Playstation 2 (PS2)

Nightfall (Core Design) [PS2 – Cancelled]

Around 2002 Core Design had already completed a few games for PlayStation 2, such as Project Eden and Thunderhawk, both released in 2001, and they were going to complete Herdy Gerdy, an action / strategy puzzle game. During this time they were also working on a cancelled survival / action horror game titled Nightfall, of which unfortunately there is limited information available.

Former Core Design developers we talked to, remember that Nightfall was going to be a game about surviving in an island overrun by werewolves, after the main character crashed there in a helicopter. It seems that before Nightfall the team tried to pitch a videogame adaption of the Preacher comic to Vertigo / DC Comics, but that was soon canned so they tried to develop their concept into a new, original IP. It’s possible that the idea about a Preacher video game was conceived during the same time in which independent filmmaking studios Storm Entertainment and Electric Entertainment announced the pre-production of a Preacher movie, but after a while the film was pushed back (and never realized) because of financial issues.

People that were able to see an early Nightfall prototype remember that it looked great for a PS2 title, but not much work was done on it before the cancellation. After Nightfall was cancelled, Core Design developed such titles as Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness, Smart Bomb and the cancelled Fighting Force 3, until they were sold from Eidos to Rebellion Developments Ltd.

We hope to be able to preserve more info about Nightfall Unseen64 in the future, but for now it remains one of the most interesting and obscure lost games, by one of the most important software houses from the late ‘90s.

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TinTin [PS2 – Prototype]

Appeal is rather obscure studio formed in 1995 by Yves Grolet, Franck Sauer and Yann Robert, mostly known for their cult-following adventure game Outcast (1999) and its remake (2017). During their lifespan Appeal pitched and prototyped many different games that never seen the light of day: one of these was a “The Adventures of Tintin” tie-in for Playstation 2, based on the popular Belgian comic.

As we can read on Franck Sauer’s website:

“After the Outcast II debacle (see the related article here), we were offered a share buy-back option by our publisher (Infogrames) in exchange of a new pre-production contract around a Tintin game. As we had to keep our studio alive, we bought back the shares at a nominal price and got the contract started.

We had developed some nice technology for the Outcast II game and, although it was still far from being complete, we had enough to prototype a Tintin game.

The budget was tight and the timing was short, so we tried to reuse a number of resources from the Outcast II prototype and build on top of that. The game was to be fully 3D exploration with some action scenes and mini-games.

In the end, Infogrames did not manage to sign a license deal with Moulinsart (The company that holds the Tintin rights), and we finally got bankrupt the same year and closed the studio.”

Props to Franck for preserving and sharing these files from the lost game!

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Dinosaur Zoo (Dogfish) [PS2 – Cancelled]

Dogfish Entertainment was a rather obscure studio established in October 2000, created by former employees of Bullfrog Productions (Syndicate Wars, Dungeon Keeper 2, Dark Omen). The team worked on many different prototypes, trying to pitch their ideas to publishers. One of these concepts was for a park management game, kind of like a Jurassic Park Sim titled “Dinosaur Zoo“, which around 2001 was green-lighted by Sony as a first-party game, along with another game titled “Horrorville“.

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A prototype and 3D engine were created for the game, but it was still in very early development when it was canned because Blue Tongue Entertainment and Vivendi Universal Games bought the official license to develop a “Jurassic Park Simulator”, later released as Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis for PS2, Xbox and PC. Dogfish though their original game would not be able to compete against the “real” dinosaur zoo IP.

In 2002 Sony decided to cut their collaboration with Dogfish and the company had to close down. Developers went to other companies in the Guildford area, such studios as Big Blue Box, Small Rockets and Lionhead. Every Dogfish prototype is now lost forever, with not much saved from oblivion.

Thanks to Mogens for the contribution! 

Madstix [PS2 – Cancelled]

Madstix is a cancelled “cinematic racing puzzle game” that was conceived by director Koichi Yotsui & producer Takehiro Ando, possibly in development at Sol, the studio behind PS1 cult puzzle game “Suzuki Bakuhatsu”. They wanted to create original games for the recently released Playstation 2, and Madstix was one of their favorite pitches.

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Their concept was to develop a racing game with no steering wheel, accelerator or brake. The more you turn the right analog stick, the more fast and dangerous the car action becomes on the screen. Instead if you turn the left analog stick it would make driving safer. According to Ando Madstix was meant to be played like a cinematic ​​”Chicken Race” to show off driving skills and high-speed action, turning the left and right sticks appropriately while changing course at the last moment to avoid accidents.

The advantage of this mechanic is that the camera was free to be changed by players in many different ways. In a standard racing game the camera must be placed in the driver’s seat or behind the vehicle to drive. However, in Madstix the car would follow its predetermined path and players could choose the best cinematic angle to watch their actions.

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While the game was never officially announced, it was revealed during a presentation at BitSummit 2017 in Japan. As always we can only imagine how many interesting and weird cancelled games by Japanese studios still remain unknown by the public. 

Contra Online [PS2, Xbox, PC – Cancelled]

After the cancellation of Castlevania: Resurrection and the death of the Dreamcast, the same team at Konami of America pitched a few other projects for different consoles. One of these unrealized games was a new 3D Contra with online multiplayer, planned to be developed for PS2, Xbox and PC.

They wanted to have classic single player and local coop story mode for old-school fans of the series, but at the same time testing online multiplayer for the first time.

Some details about this lost Contra game were found by fans, and preserved below to remember the existence of this cancelled concept.

“Contra’s HQ have intercepted SOS from the biggest Russian nuclear submarine that is sinking to the bottom of Barents Sea. While Contra’s HQ continues monitoring the unsuccessful rescue attempts, suddenly the submarine crews stop responding to the Russian Northern Fleet hails. Meanwhile, Contra’s spy satellite registers the beginning of nuclear missiles launch form the sub, and transmission to Russian Navy operations that Red Falcon is demanding to stop the rescue attempt otherwise there are will be a missile strike retaliation. After analyzing the spy satellite data, Contra intelligence realizes that Red Falcon is preparing its third attempt to conquer Earth by using Russian submarine as its base to assemble and power it’s robotic war machines in the safety of deep sea.

Members of Contra Forces are called in and ordered to stop the Red Falcon, and were successful in defeating evil alien entity and its forces. Or, at least they thought so. The “Red Falcon” had actually been merely wounded. It escapes the submarine blast to a secret retreat located in the mountains of Bosnia. Were alien forces lie dormant aviating for decoy Barents Sea invasion to begin, so they can start a real attack of the Earth forces? The Contra intelligence is learning that Red Falcon is not the brains behind an operation but just a pawn controlled by a mysteries alien only know as “Dark Queen”. Contra marines are called again for the final showdown.”

Story mode would have been divided into 3 worlds (Submarine, Mountain Trail and Underground Base): each one with several levels and Bosses. Past Contra protagonists could have been unlocked during the game, to be used as playable characters.

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The team planned many different modes for online multiplayer. An idea was to have online coop up to 4 players, split in 2 teams that would fight through different missions before meeting again to kill the boss together. Online Versus mode was also planned, set in a virtual-reality world similar to VR missions in Metal Gear Solid. This could have been a third person or first person shooter, depending on the best prototype they could work on.

As this was only an early pitch they were still thinking about the best Konami IP to use for their first online game. If Contra could have been a risky series (because of its hardcore fans), other possibilities were open such as using the Project Overkill IP instead.

In the end disagreements between Konami of Japan and Konami America killed the american team. Many of their latest games were canned, such as Survivor: Day One for Nintendo 64