Nintendo

Boo Haunt (Retro Studios) [Nintendo DS – Cancelled Concept]

In May 2020 Shinesparkers published a series of links to the online portfolio of Sammy Hall, former Retro Studios contract artist who worked on concept art for a cancelled Boo game pitched by the company for Nintendo DS. Possibly known as the “Haunt” project, in this adventure players would take the role of a young Boo, freshly graduated in the Haunt university.

In these images you can see a Boo professor teaching his students about a magical cauldron and our Boo protagonist would have been chosen to be dipped into it for some reasons. We speculate that by being soaked in the cauldron, the young Boo would have somehow received new powers. Concept art shows this Boo in different poses, as if it could be stretched and moved around like in Kirby: Canvas Curse.

These drawings were noted as being used for Retro Studios’ Boo project between 2006 and 2007 (the same artist also worked on Metroid Prime 3: Corruption and Donkey Kong Country Returns), just a year after Nintendo released Canvas Curse. As we can read on their original page:

“Cancelled Boo project (2006 – 2007). Loads of Boo sketches in very very unfamiliar territory. Deep in debt at Haunt University. Powers & abilities. Broomies. Possession powers. Spiders spider boss variations. Tiny stuff for tiny handheld resolutions.”

We can also speculate the witches seen in these images are the “Broomies” (possibly the main enemies of the game, as seen in one of the drawings in which Boo fight against one of them like in a shoot ’em up) and Boo would had some kind of “Possession powers” to gather new powers & abilities.

After these images were found by fans and gaming journalists, the artist just deleted his whole ArtStation account. IGN was able to get in contact with him, asking about this Boo project and the cancelled Zelda – Sheik Wii game:

“Speaking to IGN, ex-Retro Studios concept artist Sammy Hall explained that both games were in pre-production when cancelled, and “I doubt many at Nintendo proper saw much of any of this stuff. I was mostly put into a room like Milton from Office Space and tasked to brainstorm between other projects.”

According to Hall, the ideas for both games came from ex-Retro leads Mark Pacini, Todd Keller and Kynan Pearson, but were “cancelled the week they went to create their other studios.”

We’d like to preserve these fascinating Boo drawings in the gallery below, to remember the existence of this lost video game. If you saved more concept art from Retro Studios’ Boo project that are missing from this page, please let us know in the comments below or by email!

Thanks to AvenPlainstrider for the contribution!

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High Heat Major League Baseball 2002 [Game Boy Color – Cancelled]

High Heat Major League Baseball 2002 is a cancelled sport game that would have been published by The 3DO Company for Game Boy Color. While other versions of the game were released in 2001 for PC, Game Boy Advance, Playstation and PS2, this GBC edition was announced but then never released by the company. As we can read in their old website:

“Bring the best Major League action to the road! Whether you prefer to play a single game, an entire season with playoffs, or just want to whack the ball out of the park in the Home Run Derby, this game’s got it!

  • All 30 Major League Baseball teams
  • Actual updated 2001 teams and player rosters
  • 5 different modes of play – Batting Practice, Exhibition, Season, Playoffs, and Home Run Derby
  • Strike out batters with multiple pitch types
  • Use the auto-fielding option for easy play

Maybe one day someone will leak a ROM of this canned port?

Thanks to Nemkell for the contribution!

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Legend of Zelda: Sheik (Retro Studios) [Wii – Cancelled Concept]

In May 2020 Shinesparkers published a series of links to the online portfolio of Sammy Hall, former Retro Studios contract artist who worked on concept art for a cancelled Zelda game based on the Sheika tribe. This unreleased, darker view on the Zelda timeline would possibly explore what happened to the last male Sheik after Ocarina of Time’s “Bad Ending” in which Link does not succeed.

These drawings were noted as being used for pre-production of Retro Studios’ Sheik Zelda project between 2005 and 2008 (the same artist also worked on Metroid Prime 3: Corruption and Donkey Kong Country Returns), so we can assume it could have been planned to be released on Nintendo Wii or WiiU. As we can read on their original page:

“Old storage hard-drive diving! (2005 – 2008) More stuff from a long lost cancelled Zelda (Sheik) action/jrpg that never went beyond pre-production. Really want to return to these some day to finish a few. Zelda games have wacky weird stuff, and this game was setting out to be ten times weirder.”

“Fun pre-pre-pre-production origin story of the Master Sword. Within the bad ending of “Ocarina of Time” exploring the last male Sheik’s (after a genocidal ethnic-cleansing) journey transforming into the Master Sword. All while the Dark Gerudo are giving their 100 year birth to Gannon.”

After these images were found by fans and gaming journalists, the artist just deleted his whole ArtStation account. IGN was able to get in contact with him, asking about this Zelda project and another canned Nintendo DS Boo game:

“Speaking to IGN, ex-Retro Studios concept artist Sammy Hall explained that both games were in pre-production when cancelled, and “I doubt many at Nintendo proper saw much of any of this stuff. I was mostly put into a room like Milton from Office Space and tasked to brainstorm between other projects.”

According to Hall, the ideas for both games came from ex-Retro leads Mark Pacini, Todd Keller and Kynan Pearson, but were “cancelled the week they went to create their other studios.”

Around 2008 – 2009 many video game websites published rumors about a Retro Studios Zelda game featuring Sheik, so it seems those rumors were true but the project was already cancelled at the time.

Unfortunately today some of these fascinating Zelda artworks seem to have been lost, as other websites did not save them all. We’d like to preserve them in the gallery below, to remember the existence of this lost video game. If you saved concept art from Retro Studios’ Zelda that are missing from this page, please let us know in the comments below or by email!

Thanks to AvenPlainstrider for the contribution!

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Aquaria (Lobotomy Software) [Nintendo 64, Playstation – Cancelled]

Aquaria is a cancelled action adventure that was in development by Lobotomy Software for Nintendo 64 and Playstation. It was described as having a feeling similar to SEGA’s Nights Into Dreams, but underwater and with full 3D levels to explore in every direction. If you played Exhumed / PowerSlave on Saturn or Playstation, you probably remember it was quite good for its time: a Metroidvania adventure in first person view, before Metroid Prime even existed. Aquaria could have been another cult-hit by the same team, but unfortunately we never got the chance to see more from the project. It was just mentioned in old gaming magazines, such as in GameFan Magazine Issue 5:

“Currently Lobotomy is working on both games, with the company’s 20-or-so staff split roughly down the middle on each project. They have a number of games on the back burner, including PowerSlave 2 (a 3rd person Tomb Raider style adventure starring a young King Ramses), Aquaria (like Nights underwater, but with full 3D control) and a PC strategy game called Gothic. They are currently in the process of applying to become and N64 developer (Aquaria will be their first N64 title) and never miss the opportunity to snatch a quick game of Death Tank during lunch breaks.”

Computer & Video Games Issue 192:

“Lobotomy’s first N64 game, Aquaria already looks fantastic. The graphics run at 60fps and are apparently some  of the best seen. Enix are converting the game to PlayStation.”

C&VG probably confused Aquaria with Aqua Prophecy or another cancelled Enix game for Playstation. Thanks to our friend Ross Sillifant in 2015 we published an interview with Brian McNeely (former Lobotomy Software developer), who shared some memories about their work on Aquaria:

“We had a playable demo of Aquaria up and running on PlayStation. It was a free roaming third person underwater adventure game where you controlled an alien merman character.  The Nights comparison ties into how fluid the controls were.  You could do various dolphin-like acrobatics to maneuver through the environment.   In addition to the playable demo I had the majority of the design pretty much completed but when the company began to close its doors we had to stop development.  At one point we were contacted by Sega to possibly make the next Ecco the Dolphin game and we sent them our Aquaria prototype, but that never panned out.  If you’ve ever played Ecco the Dolphin Defender of the Future you can get a pretty good idea for how the core character controls and camera system for Aquaria were designed.”

In 1998 Lobotomy’s talented developers were acquired by Crave Entertainment and the team was renamed to Lobotomy Studios, to work on a Caesar’s Palace game for the Nintendo 64, but after a year of development the game was postponed and eventually cancelled. As we can read on Wikipedia, at that point Lobotomy Studios was closed and employees were let go or given the option to be relocated to another position at Crave Entertainment.

We hope one day someone could find screenshots, footage or even the playable Aquaria prototype: it would be great to preserve more documents of this lost video game.

Thanks to Celine and Ross Sillifant for the contributions!

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Pyross (American Sammy) [NES – Cancelled]

Pyross is a cancelled action platformer based on the original Wardner / Pyros arcade game, which would have been published by American Sammy Corporation for the NES. While a 8-Bit version of Wardner was released for the Famicom Disk System in Japan, it was a different game from this canned one. Pyross was shown a few times in gaming magazines previews (such as in EGM 13), its american box-art was already designed and they even had an advertisement flyer ready, but in the end the game just vanished forever:

Princess Pudding has been captured, and it’s up to the dashing prince to rescue her. But this is no mere walk in the woods! He must challenge hordes of vile creatures, avoid deadly traps, and master the weapons of fire before time runs out! Shall the beloved princess be crystalized by the forces of darkness, or will Ala Mode make things too hot for evil to handle?”

We can only hope one day a prototype of this canned NES version of Pyross could be found by someone and preserved online.

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