action game

AquaNox: The Angels’ Tears [PS2 – Cancelled]

Aquanox is a series of action / shooter / simulation games set in a distant future in which humans mostly live underwater and use futuristic submarines to explore the ocean. It all started in 1996 when Massive Development released Archimedean Dynasty / Schleichfahrt (considered as the first chapter in the saga) then in 2001 the same team published AquaNox and a couple of years later they delivered AquaNox 2: Revelation. All the games were published for PC only and even if there are some basic differences between the 3 titles, they always had a mix of “flight” simulation, shooting and RPG gameplay: players were able to fight their way in 360° underwater combats, shoot down other submarines, conquer enemy bases, talking with NPC characters, explore the sea to find hidden treasures, complete different mission objectives to gain more money and upgrade their vehicles.

A new chapter in the Aquanox series was planned for Playstation 2 but unfortunately it was cancelled when it was almost completed. As always the project was in development by Massive soon after the release of AquaNox 2, when JoWooD (their parent company at the time) wanted to enter the console market and deemed Aquanox as the perfect game to start. Initially Aquanox 2 was ported to PS2 but it did not fit the new hardware and controller, being not that much fun to play. To secure a great console debut, Massive Development took the next 2 years to create a completely new game, as a third chapter in the series, that would have been titled Aquanox: The Angels’ Tears, with new missions, features and storyline.

Aquanox: The Angels’ Tears, the cancelled PS2 sequel

As we can read in the official press-release for the game:

AquaNox: The Angel’s Tears is the story of an action packed treasure hunt, presented as a playable under-water road-movie. The game is a fast-paced 3rd person shooter, where the player steers his vessel through the depth of the oceans 3000 meters under the sea, 650 years into the future, 300 bars of pressure. The sun is a fading legend of former centuries. Nobody has ever seen it. Man now calls this world: ‘Aqua’. Eight humans crammed into a freighter. Eight mercenaries, shrouded in mystery, hunting for a legendary treasure. Eight hunters dreaming of the Angel’s Tears. This dream will change them – and history. The greatest love story of their time!

Angel’s Tears would have featured fast paced underwater shooting along with a mature storyline divided in 32 main missions set in the deep seas of Aqua, an advanced score and experience system, 4 submarine ships with different stats and tactical uses, fully upgradable weapons and other equipment to improve player’s chance to survive to the hardest missions that were planned.

Massive Development wanted to make Angel’s Tears the best Aquanox game ever, but unfortunately in 2005 JoWooD was on the edge of going bankrupt: they had to cut a lot of their cost and decided to close down Massive Development as the new AquaNox was already 99,9% done. At this time the Aquanox: The Angel’s Tears was submission-ready to be accepted by Sony and to be officially published on PS2, but the devs wanted to polish it up more before to release it as their last game, so they introduced a few easy bugs to make it fail the first submission. When AquaNox PS2 failed the Sony submission the situation at Massive Development got even more sour as JoWooD refused to pay all their outstanding wages. Because of this the project wasnt handed over properly at closure of the studio and nobody was able to finish it although it was really 99,9% done. AquaNox: The Angel’s Tears was forgotten for many years, hidden away in some directory, until Nordic Games ended up with the rights to Aquanox and all its assets after the insolvency of JoWooD in 2011.

Nordic Games got in contact with Unseen64 to share some of the documents they found about Angel’s Tears and we are now able to preserve more screens and videos from this lost game. People that were interested in Angel’s Tears will be happy to know that this is not the end of Aquanox as Nordic Games though the series deserved another chance and conceived a new project: Aquanox Deep Descent, a complete reboot of the Aqua saga taking into account the scientific advances made since the first game.

As a love letter to fans of games that will never be, Deep Descent will not only revive the AquaNox experience after the lost Angel’s Tears, adding 4 players coop mode and an even bigger ocean to explore, it will also integrate assets and research from another cancelled THQ underwater action game known as Deep Six, originally planned for PS3.

We are happy to see a team like Nordic Games to understand the importance of preserving lost videogames and huge props to them for the help in saving more documents from the cancelled AquaNox: The Angel’s Tears! We can’t wait to see what they will be able to do with Aquanox Deep Descent, a project that could take the series to a new level and will became a memento to remember two interesting cancelled games. Aquanox Deep Descent was fully funded a few days ago thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign but you still have a week to support the project with your pledges and be able to play this game as soon as it will be released!

Super thanks to Nordic Games for the contribution! Also thanks to Manuel Hansen for additional support



Knights [GameBoy Color – Cancelled]

Prior to their acquisition by Sony and going on to create the Killzone seriesGuerrilla Games was a small development team based in Amsterdam, then known as Lost Boys Games; a subsidiary of Dutch multimedia conglomerate, Lost Boys. One of Lost Boys Games’ internal teams was dubbed ‘Formula‘. This group was dedicated to handheld games, responsible for producing titles such as Rhino Rumble, and Tiny Toon Adventures: Dizzy’s Candy Quest for GameBoy Color. One of their most interesting GBC projects, in development in around 1999-2000, was called Knights.

Knights was an action brawler with a style of gameplay comparable to a blend of Bomberman and Gauntlet, in which players would have had to fight against 3 other knights in 50 different arenas riddled with traps, enemies, and various NPC’s. This excerpt from an old IGN preview offers us further insight:

Each knight is colored differently, and the great challenge of the game is to strike down the knights in a predetermined order while protecting your own flank. Strike a defender before he becomes an official target, and the imperial judges will punish you with a penalty point.

Knights GameBoy Color Formula Lost Boys Games (1)

It’s interesting to note that Knights GBC was based around the gameplay of another cancelled Knights project that was planned by Digital Infinity for PC and Dreamcast, before they merged with Lost Boys in 1999. Later, the original Knights for PC and Dreamcast was changed from a multiplayer brawler to a single player action platformer and ported to Playstation 2, but that version was also canned. In 2003, Lost Boys Games was sold to Media Republic and renamed to Guerrilla Games. Their Knight projects were thus never finished, as they began to work on the first Killzone for PS2, and Shellshock: Nam ’67 for PS2, Xbox, and PC.

Only a few screenshots remain from Knights for GameBoy Color, as the title was soon cancelled for unknown reasons. We tried to get in contact with former Formula Games / Lost Boys developers, in an attempt to unearth more on  this unreleased game, but unfortunately, they were not available for comment. If you know someone that worked at Formula Games, let us know!


Vectorman 3: Ultra [Sega Saturn – Cancelled]

Vectorman Ultra is the cancelled third game in the Vectorman series, started with the first one developed by BlueSky Software and published by Sega for Sega Mega Drive / Genesis in 1995. Vectorman 2 was released in November 1996 and after it went gold it seems that BlueSky started to pitch a new sequel to Sega (Next Generation magazine published a rumor about it in their website that year), planning to develop it for Sega Saturn, the “new” Sega console that was released in May 1995 in USA.

Ellis Goodson, the artist that worked on the original Vectorman and other cult games as Skullmonkeys and Shadowrun, drawn many concepts to be used in the design doc for Vectorman Ultra created by Jason Weesner. It’s interesting to notice that these concept arts were sold sometime ago on eBay and in some of those auctions they described the game as planned for the Nintendo 64, but it’s possible that they got confused because of “Ultra” in the title (N64 was known as Ultra 64 before its final name).

It’s currently unknown if Sega Saturn’s Vectorman would have been in 2D or 3D, but looking at those awesome concept arts it seems that at least this lost game would have had some side-scrolling levels. We hope to be able to see more from this project sometime in the future, it would be interesting to know if any actual prototype was started at all. Some years later Sega tried to revive the Vectorman IP with a new PS2 game developed by Pseudo Interactive, but that was also cancelled.

Thanks to eSPy, Youloute and Ellis for the contributions!


Primal 2 [PS2 – Cancelled]

Primal was a PS2 game developed by SCEE Cambridge. Despite a prominent advertising campaign, it went largely unnoticed upon release, failing commercially. However, development on a sequel had already began shortly after the first game launched. As early preliminary work was underway, Sony acquired the license to develop an offical tie-in game for the TV show, 24. The development of Primal 2 was thus cancelled in favour of doing that game, as stated by Paul Donovan:

Any hints that there might be a Primal sequel in the pipeline? Pleeeease! :)
Sorry, afraid not. We were playing around with ideas for a Primal 2 and did some prototypes of some new features but then we got the 24 license so we did that instead :-) – Paul Donovan, Senior Programmer, SCEE Cambridge

In 2012, the game was re-released as a PS2 classic for PS3. This is when Chris Sorrell, creative director of Primal, wrote an article on the official PS blog where he and the concept artist of the game, Mark Gibbons, revealed some bits and pieces of the possible plots that were considered for the sequel:

Mark Gibbons – Lead Artist, Primal:
Once the game was completed, preliminary work on a sequel was begun that featured Jen’s lover Lewis as the central character. Primal II would’ve told the story of his journey through Oblivion’s Hell, back to Mortalis, the real world.

Chris Sorrell on February 28th, 2012 at 10:39 am said:

[and finally] – If there were to be a Primal 2 it should feature Jen. …Well I do agree with that one. Further to the comments by Mark, yes we did explore a Primal 2 with Lewis as a lead character. We also explored another take that had Jen as lead and centred on the notion that the demons of Oblivion had found a way through into our world. That one had some cool imagery that I recall – Jen in a flowing leather coat riding a spike-wheeled moto-X bike, Prince Jared driving to Jen’s rescue in an ice-cream truck (garbled music blaring) and sub-way tunnels teeming with spider-like Wraith mutants. Ah, if only..

In addition, Mark Gibbons once published some of the concept art he made for this sequel via his old portfolio. His website is no longer online, but part of the concept artwork was retrieved and posted by fans after the original site went offline.

Thanks to Erameris for the contribution!


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