Microsoft

Ugo Volt [Cancelled – Xbox 360, PS3, PC]

Ugo Volt (AKA FLOW: Prospects of Mayhem) is a cancelled FPS – TPS Adventure game that was in development by Move Interactive around 2005 – 2007, planned to be published on Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC. The game was officially announced in 2006 and it was shown at E3 of the same year: graphically and stylistically it looked like a strange mix between Halo, Too Human and Fable, with cross-settings between sci-fi and fantasy.

As we can read on IGN:

“Ugo Volt will switch from third-person view to a first-person perspective as players move through these two areas of the game, but we didn’t see much of any gameplay mechanics.

[…] In the near future, global warming melts the polar icecaps and floodwaters ravage the earth, covering all but the highest altitudes. (Waterworld?) Things, well, things don’t look good. Out of the ruins, the World Order Corporation harnesses nanotechnology to construct buildings and sanctuary for the population quicker than humanly possible. As the world’s savior, mankind gives ruling power to the World Order Corporation, which by expertly misleading the population, gradually takes away more and more liberties from the population, and eventually goes so far as to instill a dictatorial leadership, complete with emperor and creepy throne room (Revenge of the Sith?).

In 2031, in order to create the first advanced human prototype, the WOC selects a worthy man and woman to give birth to and raise the child. The prototype will use powerful artificial implants and the test period will last 60 years. If successful, mass production will begin. The child’s name is Ugo Volt. At 15, one of Ugo’s neurotransmitters malfunctions and sends out a shockwave that pushes his father into a pit of molten lava. […] Ugo internalizes his anger toward the WOC and eventually creates an alter-ego bent on revenge.”

By looking at available footage Ugo Volt seems like an interesting project. There’s something fun in its style and setting that could have made it enjoyable to play, just like watching a b-movie with friends. In prototype videos we can see some of the first-third person shooting gameplay: the protagonist uses special powers to resolve physic-based puzzles and some kind of black-hole gun, which attracts objects scattered through the levels to use them as projectiles (somehow like the Gravity Gun in Half Life 2). You could also assembly and edit your weapons to create new ones by mixing their parts together, open up shooting gameplay to experimentation.

Unfortunately it was still in early development when the team had to put the project on-hold, for lack of funds. They started working on a tie-in game for Portuguese TV series Floribella, receiving some money from SIC publisher. This was not enough to keep the company afloat and without any new investor interested in Ugo Volt, Move Interactive was closed down in 2008.

Thanks to Dan for the contribution!

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Senjo no Demae Mochi [Xbox – Cancelled]

Senjo no Demae Mochi (Battlefield: Home Delivery) is a cancelled “poetical pizza delivery game” that was in development by Microsoft Games Studio Japan around 2002 – 2003, planned to be released for the original Xbox. This weird project was conceived by Gabin Ito, who is mostly known for his works on Parappa the Rapper, Um Jammer Lammy and Cubivore.

The game was officially announced at Game Show 2002, with a live-presentation by Gabin Ito and designer / manga artist Katsuki Tanaka, who was hired as a character designer for the project. While not many details about Demae Mochi’s gameplay were shared, they described their project as a surreal pizza delivery game. It looked like a strange mix between Katamari Damacy, Crazy Taxi and Yume Nikki.

The game’s protagonist was a girl named “Fran-chan”, working as a delivery-girl at a pizzeria. By following the client’s orders, you had to move around the city to deliver pizza, while avoiding cars and meeting weird characters. When asked what kind of game he wanted to make with Senjo no Demae Mochi, Gabin Ito answered “a poem”.

Promotional footage was also shown at the Tokyo Game Show presentation: you can see a panda rolling around (but Ito told the press that “there will be no panda nor battlefield in the game”) and some acid-filtered gameplay parts with Fran-chan walking around followed by some kind of white foxes (?). For sure it looked like an original project, so it’s quite unfortunate it was never completed.

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Spectac (Cauldron) [Xbox 360, PS3, PC – Cancelled]

Spectac was an ambitious cancelled project that was being developed in 2004/2005 by Slovakian studio Cauldron. It was planned to be a prequel to Cauldron’s 2003 game Chaser: a futuristic First Person Shooter similar to Red Faction in tone, set in a time when humanity has successfully colonized Mars. Spectac in turn was to be set before these events, dealing with the hunt for a terrorist group threatening to unleash a viral weapon on the world, and the team tasked with putting an end to their plans.

From what we can tell, Spectac was to be a stealth-action affair, very inspired by other espionage and military-science stealth series such as Metal Gear Solid and Splinter Cell, but played from a first-person perspective. And like in the latter franchise, the player was to make heavy use of sound and shadows for things such as masking their actions or distracting enemies, along with a strong emphasis on climbing, swimming, and other means of infiltration.

Players would have been helped by other team members, in a feature that would show some inspiration from the Rainbow Six or SWAT series. This would add a strategic element of choosing what individual skill sets would be useful in each mission and what paths they would open. This would in turn allow for greater replayability, as not only could a level play out differently depending on what team members are present, but one could also step in their shoes and play from their perspective. A sniper and a security expert/hacker, named Isis and Evac, respectively, would also be available to help the player at all times.

The engine that had powered Chaser (CloakNT) had been upgraded, and its 2.0 version allowed for many innovative features. The Havok physics engine had been integrated as well, and Cauldron was ready to take full advantage of their new technology by allowing for extensive interaction with the environment in Spectac. For example, to use a simple numeric keypad or keyboard, the player would have to physically move the character’s hand in order to press the individual buttons. The same approach would be used if they needed to swipe a keycard to open a door, or use a mouse at a computer terminal, and so on.

The hand-to-hand combat would apparently also use this system to some degree, with different techniques such as neutralizing an enemy by choking or pistol-whipping requiring active player interaction.

Graphically, the game was to take visuals to the next level as well. The geometry was now much more complex, allowing for more detailed models. In conjunction with the aforementioned first person interaction, the lighting would have offered a great deal of immersion as well, filling the levels with dynamic shadows. Spectac looked a bit like F.E.A.R. another game that became known for its rich lighting and physics interaction, developed by Monolith and released in 2005. In addition, missions in Spectact were to take place in locations heavily inspired by real-life landmarks, such as the Hoover Dam.

All of this, however, seemed to be just a little too much for Cauldron. Spectac was conceived as a possible next-gen title to be released on PC and the then-upcoming PS3 and Xbox 360 platforms, but apparently even the most powerful computers of the time were struggling to run it in 2004. Possibly for this reason, the project was eventually abandoned some time around 2005, after being deemed too ambitious, and never entering full production.

Cauldron themselves would infamously continue on to create lower budget games in a partnership with the Activision Value publishing brand, such as Soldier Of Fortune: Payback and a string of hunting-themed and war-themed First Person Shooters for the Cabela’s and History Channel brands, respectively. We know the team also worked on the cancelled Project Revolution and Seven Days, before being acquired by Bohemia Interactive in 2014 and renamed to Bohemia Interactive Slovakia.

Article by António Pedro Pinto

Thanks to Chris and Piotr for the contribution!

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Geox Platform Game [Xbox – Cancelled / Prototype]

As we can read on Wikipedia, Geox is an Italian brand of shoe and clothing manufactured with waterproof / breathable fabrics. For some reasons a Geox promotional video game was in development for the original Xbox, as found by a collector on their dev-kit. From the prototype footage uploaded on Youtube it looks like a simple side-scrolling platformer, in which the protagonist drops down from a flying Geox shoe. Could this have been a surreal masterpiece? Probably not, but it’s still interesting to wonder why this project was even in development and what happened to it.

We don’t know which company was working on this canned Geox game, but on the same Xbox dev kit we can see another cancelled game titled “International Volleyball 2004”.

Thanks to Mihapsx for the contribution!

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Prince of Persia Redemption [Cancelled – Xbox 360, PS3, PC]

Prince of Persia: Redemption is a cancelled reboot of the classic series, that was internally pitched at Ubisoft Montreal (FoxTeam) around 2010 – 2011, just after the release of The Forgotten Sands. The project was mostly unknown until May 2020, when fans finally noticed a video uploaded on Youtube in 2012 by an anonymous user. By looking at this footage, the game looked like a mix between 3D Prince of Persia, God of War, Uncharted and Assassin’s Creed: a cinematic adventure game with huge monsters and time-rewind mechanics.

As wrote by former Ubisoft animator Jonathan Cooper on Twitter:

“Wow – haven’t seen this in ages. Amazing work from animation director Khai Nguyen (For Honor) and team. This target game footage (pre-rendered game pitch) inspired our own pitch for Assassin’s Creed 3 as they did such a great job making it look like real gameplay.

Sadly Ubisoft are generally quicker to cancel Prince of Persia games than others IPs because AFAIK original creator Jordan Mechner still holds license rights so the profit margins are lower. Would love to see a new one though. I’ve always wanted a PoP set in contemporary Iran.”

We can assume The Forgotten Sands did not sell enough for Ubisoft to invest more resources on another title, preferring to focus on the more profitable Assassin’s Creed series.

Thanks to Jason for the contribution!

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