Playstation

Shantae 32 bit [Playstation 1, PC – Cancelled]

After being one of the most forgotten hidden gems for Game Boy Color in 2002, in the last few years Shantae became a cult-series, with 4 main games developed by WayForward Technologies for PC, Wii U, DS, Playstation 4, 3DS, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. While Shantae games are quite popular today, most fans still don’t know that the first, original Shantae project for Playstation 1 and PC was never released.

shantae playstation 1 pc cancelled 32 bit game

Thanks to mpx and Youloute we know that this cancelled 32 bit version of Shantae was in development around 1997 and it was even shown on the official WayForward Technologies website in the late ‘90s:

“It is a time of magic and majesty, where strange beasts roam the land and beautiful creatures wield powerful magic. In this world lives a young girl named Shantae… a troubled genie, born without magic, yet the only individual capable of saving the realm from disaster. Following a century of imprisonment underground, three powerful Jins have broken the seal that restrained them, and now seek to drain the world of the magic it needs to survive. As the magic is stolen, the peaceful creatures that once harbored it are left weak and helpless. Shantae, unaffected by the magic drain, is the only hope for peace. But can she possibly battle the Jins and their legion of monsters relying only on the magic she reclaims along the way? It’s up to you to guide Shantae through perilous traps and dangers beyond your wildest imaginings!”

 

“Shantae is designed for the PC or comparable game system (such as the Sony Playstation). The gameplay is full 3-D, with traditionally (2D) animated characters that move in and out of the rendered backgrounds. With this advantage, players can travel down streets, enter tunnels or battle monsters several times the size of the normal viewing area! Perhaps the best feature of this 3-D system is the totally hands-free camera movement. The view automatically zooms in or out, up or down depending on the proximity of Shantae to other important elements. In addition, the paths Shantae can take often split into different layers of depth, allowing the player to walk on near or far surfaces in order to get around obstructions, crevices, or buildings. Also, enemies can attack from any direction in three-dimensional space in order to hunt Shantae down. It’s the long awaited blend of 2-D’s fluid animation and 3-D’s next generation gameplay rolled into one!”

During an interview with Siliconera, Shantae series director Matt Bozon said:

“We had a polygonal Shantae that could be run around in three distinct gameplay ‘gyms’. […] One was a spline-scroller (like Namco’s Klonoa), one was a free-range 3D like Mario 64, and the last was an isometric 3D platformer. We’ve done a lot of exploration in this area… Shantae was a sprite/3D hybrid for PlayStation and PC, and was free-roaming on the PlayStation 2.”

Shantae’s character design was a bit different in this lost game, compared to her current design:

In 2013 during a live streaming the WayForward team played the cancelled Shantae 2: Risky Revolution for GBA, so we can only hope that one day they could also find a playable version of this cancelled Playstation / PC version to show it to the world. Only a few, small screenshots are currently saved in the gallery below.

Durango (Radical Entertainment) [Playstation, PC – Cancelled]

Durango is a cancelled vehicle based action adventure that was in development by Radical Entertainment in late ‘90s for the original Playstation and PC. At the time Radical was mostly known for their work on such games as the Independence Day tie-in, the NHL Powerplay series, Blood Lines and Grid Runner, being able to create games that sold enough to keep them alive and in good relationships with their publishers.

During those years many companies were developing their first 3D games and original ideas for new titles were welcome: Radical Entertainment pitched a good number of projects to publishers, and Durango was their concept for an interesting sci-fi adventure / shooter.

Not many details remain after the cancellation of the project, but from what we were able to gather it seems Durango would have been a vehicle based shooter divided into different levels, each with a series of missions to complete. Players would have been able to use different sci-fi vehicles, items and weapons to reach their objectives.

If you know someone who worked on this game and could help to preserve more details, please let us know!

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The Island of Dr. Moreau [Playstation, PC – Cancelled]

The Island of Dr. Moreau is a cancelled adventure game that was in development by Haiku Studios, to be published by Psygnosis for the original Playstation and PC in 1997. The game seems to have been based off an 1896 science fiction novel by H. G. Wells and maybe even related to the 1996 movie starring Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer.

“The text of the novel is the narration of Edward Prendick, a shipwrecked man rescued by a passing boat who is left on the island home of Doctor Moreau, who creates human-like hybrid beings from animals via vivisection. The novel deals with a number of philosophical themes, including pain and cruelty, moral responsibility, human identity, and human interference with nature.”

During their short existence Haiku Studios released only two games, The Koshan Conspiracy in 1994 and Down in the Dumps (probably their most popular title) in 1996. The Island of Dr. Moreau would have been their third project and by looking at the screenshots published in a few magazines at the time (such as Spanish Micromanía Issue 29) it looked like a promising game for fans of sci-fi adventures.

During those years Psygnosis was publishing many games for the original Playstation, as in 1993 they become part of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios, but a few of them such as The Island of Dr. Moreau were planned for PC too. The game used real time 3D characters over pre-rendered backgrounds, similar to Resident Evil or Parasite Eve, also using Full Motion Videos and footage with real actors, filling up 3 CDs.

It seems the game would have been divided into three parts, probably one per CD-ROM: the whole Dr. Moreau’s mansion, exploration of the island (estimated area of 13 hectares) and finally an epilogue in an ancient Mayan temple. Gameplay would have been a mix between a classic point and click adventure (Myst) and a real time action game (Resident Evil, Tomb Raider). Haiku Studios were able to develop a complex timetable system to move 60 NPCs around the island, each one with their own activities following the game’s internal clock.

Unfortunately something went wrong near the end of development, Psygnosis abandoned the project and soon Haiku Studios closed down. The team was also working on two other cancelled games, Elric and Demon Driver.

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DR (989 Studios) [Playstation – Cancelled]

In the mid and late ‘90s 989 Studios / Sony Interactive Studios Los Angeles developed many popular games for the first Playstation, titles such as Bust A Groove, Cool Boarders 3, Jet Moto 3, Cardinal Syn, Twisted Metal 3 and Syphon Filter. Unfortunately they also worked on many other projects that never seen the light of day, such as Dark Guns, Sorcery, Warhawk 2 and The Diabolical Adventures of Tobu.

Another unseen game they were working on was labeled as “DR”, possibly the initials for something like “Death Race”, some kind of post-apocalyptic racing / combat game inspired by the Mad Max movies, featuring strange vehicles with guns and bio-mechanical designs. Unfortunately there’s not much more available from this lost game, but only a few concept arts were preserved, create by artist John Duggan at the time.

We can speculate DR was meant to be played somehow like Twisted Metal and that could be the reason of its demise: Sony gave 989 Studios the Twisted Metal IP to develop a full sequel to their car-combat game, a title that could have been more profitable than an original project with similar gameplay.

DR remains another interesting unseen game we’ll never play by one of our favorite studios from the original Playstation years. If you know someone who worked on this game and could remember more details, please let us know!

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Disruptor [Playstation – Beta]

Disruptor is FPS developed by now popular Insomniac Games for the original PlayStation and published in 1996 by Universal Interactive Studios. Disruptor was initially planned for the 3DO game console back in 1994 but due to the bad reception of the 3DO development of Disruptor was quickly shifted over to the PlayStation 1.

As we can read on 1UP:

“I think we were very lucky to get out of the Disruptor development process alive,” says Price. “None of us had ever been in the game business before. We were just guessing that it might be fairly easy to do, and man, were we wrong.”

It was 1994. The 3DO, a platform created by EA founder Trip Hawkins, was the cutting edge of game-console technology, a CD-based system retailing for an insane $700. Insomniac took advantage of the CD format‘s low price and dove into Disruptor. Within a year, the rug was pulled out from under the team. “3DO tanked, big time,” says Price.

They shopped a demo around to publishers up and down the West Coast, looking to move Disruptor over to Sony’s newly released PlayStation. It wasn’t going well. “Everybody had turned us down,” says Price. “We were down to no money in the bank, and this was really our last shot.” Their final meeting was with Mark Cerny, a veteran game designer/producer whose work spans 1984’s Marble Madness to the recent Jak and Daxter series. At that point, Cerny was scouting developer talent for Universal Studios Interactive in Los Angeles. He found it in Insomniac.

“Mark saw the engine that Al [Hastings] had programmed on the 3DO and said, ‘Wow, these guys have potential.’ We signed a three-game deal with Universal based on that meeting,” says Price. “It saved our asses.” Ted Price was 24. Al Hastings was 21.

Some more details can be found on IGN:

“We began on 3DO because when I started Insomniac, 3DO was the first really viable CD-based system out on the market,” Price explained. “They had dev kits available for very low prices. And Sony, at the time, wasn’t making dev kits available to everybody. So I was able to purchase a dev kit for about $8,000. We kind of set our path.”

Hastings told me more. “We started on 3DO, because… I guess when we were starting, it was before anybody like us could get our hands on a Sony dev kit. I don’t even know if they were out or not. But the 3DO, they were pushing it to anyone who wanted it. At the time, I think a lot of people thought it might succeed. I don’t think we were alone in our naiveté. But pretty soon, maybe halfway through [development], it became clear that 3DO was just never going to be viable. It was about that same time that Sony and SEGA were putting out the alternatives,” in the form of PlayStation and Saturn, respectively.

The gallery below includes some early beta screenshots from the PS1 version of the game, with some small differences from the final game.

These beta screenshots was found on the official interplay website for the game. They are pretty similar to the final game with the exception of the HUD, where the health bar is moved to the bottom corner and features a different design than the final game, the Psionics icon seems to be a little bit different than in the final game and the Ammo count has been moved to the opposite corner of the screen.

These beta screenshots were found in a small article in the French PlayStation Magazine (issue 4). It’s much of the same from the other ones.  The last one is the most interesting one, as the enemies appear to be actual 3D models, however in the final game all the enemies are pre-rendered 3D-looking sprites in a 3D environment. The psionics icon had red eyes which is not present in the final game. And the weapon shown does not directly match any weapons from the final game.

Article by Hennamann 

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