So, you’ve thought of an innovative idea
that’ll set the gaming world alight, drafted a storyboard, developed some characters and
fleshed out the plot. You’ve spent months, maybe years with a crew of creative, intelligent
people building a fun, challenging, even beautiful game… and after all that it never sees the
light of day. Boo. Unfortunately, exciting projects meet this
grim end more often than you may think. It turns out that it’s hard, time consuming
and expensive to make games, (who knew), and sometimes it all just gets too much. Fortunately
though, we here at TripleJump are proud preservationists and so you can rely on us to immortalise these
otherwise forgotten projects in list video format, ooh we’re doing the Lord’s work
From sequels of much-loved titles, to interesting concepts that never got the chance they deserved,
I’m Peter from Triple Jump and these are 10 Cancelled Video Games That Never Saw Release. 10. Socks The Cat Rocks The Hill
Frankly this game could not be more 90s if it tried. Ahh, what a decade. Back then the
world was fun, freewheelin’ and easy-going. The best-selling artist was Celine Dion, James
Bond was played by Pierce Brosnan, and the President of the United States “did not
have sexual relations with that woman”. And you know what? We weren’t the least
bit interested, quite frankly, in whether Clinton had had a little bit of Monica.
What we really cared about was his pet cat, Socks. In fact, video game developers Realtime
Associates were so interested in the little feline that they decided to make a game about
him for the SNES … I know, different times, right?.
Socks The Cat Rocks The Hill follows the titular hero as he makes his way past spies, politicians
and the dastardly media to warn the Clinton family of a stolen Nuclear Missile Launch
device. On one occasion, according to Wikipedia, Socks must push Millie the dog, pet of former
president George H. W. Bush, out the front door to “avoid Arab terrorist felines”.
The game also depicts Ted Kennedy driving on a bridge – a reference to the Cappaquiddick
car accident in which the senator’s negligence resulted in the death of his 28-year-old passenger.
Not quite what I expected from this game, I must say.
Originally set for release in the Autumn of 1993 was cancelled in the summer of ’94
after experiencing delays. The game was finished however, and a prototype SNES cartridge did
eventually find its way into the hands of collector Tom Curtin, who released the ROM
after a successful Kickstarter campaign. I guess with that in mind, this game barely
qualifies for the list but we’ll just call it a WILDCARD ENTRY!
So, while this game was indeed cancelled and never got its official release, there is in
fact an emulatable version available, so that everyone can enjoy the slightly politically
incorrect adventures of Socks the cat. 9. The Lord Of The Rings – The White Council
The White Council was an RPG that started development at the ill-fated EA Redwood Shores
Studio. Based on J.R.R Tolkein’s world-renowned fantasy series, The Lord Of The Rings, and
the oh so lengthy film trilogy of the same name, players were to be able to choose whether
to be a Man, Dwarf, Elf or Hobbit, (Elf every time right?), with the ultimate goal of becoming
a hero allied with the eponymous White Council. Similar in feel to titles such as Skyrim,
the game’s action was to take place in a massive open world where the player could
go anywhere they desired, either by following a specific set of story missions or forging
their own adventure entirely. Originally planned for release in late 2007,
the game was delayed indefinitely on the 2nd February citing management problems and ultimately
scrapped for good. EA subsequently went on to work in tandem with Pandemic Studios on
2009’s The Lord Of The Rings: Conquest, the most average and unremarkable game of
the past 10 years. Another great decision by EA there. 8. Fortress
Developed by Grin, Fortress was the code name of a project set to be a spin-off of Final
Fantasy XII. Located in the recurring Final Fantasy world of Ivalice (I won’t pretend
I know how to pronounce that) the main aim of the plot was to bring the entire cast of
Final Fantasy XII back together for one last fight to save their world. Kind of like the
Avengers but less Hollywood. Kind of like The Avengers but with bigger swords and hair.
Amazingly though, the real-life struggle behind the scenes during the game’s development
was even more dramatic than the plot itself. With a fee of $16.5 million being agreed between
the publisher Square Enix and developer Grin, production started in the second half of 2008,
but problems began pretty much instantly, as no payments were made during the first
2 months of development. In fact, no payments were ever made to Grin, with Square Enix becoming
increasingly hard to please, difficult to work with, and apparently clueless at how
finances work (man… reminds me of an ex-girlfriend actually). It is reported that, at one point,
Grin sent Square Enix an image taken directly from their own title, Final Fantasy XII, only
to be told that it did not look like a game in the Final Fantasy style. Oh dear…
Grin filed for bankruptcy in August 2009 and described Fortress as, “An unreleased masterpiece
that they weren’t allowed to finish”, which would make me sad… if I cared at all
about Final Fantasy. I don’t though, so sorry. 7. Doom 4
The first signs that a fourth Doom game was on the way were in August 2007, when co-founder
and then lead designer of ID Software, John Carmack made indications to that nature at
Quakecon. Then after a year of uncertainty, it was officially announced to be in development
in May 2008. The new game was said to take place on Earth
and feature gameplay more similar to that of the first 2 games, rather than the survival
horror style of the most recent Doom 3. By all accounts, development for Doom 4 was
going okay, despite the amount of time it was taking. In 2008 Carmack boasted about
how pretty it would be, saying they would be able to throw “3 times as much horsepower”
at Doom 4 than 2010’s Rage, another game that was being made by ID at the time. Then
in 2011 mentioned that it would be using a new scripting language called Super-Script!
It seems this was all a front though as by the end of 2012, the team decided to make
Doom 4 a reboot, rather than a sequel, and in November 2013, Carmack left IDSoftware
to focus on Oculus VR. Leaving a wake of people shouting “Ha! Home VR? That’ll never catch
on… Reports since seem to show that the development
of Doom 4had been a mess, and that the game had been completely restarted in 2011. The
first version had been described as mediocre and too similar to the Call Of Duty franchise
and the second offering fared no better, being described as lame and lacking in personality
– alright guys, tell us how you really feel. Eventually, Bethesda did publish a Doom title
developed by IDSoftware in 2016 and it was well received,but it was indeed a reboot of
the franchise and did not contain any of the elements of Doom 4. I guess Doom 4 was just
DOOMed to fail. 6.Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Patriots
A case of announced too soon with too little substance and a good dose of bad luck, Rainbow
Six: Patriots was to be another first-person shooter in Ubisoft’s successful series of
games bearing Tom Clancy’s name. Set in New York City, the game saw Team Rainbow
being called to the rescue once again, this time against a terrorist group calling itself
“The True Patriots”. But instead of singing anthems or painting flags on their cheeks
like good patriots do, this group decided to take the law into their own hands, on behalf
of the victims of what they called “Wall Street Corruption”.
In 2011 Ubisoft decided to prematurely announce Patriots due to worries of a potential leak
and had to stress that the trailer they showed contained a pre-rendered concept created in
2010, rather than footage of any current game build.
After this, news was relatively slow and ultimately negative. In March 2012 it was announced that
the game had lost a score of its development team, with the creative director and lead
designer amongst those to part ways from the product, and due to the death of Tom Clancy
himself in October 2013, concern was raised that this could potentially be the last title
to bear his name. Ubisoft have since put this to bed though, stating they will continue
to use the name of the late author out of, quote, “respect”.
Finally, after years of generally bad news it was announced in June 2014 that Patriots
would sadly be scrapped, but Team Rainbow did ride again in 2015’s title, Rainbow
Six: Siege, so at least there’s a happy ending there. 5. inSANE
Hey look, that’s cool, different and quirky! They capitalised the SANE bit. I wonder what
that could mean… Well, wonder on I’m afraid because we’ll never find out.
Announced at the 2010 Spike Video Game Awards via a 30 second trailer, Insane, or rather,
“inSANE”, was a survival horror game developed by Volition, intended for release on the Playstation
3, Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows. Interestingly, the game was supposed to be
the first of a trilogy published by THQ in collaboration with that there film director,
Guillermo Del Toro. You know the guy who directed Oscar winning, The Shape Of Water… Pan’s
Labyrinth? He voiced Moustache Man in Puss In Boots 3D? Yeah, him.
In fact, perhaps it was his performance in 2011’s Puss in Boots that caused THQ to
rather unceremoniously announce the cancellation of “inSANE” in August 2012, claiming it
was in the very early stages of development and all rights would go back to Del Toro.
Since then there have been some reports of Del Toro finding a publisher for the unfinished
game but at the time of writing, there are no confirmed plans to bring it into fruition. 4. Brothers In Arms: Furious 4
It’s a tale as old as time. You wait forever to hear about a cancelled Ubisoft FPS in a
Triple Jump list and then two come along at once.
Developed by Gearbox Studios, Furious 4 was intended to be a more casual sequel to the
Brothers In Arms franchise, so, instead of the usual gritty, realistic approach, the
plot followed a fictional unit, travelling through Germany on a mission to find Hitler
himself and hopefully kick him. Announced at E3 2011 during the Ubisoft press
conference, the game was scheduled for release in early 2012, but yeah, you guessed it, a
release never came, with Ubisoft abandoning the trademarks for Furious 4 to Gearbox, in
May 2012. At that point it looked like the game would
go through some drastic changes, ie. dropping the Brothers In Arms name, but would still
eventually find its way onto the shelves, but again… nope. In July 2015, Gearbox president
and resident magician, Randy Pitchford stated that Furious 4 was ‘not a thing anymore’,
though it’s said that elements of the game were utilised by the 2016 title Battleborn,
so it was only a slight waste of four years 3. Silent Hills
It’s a tale as old as time. You wait forever to hear about a cancelled Guillermo Del Toro,
survival horror title in a Triple Jump list and then two come along at once. Is there
an echo in here? Yes, it’s true, the famed Puss In Boots
3D Moustache Man, Mr Del Toro has had little luck in the video game business.
That’s not to say that Silent Hills didn’t look good though. The game was announced through
a free to download PT, or playable teaser, on the Playstation Store in August 2014, and
it was received well both publicly and critically, notching up over a million downloads in its
first month, and even winning an award for best horror game from Giant Bomb. PT also
revealed the involvement of Del Toro as an assistant director, and The Walking Dead’s
Norman Reedus as the voice of the game’s protagonist.
Using a first-person perspective, rather than the third-person more commonly found in the
Silent Hill series, the demo follows an unidentified man, who finds himself in a haunted, seemingly
unending corridor. The player could pretty much just walk and zoom in, and had to solve
a number of challenges before a trailer revealed the juicy details of the forthcoming game.
Problems arose in March 2015 though, when it was reported that the director of the game,
Hideo Kojima would be leaving Konami after the completion of Metal Gear Solid V: The
Phantom Pain, and a month later, Del Toro reportedly told attendees of a San Francisco
Film Society event that the game had been cancelled.
“So, is that it?” I hear you ask. “Will poor old Guillermo ever be involved in a successful
video game release?”. Well… maybe. Despite having sworn in a 2015 interview to never
get involved in the industry again, it seems in reality that he simply couldn’t stay
away, as he’s currently working on Death Stranding with the former director of Silent
Hills, Hideo Kojima. Fingers crossed, Guillermo! Third time lucky I suppose. I’m sure the
weird ass game with the pissing mechanic is going to take the world by storm. You do it
Del Toro! I believe in you! 2. GTA – Online Crime World
“Multiplayer GTA… Over the Internet? … Surely not!” scoffed everyone who heard about this
hair-brained concept at the end of the last millennium. In late September 1999, DMA Design
(now known as Rockstar North) announced two new games in the Grand Theft Auto series.
These would be Grand Theft Auto 3D, which later became Grand Theft Auto 3 and Grand
Theft Auto: Online Crime World. The latter was intended to be a game focused on multiplayer
online gameplay, stylistically similar to GTA 2, with a top down view. Intriguing!
However, while Online Crime World received one more mention in the February 2000 edition
of British magazine PC Zone, that was the last time the developers published any information
about it at all. It appears that Rockstar just had too much difficulty trying to make
the game and weren’t able to devote enough time to it when there was so much to do with
GTA 3 and the subsequent Vice City. Of course, the concept was realised much later
on in the online shenanigans of GTA 4 and 5. It took them almost 10 years, but I think
we can all agree that they did a good job in the end. 1. Prey 2
“PREY 2!… or… Prey 2… if you wanna get serious about this…” was to be published
by Bethesda and developed by Human Head Studios. Initially announced by 3D Realms, development
on the sequel to the wonderful Prey 1 of 2006 didn’t really begin until 3 years later
under Human Head, as the rights had transferred to ZeniMaxMedia, Bethesda’s parent company.
This all sounds quite complicated but I’ll draw you a flow chart if you need one.
In early 2011, the game was re-announced by Bethesda with a few changes to the original
concept, shown off in a very intriguing trailer. The main player character was different from
the original, and it had transitioned to more of an open world game. The protagonist would
now be “U.S Marshall Killian Samuels” (surely the most fake-sounding yet still somewhat
plausible name in all of fiction), a bounty hunter trying to make a living on the alien
planet Exodus after his abduction from Earth. Bizarrely, despite having reached near alpha
release state, Human Head quietly stopped working on the game in late 2011 and everything
went quiet, with many speculating the game had gone into development hell. Finally, in
October 2014, Bethesda officially cancelled the game stating that although they still
believed in the franchise, they were never fully satisfied with it. Ah well, only 5 years
of development up the swanny. Bethesda of course went on reboot the franchise
in 2017 with Arkane Studios at the helm, and the old Prey 2 fell into the sad pile of promising
games never to be released but to be forever referenced in occasional Simon Miller impressions…
“if you wanna get serious about this”. And that’s our list but what did we miss?
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