The Destructoid staff sounds off
Game cancellations suck. In an industry that is 50% hype and 50% complaining about the hype, it’s absolutely deflating when a game you were so looking forward to is suddenly scrapped. Be it company infighting, too grand of a premise or simple economics; it can often feel like no excuse is good enough when you had your heart set on a particular title.
Last month, Xbox One owners looking forward to their own exclusive PlatinumGames title were disappointed when the plug was pulled on Scalebound. For as sad as it was for us in the west, I can’t imagine how heartbroken the 37 people who own an Xbox One in Japan felt.
This got me thinking about game cancellations and the titles we were never meant to play. So I asked my fellow Destructoid writers what game are the most upset over never getting the opportunity to play.
The early days of the Nintendo Wii and vaporware go together like peanut butter and pickles, which is a great combination so don’t knock it until you try it. When that wonderful little console was announced, there were a lot of little game teasers that were hyped far more than they should have been. There was Orb, which never came to be, Sadness, which I’m still convinced was just a hoax, and Sword of Legendia, which was probably only a pipe-dream in Tsutomu Gouda’s mind. Then there was Project H.A.M.M.E.R.
Unlike those other games, this one was real. It had a playable demo and everything. Developed by Nintendo’s NST division in Redmond, Washington, Project H.A.M.M.E.R. was absolutely one of the reasons I bought a Wii as early as I did and was my most anticipated game right up until its cancellation in 2009. I’ve read that after the success of games like Wii Play, Nintendo wanted to go a cuter route with it and call it Wii Crush. I don’t know if that’s true, but the game’s cancellation remains a constant bringer of sorrow for me.
This sounds crazy, and it might not be the “most crushed” I’ve been to date, but I was really looking forward to Thrill Kill at the time. Wait you don’t remember Thrill Kill? Well, back during the ’90s when baby boomers thought video games rotted your mind and drove kids into murderous frenzies (so always, maybe?), Paradox Development started work on an ultraviolent four-player fighting game. It pushed boundaries with BDSM imagery, extreme gore, and suggestive move sets, and become the first game to obtain the Adult’s Only (AO) rating.
Due to the controversy, which didn’t work in its favor, the game was canned, and even though the source is readily available online due to a leak, I was never able to play it. But the real reason I wanted it? Again, it was a four player fighter and supported the multi-tap accessory on PlayStation. I was really into hosting my own fighting game tournaments, and I’d often invite 10 or more friends over to my house for round robin competitions, whiteboard and all — but most titles only supported two players outside of the few we played on the Nintendo 64, leaving people constantly in the lurch.
There is a happy ending to this ordeal, though, as we got Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style, an actual Wu-Tang fighting game with the same engine. As flawed as it was I spent many a night glued to that thing with groups of friends, finally able to play a four-player fighter outside of the Nintendo 64 WWF games (my main was Inspectah Deck!) and Smash. I would get my fix yet again when The Bouncer (another flawed but great multiplayer fighter) was released on the PS2. Where are all these great 3D brawlers?
BioShock is one of my all-time favorite games. BioShock 2 is pretty good, and while it’s not as strong as the first story-wise, the controls are far better and it does alright in justifying its own existence. BioShock Infinite is one of the most disappointing things to ever happen to me in gaming, and I really hate how the final product ended up. But what if we could have had another chance to revisit Rapture?
We almost had it in the planned Vita version of BioShock.
Neither port nor sequel, Ken Levine allegedly conceived the game as something of a Final Fantasy Tactics-type game set in Rapture, prior to its fall. Can you imagine playing a game showing the advent of Adam and Eve and the effects on the denizens of the underwater city? Getting to play through the civil war that tore Rapture apart? Seeing a person succumb to plasmid addiction? BioShock had a beautiful irony to the whole affair, and a strategy role-playing game setting the tone for that immense political strife and fantastic scientific advancement could have been absolutely amazing.
Oh well. At least there’s always the impending movie adaptation, right?!
While I tend to shy away from most shooters nowadays, I used to really be enamored with first and third-person games. A lot of my teen years were spent playing the latest PC releases and a few Xbox Live games with friends. I have incredibly fond memories of Unreal Tournament and I’ve always had an interest in the Splinter Cell games since they came out. I loved seeing the technical prowess of each generation being put to use with these titles and how each game made creative use of the differing camera schemes.
Call of Duty kind of changed everything in 2003. The shift to a more realistic focus felt like a natural evolution for first-person games, but the side effect ended up being that nearly every shooter decided to become more “hardcore.” Even with that series sort of shifting into self-parody, I long for a truly realistic and hardcore shooter that pays respect to the soldiers involved in the military (which is what Call of Duty started as).
Six Days in Fallujah looked to be the answer to that. Developer Atomic Games had gone so far as to interview around 70 different individuals involved in the Iraq War to try and hone in on the psychological complexity of battle. They wanted the levels to be fully destructible, so as to stay realistic to actual combat, and were hoping to make people realize the hardships that soldiers face in trying to serve their countries.
Sadly, publisher Konami couldn’t be bothered to defend the title and dropped its support after some controversy arose. People debated whether or not a video game should focus on such a recent event, acting as if the genre wasn’t able to realistically portray something so horrible (despite film doing it for decades).
While I’m unsure if the game would have sold, it definitely would have taken a tired genre and given it a more human touch. Not every game needs to be fun, but more titles should make use of the unique aspects of the medium to provide users with something they can’t get anywhere else.
I was going to put Mega Man Universe as my entry here (calling back to how cool its premiere trailer was), but I’m never going to let Mega Man Legends 3 go. What’s even worse about its eventual cancellation is that it was right there in our damn fingertips. Announced in 2010 before its eventual cancellation a year later, Legends 3 seemed to be moving on just fine. We saw artwork, fans were involved with the design choices (a huge misstep in retrospect), and there was even a prototype version in the works. It all seemed like peaches and cream before it surprisingly (at the time) fell apart. Keiji Inafune left Capcom, Capcom pretty much forgot our little blue boy existed for a good couple of years, we wouldn’t get a Mega Man fix until years later, and Mighty No. 9 happened. I’m not gonna blame Legends 3‘s cancellation for Mighty No. 9, but I’m not not gonna blame it.
The world has gone to hell, and it’s because we never got to play Mega Man Legends 3.
Not to open this whole can of worms again, but… remember Fez? Remember how, at one point, prior to a whole bunch of shit going down, there were plans for a sequel? Yeah, I had kind of forgotten, too.
Frankly, I’m not so sure we ever truly needed a Fez 2, but I was and still am curious about what it might have looked like. Would the art style and rotation mechanic be similar, albeit pushed even further? Would there be more absurd secrets to unravel in our real-world notebooks? Or would Polytron have thrown a curveball and made a more of a conceptual yet thematically linked follow-up? I wish I knew!
More than anything, Fez 2 could have given us more Disasterpeace tunes. That alone bums me out.
I don’t care what conspiracy theorists say, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts ‘n’ Bolts is not what the third Banjo game was supposed to be. I loved the Banjo series to death. Phooey to people who think the first two aged terribly as collect-a-thon platformers. I always thought the worlds and levels were so enjoyable and engrossing. I remember when I oxygenated the water at Jolly Roger’s Lagoon and it became a water level that wasn’t concerned with holding your breath? Crazy talk!
The first two games were about lively stages, expertly crafted for interested gimmicks and a multitude of ways to get around. But what was Nuts ‘n’ Bolts? Just vast, empty lands filled with a whole lotta nothing. Nuts ‘n’ Bolts was a series of levels that expected you to not notice such empty levels by driving past in some junky looking vehicles. And yeah, Banjo is driving some godforsaken vehicles which leaves Kazooie doing what? Holding a wrench? You have to be kidding me. This is not what Banjo-Threeie was going to be. Please Rare, please, don’t forget what Banjo-Threeie was going to be.
Steambot Chronicles 2! Lordy, I liked the first one. It wasn’t a polished experience by any means, but damn if it wasn’t charming. It was plucky anime Grand Theft Auto, which meant instead of killing hookers you could play harmonica on a street corner or get your ears picked by your sweetheart. I remember being in college and getting super pissed that it was called “Steambot Chronicles” when all the mecha were powered by gasoline. The main villain is a frickin’ oil baron! The title makes no sense…and it’s honestly become part of the charm now, because twelve years ago publishers like Atlus were still figuring out the market for these kinds of niche anime games, and no one was sure how much Japaneseness people could take. Also, the original title, Bumpy Trot, sounds like a model of a vibrator.
Sadly, Bumpy Trot 2, first unveiled ten years ago at TGS for the PS3, went belly-up alongside its developer Irem, and though ex-Irem productions like Disaster Report eventually survived, the Bumpy Trot franchise didn’t.
Metroid Dread. It’s no secret that the Metroid franchise is much more popular in the rest of the world than in its home country, and it’s rumored that Nintendo’s Creative Fellow Shigeru Miyamoto actively dislikes the series. This may be why Nintendo tends to push Metroid to the back burner, going so far as to completely ignore its 30th anniversary last year. The last two games in the series had very little to do with older titles people liked and, barring a surprise announcement at E3 this year, there’s not much to look forward to regarding the continuing adventures of Samus Aran.
That’s why it hurts so much to think about what might have been. Although Metroid Prime: Hunters had a demo at the DS’s launch and the Castlevania series proved annually that 2D, exploration-based platformers were perfectly suited to the platform, 2D Metroid completely skipped the DS. After Metroid Prime became a surprise hit on the GameCube, rumors began to swirl that a new, 2D Metroid was in development for the DS. Supposedly, it would have been a sequel to the last fully 2-dimensional game in the series, Metroid Fusion. The title comes from an internal list of upcoming software that leaked from Nintendo in 2005, though it was never officially confirmed by the company. Dread is the only title on that list that was never released, well over a decade later.
The closest we ever got was a reference to the title in Metroid Prime 3 that seemed to hint at a nearly-complete game. There’s still hope; Nintendo never throws anything away, and announcing a new Metroid would certainly help interest core gamers in the Switch. Still, while there’ve been many, many unofficial successors, it’s not quite the same as an official 2D entry in my favorite Nintendo franchise.
For me, it’s less about the game that was canceled and more about a character from a game who was erased from a franchise. Resident Evil 2 was originally supposed to feature an FMV intro, fat zombies, 6-foot-tall invisible bug monsters, grenades, blockades, and most importantly, a protagonist named Elza Walker. Then, after having promoted the game for months, Capcom scrapped 90% of their work and started over from scratch. Most of what was planned for the original version of Resident Evil 2 would eventually make it to later installments in the series, except for poor Elza. Claire Redfield stole her role, and she was never seen or heard from again.
This was at a time when the game magazine reigned supreme, and the market was nowhere near as crowded as it is today, making it much easier for fans to obsess over just one game for months, or even years on end. Back then, rereading a game magazine that was a few months old felt like looking at pictures of an awesome party you went to with your friends, except this was a party hadn’t even happened yet. You could get wistful for the past, and excited for the future, all at the exact same time.
I felt this way a lot in the mid-90s, even while I was being filmed for a real life adventure on MTV. Despite being a relatively handsome reality show cast member, surrounded by pretty girls and survival-based challenges, I still spent a heck of a lot of time that summer wishing I was with, or that I just was, a fictional woman named Elza Walker. Her full body motorcycle racing gear was both realistic, and reminiscent of something a superhero would wear, not to mention practically bite-proof. That combined with her optimistic smile and mysterious nature made it easy for me to daydream about her story, and hope that her game would live up to my ridiculously high expectations.
Since then, the ISO for the original Resident Evil 2 was leaked to torrent sites (now known as Resident Evil 1.5), and most people say it’s kinda crappy. In reality, I’d much rather play the canceled build of Resident Evil 4, the one with the meat hook smog man and the angry baby doll monsters. But in my imagination, Resident Evil 2 starring Elza walker is still the best party I’ve never been to, and it’s one that I’ll never forget.
Those are the games we’re bummed to have missed out on. Let us know in the comments which game cancellations still haunt you.