Crank the Weasel is a mature cancelled platform / adventure game that was in development by Midway Games in 2002, for the Playstation 2 and Xbox. The goal of Crank was to create chaos in the game’s world, with lies, cheats and stealing loot from the other characters, to be able to get enough Big-Ticket-Items to fly to Pleasure Island. The game’s look and feel were inspired by 1920’s cartoon art style and authentic big band swing music, but with a humorous / mature twist, similar to Conker’s Bad Fur Day.
In the website of Brian Silva, Co-creator and Lead Designer of Crank the Weasel, we can read many interesting info about the concepts behind the Crank project:
At the beginning of a game, each NPC possesses a preliminary set of “ideal” characteristics, meaning that they will go about their business, acting and functioning in an initially “composed” manner appropriate for their personality type. However, depending upon Weasel’s player-controlled actions (as well as the independent actions of the NPCs), these “ideal” characteristics will soon begin to alter as they are manipulated in a vast variety of ways that can either benefit or work against the player, and often provide surprising results. NPCs, while going about their business, will even change their own behavior to suit their immediate needs even if Weasel does not interact with them, resulting in amusing and varied gameplay. Basically, each playfield would naturally evolve on it’s own, Weasel just happens to throw a huge wrench into the equation.
An example of the weird scenarios that the player would have been able to explore in the game, is the Hell level:
While floating along the River Styx, Weasel can hear the merry tune of Jingle Bells echoing throughout the fiery pits of hell, snow is drifting, trees are decorated, lights are hung, and all the little devils want to wish Weasel a “Merry Christmas!” Gnarled and twisting tree roots wrap and wind from above and all throughout this town of torment. Little demons drive their little demon cars, walk their demon dogs, and mow their demon lawns in front of their little demon houses. Elevators transport a nonstop supply of unrighteous heathens to the hoary underworld to suffer an abundance of dreadful eternities. Weasel will be glad to know that there are hundreds of take out restaurants in hell… unfortunately they’re all Chinese take out, and the only available places of business are either the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Internal Revenue Service, Hellth Food stores, Social Security Departments, jury duty registration, or fabric stores. But on the bright side, there’s plenty of flashy advertising for products and places that these sinners will never have a chance to enjoy.
Sadly Crank the Weasel was officially cancelled in 2003, as we can read at IGN Xbox:
“That game will never come out,” said our source from the innards at Midway. “It just never seemed to take off and all I can tell you is that you’re not going to see it again.”
A playable prototype was leaked online in late 2017 thanks to a former Midway developer!