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Marvel 2099 : One Nation Under Doom [PC, PSX – Cancelled]

Marvel 2099: One Nation Under Doom is a cancelled 2D sidescroller action game that was in development by Saffire for the original Playstation and the PC. The project would have been published by Mindscape in 1996, but the company decided to stop publishing some of their console titles and One Nation Under Doom was one of them. After Marvel 2099 was canned, Saffire started to develop Bio F.R.E.A.K.S. and Rampage World Tour for the Nintendo 64. It was based on the imprint of the same name.

As we can read on Wikipedia, by May 1996 CD-ROM and VHS video demos of Marvel 2099 were being shipped to game magazines for pre-release reviews, along with a one-page color brochure. The first public demo was shown at the E3 1996 show, and featured a playable single level of the Punisher 2099 fighting SHIELD troops, and also opening menus and some cut scenes. Electronic Gaming Monthly had two quarter-page previews of the game, showing grainy shots of actual gameplay, and a group shot of the player characters. At the 1996 San Diego Comicon, the Mindscape booth handed out brochures, and raffled off One Nation Under Doom pins, shirts, and posters. Some attendees were even allowed to play the demo at the booth, although no copies of the demo were distributed.

Years after its cancellation, Executive Producer Mark Flitman shared some details about the game in an interview:

D.2099: How did Mindscape first become involved with producing/developing a game based on Marvel’s 2099 characters?

M.F.: Prior to working at Mindscape, I was a Producer at Acclaim Entertainment in New York. At Acclaim, I was responsible for multiple titles including all the Marvel titles. I developed a great relationship with Marvel so when I went to Mindscape I kept in touch with them. I knew that Acclaim had a contract with Marvel that tied up every Marvel property for video games. In those days, they didn’t separate the characters into individual properties. I really wanted to work on another Marvel title and asked if they had anything that was not included in the Acclaim contract. Their first response was no, but then they found Marvel 2099. They told me it was available and sent me some of the comic books to check it out. I could not believe my luck! A Marvel property that included dozens of Marvel characters, it was in the future and the characters looked different, but it was full of recognizable Marvel characters (some looked ever cooler in the future!) and the main villain, Dr. Doom was awesome.

I convinced Mindscape that this was too good to pass up and I worked with Marvel and Mindscape management to negotiate a deal. The deal was more than reasonable and included the rights to do the game on PC CD-ROM, Playstation, Sega Saturn and 3DO.

D.2099: Do you recall at what stage the game was at when it was cancelled? 50% done? More? Less?

M.F.: Less than 50%

D.2099: Do you think….had the game been finished…that it would have been a good game?

M.F.: Absolutely!! We knew from the start that there was concern that the game was a side-scroller, but so was Mario! With our development schedule and budget we decided it was the best use of our time and talent to create characters and animation that looked better than any other comic book title, but it was too much of an undertaking to do all the characters in a fully free 3D environment. We wanted the character art to blow you away, so instead of doing a less than stellar job in a 3D environment, we decided to do a superior job in a 2D environment. We did plan to have some levels moving vertically and not horizontally. We also wanted to make sure that there were “branches” in the game play where the player had to choose which path to go down. This would allow replay-ability because you could complete the game without going everywhere. AND we were creating some incredible cinematic sequences to introduce characters or as visual rewards for completing levels. One cinematic sequence that was completed was Hulk 2099 coming down a ladder into an underground sewer system and running through a large pipe towards the player.

We can only hope that one of these playable demos could be found and shared with the community in the future.

Thanks to Celine for the contribution!

Article updated by Daniel Nicaise

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Armageddon (Boanerges Studios) [X360 PS3 PC – Cancelled]

Armageddon is a canceled Christian futuristic squad-based First-Person Shooter developed by Boanerges Studios and published by Atari from 2005 to 2006, for the PC, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 systems.

As we can read on the now-defunct Boanerges website, Armageddon was:

“A story-driven multiplayer FPS set in the end times. In the near-future much of the world unites under a multi-national government. This New Age marks the end of man’s separatist ways, and anyone who is unwilling to surrender their heritage for the greater good is an outlaw, to be systemically hunted down and exterminated.”

“Choose to join the rebellion and fight the enemy against all odds, or join the world’s most lethal military machine as it sets out to eradicate the opposition from the face of the planet. Battles occur in real-world locations, with fast-paced customizable vehicle combat and friendly squad Artificial Intelligence. A random sub-mission system provides a unique experience every time a map is played, framing online and offline gameplay rich with content and impressive level design.”

In September 2005, Gamecloud interviewed Garland Wong, one of the co-founders of Boanerges, about what the game was supposed to be:

“The game takes place in a time known as the End of Days. A great leader known as the Antichrist will emerge and form a treaty with Israel. The world will think the Antichrist is a good person but 3 1/2 years into this treaty he will break the covenant with Israel and declare himself to be God. He will force people to worship him by taking the mark of 666. You won’t be able to buy food or work or function in his society if you don’t take the mark. The Christians and Jews will work together to survive this time.”

“There will be various different levels that have religious significance. Some of the levels include Jerusalem, The Vatican City, Petra, and Westminster Abbey. Standard Military vehicles such as tanks, trucks, assault dune buggies will be part of it, also, with our customizable vehicles system, standard civilian vehicles can be made into weapons. There will be two teams, you can play as a Christian/Jew or as the Antichrist, and for the multiplayer, you will be able to play 32 players per server and up to 64 total including NPC.”

“Armageddon has three main unique game play features. The first is customizable vehicles in a FPS game. You will be able to retrovit civilian and military vehicles with various weapons. These vehicles retrofitted with weapons will also react very realistic physics since we are utilizing Ageia’s PhysX API and this will take advantage of the hardware accelleration. The second is squad based AI. You will be able command a bunch of AI squad members and give them commands. You can then cycle through the HUD and determine if any of your squad mates need help and take over there position. This is pretty cool for example you send one of your squad mates to complete a mission. You cycle through the camera and see he is being badly hurt or may need more “intelligence”. You can then take his place to complete the mission and he will take your place. The third is random story events. Armageddon is similar to Battlefield 2 in which you need to capture and hold control points to gather resources. However, Armageddon will inject random objectives throughout the map that are mutually opposing. For example, one random store event will be a great earthquake as unearthed the ark of the covenant. The Christian’s teams goal will be retrieve it while the Antichrist team will also be given the mission to capture it. These random store events have the side effect of playing a level different everytime so it will be less stale.”

Using the Reality Engine, the developers planned to implement next generation features such as dynamic effects like shadowing and lighting alongside realistic physics. Others features included Top-Down “Commander” view with real-time switching between squad members, special abilities such as placeable turrets and upgradeable armor.

Jesse Rapczak, the other co-founder at Boanerges, explained, on his personal website, why the game was eventually canceled:

“I was responsible for pitching the game to publishers, though many shied away due to the controversial nature of the story (a sci-fi future based on the Book of Revelation). Armageddon was in development for a year and was strongly considered by Electronic Arts, Vivendi Universal Games, and Sony Online Entertainment before it was finally picked up by Atari. Unfortunately, the game was cancelled a few months later when the publisher’s financial situation bottomed out.”

Armageddon was potentially going to be the first AAA Christian First-Person Shooter video game in the industry, even if we saw years before titles such as Super 3D Noah’s Ark, The War in Heaven, Saints of Virtue and Catechumen.

Article updated by Daniel Nicaise

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White Fear (Inuits) [PS2/PC – Cancelled]

White Fear, later renamed Inuits, is a canceled action-adventure game developed by Widescreen Games, first published by Microïds, then by Playlogic Entertainment, from 2002 to 2004 for PC and Playstation 2.

Announced in the spring of 2002 for a release initially scheduled for November of the same year, White Fear tells us the story of Iru, a young shaman who has to help the inhabitants of a polar village. An evil witch named Sukko not only destroyed their homes and settled the area with her servants, but also cast a terrible curse on them: turning them into monsters of ice. In addition to various melee weapons, Iru would also have magical powers taught by four spirits to take on a total of 21 various monsters such as trolls and goblins through diverse environments across four worlds. As the game progressed, Iru was called upon to increase his powers through various items found throughout the adventure. Futher information can be read on Gamespot:

The game is set in a 3D fantasy world filled with frozen wilderness and magic. It will include fast-paced combat as well as puzzle-driven adventure elements.

As we can read on Queutimes.com, it seems that Microïds made the decision to let go the project in 2004 after a certain number of postponements, and left the hand to Playlogic which canceled the game very quickly, not without having to change the name in the process. No statements were made about why it was dropped by Microïds neither canceled by Playlogic.

At the beginning of 2019, a prototype of the game dating from May 2002, leaked onto the Internet.

After its cancellation, Widescreen Games will work on many other projects, some also canceled, before filing for bankruptcy in 2009.

Article updated by Daniel Nicaise

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Animal Wars [Cancelled – PS3]

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Animal Wars was a tactical RPG for the Playstation 3 in development at Factor 5, Inc. between 2004 and 2006 with Sony Computer Entertainment on board as its publisher. It was planned to be released some time after Lair, which launched in August, 2007.

Factor 5’s Quirky War Game Made By 4 People

According to one former employee, work commenced on the title in 2004, “roughly around the time” pre-production on Lair began. It came about as a result of the multi-game contract Factor 5 signed with Sony to produce a number of games exclusive to their platforms. Until the deal expired, the company was set to have every project of theirs fully funded by the publisher, pending their approval. Every title worked on during this partnership was slated for release on PS3 only and Animal Wars was one of them.

Join The Fight Propaganda Poster - Animal Wars Concept Art - Sony Factor 5 project

Whereas Lair exhausted a great deal of the developer’s resources from beginning to end, Animal Wars was a considerably smaller project, ongoing in the background for a number of years. Its team was comprised of no more than 4 workers total: 2 designers, 1 dedicated artist and a single programmer. The game was so low down Factor 5’s list of priorities, that every developer assigned to it was at some point repositioned to work on Lair and/or other proposed titles.

“I was more excited about Animal Wars than Lair because it was a smaller team and upper management left it alone (upper management interference greatly contributed to Lair’s failure).”

Animal Wars was set in “an alternate WWI universe with anthropomorphic animal characters”, one developer recalled. The assassination of “the Archduke Birdinand” (a bird parody of historical figure, Archduke Ferdinand) in the game’s opening served as the catalyst for the great war its campaign would have centered on. The event would have ignited a global conflict between various nations of animals: felines, bears, foxes, etc.

The enemy faction consisted of a coalition between ‘Boarmandy’ (boars), The Black Paw (a rogue cat organisation responsible for Birdinand’s murder), bear soldiers, and the main villains, an army of wolves. An explosive introductory level was set to portray a savage air raid on a city inspired by London, as perpetrated by boars in attack blimps. Players would have then found themselves following the exploits of a canine in an aviator jacket, the planned protagonist; although, other playable characters were being explored, too.

Among the various mission types mulled over during pre-production was one which would have flipped the scale of battle on its head and saw the player taking up the role of a mouse. From this perspective, regular soldiers would appear as humongous titans by comparison, as the mice performed daring espionage operations. Ultimately, this ambitious stage idea never got as far as being prototyped.

Mouse Mission Concept Art - Animal Wars Cancelled Game

One source likened its standard gameplay, of which very little was completed, to Valkyria Chronicles. It was intended to be a strategy RPG with a turn-based battle system and a unique oil painted art style.

“The graphics were like Valiant Hearts but in 3D”

Its concept of anthropomorphic warfare was deceptively innocent on the surface. Early sketches, for instance, depicted a number of particularly violent scenes, including a dog soldier posed atop a decapitated pig. Its artistic direction leaned dark in this respect, though it had yet to be determined how explicit the final product would be.

Sam The Soldier Dog Concept Art - Animal Wars PS3

In what was said to have been a big contributing factor towards Sony’s willingness to fund it, the title was leveraging the work Factor 5’s people had previously done on Star Wars Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike. It called upon their experiences moulding that game’s blend of ground and air vehicular combat, which the publisher was very keen to capitalise on. Boats and amphibious tanks would have featured, too.

ANIMAL VEHICLES.

As explained by one of our sources, a central part of its concept was that each of the vehicles would have, in some form, integrated attributes associated with different animals into their design and functionality:

“For example, I worked on making a jeep that would always land upright no matter how crazy you drove it (cat landing on all fours).”

Sony Pulls The Plug On F5, Inc.’s Pet Project

Among the few that contributed to Animal Wars throughout its lifespan, the enthusiasm for it was in abundance. One ex member of Factor 5 even took to NeoGAF some years later to exclaim:

“It was fucking amazing looking and was way better than Lair so it made all of us sad it got cancelled.”

http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showpost.php?p=32463515&postcount=91

One of our sources personally corroborated these sentiments, saying that its apparent independence from Factor 5’s higher ups was much to its benefit:

“I was more excited about Animal Wars than Lair because it was a smaller team and upper management left it alone (upper management interference greatly contributed to Lair’s failure).”

Despite this, none of the excitement held internally for the project could ultimately prevent its demise, as the relationship between Sony and Factor 5 began to sour.

In the beginning, the deal between them was forged primarily so that the San Rafael studio would reinforce the PS3’s launch line-up with an original IP, which would later turn out to be Lair. Any other projects they were behind, Animal Wars included, was largely a show of good faith on Sony’s behalf.

Crucially, Lair was first scheduled to be available for the PS3 within its first few months on the North American market in fall 2006. However, its development encountered many hurdles; chief among which was the higher ups demanding the addition of motion controls and the team simply struggling to get to grips with the console’s then perplexing development environment. Factor 5 was already a company of limited resources, but Lair’s troubled life cycle lead to a number of departures mid-development. The exodus left them unable to fulfill their end of the contract and thus, requested the game be delayed into 2007.

The publisher’s response was less than understanding. They promptly cut off all funding to Animal Wars and redistributed any monetary assets designated for it into Lair. The developers weren’t willing or able to self-finance the remainder of the project, resulting in its subsequent cancellation.

One developer we spoke with detailed how the game had reached the prototyping phase when it was shelved, but never left pre-production:

“At the time, we had a working biplane, tank, jeep and 3rd person character working… We had a vertical slice of a damaged town that the lead character (a greyhound in WWI aviator outfit) and the tank was able to run around.  We also had a pretty massive terrain for the biplane to fly around (similar in size to what ended up in Lair).”

The former employee admitted that the prototype build suffered visibility issues, which they had not yet been able to resolve when development came to a close. These were caused by the dark colour palette employed by both its character models and environments, which would blend together unintentionally.

Animal Wars was never officially announced and its prototype materials are believed to have been locked away by the management of Factor 5 during the company’s closure in late 2008. 

Plague of Darkness [XBOX/PS2/PC – Cancelled]

Plague of Darkness (also known as The Plague) is a canceled action-adventure game developed by Widescreen Games and published by Namco Hometek for Playstation 2 and Xbox around 2003-2004.

The game was announced during the ECTS 2003 for a release planned in the summer of 2004 as we can read on Gamezone:

“Gamers Beware: Namco to spread gaming fever next summer with Plague of Darkness title to infect action adventure genre on PlayStation®2 and Xbox®.

Leading video games publisher Namco Hometek Inc. promises intense, nonstop action in its newest thriller, Plague of Darkness (tentative title), announced today.  Scheduled for release on the PlayStation®2 computer entertainment system and the Xbox® video game system from Microsoft, Plague of Darkness will ship in the summer of 2004.  Developed by Widescreen Games in Lyon, France, Plague of Darkness will feature Xbox Live functionality, complete with downloadable content, as well as PlayStation®2 online support with exclusive extras.

“Plague of Darkness will raise the bar in the action adventure genre through its haunting original storyline, close combat elements, stunning graphics and intense action,” said Jon Kromrey, Producer at Namco Hometek Inc.

“We think gamers will be infected with its immersive and addictive gameplay.”

In Plague of Darkness, Namco transports players to ravaged Medieval Europe during the time of the Black Death. Eight brooding environments with 58 sub-locations will put players to the test, each containing new objectives, enemies and obstacles. A linear storyline with deadly puzzles, fascinating characters and chilling discoveries allow players to experience unique game play mechanics and participate in over-the-top fantasy combat. In a time where advanced weaponry doesn’t yet exist, players have a multitude of basic weapons, special tools and magic at their disposal. Over five weapons are featured in the game, including a variety of swords, crossbows, daggers and the ability to cast magic spells. The game’s outstanding cinematic effects set an additional ambient tone for Plague of Darkness, immersing players deep into the dark world environments.

The game’s story features a Knight of the Order, Douran, who sets out on a mission to bring down a terrible demon.  The demon has been haunting the land of the living by feasting on the black souls of the dead, in order to bring about its own resurrection. During the course of his adventure, Douran encounters other characters that may hold answers to the mystery behind the demonic plague, but can he trust them? In the course of the story, the hero fights the omnipresent evil demon by using the game’s sacred relic in a quest to spread peace throughout Europe.”

In December of the same year, Gamekult revealed a little more about the game:

“In a medieval Europe ravaged by the Black Plague (1348), the young knight Douran sets sail for the island of St. Angui, to join Jacques de Villemort, the head of the Order, and his father, whom he has seen attacked by an evil spirit in a recent nightmare. Offshore, Douran sees a thick dark fog with a Death’s face, which quickly takes the form of a claw to trap the ship and capsize it. At the back of his cabin, our hero hears the horrified laments of the members of the crew, before seeing the strange tablecloth rush under his door … Small peculiarity, the combat system will propose to assign tarot cards to get special spells. Equipped with an online function on Xbox as on PS2 to obtain new equipment, Plague of Darkness is scheduled for next June in the United States.”

In April 2004, Sliced Gaming Australia shared a bit more about the game design:

“As you progress through Plague of Darkness you’ll be able to upgrade Douran’s weapons, magic and armour Role-Playing Game-style. As the game has an emphasis on action and combat, Douran will have more combat-based moves than simply attacking; he’ll also be able to block enemies’ attacks and even grab them to execute throw moves. Twenty-five enemies will be featured in the game, some with non-magical attacks and some with magical attacks.”

However, Plague of Darkness quietly vanished without a trace after this. We can speculate that something went wrong during it’s development process and Namco decided to pull the plug. Oddly enough, a partnership between Widescreen Games and Namco will eventually come to fruition with the making of Dead to Rights 2, released in the end of the 2005 year, after a troubled development.

Article by Daniel Nicaise

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