Nintendo

Sea Dog (Mariner’s Run) [NES – Cancelled]

Sea Dog (シードッグ) also known as Mariner’s Run is a cancelled RPG / submarine simulation / Shoot ‘em up game planned to be published for NES / Famicom by Vic Tokai. A couple of screenshots were found in old gaming magazines by japanes fans and shared on Twitter, while some details were published online in a japanese website:

“Although gameplay is not clear on screenshots, it seems Sea Dog was going to be a vertical-scrolling submarine shoot ‘em up with some RPG elements. Between deep-sea exploration and combats you would be able to rise to the sea level and stop at nearby ports. You probably could repair your damaged submarine and buy new weapons.”

We could imagine Sea Dog somehow similar to cult-classic Metal Max, but with real-time underwater shoot ‘em up combat instead than post-apocalypse turn-based combat around desert cities. By looking at the few screenshots available we can assume you would have been able to freely explore the ocean underwater, while fighting enemy submarines and hunting down bosses, then reaching nearby islands to help NPCs and upgrade your submarine. The title of the game was probably inspired by the USS Sea Dog, a Balao-class submarine in the United States Navy.

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Ion Runner [Cancelled – GameCube, PS2, Xbox, PC]

Ion Runner is a cancelled racing / on-rail shooter game that was in development around 20022003 by Attention to Detail, the team mostly known for such titles as Rollcage, Lego Racers 2 and Drome Racers. The project was planned to be released for GameCube, Playstation 2, Xbox and PC, but unfortunately the team did not find a publisher interested in supporting it.

Some details about this lost game was shared online by former developers, who started working on Ion Runner after the cancellation of Lego Racer 4:

“A more ambitious project, Lego Racers 4, was canned after substantial development effort. This was technically interesting as the design called for streaming of the entire game world from DVD, allowing much larger and more intricate play area than earlier Lego games, or most console titles at the time. The team involved went on to work on Ion Runner […]

Two complete levels of Ion Runner were programmed and demonstrated to many publishers, but there was no time to sign a deal before venture capitalists 3I pulled the plug on the company in August 2003.

Since then the demos have been seen by many in the industry who were surprised that the project was never finished – but the price, calculated to refloat the group as well as to cover the development costs, meant any deal on this new IP was hard to arrange.”

It seems the game initially started as a classic 3D racing – on rail shooter, in which players would drive their overbike through different levels while shooting down enemies. After a while the team toyed with a more open adventure-alike gameplay, possibly with HUB world to explore, NPCs to talk to and other action-adventure mechanics. As far as we know, not much was done on this version before the cancellation.

In the end with no more funds to keep the studio alive, Attention to Detail had to close down for liquidation:

“UK developer ATD (Attention to Detail) went into liquidation last Thursday, it has been revealed. While most of the country’s attention was directed at the ECTS trade show approximately 50 staff was laid off after a failure to sign the developer’s Ion Runner title.”

If you know someone who worked on the game and may have saved footage or more screenshots, please let us know!

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Fang of Alnam (no Kiba) [Cancelled – SNES, Super Famicom]

Fang of Alnam (アルナムの牙~獣族十二神徒伝説~, Alnam no Kiba: Shouzoku Juunishin-to Densetsu) is a cancelled 16-bit RPG that was in development by forgotten japanese team Right Stuff, planned to be released in 1996 for Super Famicom (SNES). This project could have been a port of “Alnam no Kiba”, an obscure RPG released in 1994 for PC-Engine and later reworked as a Visual Novel for the original Playstation in 1996.

By comparing screenshots from the cancelled SNES version to images / videos from the PC-Engine version it looks like the game was changed a lot, with very different sprites. While it still looks like a traditional RPG (and not a Visual Novel like the PS1 edition), we could assume that this lost Super Famicom version would also have some differences compared to the PC Engine edition.

Celine found a screenshot of the SNES version in Famitsu magazine (issue 363) and some more details on the personal blog of a japanese collector / former developer (?) who owns an early prototype of the game (translated with Google translate):

“This time, I will introduce Arnam’s fang, which was developed by Right Stuff but has been discontinued. Since this ROM is a very early version, there is no opening, no conversation with NPC, and almost no menu is created.

There is only one MAP and you cannot leave this town. Although it is judged to be an obstacle for the time being, it is suspicious and you can dig into buildings and trees. NPC has several characters in the MAP but cannot speak at all. I can’t enter the building. You can just walk around the town.

Only the menu can be displayed with the Y button. The item is item equipment beast record record method break state setting. Beasting and breaks cannot be used, and will freeze when selected. Most of the items are left unimplemented and the equipment is displayed, but you can not change the equipment.

I don’t remember any magazines at that time, but I may have decided to cancel the development quite early. And the cart name of this ROM is “DEATH BRADE”. Often, the development ROM often uses the ROM name that was previously developed. SFC’s Death Brade is an IMAX and DECO game.

Did you get involved = Light Staff”

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Stuntpigs [GameCube – Cancelled]

Stuntpigs is a cancelled arcade racing / adventure game that was in development by M4 Ltd (mostly known for Resident Evil Gaiden on GB) for Nintendo GameCube. Players would drive around the city to perform crazy stunts, collect bonuses and find the best way to show-off their stunt-driver skills. While the game was never officially announced, in 2014 some collectors found related documents in a M4 cd / dvd:

“Did you know stunts performed in Hollywood blockbuster movies are actually done by pigs? Of course you’ve never seen any Stuntpigs, but just occasionally if you look really closely you might just see a trotter or a curly tail pop into shot. Join the Stuntpigs and carve a stylish, precision timed path of mayhem and destruction through the most expensive movie sets ever built, establishing your crew as the top hogs of Hollywood. Your movie’s success is determined entirely through the extravagance of its stunts, the more stylish and closer your stunts are to near death experience the better the box office results.”

We can also read some details on Stuntpigs in an old article on the Hardcore Gaming 101 blog and in a page on NowGamer:

“Sadly no original M4 titles made it to the shelves. Bounty Hunter, Space Cadets and Stuntpigs were all games we really wanted to bring to market. The later two are still held by us in Stuntpigs Ltd a dormant company. Who knows maybe one day they will rise.”

“Bounty Hunter was in production when I joined M4 and it really was stunning. As for Stuntpigs – the best game never made. I think it was just ahead of its time… Space Cadets though, that was actually completed and it was a really good game. It was different though and it really worked best multi-player. It’s typical – generally publishers don’t like to risk money on original stuff, especially when there’s cartridges to pay for.”

“Kieron agrees: “Stuntpigs had frantic gameplay, some dark humour and loads of destruction. Way ahead of its time and beyond the scope of publishers  to realise. Shame!” Although the team disbanded it’s clear they had a lot of talent – Gaiden is testament to this – and it’s a shame M4 was never given a fair shot.”

As you can see from the available footage, the game somehow looked like a mix between Crazy Taxi and Simpsons’ Road Rage, with cartoony graphics and fun, arcadey gameplay. It could have been a nice addition to the GameCube library. We hope one day a former M4 developer could find a playable prototype from their lost game and share it online.

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Earthbound (Mother) [GameCube – Cancelled]

In 2003 Baten Kaitos director Yasuyuki Honne proposed to Nintendo a new Mother / Earthbound RPG for GameCube, but in the end the game was cancelled. This project was pitched in summer 2003, just a few months before the release of Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean, possibly to become their following collaboration between Nintendo, Monolith Soft, tri-Crescendo and Namco.

While Earthbound for GameCube was never officially announced, in July 2019 Honne shown a couple images from their pitch-document on Twitter:

As you can see the game was imagined in a quirky felt-made diorama graphic style, that would have been somewhat similar to classic Earthbound promotional clay models. As translated by Nintendo Everything:

“I’m looking forward to the forthcoming book about Iwata-san. I met both Iwata-san and Itoi-san at the same time – it was back in 2003 when there were talks between Namco and Nintendo about a GameCube version of Mother. I was happy to come up with a visual concept, and when I went to Aoyama Iwata-san was also present. Itoi-san didn’t seem very interested; he felt it was a little strange, and yet we continued talks. Itoi-san said, ‘I wonder if Iwata-kun has any ideas?’ He seemed flabbergasted, he had an aura of something akin to ‘Aw jeez.’ In the end nothing came of it, but Itoi-san enjoyed the felt-like recreations of 1980’s America that I had come up with. Here are some images that I didn’t think I’d show off more than once. Ah, memories of the summer of 2003.”

Unfortunately it seems after the cancellation of Mother 3 for Nintendo 64, they were quite cautious about working on a new 3D chapter. 3 years later, Nintendo published Mother 3 on GBA and Yasuyuki Honne’s Baten Kaitos prequel (Baten Kaitos Origins) on GameCube.

By knowing what Monolith Soft were able to achieve with their RPG series, we can only imagine how much we lost with the cancellation of this “Earthbound GameCube” project. The Baten Kaitos team also had a third Baten Kaitos in development that was later canned, but they successfully released other beloved games such as Soma Bringer, Disaster: Day of Crisis and the Xenoblade Chronicles series.

You can take a look at the Sedna city in Baten Kaitos Origins (a strange world made of clay) to imagine how Earthbound Gamecube could have been like.