Saturn

Mythos (DigiFX Interactive) [Cancelled – Playstation, Saturn, PC]

Mythos is a cancelled first person shooter set in ancient Greece that was in development by DigiFX Interactive around 1996 / 1997, planned to be released on PlayStation, Sega Saturn and PC. Players would take the role of an ancient Greek demigod who had to rescue the land from the clutches of Hecate, the evil goddess of the underworld.

As we can read in their original press-release:

  • 15 unique magical weapons to acquire by exploration and combat. Lightning bolts, Magical spears, Fireballs, and transformation spells all at your command!
  • Fully texture mapped 3D rendered world. Randomly changing environments of land, air and sea!
  • 12 unique levels in which to walk or fly around in real time. Each with an awesome boss monster with which to do battle!
  • Mission types include: Search and rescue, total demolition, escort and defend villages.
  • Unique DAY AND NIGHT missions add a totally new unique gaming environment! Real world time simulations start in the day and progress into night!

Unfortunately DigiFX Interactive closed down in late 1997 due to financial issues. When the team was disbanded they were also working on other canned titles such as Mission to Nexus Prime and Kaiju.

Thanks to Celine for the contribution! 

Warrz (Shouei System) [Saturn, Dreamcast – Cancelled]

Warrz (ワーズ) is a cancelled MMORPG that was in development around 1996 – 1999 by Shouei System and directed by Kensuke Mitsuru, initially planned for Sega Saturn and later moved to the Dreamcast. The team conceived Warrz as the harbinger of “next generation” online RPGs on consoles, allowing 5.000 people to connect and play together:

“When the company showed the game at Tokyo Game Show 1997, the game was playable with 16 simultaneous players from three different booths (Shouei, Sega, and Sieg) connected via a telephone line. The game was polygon based, set on a medieval-like world (with the usual magic and swordplay), where players tried to beat an evil lord. Players could choose to be a merchant or to be married to another player, with a kid.”

As in every other online RPGs in Warrz players would level-up their character and collaborate with other players to defeat enemies. The behavior and choices of each player would affect the progress of the game, and the main storyline would change from moment to moment.

It seems Shouei System invested 200 million yen (about 1.800.000 $) to develop the game and set-up 100 servers for its online world. When it was clear the majority of the market was losing interest in the Sega Saturn, the company decided to move the project to the Dreamcast, but without any luck. Shouei System was already in economic difficulties in 1999 and without being able to paid-off their debts they went bankrupt, cancelling Warrz and all of their other projects.

Previews and interviews about the game were published at the time in a few gaming magazines, preserved below.

Images: 

Blades of Rage (Ocean) [Cancelled – Playstation, Saturn]

Blades of Rage is a cancelled helicopter flight-sim that was in development by Ocean Software for the original Playstation and Sega Saturn. The game was set in the near future, when maniacal dictators and random violence prevail in the world. Players would take the role of a pilot / tactician, flying in different missions trying to restore peace.

Each mission would offer various objectives, such as transport jobs and assassinations, with day and night cycles. Six custom choppers would have been able to choose from, each with unique, experimental weapons systems. Blades of Rage would have been played in first person view, so we can speculate gameplay could have been similar to G-Police. A couple of screenshots from the game were published in Gamepro’s Cutting Edge (spring 1996).

Thanks to KFHEWUI for the contribution!

Images: 

Ringman (Zono Inc) [Saturn, Dreamcast – Cancelled]

Ringman is a cancelled third person platform-shooter that was in development by Zono Inc in late 1996, initially planned for Sega Saturn and then for Sega Dreamcast. It would have been one of the first games ever published by Sega of America for their lost version of the Dreamcast. The team behind this project was part of the same one that worked along with Ed Annunziata on Mr. Bones for the Sega Saturn, with names such as William Novak, Simon Hallam and Dave Castelnuovo: thanks to the good relationship between Sega and Zono, they were able to pitch this project for the planned 128 bit console.

While the Dreamcast hardware was still not available in late 1996, Zono interfaced directly with Sega of America producers and the development team that was designing a 3Dfx version of the console, codenamed “Blackbelt”. Sega of America wanted to create something amazing and showed off the planned graphical power of the new 3Dfx chips. The game concept was inspired by the (at the time) newly released Quake by ID Software and Dave remembered how John Carmack was talking about implementing NURBS (“Non-uniform rational Basis spline” a model used in computer graphics for generating and representing curves) in his next rendering engine:  Sega producers wanted Zono to take a look at using NURBS to create this Blackbelt game. The surfaces in each world of Ringman would be curved and even the main character would have had a body composed of different rings, like a colorful spring that would permit it to move around quickly and shoot down enemies.

The team did quite a bit of concepting for the game and got as far as having a very simple prototype world with the protagonist moving around, but unfortunately the project was canned in mid-1997 when Sega of Japan found out about Sega of America’s plan to create another console and shut down the project. As we can read in an article by Douglass C. Perry on Gamasutra:

“In 1996, 3Dfx began building wide acclaim for its powerful graphics chips, one of which ran in arcade machines, including Atari’s San Francisco Rush and Wayne Gretzky’s 3D Hockey. In 1997, 3Dfx went public, announcing its IPO. In the process it revealed the details of its contract with Sega, required by U.S. law. The announcement, however, had undesired effects. It publicly revealed Sega’s blueprint for a new, unannounced console, and angered executives at Sega Japan. Numerous reports indicate Yamamoto’s Blackbelt chipset using the 3Dfx chips was the more powerful of the two. Sega executives, however, still fuming at 3Dfx, severed their contract with the chip maker. (Soon thereafter, 3Dfx sued Sega and both companies settled out of court.) In the end, Sega of Japan selected Sato’s design, codenamed it “Katana,” and announced it publicly on September 7, 1997.”

If this internal issue between the “two Segas” was not enough, Sega of America was also split into the ill-fated SegaSoft and in early 1997, a few of their projects were canned. In late 1996, the CEO and CFO of SegaSoft asked the new company director, Peter Brown, to install a new financial system by April 1997. As told by Brown during an interview with InfoWorld magazine: “as a young company, we needed built-in maturity of process and scalability”: we can assume that games for a not-yet-confirmed new console were not a safe bet for the company stability.

After the cancellation of Ringman, along with their N64 legendary project “Freak Boy”, Zono had to wait until 2000 to release another game: Metal Fatigue, a PC RTS published by Psygnosis. In 1997, SegaSoft stil released a couple of Saturn games, Scud: The Disposable Assassin and Three Dirty Dwarves.

This article was originally published in 2016 in our book “Video Games You Will Never Play” 

Lunatik (Pure Entertainment) [Playstation, Saturn – Cancelled]

Lunatik is a cancelled shoot ‘em up that was in development around 1997 by Pure Entertainment, planned to be published by Eidos for Playstation, Sega Saturn and PC. The team wanted to develop something similar to a 3D Defender, while showcasing their gorgeous (at the time) 3D engine, featuring dozens of enemies on screens, high number of polygons and detailed textures.

Unfortunately gameplay was not as fun as they hoped for: the project needed more time to be improved, but Eidos did not want to invest any more money into it. In the end Pure Entertainment reworked Lunatik as some kind of ATI Graphic Cards tech demo, and this version was released in limited quantities in ATI bundles. We can assume this ATI Edition was much different from what the team had originally conceived for Lunatik. As we can read on Sega-Saturn.net:

“But ultimately the project failed because the original concept (3D Defender) was next to impossible to do really well. We tried many different gameplay mechanisms to make it work, and none were working. Ultimately we ran out of time to make it work and Eidos cancelled the project. The game did get a limited release for the PC. It was bundled with graphics cards as a graphics showcase, but the game itself was poor.”

We were also be able to gather some early PR text shared when Eidos were promoting the game to gaming magazines and websites:

“Little known London-based Pure Entertainment is the developer behind the project. They are striving to update the genre with a true 3D engine, giving the player full freedom of movement within Lunatik’s 3D world. LUNATIK is a 3D Shoot ‘Em Up, drawing on the addictive gameplay aspects of classics such as Defender and Zaxxon for inspiration, and merging them with a uniquely dramatic look and feel, the combination of which has never been seen before.

Drawn with strong Manga cartoon influences, the 3D real-time graphics have paved the way for an unusual ‘above and behind’ perspective, which will be backed by some in-house techno tunes.

Lunatik will sport eighteen levels, a barrage of Armageddon-like weaponry (including a heat seeker), power ups galore, shields, cloaking devices to collect and bosses that appear at designated times throughout the game.

One interesting touch is the boss timer. Each of the 18 levels features a construction area, where the enemies are busy building a boss monster. If you fail to complete the mission before the timer ticks down, the boss monster is built, and immediately comes looking for you. Gameplay is very much a case of fire or be fired upon, and if you do succeed then the nastier and smarter the AI of the bad guys gets.

The game itself has 8 large levels, each one being a man made ‘moon’ orbiting the decaying relic that was once Earth. All out war is occurring between 7 of the Corporation Dominated Moons and one other, Nu Earth 3, an indomitable civilization holding out against everything the Corporate armies can throw at them. Your mission? Quite simply, wipe the floor with the enemy.”

Images:

Footage from the released ATI Tech Demo (Thanks to Liqmatrix!):