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Naughty Dog’s Lost Sci-Fi Game (Savage Starlight?) [PS3 – Cancelled]

Today Naughty Dog is mostly loved for their modern-world adventures, such as the Uncharted and The Last of Us Series, but during the PS2 generation they were mostly known for their Fantasy Sci-Fi series: Jak and Daxter. It’s easy to see how they would have considered another futuristic project when they moved development to the Playstation 3 and while a Jack & Daxter 4 was pitched, they also planned a different, more mature Sci-Fi adventure

This cancelled untitled Sci-Fi game was revealed by them in their “Naughty Dog’s 30th Anniversaryart book (you can buy it on Amazon UK, Amazon USA or Amazon IT) with a few details

“We explored the idea of doing a science fiction game following the Jak and Daxter franchise, complete with androids, robots, and futuristic weapons. The sci-fi game was going to be centered around a city that had been built up around a giant hole in the ground. No one knew exactly what created the hole, but the adventure would have the player exploring the depths.”

In the end Naughty Dog worked on Uncharted instead and it became such a huge success to shape up their following projects and sequels. There are some rumors about a possible resurrection of their Sci-Fi concept, thanks to an interview by Gamecrate with Naughty Dog game director Bruce Straley:

“Yeah, I’m not gonna drop hints to what it is, because who knows, it might actually happen. There’s one image in there that’s still in the back of my mind that I’d like to make a game out of. There’s one image. I’m just letting you know that it’s very possible. There’s still a story, there’s some great game ideas, there’s a lot of really cool stuff in the thing, like I think it’d be really cool to see if Naughty Dog could do this game. I don’t think anybody else could do this game like Naughty Dog could do this game. It’s one image.”

Some people relate this lost Sci-Fi pitch with another Sci-Fi story titled “Savage Starlight”, a fictional comic book series that Naughty Dog put into The Last of Us as collectible items. While the name “Savage Starlight” is mostly used by fans to indicate ND’s future, possible science-fiction game, it seems the plot of the comics is quite different from what is know of their cancelled PS3 project

“Set in the year 2186, the plot of Savage Starlight centers around Dr. Daniela Star’s adventures in space. She discovers a method of traveling faster than light via a jump drive, and soon finds that a group of hostile extraterrestrial known as the Travelers are threatening mankind. “

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Project Dropship [Xbox 360, PS3 – Cancelled]

If you are a long-time fan of Square you may have read about this lost game before. Project Dropship was a canceled videogame developed by Square Enix Los Angeles and it would have been their first game. It was going to be a frantic but strategic shooter with a top down view and a strong coop multiplayer component.

It was 2008: Square Enix decided to open a new studio to test new technologies and develop digital-only, small-budget videogames. Their LA team was composed by around 10 or 20 developers and the director was Fumiaki Shiraishi, already know for his work on Crystal Chronicles: my Life as a King and Final Fantasy XI Online. In an interview with Gamasutra Shiraishi talked about their idea for the studio:

“We do like to have one full-size project if possible, and then have the downloadables on the side. We’re still in the process of trying to figure out what the first title will be. Right now we’re still in the very early phase of testing out gameplay stuff and testing out the technology. The scope of the game, and how it’s going to be sold, is going to come a little bit later.”

Even Dave Hoffman, Director of Business Development, declared to Siliconera that they were not ready to announce anything and for 3 years the Square LA studio didn’t release any videogame or announcement

2011 was a difficult year for Square Enix: in March they reported a loss in their last fiscal year, in part due to canceled videogames. Nothing was ever announced for their Los Angeles Studio until it was suddenly closed. Square Enix didn’t announce any reason for the closure, but  thanks to Siliconera, Final Fantasy Universe and some leaked screenshots we know that the studio was working on a project titled “Dropship

Dropship was in development for PS3 and Xbox 360 using Gamebryo, a 3D Engine created by Numerical Design Limited and later licensed by Square Enix in 2009. In the game you had to fight against large groups of enemies to proceed in the area, while using shields and rocks to plan attack or defense strategies. By looking at the video and screenshots leaked online it’s clear that Dropship had a strong focus on its coop mode, with up to 4 players at the same time

The game was set in a sci-fi-western world, featuring snowy, rocky areas and abandoned factories. You could use guns or lasers and choose between different characters, such as an old man dressed as a cowboy with a pirate hat and a girl with pink hair and goggles. Main enemies in the game were some kind of aliens, strange animals and monsters: we can notice a flying white fish and a huge creature similar to a snake

Dropship was probably cancelled in March 2011 even if it was in an advanced state of development. After the closure of the studio Shiraishi worked for other software houses and today he is Director of Game Development at GungHo Online Entertainment America.

Article by Gin

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Justice for Hire (Midway) [Playstation – Cancelled]

Justice for Hire is a cancelled action adventure / survival horror game that was in development by Big Ape Productions, planned to be published by Midway for the original Playstation. BAP was a small studio based in Novato (CA), that worked on such games as Herc’s Adventures, Gauntlet: Dark Legacy, The Simpsons Wrestling and Celebrity Deathmatch. Sometime in late ’90s – early ’00s they got hired by Midway to develop Justice for Hire, but the project was never officially announced and there are no details about how it would have been played.

Only a few screenshots are saved in the gallery below, to remember the existence of this lost game. Justice for Hire featured pre-rendered backgrounds and was set in a modern-day city, exploring worn-down apartments and basements. We can speculate the game could have been similar to Resident Evil or Fear Effect.

In 2003 Big Ape Productions closed down, after most of their projects did not sell as expected by publishers. We tried many times to get in contact with former BAP developers, but with no luck. If you know someone who worked on Justice for Hire and could help us to preserve more details about the game, please let us know!

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Hurikàn (EA) [Xbox 360, PS3 – Cancelled]

Hurikàn is a cancelled action adventure in development by Electronic Arts in 2006, planned to be released for Xbox 360 and PS3. The project was never officially announced by EA and we found out about its existence thanks to concept art leaked online in 2010.

As far as we know Hurikàn was in development by an internal team at EA, and it was one of many pitches for new projects conceived in those years. Other unreleased ideas were Gun Head, a Road Rash reboot and a game based on Oliver Twist.

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Hurikàn was set in a weather-beaten island, where a mysterious company was working on top-secret researches. Something went wrong during the experiments (maybe a hurricane hit the island?) and their research center was attacked by robots gone haywire, ocean monsters and… even the weather? Artificially intelligent and remote-controlled machines played a prominent role in the game: some of them could help players and NPCs (for example by saving survivors), while others could be aggressive. We imagine this could have been something like a mix between Jurassic Park and Vanquish.

Unfortunately we don’t know anything else about it and the project was quietly canned in early development. From the few images we preserved in the gallery below, we can just say that Hurikàn could have been quite the cool adventure.

If you know someone who worked on this lost game, please let us know.

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Chi Yong [Playstation – Cancelled]

Chi Yong is a cancelled fighting game in development by Lightspeed Productions for the original Playstation in 1996. This is quite an obscure and forgotten project: we can’t even find any detail about its developers. Chi Yong was officially announced in a few websites and gaming magazines in late 1996. It was meant to be a 4 players fighting game game featuring digitized actors, similar to Mortal Kombat. Some of the actors were even the same.

As we can read in an old press release:

MK Actors to Star in New Fighting Game

Martial arts actors used in the Mortal Kombat series are being digitised again for forthcoming title Chi Yong. HoSang Pak, Daniel Pesina, Katalin Zamier, Phillip Ahn and Liz Malecki all featured in various Mortal Kombat incarnations. They have been picked to show off their martial arts prowess for Lightspeed Productions forthcoming beat-’em up.

Chi Yong (a working title which means ‘spirit of the dragon’) is a four-play multi-tap fighting game for PlayStation. Right now it’s about 20 per cent complete and should be available by the end of this year. A spokesperson for the company commented: “Most of the actors digitized are black belts in martial arts. We feel that using real martial artists with experience gives realism and authenticity to the fighting game.”

The story gets even weirder when you find out that the same actors were already planned to be featured in “Thea Realm Fighters”, a cancelled 1 VS 1 fighting game in development by High Voltage Software for the Atari Jaguar (later leaked online). There’s even a TRF promotional poster given away at E3 1995 in which we can read “ⓒ Lightspeed Productions” written in the bottom-left. We don’t know what kind of relationship High Voltage Software had with Lightspeed Productions. We can’t find any more details about who Lightspeed Productions were or what happened to them.

It seems TRF was almost complete in 1996 when Atari cancelled it alongside other upcoming Jaguar projects. We can speculate that its assets (such as the digitized actors) were kept by Lightspeed Productions to develop Chi Yong for Playstation. While the two games used the same characters, Chi Yong was expanded to become a 4 players fighting game, a nice addition for a Mortal Kombat clone.

If you know someone who worked at Lightspeed Productions, please let us know!

Thanks to eSpy for the contribution!

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