Microsoft

Project Dropship [Xbox 360, PS3 – Cancelled]

If you are a long-time fan of Square you may have read about this lost game before. Project Dropship was a canceled videogame developed by Square Enix Los Angeles and it would have been their first game. It was going to be a frantic but strategic shooter with a top down view and a strong coop multiplayer component.

It was 2008: Square Enix decided to open a new studio to test new technologies and develop digital-only, small-budget videogames. Their LA team was composed by around 10 or 20 developers and the director was Fumiaki Shiraishi, already know for his work on Crystal Chronicles: my Life as a King and Final Fantasy XI Online. In an interview with Gamasutra Shiraishi talked about their idea for the studio:

“We do like to have one full-size project if possible, and then have the downloadables on the side. We’re still in the process of trying to figure out what the first title will be. Right now we’re still in the very early phase of testing out gameplay stuff and testing out the technology. The scope of the game, and how it’s going to be sold, is going to come a little bit later.”

Even Dave Hoffman, Director of Business Development, declared to Siliconera that they were not ready to announce anything and for 3 years the Square LA studio didn’t release any videogame or announcement

2011 was a difficult year for Square Enix: in March they reported a loss in their last fiscal year, in part due to canceled videogames. Nothing was ever announced for their Los Angeles Studio until it was suddenly closed. Square Enix didn’t announce any reason for the closure, but  thanks to Siliconera, Final Fantasy Universe and some leaked screenshots we know that the studio was working on a project titled “Dropship

Dropship was in development for PS3 and Xbox 360 using Gamebryo, a 3D Engine created by Numerical Design Limited and later licensed by Square Enix in 2009. In the game you had to fight against large groups of enemies to proceed in the area, while using shields and rocks to plan attack or defense strategies. By looking at the video and screenshots leaked online it’s clear that Dropship had a strong focus on its coop mode, with up to 4 players at the same time

The game was set in a sci-fi-western world, featuring snowy, rocky areas and abandoned factories. You could use guns or lasers and choose between different characters, such as an old man dressed as a cowboy with a pirate hat and a girl with pink hair and goggles. Main enemies in the game were some kind of aliens, strange animals and monsters: we can notice a flying white fish and a huge creature similar to a snake

Dropship was probably cancelled in March 2011 even if it was in an advanced state of development. After the closure of the studio Shiraishi worked for other software houses and today he is Director of Game Development at GungHo Online Entertainment America.

Article by Gin

Images:

Videos:

 

Hurikàn (EA) [Xbox 360, PS3 – Cancelled]

Hurikàn is a cancelled action adventure in development by Electronic Arts in 2006, planned to be released for Xbox 360 and PS3. The project was never officially announced by EA and we found out about its existence thanks to concept art leaked online in 2010.

As far as we know Hurikàn was in development by an internal team at EA, and it was one of many pitches for new projects conceived in those years. Other unreleased ideas were Gun Head, a Road Rash reboot and a game based on Oliver Twist.

hurikan-electronic-arts-cancelled-game-01

Hurikàn was set in a weather-beaten island, where a mysterious company was working on top-secret researches. Something went wrong during the experiments (maybe a hurricane hit the island?) and their research center was attacked by robots gone haywire, ocean monsters and… even the weather? Artificially intelligent and remote-controlled machines played a prominent role in the game: some of them could help players and NPCs (for example by saving survivors), while others could be aggressive. We imagine this could have been something like a mix between Jurassic Park and Vanquish.

Unfortunately we don’t know anything else about it and the project was quietly canned in early development. From the few images we preserved in the gallery below, we can just say that Hurikàn could have been quite the cool adventure.

If you know someone who worked on this lost game, please let us know.

Images:

  

Rare’s Cancelled “Casual Monster Hunter” [Xbox 360]

In the ‘90s Rare was one of the favorite developers for Nintendo fans, publishing such cult classic titles as Donkey Kong Country, Battletoads, GoldenEye 007 and Banjo-Kazooie. When the company was acquired by Microsoft in 2002 many things changed. In 2010 Scott Henson became the new Rare studio manager and for a few of years they mostly worked on Kinect Sports, Kinect pitches and Xbox Live Avatars for Xbox 360. Unfortunately many of their original ideas for new games never seen the light of day.

rare-cancelled-casual-monster-hunter-fazeley-fantasy

In march 2010 Rare opened a new facility at Fazeley Studios in Birmingham, where they had many talented artists working on concept art for new “casual” games to pitch to Microsoft.

“The new studio will be structured in a different way to most, however, and work more along the film production model in which teams scale up and down regularly according to the needs of projects being created.

Among the duties to be undertaken in Fazeley will be testing for Natal products – something which requires more space than traditional Xbox 360 games – while the decision is also part of a bid to stem the relentless increase of development costs over the years.

The process, which is similar in some ways to outsourcing, is labelled “insourcing” by Betteridge, and he cites past successes such as Xbox Live Avatars and the Sky link-up design as projects that were completed in this way.”

Even Chris Seavor worked at the Fazeley Studios as a graphic artist before breaking away from Rare:

“They set up an off-shoot studio in Fazeley. It was where the graphics went. Quite a few people didn’t want to make the move because it’s the centre of Birmingham as opposed to Twycross, which is a bit of a wrench. But I thought, I’m all right, I’ll go for that. So I did that for nearly a year. And I went back to doing graphics again. “

One of Rare’s lost “casual” projects conceived at the Fazeley Studios was some kind of “The Wonderful 101” meets “Monster Hunter” multiplayer adventure, in which players could work together to hunt down huge bosses. You would use you own Avatar as the playable character, dressed-up as superheroes or fantasy knights depending on the settings of the mission. This would have been a “casual” game, but with many epic battles and interesting ideas to hunt down bosses, such as your friends blocking a huge robot while you would try to turn off the switch on its back.

rare-cancelled-casual-monster-hunter-fazeley-robot

Only some concept art from this lost project is currently preserved on Unseen64, to remember its existence. As far as we know this was never implemented into a playable prototype and could only have been one of the many undeveloped pitches proposed by the Rare team during their “Casual Gaming Years”.

If you know someone who worked at Rare’s Fazeley Studios, please let us know. We’d love to save more memories about their cancelled ideas.

Images: 

WET 2: Double Feature [Cancelled – PS3, Xbox 360]

The first Wet was a third person hack n’ slash shooter inspired by grindhouse / exploitation movies, developed by Artificial Mind & Movement (later renamed to Behaviour Interactive) and published by Bethesda Softworks for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2009. As described on Wikipedia:

“Wet is an action game that combines shooting and swordplay with acrobatics and gore. The main character, Rubi, carries twin pistols and a sword (she can also carry dual shotguns, submachine guns, or crossbows), and can fire while jumping, sliding on her knees, and running on walls. In some sections of the game, Rubi’s face will get covered in blood and she will go into a murderous, berserker-like rage. These sections are presented in noir style, with bold red, black and white visuals.”

While the game received average reviews and sales, it became a cult-classic for fans of fun action games and grindhouse stories.

In late 2010 Behaviour Interactive officially announced Wet 2 during an interview:

“As part of today’s announcement that the developers of last year’s WET, Artificial Mind & Movement (A2M), would be changing their name to Behaviour, the independent studio has revealed plans to continue the story of Rubi Malone. No formats were discussed, but it is likely that the sequel will follow the original release onto the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles.  When discussing the future of ‘triple-A’ productions from the studio in an interview with Develop Online, CEO Remi Racine stated; “I think the triple-A market has become very difficult for independents. I’m not saying we’re avoiding it – of course we’re making a triple-A game with WET 2. But it is a very difficult market. It’s very difficult to be successful with those kinds of games.”

Wet 2 would have follow the same gameplay and grindhouse style of the first game, with new missions and enemies to defeat. The team was able to create some concept art (using placeholder images and photos from popular movies), design documents and an early prototype for Wet 2, but after about a year of development the project was canned.

As noted by Behaviour Interactive’s CEO, around 2010 / 2011 the gaming market was quite difficult for small / medium developers. Many great companies had to closed down during those years and lots of promising games had to be cancelled. Wet 2 was one of these failed ideas: we can speculate it was cancelled for lack of funds or because they thought it would have not sold enough copies to justify its completion

Some images and early HUD tests created for Wet 2 were found online by fans of the original game, and are preserved in the gallery below to remind the existence of this lost project.

After some years working on tien-in games and less successful projects, in the last few years Behaviour Interactive were able to work on such popular games as Fallout Shelter, Dead by Daylight and Star Citizen.

Images: 

Black Death (Darkworks) [Cancelled – Xbox 360, PS3, PC]

Black Death is a cancelled FPS / Survival Horror game somehow similar to Condemned and Dead Island, in development by Darkworks around 2011. Darkworks was an independent French studio not widely known by the average gamer, but they released a couple of fan favorite games as Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare (Playstation, Dreamcast and PC) and Cold Fear (PS2, PC and Xbox). Black Death was announced in June 2011, as the team tried to get attention from publishers to find money and resources to fully develop their idea. This was the last project they tried to pitch before closing down after a series of unfortunate failed projects, such as their Onechanbara reboot, State of Crisis and The Deep.

After Ubisoft took away I Am Alive from Darkworks in 2008 to complete it under Ubisoft Shanghai, the team worked on many different prototypes. We can assume at the time the team tough that shooters were the most marketable genre to be greenlighted by publishers, so they conceived a few ones (such as Black Death) with interesting / original features.

Some more details about Black Death were published in the (now removed) official website:

What is Black Death? Black Death is a new survival horror from Darkworks. Black Death is the personification of the fear generated by the recent pandemics and the mistrust which has been associated to their supposed origins (natural apocalypse, scientific, industrial, or military ones… or else… ).  Our goal with Black Death is to go one step further by focusing the game on three essential elements: speed, fluidity and freedom of action, to offer the player a sensation of freedom and the possibility to create his own arsenal.

Pitch: Today, The  American North East coast, a city is suddenly hit by a massive cloud of smoke. Mysterious swirls of this black smoke appear and infect everybody. This new disease is spreading all over the city making it a place full of sick people sunk into a comatose state. As they mutate into strange creatures with various powers and group behaviours, they start to become violent and invade the whole city. The player is a survivor who will try to stay alive and wipe out this scourge from the city.

Gameplay Experience: THE FOG PLAYS WITH YOU, PLAY WITH THE FOG
Survive in the fog
Be Creative: Create your own chemical weapons and test them on your enemies
Cure or kill infected you meet and choose your fighting strategy
Spectacular: Have fun discovering a unique bestiary, and experiment with multiple weapons and devices
Fight: Fast action, it’s difficult to kill, you must finish on contact
Control the fog
Discover the black death evolution

A playable demo / prototype for Black Death was also released in July 2011, but it failed to gain much interest from gamers and publishers. With no more money to keep working on their projects, in October 2011 the studio was placed into Compulsory liquidation and was closed. In about 15 years of activity, Darkworks were able to successfully complete and release only 2 games, while all their other projects were either cancelled or moved to different developers. There are already a good number of interesting lost Darkworks games in the Unseen64 archive, but many more still remain unseen and even if we tried multiple times to get in contact with people that worked at the studio, it seems almost impossible to know more about what happened to them or to their cancelled games.

Images:

Videos: