Xbox 360

Pilot X (Tornado Studios) [Cancelled – PS3, Xbox 360, PC]

Pilot X is a cancelled space combat adventure game that was in development by Tornado Studios for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. While it remained mostly obscure, it was officially announced sometime in the late ‘00s, and we can still read the official press-release on Gamepressure:

“Pilot X is an arcade shooting in the atmosphere of space opera. The player controls a small spacecraft and his task is to destroy enemy forces in distant star systems. Pilot X is a project of Tornado Studios, an independent development studio known for its Project Runway game. This time the creators decided to use the classic genre of space shooters, adapting proven solutions to the technical capabilities of modern hardware platforms.

The action of the game was set in the distant future. The player plays the role of a star fighter pilot, and his task is to perform various dangerous combat missions in remote corners of the galaxy.

Pilot X’s gameplay is based on classic, genre-specific solutions. Watching the action from behind the ship (TPP) the player fights dozens of enemy units, including board bosses – huge star ships or perfectly protected planetary bases. In the course of the game he can gain a number of bonuses allowing for example to turn on the shields, change the weaponry, replenish ammunition or repair the damage suffered.

The game is characterized by an eye-catching three-dimensional visual setting, which clearly stands out from the competition. Both models of ships and objects drifting in space look very impressive, and the dynamic action is full of spectacular explosions.”

We don’t know what happened to the project, but we can assume it was canned because the team was not able to find a publisher interested in it.

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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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Gremlins (Krome Studios) [Xbox 360 – Cancelled]

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.”

Thanks to Roy for the contribution!

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Guerrilla: Jungle Revolt [Xbox 360 – Cancelled]

Swingin’ Ape Studios were a mostly forgotten studio behind the now cult-classic title Metal Arms: Glitch in the System, a third-person shooter published by Vivendi Universal and Sierra Entertainment in late 2003, for Playstation 2, Xbox and GameCube. While the game did not sold much, many gamers loved it for its fun gameplay and multiplayer. Around 2004 after Metal Arms was shipped, Swingin Ape Studios proposed many different projects to publishers: Metal Arms 2, a new SWAT (Police Quest), a GI-Joe tie-in, and a game called “Guerrilla: Jungle Revolt”, to be developed as an exclusive launch title for Microsoft’s soon-to-be released Xbox 360.

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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.

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