GameCube

Skies of Arcadia 2 [Cancelled – GameCube, PS2]

The original Skies of Arcadia was released in late 2000 / early 2001 on Dreamcast, and soon became a cult hit among JRPG fans. The game was developed by Overworks, a SEGA team composed of numerous legendary developers and designers, including Rieko Kodama, Shuntarō Tanaka, and Noriyoshi Ohba; who worked on past RPGs, such as the Phantasy Star series, Magic Knight Rayearth, Wonder Boy in Monster Land and the Sakura Taisen series. Hype was high and the final game was really one of the best japanese RPGs released in the ‘00, but unfortunately, it seems that Skies of Arcadia did not sell enough on Dreamcast (does anyone have official sales numbers?), maybe because of the low user base and the console early departure in early 2001.

skies of arcadia 2 cancelled

Sega was still confident about their sky-pirates project: they developed an enchanted PS2 and GameCube ports with added featured, to try to sell more copies and earn back some of the money spent to create the game. The GameCube version was released in December 2002 under the title “Skies of Arcadia Legends” but PS2 port was canned for some reasons, throwing away one of the biggest user base for RPG fanatics. As most Nintendo console, GameCube was not an easy console to sell third parties titles and with a lower percentage of people interested in turn based role playing games, Skies of Arcadia Legend bombed even harder than the Dreamcast version.

Before losing all faith in the game, Sega and Overworks were planning a sequel to Skies of Arcadia, as confirmed by interviews with developers from the original team. In June 2001 IGN asked to Noriyoshi Ohba about Skies of Arcadia 2 and he replied:

We’re considering a sequel to “Eternal Arcadia.” Regarding which platform, we’re still evaluating it.

In September 2002, before Skies of Arcadia Legends was published, Rieko Kodama told to Gamespy that work on the sequel was not yet started, but they really wanted to do it in the future:

I would love to make a sequel, but were really not working on it yet. […] We don’t know what platform we would make a sequel for, but GameCube has priority since Legend is coming out for it.

In march 2004 Ohba announced that they started some planning on the second episode:

The Skies of Arcadia sequel is in the planning stages at the moment.

In late 2004, Rieko talked again about Skies of Arcadia 2 in an interview with german Man!ac magazine (issue 1 / 2005) in which she said:

MAN!AC: There were rumors about a sequel (to Skies of Arcadia) or a “Gaiden” episode. Can you tell us something about that

Rieko : We had plans, but the other team members are currently working on other projects such as “Sakura Taisen” – this means SoA2 is currently on hold. Anyway I would be very glad about a new episode with the sky pirates.

In 2003 Overworks was absorbed into SEGA WOW and only a year later the team was split again because of another Sega company restructure: people that worked on Skies of Arcadia were scattered around on different games. As far as we were able to gather, not much was ever did for Skies of Arcadia 2 but at least a few ideas and concepts seem to have been brainstormed by the team, still hoping to release a sequel on GameCube or Playstation 2. In 2006 Nintendo and Sony released their new consoles (Wii, PS3) and whichever plans Sega had for a new Skies RPG on GameCube or PS2 will never see the light of day.

skies of arcadia valkyrie

Even without a sequel, love for Skies of Arcadia is still strong at Sega. Vyse, Aika and Fina, three of the main SoA protagonists, were added as bonus characters in Valkyria Chronicles, released in 2008 on PS3. Vyse is also a playable character in Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, released in 2012 for different consoles / PC and one of the game’s tracks, Rogues’ Landing, is based on Skies of Arcadia’s world.

Thanks to Mario for the contribution! 

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.

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Ace Squadron [Cancelled – GameCube / XBOX / PS2]

Ace Squadron is a cancelled flying shooter that was in development by Atomic Planet for the Playstation 2, GameCube and Xbox. The game was set in World War II and offered various arcade air-combat missions to play and as we can read from the official press release “gamers will be given the opportunity to shout ‘Tally Ho!’ and dive their trusty Spitfire into a dogfight with swarms of Nazi aircraft. There are scores of missions to play, from the heady days of the Battle of Britain to dangerous raids on secret weapons factories in the last days of the war, and dozens of different and powerful warplanes to fly, such as the majestic Spitfire, the nimble Mosquito and the sturdy Lancaster”. The project was never released for unknown reasons and we don’t even know if the game was finished or not as the few screenshots available look like target renders and not actual gameplay.

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The Urbz: Sims in the city (2004) [Beta / Prototype – PS2 / Xbox / Gamecube]

In 2004, the urbz was announced for all 3 major platforms (PS2,Xbox,Gamecube) and Gameboy/DS. The Urbz, is a spinoff of The Sims Series. It was originally planned as a mini series (That was to contain around 3 games according to an EA employee on mod the sims forums), but that never happened. Instead only 2 games in the planned series released: The normal version and a portable version (Which both differed by around 90%)

The video showing real beta gameplay was much different than the final game released. It shows more open ended locations, such as a large downtown area. Also some characters introduced in the trailer were never introduced in the final game. (While Jayde was shown in the final game only as a pre made player preset, she was supposed to of had a much larger role in game).

Additionally, its been said on many forums and sites that these unknown locations may of been in the cancelled enhanced PC port, which reportedly was to release in 2005, but was cancelled.

In this photo, You can see a cut location:

dfdd

In the game files on the PS2 disk, there is unknown strings that refer to a deleted location known as “Main Street“.

This may of been that location.

Another thing is that in this picture of a cut subway (which also may be a beta of central station), we can see the beta version of the travel system, where you could travel. In it, is 4 unknown locations. (Daves Place, Moms Place, Museum and Noodle Shop).

A trailer of this version in action can be seen here:

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