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Dark Matter: The Baryon Project [PC, Xbox 360, PS3 – Cancelled]

Dark Matter: The Baryon Project is a cancelled sci-fi shooter RPG that was in development by Pixelcage, planned to be released for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3. The project was quite ambitious for a rather small and obscure team, promising to offer both on-foot first-person shooting and third person spacecraft combat.

In their old – now closed – website, we can read they wanted to create a vast universe in which to freely fly around, inspired by such games as “TIE-Fighter” and “Freespace”. You would fight in space against huge spacecrafts planned to be up to 100 km (62 miles) in size – something that would be considered a massive open-world even by today’s standards (SKYRIM’s world is about 5 km wide), gigantic spaceships-worlds in which you could also break-in to continue attacking your enemies on foot.

“When playing such games in the past, I always wondered how it would be to just ram one of that bigger vessels and just “clear the bridge manually”. With today’s hardware capabilities, we now do a swing on it. – Marco Sobol, former Pixelcage developer”

If this was not enough to hype up the project, they also wrote about “graphic details up to a grade of millimeters!”, “experience speeds of up to 3000 km/h!”, “have a million polygons on your screen – in realtime!” and “can you handle hundreds of enemies?”. For sure the team had big dreams for their first project.

Thanks to an old interview with Pixelcage by Gengamers, we can read that work for the game began in 2003 with a core team of only 7 people, with plans to expand the studio to more than 40 people when they would finally find a publisher.

“Dark Matter is a first person shooter/ space shooter with some RPG elements, such as an inventory and improving skills, but without the flaws of pondering about tables and character sheets. It will feel much like a common FPS when it comes to game controls and speed, but comes with hours of dynamic scripted scenes, a non-linear storyline and state-of-the-art sound effects and music.”

Not only gameplay and huge environments would have been quite ambitious for its time, Dark Matter: The Baryon Project was also planned to have a open-ended storyline with different endings. Pixelcage wanted to have several playable characters appearing in the game and time travelling would have played an important role, featuring morphing aliens and fierce “time warriors”.

If such an immense game like this was not complex enough to develop, the team also wanted to add online multiplayer:

“We will put much efforts in the multiplayer part. There will be several deathmatch and teamplay modes, we even plan to include a mode in which you can play the single player campaign together with your friends. This is generally possible because there is more than one prime character in the game.”

It’s easy to see how Pixelcage were a passionate team with many ambitious ideas for their project, but unfortunately it seems they never found a publisher interested in funding it. In the end they had to abandon Dark Matter: The Baryon Project to work on other, simpler games such as Switchfire (published in 2006) and Jekyll & Hyde (2010), before to close down the studio.

If you know someone who worked on this game and could help us to preserve more screens, videos and details, please let us know!

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Shantae 32 bit [Playstation 1, PC – Cancelled]

After being one of the most forgotten hidden gems for Game Boy Color in 2002, in the last few years Shantae became a cult-series, with 4 main games developed by WayForward Technologies for PC, Wii U, DS, Playstation 4, 3DS, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. While Shantae games are quite popular today, most fans still don’t know that the first, original Shantae project for Playstation 1 and PC was never released.

shantae playstation 1 pc cancelled 32 bit game

Thanks to mpx and Youloute we know that this cancelled 32 bit version of Shantae was in development around 1997 and it was even shown on the official WayForward Technologies website in the late ‘90s:

“It is a time of magic and majesty, where strange beasts roam the land and beautiful creatures wield powerful magic. In this world lives a young girl named Shantae… a troubled genie, born without magic, yet the only individual capable of saving the realm from disaster. Following a century of imprisonment underground, three powerful Jins have broken the seal that restrained them, and now seek to drain the world of the magic it needs to survive. As the magic is stolen, the peaceful creatures that once harbored it are left weak and helpless. Shantae, unaffected by the magic drain, is the only hope for peace. But can she possibly battle the Jins and their legion of monsters relying only on the magic she reclaims along the way? It’s up to you to guide Shantae through perilous traps and dangers beyond your wildest imaginings!”

 

“Shantae is designed for the PC or comparable game system (such as the Sony Playstation). The gameplay is full 3-D, with traditionally (2D) animated characters that move in and out of the rendered backgrounds. With this advantage, players can travel down streets, enter tunnels or battle monsters several times the size of the normal viewing area! Perhaps the best feature of this 3-D system is the totally hands-free camera movement. The view automatically zooms in or out, up or down depending on the proximity of Shantae to other important elements. In addition, the paths Shantae can take often split into different layers of depth, allowing the player to walk on near or far surfaces in order to get around obstructions, crevices, or buildings. Also, enemies can attack from any direction in three-dimensional space in order to hunt Shantae down. It’s the long awaited blend of 2-D’s fluid animation and 3-D’s next generation gameplay rolled into one!”

During an interview with Siliconera, Shantae series director Matt Bozon said:

“We had a polygonal Shantae that could be run around in three distinct gameplay ‘gyms’. […] One was a spline-scroller (like Namco’s Klonoa), one was a free-range 3D like Mario 64, and the last was an isometric 3D platformer. We’ve done a lot of exploration in this area… Shantae was a sprite/3D hybrid for PlayStation and PC, and was free-roaming on the PlayStation 2.”

Shantae’s character design was a bit different in this lost game, compared to her current design:

In 2013 during a live streaming the WayForward team played the cancelled Shantae 2: Risky Revolution for GBA, so we can only hope that one day they could also find a playable version of this cancelled Playstation / PC version to show it to the world. Only a few, small screenshots are currently saved in the gallery below.

HiTech (Illusion Softworks) [PS3, Xbox 360, PC – Cancelled]

HiTech is a cancelled action / stealth game that was planned for Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and PC in 2006 / 2007 by Illusion Softworks (now known as 2K Czech), the team mostly known for the Hidden & Dangerous and Mafia series. The project was still in early development and without a playable prototype when it was canned. Only a concept video was created to pitch the game to publishers, but unfortunately they did not find any company interested and had to cancel it. Instead, they continued working on Mafia II, later released in 2010.

The project was lead by Daniel Vávra, game designer who worked at Illusion Softworks since 1998 on Hidden and Dangerous and Mafia I & II. Vávra shown the HiTech concept footage in 2007 during his presentation titled “How to make a game” and the video was later uploaded on Youtube. From what we can see in this pitch video, HiTech’s gameplay could have been similar to other action / stealth games such as Metal Gear Solid or Splinter Cell, but in a sci-fi setting.

As we can read in the video intro:

“Year 2025. A group of terrorists sabotaged military robot tests inside Adler Group production facility. The robots went out of control and slaughtered AG staff. Terrorists provided media with video footage of this massacre. The facility has been evacuated and the nemesis team has been called in. The objective is to regain control and cover up the incident.”

Thanks to superannuation for the contribution!

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Durango (Radical Entertainment) [Playstation, PC – Cancelled]

Durango is a cancelled vehicle based action adventure that was in development by Radical Entertainment in late ‘90s for the original Playstation and PC. At the time Radical was mostly known for their work on such games as the Independence Day tie-in, the NHL Powerplay series, Blood Lines and Grid Runner, being able to create games that sold enough to keep them alive and in good relationships with their publishers.

During those years many companies were developing their first 3D games and original ideas for new titles were welcome: Radical Entertainment pitched a good number of projects to publishers, and Durango was their concept for an interesting sci-fi adventure / shooter.

Not many details remain after the cancellation of the project, but from what we were able to gather it seems Durango would have been a vehicle based shooter divided into different levels, each with a series of missions to complete. Players would have been able to use different sci-fi vehicles, items and weapons to reach their objectives.

If you know someone who worked on this game and could help to preserve more details, please let us know!

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Deadline (Kando Games) [PS2, Wii – Cancelled]

Deadline is a cancelled game that was in development by Kando Games, initially for Playstation 2 as an action game inspired by Metal Gear Solid and later for Wii as a FPS inspired by Half Life 2. The team was founded in 2003 by former Darkworks developers, and in about 5 years of existence they released Rebel Raiders: Operation Nighthawk (Wii, PS2, PC) and Touch Mechanic (DS).

deadline kando games ps2 cancelled

Deadline was one of the first projects they ever pitched to publishers in 2003 / 2004, by looking at the few screenshots available you can see how it was heavily inspired by MGS. It’s unclear if they ever found a publisher interested in the game (translated from French using Google Translator):

“Kando Games, a small french developer founded notably by former figures Darkworks (Alone in the Dark – The New Nightmare), simultaneously produces two titles for PlayStation 2. Deadline, which its authors hope to make one of the big surprises of E3 2004, is the largest project under construction. What’s wrong tunes Metal Gear Solid do not cheat, Deadline will be a very different kind. Based on the staging increasingly cinematic games today Kando Games hopes to offer players a relatively unique experience in organizing the handling of the title with a script and a set of modular cameras, which would not yet not threaten maneuverability, through a process they jealously kept secret for the moment. Basically, the game is truly a film (by virtue of its scenes and framing) playable. Hopefully they will take their goals and to come back in that capacity in a few months for a more successful and practical concept so special.”

As far as we know Deadline for PS2 was never shown at E3 2004 and was later cancelled. Kando Game’s first released game was then Rebel Raiders in 2006 and only in late 2007 Deadline reappeared again, this time as a first person shooter announced for Wii.

Unfortunately Kando Games only released a few tiny screenshots for the Wii version of Deadline, but by looking at those gamers noticed it was quite similar to Half Life 2. Deadline Wii also vanished soon after its initial announcement and was never shown again before its cancellation.

As of November 2017 Kando Games’ website is still online, listing Deadline, another cancelled Wii project titled “Symphonic Orchestra” and an unreleased flying combat sim for PS2 and PC titled “Les Chevaliers du Ciel”. Their latest game was published almost 9 years ago, so we can assume the studio doesn’t exist anymore or they only work as support for other companies. We tried to get in contact with former Kando Games developers but without luck.

If you know someone who worked on Deadline and could help to preserve more screenshots or videos, please let us know!

Thanks to Dan for the contribution!

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