Playstation 2 (PS2)

9th Power [PS2, PC – Cancelled]

9th Power is a cancelled action adventure developed by Eworks and planned for Playstation 2 and PC. It was going to be the first known project for a major console fully developed in Portugal and at the time it was shown in some of the biggest gaming events of the country.

Thanks to an interview with Marco Vale who worked as an intern (2D and 3D artist) for Eworks during the development of 9th Power, we were able to obtain some more details about this interesting game:

“In 9th Power players would control a character belonging to the resistance, a group of humans who had rebelled against the Atlantids (inhabitants of Atlantis) who oppressed them. As the Atlantids had superior intelligence and superhuman skills, such as the ability to mind-control, it was an easy task for them to take control of the earth.

Only few Atlantids were still alive after their society vanished, but they would do whatever is possible to bring back to life the rest of them. By using advanced technology they were able to revive some more Atlantids using their remains: as an example one of them was rebuilt from his brain and mandible, now depending on his robotic body to survive. The only hope for humanity was a single Atlantid who had also rebelled against the actions his own people, joining the rebels and risking his life to help them.”

The 9th Power prototype was developed using the Alchemy and Havok Physics engines and it was meant to be an action-adventure RPG with a sci-fi theme. The team planned to implement new mechanics that would set it apart from other action games of its time, such as the use of a skill tree and destructible environments.

Eworks was formed in 2000 specializing in software development, but David Rodrigues (company’s founder) always had the dream of making games, so in 2002 he participated to the Game Developer Conference with a friend, to “see how the industry worked, how things were done”.

Eworks found out that they could develop a prototype and present it to companies, but this process was not as easy as it seemed.  They took an early 9th Power prototype to E3 and Game Developers Europe where it was very well received, as they managed to show detailed models and high poly-count for its time.

They managed to gather the attention of Take-Two Interactive, that even sent them a dev-kit console to speed-up development. Unfortunately with the economic recession in early ‘00s there was a reduction of investment in original IPs and a turn to safer investments with already popular franchises.

Eworks’ investment in their first game was already expensive for the company (200.000 euros, with 50.000 coming from the European Commision) and even though they pitched it to various publishers, in the end they were unable to secure a deal.

Unable to find other ways of financing themselves, they cancelled 9th Power and were left in need of a financial restructuring, making them to focus on outsourcing work. During an interview with the Portuguese magazine “Mega Score” in September 2005 the team said they planned to fully return to video games development after the end of a few outsourcing projects. Unfortunately that never actually happened.

Slowly the team fell apart and with the closure of the company, their members ended up creating or joining other companies, such as Ignite, RTS and Vortix (which Marco Vale helped to create). In the concept art and screenshots you can see all the areas and characters created for the first playable demo shown to publishers, kindly provided to us by Marco Vale.

Article by Jump/Error, original version in Portuguese on the Videogame PT Blog!

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Avenida dos Aliados [Demo / Cancelled – PS2, PC, Xbox]

Avenida Dos Aliados (named after a famous avenue in Portugal) is a small demo developed by Portuguese team Gamelords (later renamed Seed Studios), created as a pitch to potential investors for the development of a full open-world adventure game in the style of Grand Theft Auto, using the UEFA Euro 2004 football competition license.

Since Gamelords formed in 2000 they always tried to impress publishers with their tech demos (Survivors, Room), to show off their skills and have a chance to develop their first, full game. Thanks to their efforts and great demos, in 2002 they managed to schedule three business meetings with different publishers, although only one of them (with Linha de Terra Studios) was successful.

As in 2004 the UEFA Euro 2004 football competition was to be held in Portugal, Linha de Terra Studios commissioned them this Avenida Dos Aliados demo to show it to different investors, trying to secure the Euro 2004 license with something more original than a classic football / soccer game.

Thanks to Linha de Terra Studios’ investment Gamelords worked on the demo for three months, improving their 3D engine, adding better animations, physics for vehicles and a new lighting system, among others details.

As the final version of this demo they had a faithful reproduction of Avenida dos Aliados (in Oporto, Portugal) in 3D, and just like in GTA it was possible to explore the avenue, get inside a car and drive around. This demo was quite good for its time, with several details adding to the realism such as pigeons that flew away when player passed by.

Unfortunately (and unsurprisingly) the Euro 2004 license was later bought by Electronic Arts to create one of their football / soccer games and as such, without the investment needed to keep on the development of a full game, the team had to cancel this project.

After the Avenida Dos Aliados demo Gamelords started working on “Holy War”, another lost game which story has already been told in this website. Below you can see some screenshots from the Avenida Dos Aliados demo, kindly provided by one of the developers, Filipe Pina.

Article by Jump/Error, original version in Portuguese on the Videogame PT Blog!

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Skate or Die Reboot [Xbox, PS2 – Cancelled]

In 2002 Electronic Arts commissioned Criterion Games (the team mostly known for their Burnout series) to develop a 3D reboot of Skate or Die, the popular skateboarding game published by EA in 1988 for many home computers and the NES. Unfortunately this Skate or Die sequel for Xbox and Playstation 2 was cancelled after just 1 year of development.

Skate or Die “reboot” was in development by the same team that also worked on TrickStyle and AirBlade, two games very similar to the Tony Hawk’s videogames, but with hoverboards. Thanks to an article dedicated to Criterion Games published in Games TM Magazine (issue 100, September 2010) we can read that:

“Criterion started talking to EA in 2002 and they asked if we’d be interested in doing a remake of the old C64 and NES game, Skate Or Die. These guys wanted to make a skateboarding game, so we did it.”

It seems that after Acclaim filed for bankruptcy, Criterion approached EA as a possible new publisher for Burnout and in the end they also pitched a new racing game titled “Need for Speed: Split Second”, that EA greenlighted along with the new Skate or Die project.

“[After Burnout 2: Point of Impact in 2002], we were talking to EA Canada about doing a Need For Speed game, so we put together a pitch to do a stunt racing game called Need For Speed: Split Second.“

Criterion had an interesting concept for Skate or Die, to let players to freely move around the levels on foot, choosing the best spot to start doing tricks on the skateboard, entering into shops to buy new boards and interacting with NPCs. In 2002 this was quite a new way to conceive a skateboarding game, when most Tony Hawks games still had the same gameplay mechanics as the first one.

“In Tony Hawk you were always on the board and it was all about tricks and high scores, but I wanted to explore what it was like to just go out for a skate and have that feeling of just doing whatever you want, […] I wanted to be able to get off the board”

skate or die cancelled sequel

Unfortunately EA had even more ambitious plans for Skate or Die (it seems they also proposed to make it a tie-in for Jackass or Dogtown and Z-Boys), not only they wanted to enter in competition with Tony Hawks, but even against such as massive game as GTA 3:

“But the project was apparently subject to all kinds of pushing and pulling at the behest of the publisher. We were told ‘you can’t just make a Tony Hawk game – it’s got to be like Grand Theft Auto,’ and that was the first time we were like, ‘Really?’ ‘It’s got to be open world.’ Well, what does that mean? Nobody really knew.”

The team at Criterion knew that it would have been impossible to meet EA’s demands, so they decided to quit the project before it would became a development hell:

“We watch as the game changes direction before our very eyes, from classic skating game to GTA-inspired open-world ideas through to an ingenious skating evolution concept but the simplicity with which the various videos flow onto the screen belies the confusion and trauma the team went through in trying to score when the goalposts were moving so quickly and so frequently. Sullivan tells us of a number of serious illnesses he went through as a result of the constant stress, and he wasn’t alone – the team was in turmoil.”

“We called a meeting with the EA guys, told them we were walking away [from the Skate or Die sequel] and they went mad, threatening to sue us, put us out of business… there was a lot of anger and frustration, […] then we got a call from the Need For Speed guys and they said ‘we can’t work with you guys any more; you just walked away and there’s a shame on your company, so we can’t talk to you. […] I remember coming back to my desk and there was a folder on my desktop called EA and I just clicked delete. We learned a lot about how a game should be made, and we learned a lot about working with an external publisher – how we had to get our shit together earlier but also how we had to stand our ground.“

In the end Criterion and EA signed a new agreement and they started working together on Burnout 3: Takedown, released in September 2004 for PS2 and Xbox. In august of the same year Electronic Arts acquired Criterion and they became one of their internal development team that later create such titles as Black, Need for Speed and new games in the Burnout series.

If you own issue 100 of Games TM, let us know if there are more screenshots from the cancelled Skate or Die sequel in the magazine!

skate or die cancelled sequel 

Shadow of Memories / Destiny (The Day of Walpurgis) [Beta]

Shadow of Memories” is a 2001 released Visual Novel by Konami in guise of a Third Person Action Adventure for the PS2. Set in the fictive German town of Lebensbaum, the game combines solving a murder case (the protagonist’s very own) with a time travel element and gothic fantasy elements. Like Visual Novels, the game did not offer many possibilities to stray from the predestined path(s), which baffled a portion of its players and reviewers at the time as well as its total lack of action elements in any form. Yet, like Visual Novels, its strengths are its setting, atmosphere and story, which branch into not less than half a dozen different endings. Known as “Shadow of Destiny” in the US, the game was ported to several other platforms: in 2002 it was released in the EU for the original XBox, a short time later a PC version was produced for the west and finally in 2009/2010 it came out for the PSP in Japan and North America.

 

(b)Last (quantic dream) [PS2, Xbox – Cancelled]

Before to became a hugely popular studio among Playstation fans thanks to successful games such as Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls, Quantic Dream was a somewhat obscure French studio mostly known for their cult adventure games Omikron: The Nomad Soul and Fahrenheit.

In early ‘00s Quantic Dream was trying to expand their portfolio with many different projects for the 6th generation of consoles (Dreamcast, PS2, Xbox, GameCube), announcing a few titles that never seen the light of day: Omikron 2, Quark and (b)Last.

(b)Last is for sure one of their most obscure and mysterious project, with only a few details and low-quality images to remember its existence. As far as we know it was meant to be an action game / beat ‘em up in a sci-fi / fantasy setting mixing together Lovecraft tales and the Matrix movies, with weird tentacle monsters, laser weapons, super powers and many different characters to interact with.

While Omikron 2 was probably Quantic Dream’s major focus at the time, only a small team of artists and developers were working on (b)Last: unfortunately the project was soon canned for unknown reasons, but we can speculate the studio fell into some issues while developing so many different games at the same time, making it hard to create a quality, fun game.

As we can read in an old interview with David Cage:

UL: Does QD canceled projects live in this new project? bLast, Quark… other?
DC: We usually start several projects at the same time. Over the last years, one of them get so much interest from publishers that we had to cancel or at least postpone the others. Each Quantic Dream’s project requires up to 80 people and all our attention. It is difficult to start several original project with the same ambition in matter of quality…

At the moment only a couple of images are preserved from (b)Last, we hope to be able to save many more artworks in the future with the help of former developers who worked on it. If you know someone who worked on (b)Last, please let us know!

Thanks to Maik for the contribution!

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