Orb is a cancelled puzzle game that was in development by Blitz Games Studios for Playstation 2. Gameplay would have been similar to Kororinpa, Marble Madness, and the Super Monkey Ball series: you had to move a ball around strange mazes, while pressing switches to open doors and resolving other environmental hazards to reach the goal.
The team created a playable prototype but in the end Orb was never completed. We can speculate they did not find a publisher interested in funding the project so it had to be canned to switch resources to other PS2 titles such as Taz: Wanted, The Fairly OddParents!: Breakin’ da Rules and Bad Boys: Miami Takedown.
The Insider: Back in Black is a cancelled adventure game that was in development for PC between 1998 and 2001 by french company Dramaera (AKA In-Visio or Dæsign). The game’s protagonist was Simon Blurr, an international thief in search of new pieces for his private art collection. Set in 1920s Paris, The Insider was conceived as an ambitious exploration – simulation game, where each character had its own live and emotions, artificial intelligence and daily routine, probably following an internal clock.
Players could move around different buildings of Paris to plan their next robbery, by observing streets, houses, museums and people who live in them. French publisher Canal+Multimédia was initially supporting the team, but in March 2000 they closed their relationship with Dramaera because their project was not proceeding as expected. As we can read on Mobygames:
A few weeks after the contract however, index+ was sold to Wanadoo Edition. The relationship quickly deteriorated when Wanadoo decided to focus on more mainstream products. The Insider, the project Dramæra had been working since 1998 with an investment of € 900,000, was to be turned into a classic adventure game with a new team. Jean-Noël Portugal refused and because of this the studio ran into financial troubles at the end of 2001.”
We don’t know how much of the game was dove before its cancellation, but it would be interesting to see a prototype leaked one day, to understand what the team was able to achieve.
Around 2003 – 2005 Z-Axis (AKA Underground Development) was working on a new Iron Man video game tie-in for Activision, using the Marvel license. The project was planned to be released for Playstation 2 and Xbox, but in the end it was never completed and quietly vanished, forgotten by everyone.
As we can read on IGN, Z-Axis was hiring new devs for Iron Man around November 2003:
“Z-Axis, the hard-working folks who brought gamers Dave Mirra’s BMX Freestyle and Aggressive Inline (and if you go a little farther back, Fox Sports College Hoops and Thrasher: Skate and Destroy), is now officially working on two new games for Activision based on the Iron Man and X-Men Marvel licenses.
Activision has not officially announced either of these two titles, but we have learned that both are definitely action games. The X-Men game is all new, and should not be confused with the Raven-developed X-Men: Legends.”
In the end only Z-Axis’s “X-Men: The Official Game” game was released in 2006. We can assume the team had some issues in developing two Marvel games at the same time and Activision decided to cancel Iron Man. Some screenshots from an early Iron Man prototype are saved below, to remember the existence of this lost game.
In the game Larry would visit San Areolas Islands to seduce women and resolve simple puzzles. Some more details were shared online by a former HVS developer:
“Cancelled at about 70% complete, this adventure game (like its predecessor) would have certainly pushed the boundaries of both story, design and taste. The focus of this UI was the match the game’s island feel, with warm sunset skies for the main menu and bright, colorful blues and reef colors for the in-game experience. We used classic postcards as inspiration for how we wanted the user to feel while in the menus, while still injecting a bit of Larry’s sexual references within the design work itself. We had the UI about 80% finalized when the game was sadly cancelled, so what you see here was pretty much final.”
As far as we know Vivendi Universal canned the game, possibly to cut costs during a difficult time. Because of this High Voltage Software had to lay off some of their staff, as reported by Gamasutra and GameIndustry in January 2006:
“Chicago-based independent developer High Voltage has officially announced that the company has “right sized” its operations from 156 full time employees to 120, following a recent project cancellation.”
“The layoffs are believed to have occurred last Friday, January 13th, and according to a source within the company, the cancelled project was one being undertaken for Vivendi Universal Games – which has published several of High Voltage’s recent titles.”
Some images from the game are preserved in the gallery below, to remember this lost project.
Around 2002 Namco wanted to reboot their Xevious series of shoot ‘em up, by creating a new 3D Xevious for Playstation 2. The team hired for this mission was Project Aces, the same people behind Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies and the following Ace Combat games. You can imagine this would have been the perfect team to develop a new Xevious, thanks to their great 3D engine and experience with Ace Combat.
Unfortunately it seems Namco considered this Xevious remake to be less profitable than a new Ace Combat. After creating an early prototype using Ace Combat 4 engine and a few Xevious 3D models, Project Aces was moved to develop Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.