Microsoft

XGirl [Xbox – Cancelled]

XGirl is a cancelled “girlfriend simulation” game that was in development by Angel Studios (the modern Rockstar San Diego) around 2000, planned to be published by Microsoft as a launch game for their original Xbox. You can imagine it somehow like Seaman or Hey You, Pikachu! but with a “girlfriend” as the main character to interact with. As far as we know XGirl did not use voice-commands and it was more like a traditional pet / life simulation, such as the Creatures or Tamagotchi series.

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While the project was never officially announced, details about its existence were found online on resumes of former Angel Studios / Rockstar San Diego developers.

Carlos Pedroza, who worked as Lead Artist at Angel Studios, listed the game on his website. Michael Limber, who worked as Chief Creative Officer at Angel Studios, wrote on his old website:

“Interactive test application for Microsoft for the launch of the XBox. Kind of an interactive girlfriend project, XGirl had natural engaging facial animations and reacted to various controller inputs.”

We tried many times to get in contact with former Angel Studios developers to preserve more information about XGirl, unfortunately we never got any reply. In Japan Microsoft did release a somewhat similar game to xGirl on the original Xbox, titled “[email protected] Natural Ultimate Digital Experiment”, developed by Red Entertainment.

We can assume the concept behind a “virtual girlfriend” could have been too controversial for the american market in 2001, so Microsoft and Angel Studios canned the project. Angel Studios was then bought by Take-two in 2003 and renamed Rockstar San Diego. They then moved on to work on such popular titles as Red Dead Revolver, Midnight Club and Grand Theft Auto V

Tiltronica [Xbox – Cancelled]

Tiltronica is a cancelled racing / flipper / puzzle game that was in development by Vision Scape Interactive for the original Xbox. You would use some strange vehicles inside a sphere, somehow like in Super Monkey Ball, moving and shooting around arenas inside giant flippers. You main objective seems to have been to shoot down targets and collect balls.

A playable prototype was found in 2009 and a few collectors got copies on the Xbox debug-kits. This was in development by the same team who worked on the Sonic Extreme pitch.

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Crash Bandicoot (2008 Pitch) [Cancelled – Xbox 360, PS3]

Toys for Bob is an american video game studio owned by Activision, mostly known for their work on such games as Pandemonium! and the Skylanders series. In 2008 Toys for Bob with support from Underground Development tried to pitch a new Crash Bandicoot game, but without any luck.

In this cancelled Crash Bandicoot project Tawna would came back to Crash after dumping Pinstripe Potoroo, while Nina Cortex was re-imagined as an emo/goth teenager.

In the end Activision was not interested: they closed down Underground Development and gave the Spyro IP to Toys for Bob to develop Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure (released in 2011). Only a couple artworks for this cancelled Crash Bandicoot game were found by fan of the series and preserved online.

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Fate (Airtight Games) [Cancelled – Xbox 360, PS3]

Airtight Games was a development studio founded in 2004, formed by former members of FASA Studio, Will Vinton Studios and Microsoft. Between 2010 and 2011 the team was working on a new, unannounced AAA action adventure project titled “Fate”, possibly to be published by Square Enix or another unknown japanese publisher.

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As we can read on Kotaku:

“Rather, this Square Enix game seems to be Airtight’s primary project – an “unannounced AAA title” it has been developing since the completion of work on Dark Void. The company’s website describes this project as “another ambitious AAA title in a genre that is both unique and refreshingly unexplored”.

Given the development timeline, Airtight’s current AAA effort is likely a continuation of a project called Fate, a post-Dark Void project for an unnamed Japanese publisher, which was temporarily placed on hold in April 2011 so that work on the game “could be reassessed”. That decision resulted in much of the team working on Fate being let go. Assets from the time of the developmental pause suggested an aesthetic influence from BioShock, but the game has likely changed considerably since then.”

Only a single logo for this cancelled project was shared by the team. As we can read on Engaged:

“Aside from a job listing popping up late in the year for “several AAA titles,” and the high-profile hire of Portal lead Kim Swift just before Dark Void‘s launch, the studio kept mum all the way until this past summer. […]

“There are currently two projects at Airtight: ours, and another unannounced project,” Swift told me during a pre-New York Comic Con preview for Square’s titles. “I can’t speak to what the game is,” she added (unsurprisingly).”

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Unfortunately there aren’t any more details about what kind of game Fate was. Some years later the project or at least the collaboration with Square Enix was restarted, with heavy changes on its original concept. Somehow the “Fate project” morphed into “Murdered: Soul Suspect”. As we can read on Kotaku:

“They used to call this game Fate (Studer even did by accident a couple of times during the demo). It’s the adventure of a detective named Ronan O’Connor. He’s been killed at the start of the game after poking his way through a house in the spooky American town of Salem. A mysterious figure throws him out of a three-story window onto the pavement below and then shoots him for good measure.”

We tried to get in contact with former Airtight Games developers to preserve more info on their lost game, but without luck. If you know someone who worked on Fate, please let us know!

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Star Wars Fighting Game (Studio Gigante) [Xbox – Cancelled]

Studio Gigante was a small team established in 2000 by several former developers of Midway’s popular Mortal Kombat fighting game series. They were able to sign a contract with Microsoft to develop an exclusive “Mortal Kombat Killer” titled Tao Feng: Fist of the Lotus. Unfortunately the game received mixed reviews and in 2005 the studio closed down, after releasing their second Xbox exclusive for THQ: WWE WrestleMania 21.

As we can read on an interview made by Polygon with Studio Gigante co-founder Josh Tsui, their team also pitched a (never released) Star Wars fighting game. They develop a tech demo with Darth Maul and Anakin Skywalker fighting each other:

“Gigante was ready to roll onto a proper Tao Feng sequel, and Microsoft wanted it – but the proposed deal gave the team pause, as it didn’t quite offer the resources desired to pull off the more elaborate design, which featured wildly destructible stages. Simultaneously, THQ swooped in with an offer to develop WWE Wrestlemania 21 – a richer contract that could not only help build up the studio further, but possibly also secure a lucrative annual franchise. After much agonizing, the studio principals opted for THQ’s deal, leaving Tao Feng 2 dead in the water.

“Our team was completely crestfallen by that,” says Tsui. “We made the best of it; it’s not like we didn’t work our hearts out,” says David Michicich, another Studio Gigante principal and longtime Tsui associate. “But that was my first experience where I’m working on something that I’m enjoying, but my heart wasn’t into it. We should have found a way to do both deals.” Michicich says exclusivity deals from both publishers prevented such a move.

Not only did the team lose its passion project, but the WWE deal backfired. An incomplete build of the game was accidentally pressed and released, leading to backlash and an eventual recall and revised release. Relations between Gigante and THQ had already soured prior to release, and the poor reaction was the final nail in the coffin.

The Xbox series was dead, and the studio was running out of money. Using a proprietary engine, Gigante prototyped potential Kill Bill and Star Wars fighting games and sought new projects, but decisions weren’t being made quickly enough. By July 2005, just three months after Wrestlemania 21 shipped, the studio closed its doors.”

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