Nintendo

Project Cairo (Craveyard) [Nintendo 64DD – Cancelled]

If you had a Nintendo 64 back in the 90’s, you probably remember all the hype around its 64DD, the disk-based peripheral that promised some cool features for it’s time, including network capabilities, internal clock, additional storage and content expansion for N64 games. Unfortunately due to numerous delays and its commercial failure in Japan this add-on was never released outside of Japan, being discontinued after just 10 software published.

We could say the failure of the 64DD had direct consequences over the N64 game library. We all know about Nintendo’s complicated past with third party support, media storage and licensing issues. These were always key points for Nintendo and with the N64 it wasn’t any different. Their 64DD could have offered a cheaper support for third parties with more space for their games.

Even before its launch in Japan many European and North American developers were already working on 64DD games: after all this add-on was announced in 1995, prior to the N64’s launch. As you can imagine most of these 64DD games were either scrapped or ported to N64 carts.

One of these interesting but lost 64DD games is Project Cairo, a cancelled RPG planned by team Craveyard (Crave Entertainment). According to an IGN article dated 1997, Craveyard were “in negotiations to use a major comic book license for both characters and background story”, promising a new “fresh look for the genre with interesting, Americanized characters”.

We don’t know which comic book they planned to use (above are some examples of random fantasy comics from the mid ’90s, to have an idea of their style), but as told by Mark Burke (former Vice President, Product Acquisitions at Crave):

“If it was another anime RPG I don’t think we’d be making it. […] We think the art in the game is as good as if not better than that in Final Fantasy VII.”

It’s important to note that Craveyard shared their origins with Square USA. Legendary Ted Woolsey (responsible for many popular RPG localizations during the 16-bit era) moved out from Square with a group of employees when the company was moving offices back in 1996, founding a small team named Big Rain.

The name Big Rain wouldn’t last long as Crave Entertainment soon bought the company, changing its name to Craveyard and made them working on such games as Shadow Madness, a Japanese-inspired Role-playing game eventually released on Sony Playstation in 1999.

In the meantime Craveyard were also conceiving new ideas for Project Cairo, their ambitious RPG intended to take advantage of 64DD’s original features, scheduled to also be released in 1999. For Project Cairo’s scenario Craveyard were talking with a well known British fantasy writer (which remains anonymous) for a high-profile collaboration.

As told us by Ted Woosley Project Cairo never got past this early planning and “scenario” phase. It was soon clear that Playstation was the better console to develop for: it was cheaper and with a larger user-base already interested in RPGs. N64 was not selling enough to pursue full development of an exclusive RPG, especially for its postponed 64DD add-on. The team focused all of their resources and efforts into Shadow Madness: it’s currently unknown if their Playstation RPG took some ideas or mechanics initially conceived for Project Cairo.

Unfortunately Shadow Madness did not perform as expected: it was received with average reviews and poor sales. In the end Crave opted to pull Craveyard out of business and closed the studio. After Craveyard’s closure, Ted Woolsey joined RealNetworks (a provider of Internet streaming media) where he managed their online gaming client. In 2007 Woolsey moved to Microsoft Studios to work as Senior Director for the Xbox Live Arcade and in 20015 he became General Manager of Undead Labs helping releasing fan-favorite State of Decay.

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Metal Slader Glory 2 [Nintendo 64DD – Cancelled]

The original Metal Slader Glory is a sci-fi visual novel / graphic adventure developed by HAL Laboratory and published in 1991 for the Nintendo Famicom. The game’s plot is similar to many popular mech-anime series, with a group of young boys and girls fighting against their enemies using cool robots.

As we can read on Wikipedia the game soon became a cult-classic and a sought-after collector’s item in the secondhand market due to its quality and its rarity. This may be the reason why Nintendo and HAL initially decided to create a new Metal Slader Glory for their Nintendo 64 DD Add-on.

metal slader glory 2 Nintendo 64 DD Cancelled

As revealed by Metal Slader Glory scenario director & character-designer Yoshimiru (よしみる) in a doujin booklet he published a few years ago and later in a series of tweets, it seems Metal Slader Glory 64 would have been a sequel / prequel, as the main character was planned to be Kisaragi Yayoi, a girl who (as far as we know) is just a secondary NPC in the original Famicom game (plus he also revealed they planned a new character named Uzuki). The team also wanted to use many of the 64DD features, such as its internal clock and rewritable disks.

Unfortunately after a while Metal Slader Glory 2 was cancelled – maybe because Nintendo kept delaying their 64DD – and instead the team developed a simple remake of the first game for the Super Famicom under the title “Metal Slader Glory: Director’s Cut”, later released in 2000 as the last official game ever published for SNES in Japan.

We can only imagine how many more obscure lost cancelled games for N64 are still hidden out there to be discovered one day.

Thanks to VGDensetsu for the contribution!

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Moeyo Butaman [NES – Cancelled]

Moeyo Butaman (燃えよ ぶたマン!?) is a cancelled NES / Famicom game that was in development in 1992 and it would have been published by Sigma Enterprises. Only a couple of (tiny) scans from old japanese gaming magazines remain to remember the existence of this game.

The main protagonist was going to be some kind of super-hero pig, and as noted by GDRI gameplay could have been similar to Time Zone, another action platformer published by Sigma in 1991.

Characters designer for Moeyo Butaman was Gen Sato  – a designer / animator who also worked on “Suishou no Dragon” with Squaresoft and on many anime – who seems to have a playable cart of Moeyo Butaman in his personal collection.

We can only hope that one day he could dump the game to preserve it from being lost forever.

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GTA 3 [GBA – Cancelled]

In 2004 Rockstar Games published Grand Theft Auto Advance, a top-down episode of GTA developed for GBA by Digital Eclipse and set in Liberty City, as a prequel to GTA 3. At least another cancelled version of GTA 3 for GBA was in development before the released one.

In 2001 GTA 3 was announced by Destination Software, which acquired the rights from Take 2 / Rockstar to publish their own version of the game for GBA, to be developed by Crawfish Interactive. Thanks to an old article by Brian Provinciano (not online anymore on his website), we can read more details about this lost GTA portable:

“In November 2002, rumors began spreading that GTA3 for GBA had been cancelled. Destination Software denied the claims, responding, “The game has not been canned. We’ll be making an announcement at the end of the week”. Sure enough, shortly after, news leaked that Crawfish had GTA3 for GBA in development. What’s more, was that the report claimed it was already well into development with an expected 2003 release. Insanely, a week after this report, Crawfish shut down, laying off all of its staff and putting the development in limbo.

According to former Crawfish head, Cameron Sheppard, “Crawfish had many titles finishing and a number of publishers not paying on time. These issues joined meant that the company couldn’t continue quite long enough”. That was, until Rockstar handed it over to Digital Eclipse. Over the next year, Destination Software still claimed they were publishing it, both after Crawfish shut down and after production begun at Digital Eclipse. Whether their claims were truthful or not, when they ultimately lost the license is unclear. However, they were not the publisher by the time Digital Eclipse’s version hit store shelves.

It’s possible that Destination Software was involved with publishing while Crawfish was the developer, but it’s also possible that they’d lost the license by the time Crawfish landed the project. A former Crawfish developer confirmed that “There was one before ours that also got canned“. It’s unclear whether Digital Eclipse was involved with both the Crawfish one and this cancelled one, or if that previous title had been the end of the line for Destination Software. Either way, it would seem that there’s still at least one pre-Crawfish GTA3 prototype out there, somewhere.

In July 2003, several former Crawfish developers began to share details on their unreleased GTA3. This wealth of information described elements which showed up in Digital Eclipse’s GTA Advance, and aspects which did not, such as the controls and multiplayer.

Thanks to Brian we also saved information about the planned story:

“Former Crawfish developer, Dave Murphy explained, “My version was set a few months before the events of GTA3.”. Digital Eclipse’s version also took place prior to the events of GTA3. As for the characters, Murphy explained, “[the game] featured a mix of old characters from the PS2/PC version and new ones based on my colleagues.”. He reiterated, “Many of the characters were based on other members of [Crawfish] staff”. It’s clear that these characters didn’t persist in the Digital Eclipse version.

Murphy continued, “The main character wasn’t the same as the PS2 but he looked kind of similar. He is taken on by the mafia at the beginning of the game, like the original, but stays working for them throughout, as he chases a mafia deserter and a case full of money from the Callahan bridge to the Cedar Ridge Observatory.”. Interestingly, the story is different from Digital Eclipse’s.”

A multiplayer mode for GTA 3 GBA was also planned:

“Multiplayer never made it through to the final version. Although it was planned during the Crawfish development, even Crawfish expected it to be cut. Crawfish’s Dave Murphy explained, “Yes multiplayer was planned but we probably wouldn’t have got it in there, with the time the project running over.”. As for Murphy’s design, he revealed the following: “We decided on four different modes:

+ Liberty City Survivor: Standard death match similar to GTA 1&2 on PC.
+ City Circuit: Racing on pre-set routes round the three islands
+ Car Jack Crazy: Players race to collect a list of vehicles and return them to their garage.
+ Special delivery: All players fight over a package which must be taken to their base.”

In December 2016 PtoPOnline published a video showing an early tech demo / prototype of this cancelled Crawfish version of GTA 3 for GBA, with just a few features and most of the game missing.

Thanks to Ilua Firstov for the contribution!

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Crash Tag Team Racing DS [Cancelled]

Crash Tag Team Racing is a kart-racer developed by Radical Entertainment and published in 2005 by Sierra Entertainment for GameCube, PS2, Xbox and PSP. A Nintendo DS version was also announced, but later cancelled. This unreleased DS version was in development by Sensory Sweep and in 2014 a few images from the prototype were found by Crashmania’s user Bitmap.

As we can read on Wikipedia:

“The main hook of Crash Tag Team Racing is the “clashing” feature found during the racing sections of the game. The player can “clash” with another vehicle by pressing a certain button depending on the gaming platform. The player’s vehicle will merge with a nearby opponent’s vehicle, and the player will then take control of a powerful turret weapon to shoot at other vehicles.”

Crash Tag Team Racing DS would have been a fun multiplayer title for Nintendo’s dual-screen console, but unfortunately it seems Sierra though the game would have bombed because of the competition with Mario Kart DS. Other rumors say the real reason for its cancellation were internal issues between Sierra and Sensory Sweep, but we don’t have any official statement.

Thanks to Andrea for the contribution

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