Nintendo

DJ Hero: After Party [Cancelled – Xbox 360, PS3, Wii]

DJ Hero: After Party is a cancelled spin-off to the original DJ Hero game, which was briefly being worked on by Zoë Mode, the UK based subsidiary of Kuju Entertainment, for Activision in 2009. It was proposed as a game for the Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii.

Another Spin On DJ Hero

As FreeStyleGames was in the final stages of developing the first DJ Hero, Zoë Mode set a team of artists on formulating ideas for a spin-off game to it in July 2009. The developer had, in the recent past, created other such music games as Rock Revolution and Disney: Sing It! when the project began.

Leading Light, the design studio of Christian Bravery, was contracted to help make concept art for the company, as the vision behind game was steadily being realised. Together, they imagined an alternative approach to the formula of DJ Hero, one developer explained.

“It would have had a very different vibe to it than the other games. We wanted it to have its own personality and feel. More relaxed and laid back.”

DJ: After Party would have made for a more casual-friendly approach to the series. Another developer described the possibility of it being made up of “slower, more up beat” tracks, although work on the title never got as far as assembling a set list.

The general idea behind it was that most of the show venues, as you might imagine, were after parties. Leading Light and the developers put together images of some of the events, which included celebrity wedding receptions, boat parties and a private luxury island.

Activision allowed the developer to use the DJ Hero license in developing conceptual documents and a prototype demo for their potential spin-off, as well as the opportunity to present a proposal to their management. Zoë Mode ended up working on the concept for a few months before Activision ultimately decided against pursuing the project, rejecting the pitch in October 2009; the month of DJ Hero’s first release.

According to one artist, the concepts were, however, retained by Activision and some of their ideas were later used in DJ Hero 2.

Character art:

More concepts including pitch documents/research:

Heroes: The Video Game [Cancelled – PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, PC]

Heroes, as it was tentatively titled, was a cancelled video game based off the NBC TV show of the same name. It was being developed by High Voltage Software and would have been published by Ubisoft. The title was planned for releases on PS3, Xbox 360, PC and Wii.

Heroes: The Video Game

Shortly after the successful first season of the Heroes TV series concluded in May 2007, Ubisoft entered talks with NBC Studios to use the license for a video game adaptation. This was to be the second big TV property Ubisoft would adapt following the development of LOST: Via Domus, which had began earlier that year in February. While Ubisoft’s Montreal division was busy working on that game, the publisher reached out to external developers including High Voltage Software.

At the time, High Voltage already had experience with developing TV tie-in games, including the Family Guy video game, and was therefore “a natural choice for Ubi”, one developer recalled. Ubisoft successfully negotiated a deal with NBC, which they announced in June, but the final decision to secure High Voltage as its developer was made over the following few months without ever being revealed to the public.

High Voltage Software’s Vision For Heroes

Just as LOST: Via Domus introduced an original character, Elliot Maslow, as its protagonist, the Heroes video game would have centred around a new female character of High Voltage Software’s own invention. Given how short the project’s lifespan was, it appears as though this redheaded heroine had yet to be named, but you can see some concept art of her below.

Heroes Video Game Protagonist Concepts

In the vein of Ubisoft Montreal’s character, this new member of the Heroes mythos would have acted as the player’s vessel through which they could explore the world of the show and interact with its extensive cast of superhumans. She would have enabled High Voltage and Ubisoft a higher level of creative freedom as they attempted to delve into the Heroes universe without too greatly interfering with the pre-established lore. 

Nintendo’s Harry Potter [Pitch / Cancelled – N64, GBA, GameCube]

Nintendo’s Harry Potter [Pitch / Cancelled – N64, GBA, GameCube]

In 1998, Nintendo of America’s internal team, Nintendo Software Technology developed a pitch to lock down exclusive access to the Harry Potter rights. Had it been successful, Nintendo would have secured the rights to produce all adaptations of the book series for the indefinite future in video game form; potentially preventing the eventual movie adaptations from being created altogether.

Nintendo and the Harry Potter license

Nintendo’s vision for Hogwarts.

According to one former artist of the studio, a sudden order from Nintendo’s management halted work on their three titles in development at the time (Ridge Racer 64, Bionic Commando and Crystalis) when news arrived that the license was to be auctioned off. This was a blanket license covering all formats of adaptation, including not only video games, but TV and film as well.

“The license went up for sale and all these major media companies were putting together pitches.”

The studio was then split into two: the primary group focused on devising on a pitch for a third person adventure title, whilst a smaller team worked on a potential game based around quidditch. The latter division reportedly included Marvel comic book artist, Adi Granov, who was responsible for character art.

Nintendo pitch for Harry Potter games

Hogwarts Express concept art by Nintendo ST.

Nintendo ST aspired to develop the adaptations themselves, with versions planned to be released on Nintendo 64, Gameboy Advance and later Gamecube; as well as any of Nintendo’s future platforms further down the line. These releases would have coincided with the launch of each new book.

“All together it was only a week of insanely furious scribbling things to the digital artists to create animations for mock game demos”

The license holder, JK Rowling, agreed to view Nintendo’s presentation, but this was not without some trepidation among the members of Software Technology. Our source alleges that there was a disagreement at one point over which art style would be most appropriate for the franchise. Towards the start, there was a push for character designs inspired by those of the first book’s cover art by Thomas Taylor. However, it wasn’t long before the studio’s higher-ups took against this idea and forced it in a different direction:

“…it went against all my instincts based on what I had read quotes from JK about keeping it strictly British, and I had to revamp my initial designs and go more manga/Japanese – I had a big fight about that, but my boss insisted”

Harry Potter concept art for Nintendo games

Hagrid’s Hut concept art.

We have unfortunately been unable to post images of these characters, since Nintendo would not allow its artists to share any of them publicly.

According to our source, the crew developing the quidditch game proposal had wanted to follow a similar route with regards to character design:

“[Name redacted] did get to do a more realistic take – I remember his Hermione being really nicely realized, but I doubt he saved anything from those days.”

Ultimately, Nintendo’s bid was declined by JK Rowling. Our source revealed that the writer turned it down in favor of several other proposals by media giants with greater resources, such as Disney and Universal. Whereas Nintendo was only able to offer forays into the realm of video games, these larger companies had the ability to spread out into TV and film; as well as gaming.

Rowling, in the end, sold the rights to Warner Bros. for a reported £1m. WB would later contract Electronic Arts to create video game adaptations of their film series based off the books. The first, Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone was released in 2001.

Video:

 

Driver 5 [Cancelled – Xbox 360, PS3, Wii]

Driver 5 is a cancelled racing game which was, for a short period of time, in the works at Sumo Digital, the developer of the Sonic & All-Stars Racing games. It would have been published by Ubisoft and released around early 2011 on Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii.

In January 2010, Ubisoft released a financial forecast for their next fiscal year, detailing a number of their scheduled releases. Among these were some vague plans to release an untitled fifth entry to the Driver series, although no other information was provided at the time. Behind the scenes, it was around this point that Driver 5 (a working title) was in pre-production at Sumo Digital, who had been contracted externally. Previously, Sumo had partnered with Ubisoft to produce Driver ’76 on the PSP, who they worked on alongside Ubisoft Reflections.

Concept art for Driver 5.

Concept art for Driver 5.

Christian Bravery of design studio, Lighting Lights, was brought on board to draft concept art for the Driver 5 project.

“It was interesting to be involved at the beginning and the end of this project and something I’d love to do more often.”

The lifespan of Sumo Digital’s Driver 5 was brief, as it never moved past pre-production. It was cancelled when Ubisoft elected not to partner with Sumo Digital on it, instead giving the project to Ubisoft Reflections. Reflections would then go on to create Driver: San Francisco.

By the looks of it, this original vision for the game would have incorporated destructible environments of some sort. The concepts show Tanner’s surroundings crumbling around him as he races away from his pursuers. Perhaps this was a small stepping stone towards Sonic & All Stars Racing: Transformed, which incorporated a similar concept of tracks that would dynamically change and fall apart as the race progressed.

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