Nintendo DS

Matchman [DS, Wii, PS3 – Cancelled]

Matchman is a cancelled run ‘n gun that was in development by TF-H Co in 2008, planned to be published by Lexicon Entertainment for the Nintendo DS, Wii and Playstation 3. The game had original graphics for its time, with hand-drawn, black and white scribbles: journalists were quite amazed by how a simple-looking game like this was meant to be released on modern consoles (indies were still not as common as today).

As we can read from the official press-release on gamesindustry.biz:

“Video games publisher Lexicon Entertainment and talented Chinese games developer TF-H Co Ltd have announced a 2 year agreement which will see the two companies bring a number of new IP to Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii and Playstation 3 for a worldwide audience.

Matchman is a side scrolling shooter involving extraordinary graphics, manipulation and creative features. The graphic style is consisted by black and white line drawing, and the script is based on a combination of some classical fairytales such as Grimm’s and Andersons fairytales. In the script, there are many humorous factors. The black and white style will bring you the feel of an old school comic, which will attract audiences from different age groups.

One of the special features is the unconventional means to knock through some of scenario. In this case, you’re not going to kill bosses directly. For instance, conventionally you kill monsters by using weapons; but to kill an evil bird named Baba Yaga, you need to throw apples and feed it until its stomach bursts! Another feature is about manipulation. Within the game is a mode called Commuter, specially designed for people on public transport commuting to the office. These people can use a single hand to operate the console and the other to enjoy a soothing cuppa!”

Something went wrong in 2008 and Lexicon Entertainment dropped the project, before closing down their company. In 2009 a new publisher re-announced Matchman, as wrote by Gamasutra:

“Startup publisher Mamba Games today announced both its own existence as well as its first four game projects across PC and console platforms. The company, co-founded by former THQ executive Robert Nielson in November 2008, laid out its release schedule for the first two quarter of 2009, signing various worldwide and territory-specific distribution deals.

Mamba’s fourth announced title, Matchman (pictured) by Chinese developer TF-H Co Ltd, will debut for the Nintendo DS globally in the second quarter of 2009. Nintendo Wii and PlayStation 3 versions of the scrolling shooter will be released later in the year.”

In the end, Matchman just vanished and it was never published in any way as far as we were able to gather. We don’t know if TF-H Co ever completed the game nor what happened to the team after the cancellation of their project.

In the following years things did not go well for Mamba Games, failing with an international scandal about missing payments for some of their developers

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Mario Motors (Yoot Saito) [Nintendo DS – Cancelled]

Mario Motors is a cancelled racing / car engine simulation game that was in development by Yoot Saito (Seaman, Odama, SimTower) and Nintendo for their DS. While the game was never officially announced, Saito talked about it during his conference at Reboot Develop 2018. As we can read at Destructoid:

“”During one meeting, Iwata-san asked me a question: ‘Saito-san, what have you been interested in lately?’ I immediately understood what he was getting at, so I answered ‘sculpting chunk.’ Miyamoto-san said ‘huh?!'” (To help explain to the audience what he was referring to, Saito talked a bit about how things like watches, camera frames, and MacBooks are made. Sculpting objects out of metal chunks spoke to him and it was an idea he “really wanted” to make into a game.). […] This kind of sculpting is really appealing to a middle-aged guy like me […] I explained this crazy idea to them and they really listened to me very carefully in complete silence, and finally said ‘that sounds interesting, let’s give it a try. […] The concept eventually morphed into Mario Motors, “a game where you created engines.”

Saito summed it up as “shaving and sculpting out of a chunk of metal to make a cylinder [which then] decides the ability of your engines.” For part of the game he wanted to teach players how acceleration works in an interesting way and thought about having them blow into the DS microphone. “I scrapped this idea because this would cause children to get out of breath,” he explained.

As for why Mario Motors never moved ahead, Saito said “I can’t tell you why, but please guess.”

A few Mario Motors images were shared by Saito and we can see a “2008” date and a Nintendo DS Lite in there, but we don’t know when its original idea was conceived. A similar interactive concept was playable at E3 2004 when Nintendo had a “Carving tech demo” to showcase DS’ touch screen. As we can read in an old Kikizo E3 report:

“The Carving demo removed any doubts I had about DS’ touch screen sensitivity. The demo started by making your selection of a log, a steel cylinder, a watermelon, or a Mario wood sculpture. Whichever item you select is sent to the top of the screen and laid horizontally, then spun. At this point your touch pen becomes a razor sharp carving knife. Touching the object on the very edge only makes a skin deep incision, while moving in deeper cuts away an increasing amount of meat. Most impressive was the surgical precision of the carving on the DS touch screen.”

From the few Mario Motors images available, it looks like Mario would have been instructed on how engines work by an older version of him (?), with white mustache and air.

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Geist DS [Nintendo DS – Cancelled]

The original Geist was a first person adventure developed by N-Space and published by Nintendo in 2005 for their GameCube. In the game you play as the spirit of the dead protagonist, who can interact with the physical world through possession of things, animals and human beings. The game had an interesting gameplay mechanic in which you had to scare NPCs before being able to possess them and many clever puzzles revolving around your possession ability.

A Nintendo DS port / sequel was in development at N-Space in mid – late ‘00s, but in the end the project was canned, possibly because of low sales and mixed reviews for the GameCube version. As we can read on Wikipedia:

“Nearing the end of development, a Nintendo DS port was rumored by an IGN tour to be in development. Although this port was never announced, and no information of it has ever been officially released, n-Space did have development kits for the DS at the time, and traces of the ports existence have been found within the ROM of the DS version of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, which was developed by n-Space, as two text documents for the credits of Geist DS are present”

You can read the Geist DS credits hidden in CoD4 DS at TCRF.

While the game was never officially announced and it was quietly cancelled with no media ever shown to the public, fans of the original game found some early footage of Geist DS, preserved below to remember its existence.

N-Space did a great job with their portable FPS (Call of Duty, GoldenEye), so it’s safe to say we missed another good one with the cancellation of Geist DS. We hope one day someone could share online a playable prototype, maybe along with their DS version of Halo

Gravity Zero Racing [Nintendo DS – Cancelled]

Gravity Zero Racing also known as Zero-G, is a cancelled futuristic racing game that was to be published by Midas Interactive: it was basically an F-Zero clone for Nintendo DS. The game was planned to be released sometime in 2008 (there’s even a product page on Amazon UK), but in the end it just vanished without any official statement. Some details about this lost project were published in the old Midas website:

“Get ready to step into the futuristic world of high octane Zero-G racing. Compete as an elite Zero-G pilot racing against fearless rivals from across the stratosphere. Losing is no longer an option; only winners will survive!

Every second counts as you take control of one of the most technologically advanced racing craft in the galaxy. Capable of reaching break neck speeds, you’ll need lightning reactions as you negotiate a myriad of hazardous race tracks packed with obstacles, mines, tunnels and insane G-force drops. Engage in ferocious dog fights in a race to the finish line, unleashing an arsenal of weaponry including EMP mines, and rockets. This is much more than just racing!

Once you have beaten the best you can take on the rest in the awesome Wi-Fi multiplayer mode. Challenge your friends or link up with players from across the globe to find out who will rein champion of the world. This is racing like you’ve never seen before!

  • Five game modes available including Practice, Quick race, Time Trial, Tournament and Multiplayer modes.

  • The huge Tournament Mode features 7 levels each with 3 unique tracks.

  • Arsenal of lethal weaponry at your disposal including EMP mines and rockets

  • Wi-Fi multiplayer mode brings true global online racing to the DS.

  • Advanced racing physics incorporating the intuitive Nintendo DS control system.

  • Hugely popular racing genre with mass market all-age appeal.”

If you know someone who worked on Gravity Zero Racing and could share what happened to this project please let us know!

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Shining Legend (Princess & Knight) [DS – Cancelled]

Shining Legend is a cancelled action RPG that was in development by Blueside for Nintendo DS. While the title could reminds you of SEGA’s Shining series, this project was not officially related to it. Blueside is mostly known for their work on the Kingdom Under Fire series and it’s composed by former Phantagram developers. The team initially announced this game as “Princess And Knight” in 2008 before vanishing for a couple of years and then resurrecting under the new title “Shining Legend”.

The game’s funny premise was a nice change in comparison with the usual epic RPGs:

“You’re a handsome, cunning prince studying abroad. You return to your home kingdom and find that not only has your father, the king, disappeared, but he’s left the kingdom in enormous debt. As creditors come knocking at your door, you discover that the neighboring kingdom’s seven princesses have run away after a little misunderstanding with their father and they’re now your traveling companions as you work to pay off the money your country owes. You have 800 days to pay this debt and win the heart of one of the beautiful princesses that accompanies you on your journey.”

Gameplay was also an interesting mix of RPG, hack & slash (with dozens of enemies on screen) and dating sim:

“Players have two main objectives during the course of the game: pay back their father’s debt and win the heart of a princess. Most of the player’s time will be spent fighting monsters and developing relationships with the different girls. “

“The prince, named Luchs […] will travel around the continent and complete up to 400 different quests to earn money. During these travels, he can actually be joined in battle by a princess, which gives Luchs access to different special abilities or team attacks. These attacks vary depending on the girl Luchs is courting. A princess may walk out of battle if the prince isn’t really winning her over. “

“Monsters in Shining Legend are both 2D and 3D affairs, which gives the visuals a very nice look. Most of the characters and lower-level creatures are just 2D sprites, but when Luchs faces off with a boss character, that monster will be a 3D model.”

Multiple story paths and endings were planned depending on how you would resolve the game’s quests, how many days you would need to pay off your debt and by choosing different relationships. More details about the seven princesses were posted online by Sword Machine in 2010:

Erika (19), who is the rightful heir to the Kingdom of Junon, and has trained rigorously for the position. She is also a childhood friends of Luchs. (She is the one in with the blue winged dress.)

Pofosh (18), who outwardly only cares about extravagant parties and traveling in her golden wagon, but inwardly feels very empty. (She is the one in the revealing pink party dress.)

Nana (16), who is obsessed with searching for ruins and relics, then keeping them in her room. Her collection is so large, she apparently lends some of her relics to museums. (She is the one in the short red dress holding the rabbit.)

Elara (16), who dislikes magic, and thinks the world would be a better place through the spreading of alchemy. She sometimes forces people to participate in her strange experiments. (She is the one in the green dress with glasses.)

Thimu (16), who was adopted from the fallen Kingdom of Sosan, and dreams of becoming a great pirate after reading about the legendary “Bloody Rose.” (She is the one with the long pirate jacket.)

Arphen (16), who is a half-elf, and obsessed with the lost elven civilization, hoping to rebuild their kingdom some day. (She is the tanned half-elf with light blue hair.)

Lorna (12), is the youngest of the princesses, and very shy. She enjoys sketching, and has the ability to predict the future through her drawings. (She is the blonde one with the sketchbook.)

While Shining Legend was never released on the Nintendo DS, in the following years Blueside reused their lost concept to create a somehow similar game for iOS, titled “Princess Pajama”. It’s a much more casual game, it only has 1 princess, game mechanics were simplified and character design was heavily revised.

It’s interesting to notice that Blueside was also the team behind a cancelled hentai dating sim titled “Shining Lore”, with was later changed into a MMORPG with the same name for Xbox and PC (which was also canned in the end). We can assume the “Shining” part of the name for the cancelled DS game was taken from their previous unreleased projects.

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