During many years of saving media from lost video games, we often find a game with no more details than a few screenshots, not knowing who was working on it nor even its title. This is the case with this cancelled project planned for Xbox, of which we just have screenshots with a file name “CZ”: what was this exactly? We are not sure.
From the look of it we can assume it was a first / third person shooter, possibly with online multiplayer? It has cool robots and a sci-fi look. Does it look like something you have played? Did you work on this game and could help us to identify it? Please leave a message below or send us an email!
As you probably know Gremlins is a 1984 comedy horror film directed by Joe Dante and released by Warner Bros, a commercial success spawning a sequel and lots of merchandise. A few officially licensed video games were published for Atari 2600, Commodore 64, Game Boy Color, Wii and DS. A Playstation 2 Gremlins was in development in the mid ‘00s, but soon cancelled.
Many years later, Krome Studios (mostly known for Ty the Tasmanian Tiger and Spyro: A New Beginning) pitched another Gremlins video game, planned for Xbox 360. In the end the game was not green lighted by Warner Bros, and it became another cancelled Gremlins game we’ll never play. A few screenshots were found by fans of the series, preserved in the gallery below to remember the existence of this lost project.
A former Krome developer shared some details on this pitch on NeoGAF:
“[…] you played ad gizmo running around hiding from adult gremlins setting up elaborate rude goldberg – incredible machine style physics traps to kill them in all sorts of gruesome ways. Even had a little street scene modelled of the town in the first movie with snow and Xmas lights, gremlins everywhere running amuck overturning cars and shit.”
All of these projects were never released, but a few details were shared online thanks to former Swingin Ape developers. Guerrilla: Jungle Revolt was initially conceived as a Mad Max inspired post-apocalyptic coop shooter, but when the team approached Electronic Arts to pitch the project they suggested to change it into a military shooter set on an island, somehow similar to Far Cry. EA knew the talent of the studio and maybe they were interested in publishing Guerrilla as a new IP to contrast Crytek / Ubisoft FPS series.
Swingin’ Ape Studios re-worked their game pitch as suggested by EA, but then proposed it to Microsoft instead. The company though to make Guerrilla an important launch title for their “Xbox 2”, along with other games such as Call of Duty 2, Kameo, Perfect Dark Zero and Quake 4.
Swingin Ape had already worked on an early prototype for Guerrilla using their original Xbox dev-kits: it was playable in local multiplayer on four linked Xbox consoles. This proto was enough to demonstrate basic gameplay mechanics with cooperative on-foot and vehicle combat against AI, but Guerrilla’s concept was much more than a simple FPS.
They planned a free-roaming set of islands, with base-building elements, squad commands and seamless integration of online play. We can imagine Guerrilla’s gameplay as a small open-world in the vein of Just Cause, where you could create your own military base, explore the environment to find enemies and attack their own camps. From slides used to pitch the project to Microsoft we can read more details about their idea:
Free roaming access to the 3 islands of Panuba
Access grows wider as the game progresses
Panuba has diverse regions: cities, jungles, dunes, snowy peaks, ruins, volcanic plains
Interactive and alive with islanders walking / driving around, birds reacting to gunshots, destructible environments, etc.
Up to 3 Live players may seamlessly join another player’s campaign on-the-fly
Coop players may bring their squads with them
Other players may became mercenaries, free to roam the island and play against the main player
Dozens of vehicles available on ground, water and in air
Acquire vehicles trough base buildings, by stealing or by earning
Microsoft offered to Swingin Ape 3 months of funds to develop a Guerrilla prototype on the Xbox 360, as an initial contract to test its potential. While the team was excited for this opportunity, something unexpected happened: Blizzard proposed them to work on their StarCraft: Ghost project, recently removed from its original team (Nihilistic Software).
In the end accepting Blizzard offer was their best option, as they were willing to fund a few years of development for StarCraft: Ghost, compared to just 3 months for Microsoft on the Guerrilla prototype (without knowing what could happen next). Guerrilla was then halted, to focus on the new collaboration with Blizzard.
The rest is history: While work on StarCraft: Ghost proceeded, in May 2005 Blizzard Entertainment decided to fully acquire Swingin’ Ape for their talent. After a while StarCraft: Ghost was also put on indefinite hold and never completed, while the Swingin Ape team became officially part of Blizzard, working on such projects as World of Warcraft.
Raiders is a cancelled project in the Tomb Raider series, that would have been developed for Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and PC as a coop multiplayer spin-off, before Crystal Dynamics decided to instead working on Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light. Raiders’ concept was heavily different from The Guardian of Light, as it would have been much more similar to the original Tomb Raider games, with third person exploration, platforming and shooting combat.
The story focused on the clones of Lara Croft, known as the Doppelgangers. It’s currently unclear if players would use these Doppelgangers as their playable characters, or if they were the main enemies. In the end the game was canned in pre-production, when they just had some concept made with placeholder graphic and some gameplay ideas to pitch to the studio managers.
While the game was never announced by Eidos nor Crystal Dynamics, fans of the series found documents of the project online, preserving its existence from being forgotten.
Their early years were not easy: they pitched many games (such as a first-person Mega Man reboot titled “Maverick Hunter” and a military FPS for the Wii) to publishers (such as EA, Warner Bros and Capcom), but never release any project until 2012, when they worked on the “Metal Gear Solid HD Collection” port for PSVita.
“Shorty after the studio’s formation, Armature struck a deal with Electronic Arts through the publisher’s Blueprint division, headed up by industry veteran Lou Castle. Under its arrangement with EA, Armature’s small team was to serve as an incubator of intellectual property for the gaming giant‚ & developing various concepts and prototypes that would then be handed off to another team, with Armature’s staff keeping a close eye on the projects. The Armature deal was one part of Blueprint’s overall mission to figure out ways to counter the rising cost of game development. […] Unfortunately, two months after Armature’s public debut, EA shuttered the Blueprint division, which likely caused the relationship between the two to go south.”
Between 2010 and 2011 Armature were working on an interesting action adventure game, featuring a young protagonist and a robot, somehow similar to Studio Ghibli’s anime “Laputa: Castle in the Sky“. From the few images and footage available it seems players would have been able to explore a sci-fi, post-apocalypse world, with the help of that strange mech. The robot could destroy walls in a cavern and it seems to have an independent AI with its own emotions, as seen in the scene where it covers the protagonist from the rain.
Unfortunately the project was not completed at the time, probably with no publisher interested in funding the full game. Armature switched their time and resources to work on “Metal Gear Solid HD Collection” and “Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate”.
In 2014 the team started working with Keiji Inafune on a new project for Microsoft, titled “ReCore”. This new game show a few similarities with their old prototype, such as the post-apocalypse world and the use of robot companions. That’s why we’d like to indicate this old prototype as “PreCore”, even if we don’t know it’s original title at the moment.
We can speculate Armature were somehow able to reuse some concepts and models from their prototype to develop ReCore. We hope one day to learn more about this and all their other cancelled projects from the late ‘00s.