With the amount of cancelled video games the industry has seen over the years, I’m sure there are plenty of games that have been cancelled which you wish weren’t. Here is a list of cancelled video games I want to see make a return, even if the chances of them making a return are almost zero.
Format: ZX Spectrum
Developer: Imagine Software
Here in Britain Bandersnatch is one of the most famous of all cancelled video games. Developed by the extremely talented party animals at Imagine Software, Bandersnatch was touted as one of two “mega games” to be developed by the team, alongside Psyclapse. Bandersnatch was planned to appear on the ZX Spectrum, and it was designed to push the Spectrum to its absolute limit. There were even rumours that the game would require a 32X-like adapter for the Spectrum to even play the game, and Bandersnatch was reportedly set to cost £40 and a time when you could pick up Spectrum games for about £5. To say Imagine had a grand vision for Bandersnatch would be an understatement. Sadly it never happened, in part because their vision was too grand and also because Imagine ran in to financial difficulties thanks to the lavish lifestyles of the employees. The remnants of Bandersnatch eventually formed the basis for the Commodore Amiga title Brataccas, a title notable for being the first game published by the legendary Psygnosis (a company founded by former Imagine employees). We’ll never see Bandersnatch how Imagine originally intended, but it’d be cool to see some of the old guys that worked on it bring it back from the dead.
Format: PlayStation 2
Nothing is actually known about Chrono Break, and it’s debatable whether it ever entered development or not. The Chrono series consists of only two games, Chrono Trigger for the Super Nintendo and Chrono Cross for the PlayStation. While neither of them matched the commercial success of Square’s Final Fantasy series they each sold in excess of two million units and were both highly acclaimed by critics and RPG fans alike. Many regard Chrono Trigger to be the greatest role-playing game ever made, and the best game Square ever produced. Each game has its own central mechanic essential to the structure of the game; Chrono Trigger revolves around time travel and Chrono Cross around traveling between two different dimensions. They each have a multitude if different endings, and Chrono Cross is noted for having a 40-man playable cast of characters. Chrono Break was trademarked in 2001, but it ultimately never saw the light of day. It’s disappointing because the quality of the two games in the series which do exist is staggering. It would also have been interesting to see where the series would go next. Sadly the trademark on the name expired in 2011, so even if Chrono Break was revived it would probably go by a different name.
Format: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, Xbox, PC, Nintendo DS, Wii
Developers: The Creative and Sensory Sweep
Originally planned for release in 2007 to coincide with the HD DVD release of the full Dirty Harry collection, Warner Bros. planned to release not one, but two Dirty Harry games. The main game, developed by The Creative, entered the planning stages in 2004 and was scheduled for release on the then upcoming Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The other game, which nobody knew about at the time, was scheduled for release on the PlayStation 2, Xbox, PC, Wii and Nintendo DS and was being developed by Sensory Sweep. Both games were designed independently of each other, and were completely different games, but each followed the same overall plot. The story was set between Dirty Harry and Magnum Force, and both games were set to include an all star cast. Clint Eastwood and his studio Malpaso were on board from the beginning, with the star reprising his role from the films. He was to be joined by Laurence Fishburne, Lucy Liu and Gene Hackman among others. The Creative had high ambitions for their version of the game, with the studio envisioning a huge, open world game in the style of Grand Theft Auto. Sensory Sweep’s version was more stripped down and utilized a cel-shaded art style to compensate for being aimed at older hardware. But both developers ran in to issues. The Creative just wasn’t capable of developing a huge, open world game with their small, inexperienced team, and as such by 2007, when the game was due for release, only about 30% of the game was finished, and what was finished was nothing other than a shallow, linear cover-based shooter. Sensory Sweep’s version was even less complete, and the studio ran in to even more problems. The studio wasn’t experienced with console development, all of its previous titles had been portable games, and the project languished. When it became apparent that both studios were having problems Malpaso pulled out of the project, cancelling both games fearing harm to the franchise if they were released in sub-par quality. While I have doubts that Sensory Sweep’s version would ever have been good, The Creative’s version had promise. If it was under the control of a more experienced developer, such as Rockstar North, I think it could have been a gem.
Format: Sega 32X
When Technosoft released Herzog Zwei for the Mega Drive in 1989, a sequel to a Japanese exclusive strategic shoot ’em up for the MSX and PC-88 computers, it pioneered the real-time strategy genre, laying the foundations that went on to greatly influence games such as Dune II, Command & Conquer, Warcraft, Starcraft, Age of Empires and Company of Heroes. Herzog Zwei is arguably one of the most influential video games of all time. A third game in the series was planned for release on the Sega 32X, labelled Herzog Drei by fans, although it never had an official title as the game never entered full development. This was because the 32X was a monumental failure which was forgotten about by Sega rather quickly. With Technosoft closing its doors in 2001 the chances of a Herzog Drei revival went with them, but I would still love to see it brought back from the dead. If you’re looking for something similar I’d recommend AirMech, a MOBA for PS4, Xbox One and PC that was heavily influenced by Herzog Zwei and which is often dubbed Herzog Drei by fans thanks to the similarities.
Mega Man Legends 3
Format: Nintendo 3DS
At one point in time, long ago, Mega Man was both Capcom’s most successful and acclaimed franchise. Sadly these days Capcom all but ignores Mega Man outside of re-releasing the classics. In September 2010 Mega Man Legends 3 was announced for the upcoming Nintendo 3DS, the much anticipated follow up to Mega Man Legends 2 which launched on the PlayStation over a decade earlier. Unfortunately, only months later, it was unexpectedly cancelled. Claiming slumping sales and the reduced popularity of the seroes as the cause for the cancellation, the only new Mega Man game released in recent years has been Street Fighter X Mega Man, which was developed by a fan to celebrate the 25th anniversary of both Street Fighter and Mega Man, but was officially endorsed by Capcom. I still think Capcom should bring Legends 3 back at some point, they owe it to the fans at the very least. The blue bomber deserves another chance.
Format: ZX Spectrum
Developer: Ultimate Play the Game
ZX Spectrum fans will be all too familiar with Ultimate Play the Game, the excellent British developer who in the early to mid 1980’s released arguably the finest selection of games from any single developer for the hugely successful micro computer. Fans of RareWare should also be familiar with Ultimate, as both companies were founded by Tim and Chris Stamper. After the Stamper brothers sold Ultimate to US Gold in the mid 80’s they formed Rare, and after a while severed ties with US Gold. The next few years weren’t as prolific for Ultimate, and by the time the name was used for the last time in 1988 the Stamper brothers had purchased the rights to Ultimate back from US Gold and brought them under the Rare name. One game from this time which never saw the light of day, despite being announced and teased, was Mire Mare. Mire Mare was part of the Sabreman series, Ultimate’s most well known franchise which included the games Sabrewulf, Underwurlde, Knight Lore and Pentagram. Mire Mare was planned to be the fifth game in the acclaimed series, but the development was interrupted by the sale to US Gold and it never made it to retail. Not much is known about what type of game it was planned to be, although it has been stated that it was to drop the Filmation engine pioneered with Knight Lore and return to the old style of game play used in Sabrewulf. With many of Ultimate’s games appearing on the Rare Replay compilation for Xbox One I still hold hope that Mire Mare will one day see the light of day, however slim the chances may be.
Developer: Nintendo Software Technology
Originally announced at E3 2006, and developed by the team responsible for Wave Race, 1080 Snowboarding and Metroid Prime: Hunters, Project H.A.M.M.E.R. was a beat ’em up for the Wii that was originally designed around the system’s main selling point – motion controls. Unfortunately little is known about the game itself, but it was officially cancelled in 2009 after several changes to the core game, and the ordeal of developing the game was so bad that some of the staff who worked on it quit the industry altogether. Which is a damn shame, as NSF was a consistent developer with a lot of talented staff. It’d be cool to see this game actually happen one day.
Format: Xbox One
Developer: Platinum Games
Of all the cancelled games on this list, none of them hurt me as badly as Scalebound. Announced as an Xbox One exclusive in 2013 Scalebound was going to be an action RPG with multiplayer features and was created by Hideki Kamiya, co-founder of the excellent Platinum Games, one of my favourite game creators and the mind responsible for amazing titles like Devil May Cry, Viewtiful Joe, Okami and Bayonetta. His reputation speaks for itself, and despite not owning an Xbox One I was willing to fork out for one just to play this single game. Kamiya loves video games, and it really shows in the games he makes. We need more creators like him in the industry. Scalebound really did look cool, but for some unknown reason Microsoft unexpectedly cancelled the game earlier this year. All hope is not lost though, as Microsoft also renewed the Scalebound trademark after the cancellation, so hopefully the project will see a revival at some point.
Format: Sega Saturn
Developer: Sega Technical Institute
Many have speculated that had Sonic X-Treme launched it could have saved the Saturn, but this is an opinion I don’t agree with. Sonic was incredibly popular in the mid-90’s, and the lack of an original Sonic title certainly hurt the Saturn’s mainstream credibility. But the system came up against a juggernaut in the PlayStation, which was more popular than anyone could have imagined and even kicked the arse of the Nintendo 64 as well. The Saturn was a great gaming system which housed some incredible games, especially if you lived in Japan where the system received about 1500 more games than in the west, including many almost arcade perfect fighting games from the likes of Capcom and SNK, as well as tons of amazing shoot ’em ups and Japanese RPGs. Sonic X-Treme went through at least two complete overhauls during development, but as time wore on it was evident it was never going to see the light of day. Which is a shame, because at the time it looked promising. Some of the ideas for Sonic X-Treme eventually made their way in to Sonic: Lost World for the Wii U.
Star Fox 2
Format: Super Nintendo
Developer: Argonaut Games
Star Fox 2 was around 95% finished before it was canned by Nintendo. The reason it was cancelled was because it was due for release in late 1995, around the time the Nintendo 64 was scheduled for release in Japan, and Nintendo wanted the next Star Fox game to run on the best possible hardware. Ultimately the N64 received several delays and didn’t launch in Japan until June 1996. Many ideas originally planned and implemented in Star Fox 2, such as the multiplayer mode and Star Wolf, eventually made their way into Star Fox 64. Shigeru Miyamoto once stated that about 30% of Star Fox 64 was composed of left over ideas from Star Fox 2. Some of the planned content also made it’s way to Star Fox Command for the Nintendo DS, which was released 12 years later, and traces can still be seen in Star Fox Zero on Wii U. Had it launched Star Fox 2 would have been one of the most technically impressive games available on the SNES, and a considerable update on the original. The game is fully available to play via emulation, but I’d like to see Nintendo bring it back in all its 16-bit glory on the eShop.
EDIT – Since posting this blog Nintendo has announced that Star Fox 2 will be included as one of the twenty games for the Classic SNES Mini console.