interest in the title, including Criterion Games, which even suggested a Road Rash/Burnout mash-up, but EA has never shown the same interest in bringing the title back.

This is crazy, and the original games were excellent, and different takes on the racing genre, and a modern version utilising today's tech and online multiplayer could be brilliant. Well, if we can't have Road Rash, at least we'll have Road Redemption.

Sadness

This one certainly falls into the interesting category. A Wii survival horror, the game utilised the Wii remote to perform all actions, including attacks, smashing obstacles into the path of pursuers and using a torch. The game would have also allowed the use of almost any object as a weapon.

According to reports, Sadness, although it was never actually seen by most, looked promising, and was one of the earliest titles announced for the Wii. It was to be set in a pre-war Ukraine, and saw players protecting a blind boy from enemies, and looking after his own mental state.

It was to feature monochromatic visuals and make full use of the Wii's tech, but sadly it languished in development hell, with a poorly managed studio. No actual gameplay build ever surfaced, and the project was cancelled, and studio shut down.

StarCraft: Ghost

One of the most famous 'cancelled' games around, Blizzard's Starcraft Ghost was a title set to bring the traditionally strategic title into the third-person, action stealth genre. It was supposed to star protagonist, Nova, a psychic Terran operative of the called a Ghost, and events would take place after the events of StarCraft: Brood War.

It was planned to be released on the Xbox, PS2 and GameCube, but switched developers and suffered all sorts of delays. The GameCube version was binned, and although it's still not surfaced to this day, Blizzard continues to refuse to officially cancel the project, instead leaving it on indefinite hold. Most consider it dead and buried, though.

Little information about the actual game or the story has been released, save the prequel graphic novel, StarCraft Ghost: Nova, which tells the story of the game's main character.

Division 9

A cancelled game from BioShock developer, Irrational Games, Division 9 was going to be a zombie survival game seeing players leave the relative safety of their strongholds to find supplies and other survivors. When players succeed in their excursions, they would improve and upgrade their hideouts, either with additional resources, or help from new allies like mechanics, who could improve the base. In the meantime, the zombie menace would continue, with and endless army of the undead for the player to deal with.

Unfortunately, during the game's development, Irrational was purchased by Take Two, and this caused the project to be put on indefinite hold. We would eventually get to play a similar game to Division 9, though, in the shape of Undead Lab's breakout XBLA hit, State Of Decay, but Irrational's skills could have produced a truly magnificent zombie title, which we'll never get to see.

Star Fox 2

The sequel to the orignal SNES hit, Star Fox 2 was a departure from the original. It featured the same kind of space combat gameplay, but also introduced new, open arena sections with both air and ground combat. The gameplay was also non-linear, with a map screen showing a selection of locations and enemy movements.

The game's release was shelved in order to shift focus to the upcoming 3D-centric Nintendo 64, which arrived sooner than expected, and Nintendo wanted a gap between the SNES' attempt at 3D and the Nintendo 64's tech.

The game is available via emulation, but officially, Fox McCloud's second outing was canned before it could be released on its intended platform.

Mega Man Universe

Mega Man Universe was set to be a Mega Man title like no other, and would have allowed players to actually customise their own levels. It would have featured classic Mega Man gameplay, and be delivered to the loyal Mega Man fan base via XBLA and PSN. Needless to say, anticipation was very high, so it hit very hard when Capcom pulled the plug.

Not citing specifics, other than various circumstances, Capcom didn't reveal exactly why the project was cancelled, but many believe a big part of the game's demise was due to the departure of Mega Man creator, Keiji Inafune. Whatever the reason, it was a game that fans mourned the loss of, and the Mega Man series has taken fall after fall of late. Mega Man Legends 3 also suffered the same fate.

Super Mario's Wacky Worlds

Most veteran gamers will be well aware of the titanic calamity that arose from Nintendo's deal with Philips and its ill-fated CD-i console. The games that released on the unit were awful, dragging legendary classics Zelda and Mario down to the depths of abysmal gaming. The titles that saw release weren't the only ones planned, though.

Philips, determined to make the CD-i a success, realised that they needed a big hitter, and as the existing Mario game, Hotel Mario, wasn't a traditional Mario title, it began work on Super Mario's Wacky Worlds.

This would look and play very much like the Super Nintendo's Super Mario World, but was instead going to be set in the real world, spread across various locations, such as Greece, the Arctic and Egypt.

The game was cancelled due to poor sales of the CD-i, which is perhaps luckily for Mario fans if the previous releases were anything to go by.

The California Rasins: The Grape Escape

A cartoon that could only be the product of the 80s, The California Raisins were a bunch (no pun intended) of humanoid raisins that formed a band. It was odd, sure, but one of those cartoons that people loved, so much so it won awards and was set to spawn a videogame from Capcom.

The game would have been a side-scroller which would have played in a similar style to the classic NES title, Duck Tales. It looked okay, but the anthropomorphic fruit group's popularity waned, and so Capcom cancelled the game before it could ripen. A full prototype can be found online.

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