Microsoft

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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Ride to Hell: Retribution [Beta – Xbox 360, PS3, PC]

Ride to Hell: Retribution is a low-rated action game developed by Eutechnyx and Deep Silver Vienna, released in 2013 for Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and PC: the game is a linear, buggy, and occasionally tasteless mess. When it was originally announced in late 2008 as Ride to Hell it was meant to be an true open world adventure taking place in 1960’s California, with influences coming from Biker films. The game was planned to be published in 2009 and formally shown off as the cover story for the January 2009 issue of Play magazine.

As we can read in the first press release:

“Action loaded from the very start with free roaming environments, players can immerse themselves in the liberty and freedom of riding full throttle with their gang on a multitude of different vehicles through the dusty flats of Western America. Protecting their turf, their brothers and their machines from rival gangs is just a taste of what this epic game will involve.

‘Ride to Hell’ is not for the faint hearted; it’s aimed heavily at the player who wants to become fully involved in the original West Coast biker culture. With its hard drinking, bare knuckle environment, this is as close to the action as you can get.

In a movie style production model, the internal Deep Silver studio is teaming up with leading creative companies such as Eutechnyx, Perspective Studios, and others, to bring the authentic and massive game world of ‘Ride to Hell’ to life.”

The keyword to describe the original “beta” game was “free”: freedom to explore the world as you please with your bike. The team’s goals were to create a vast experience, a sandbox world with incredibly high details. Your motorcycle was just as important: it would be used to move around the map, earn respect from other NPC bikers and to show your power. You could have been able to customize your own motorcycle to recreate nearly anyone you’d find in real life.

You would take control of a man named Ray, a Vietnam War veteran returning home to find his world changed. He would soon join a Biker Gang named Devil’s Hand: this would start the game’s adventure, with the mission to earn respect for the gang, to make it grow and heighten your reputation as one of the best bikers. This had effects on gameplay and on the game’s NPCs, with other bikers following you as a posse, drivers being weary about you and Police trying to arrest your gang. All depending on how you would play.

Sex, drugs, rock and roll: these all would find a place in Ride to Hell.  Allegedly, over 300 licensed songs were to be featured in the game, fitting each mood, from Blues, Country, to Hard Rock. Born to be Wild by Steppenwolf was even featured in the reveal trailer. In the original beta version of Ride to Hell you could deliver mushrooms to a chef to cook them and eating the wrong one would cause a psychedelic reaction. You could have been able to help a doctor bring special medicine to an outskirts Hippy Joint, work on a porn movie-set to earn a camera you could use to blackmail a sheriff found with a prostitute. These are a few examples of the sandbox mechanics were planned for the original version of the game.

Unfortunately development of Ride to Hell was not going well and the title would be cancelled in 2010, along with the closure of the Deep Silver Vienna team. The game would reappear in early 2013 with only Eutechnyx to develop it, losing most of its original open world and sandbox mechanics. The beta main protagonist Ray was replaced by Jake Conway, a  Vietnam War veteran on a quest for revenge after his brother was murdered by the Devil’s Hand, now a rival gang.

In the end Ride to Hell: Retribution was published in 2013 by Deep Silver, a Xbox Live Arcade / PSN game titled Ride to Hell: Route 666 and a mobile game titled Ride to Hell: Beatdown were also planned, but due to the highly negative reception of the main game both titles were later cancelled.

Article by Nicolas Dunai

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Eden (Antichrist) [Cancelled – PC, Xbox 360, PS3]

Eden is a cancelled psychological horror game that was in development in 2009 by Zentropa Games as a tie-in / epilogue of the Antichrist movie directed by Lars Von Trier. Zentropa Games was part of Zentropa Entertainments, the Danish film company started in 1992 by Von Trier and producer Peter Aalbaek Jensen and from an interview published on Eurogamer DK it seems that Aalbaek was the one to suggest making a game related to Antichrist.

eden Zentropa Games - antichrist tie-in

Eden was based in the same universe as Antichrist, with a new plot starting where the film ends. The player would have assumed the role of Willem Dafoe‘s character, who goes back to the lodge in the woods (called “Eden”) to try to figure out the cause for the violent events seen in the movie. Eden would have been a deep dive into your darkest and most gloomy personal fears, as players had to create their own profile at the start of the game, answering to a series of questions about their fears, and thus making the adventure a very personal experience, that would change for each individual.

We can assume gameplay would have been somehow similar to the Silent Hill series mixed with Heavy Rain and other Quantic Dream games, but played in first person. The game was conceived to be played multiple times, to see all the different endings and events. Zentropa Games planned to release Eden in 2010 for PC, Xbox Live Arcade and PSN.

As we can read in an article by Superannuation published by Kotaku:

Morten Iversen, formerly a writer on the Hitman franchise at IO Interactive, led the development of the game, and Politiken added that “Von Trier [had to] approve the [team’s] final design. […] In an e-mail, Iversen said Eden “was originally intended to be a companion piece to [the film],” but the development team ultimately felt Antichrist’s audience was too narrow, so they decided to reposition it as a unique story-driven title appealing to people interested in games like Heavy Rain. Iversen compared the connection between Eden and Antichrist to that of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and the Andrei Tarkovsky film of the same name: there would be elements – the setting and general universe – discerning fans would recognize, but it would still be an accessible product for a larger audience.

The game began “with a short prologue about legal and emotional repercussions” of Antichrist’s events, and then tasked players with “collecting clues in a mystery that slowly unfolds – [they] unlock areas in and around the cabin [from the film],” Iversen said. In order to succeed in Eden, players had to confront their personal phobias and “explore the darkness in [the game’s] universe” and within the players.”

eden Zentropa Games - antichrist tiein Willem Dafoe

Unfortunately in early 2010 Zentropa Games had to close down because of economic issues:

“Even after receiving 100,000 Euro in aid they just couldn’t manage to keep it going. It seems that the games industry in Denmark is coming to a crushing halt as now 4 developers have closed in the last 12 months.  “There was just no budget to continue development. Over the years it became increasingly clear that there simply was not enough money,” said Morten Iversen, former head of Zentropa Games to PC World.”

Only a few concept arts remains from the development of Eden: if you know someone who worked on this game that could have some screenshots or videos, please let us know

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 

Blitz & Massive [PC, Xbox 360 – Cancelled]

Blitz & Massive is a cancelled “point & click” adventure game developed by Spellcaster Studios, following two robots in their adventures all over the galaxy in what was conceived as a parody of sci-fi movies from the ’60s and ’70s. The game used a retro-futuristic look inspired by the same sci-fi movies they referenced to and the 3D engine was in a cell-shaded style.

Just like in a tv series, five episodes were planned, each one containing a tv-like intro with credits and all of them were self-contained, meaning the the story would always be introduced and resolved in the same episode. Spellcaster Studios were inspired by tv series like Star Trek (their main inspiration) and they compared the style of Blitz & Massive to The Secret of Monkey Island and movies that parodied a genre like Spaceballs or Scary Movie.

Developed for PC and Xbox 360, with an investment of 250.000 euros shared between Gameinvest and their own capital, Blitz & Massive was almost complete when it was canceled, with the exception of the cutscenes which were supposed to be created by Overseas Animation Studios, lead by Bruno Patatas.

Spellcaster Studios closed in 2010, mainly because of the worldwide financial crisis and the subsequent reduction of subcontracting work they received. Today the team only remains as a hobby project by Diogo Andrade and Diogo Gomes.

In the gallery below you can see some images from the alpha version presented to Mega Score (Portuguese videogames magazine), that although small and low quality show all parts of the gameplay. Below you can also check a video showing the tutorial section of the game.

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

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