The Lord of the Creatures is a cancelled fantasy strategy / adventure game that was in development by Spanish studio Arvirago Entertainment (a team composed of former Pyro Studios devs, creators of the Commandos RTS series) for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3. The main feature of the game was to capture and use monsters in combat, somehow similar to a real-time Pokèmon action adventure mixed with Kameo, in a classic fantasy setting with orcs, elves and other strange creatures. The game was originally announced in 2003 but after a few years of development it was quietly canned and not much more info was ever released.
Players would be able to collect over one hundred different creatures, each one with exclusive abilities to use directly by impersonating one of them or by giving orders like in a real time strategy game. Enemies would attack in groups and we had to think about the best creatures for the fight, depending on their characteristics, weapons and items. Five different main characters were available, each one with a different play-style. Online cooperative and competitive modes were also planned, to test your tactical abilities and creatures along or against other players.
We don’t know what happened to Arvirago, but it seems that the studio does not exist anymore and they never released any game before to vanish forever.
Strelka Stories is a cancelled action adventure game planned for Playstation 3 that was in development by CyberConnect2 (Tokyo Studio and Fukuoka office), as a new chapter in their “Little Tail Bronx” series of anthropomorphic animal characters and fantasy floating world, composed of three main chapters: Tail Concerto (1998, Playstation), Solatorobo: Red the Hunter (2010, Nintendo DS) and Little Tail Story (2014, Android and iOS). The series is not widely known to the main public and sales were not great, but thanks to its fun gameplay, light hearted animal characters and interesting world-lore (mixing Jules Verne-steampunk style technology, mechs, magic, Laputa style floating islands and airships) it grown a cult following of fans in the last 18 years.
Strelka Stories was originally announced in July 2010 when CyberConnect2 were celebrating their 15th anniversary and opened a teaser site for this new PS3 game, showing artworks featuring their usual anthropomorphic animal characters, a 19th-century fantasy town (feeling like something out of a Studio Ghibli movie, especially if you think about Sherlock Hound) and a space-conquering theme.
Over those artworks there are a series of sentences in Japanese, that can be roughly translated as ““I will surely go to space, surely”, “To the children who depart someday”, “The world’s first man-made crystal power plant, it was built against the press-cutting international public opinion”, “This country was always engulfed in restless shadows” and “The road was collapsing, they gathered Strelka, a rocket engineer…”. By reading these, we can speculate that Strelka Stories could have told the story of how the world of Little Tail Bronx became a series of floating islands and the efforts of its inhabitants to escape from the collapsing of their planet.
“Belka (Белка, literally, “Squirrel” or, alternately, “Whitey”) and Strelka (Стрелка, “Little Arrow”) spent a day in space aboard Korabl-Sputnik 2 (Sputnik 5) on 19 August 1960 before safely returning to Earth. […] Strelka went on to have six puppies with a male dog named Pushok who participated in many ground-based space experiments, but never made it into space.”
“Solatorobo was set in an imaginary scientific world, which targets the current generation of boys and girls. The content for this one [Strelka] will target ‘Adults who were once youths’. I believe those who like Gurren Lagann and Evangelion will enjoy it. We actually didn’t get approval of the project from a client or publisher. It’s a title that we started because we wanted to make it.”
The lack of a publisher for Strelka Stories is probably the reason why the game was never completed, with CyberConnect2 busy to work on other projects for which they were hired. In fact the studio released many games for Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 (such as Asura’s Wrath, .hack//Versus and the Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm series), but unfortunately it seems that Strelka Stories never found support and had to be quietly cancelled. CC2 also planned a Tail Concerto sequel in late ‘90 / early ‘00, but it had to wait 12 years to be finally released (as the spiritual sequel Solatorobo), so we can assume that one day we could still see the ideas conceived for Strelka Stories in a new chapter of the “Little Tail Bronx” series.
CyberConnect2 are a big company today, they are currently working on the Final Fantasy VII Remake for Square-Enix and opened a new studio in Montreal (Canada). In April 2016 Famitsu magazine published another interview with Hiroshi Matsuyama, in which he teased a new game codenamed “Project Venom” or “CyberConnect Creative (CCC)” (it’s not clear if the two titles are for the same game or for two different projects) a self-published digital shooter planned to be released the next year for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. The artworks revealed in the magazine show a fantasy setting with characters similar to the ones seen in “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind” and no space rockets, so we can assume that this will not be directly connected to the Strelka Stories concept.
The original Silent Scope was developed by Konami for arcades in 1999, with multiple console ports for Dreamcast, PS2 and Xbox. The game was an on-rail shooter in which to use a sniper rifle to hunt down terrorists, rewarding players with higher score for precise kills and making it more slow-paced than traditional light gun shooters. The game was quite popular and Konami soon developed two sequels, with “Silent Scope 2: Dark Silhouette” released in 2000 and “Silent Scope EX” in 2001.
Most people don’t know that in 2011 Konami wanted to create a reboot of the Silent Scope franchise and asked to Day 1 Studios (the team that had recently worked on F.E.A.R. 3, now known as Wargaming Chicago-Baltimore) to work on a Silent Scope third person shooter for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. The idea was to make this new Silent Scope a stealth based game, as a more arcadey Metal Gear Solid: set in the near-future, this reboot would also have had sci-fi elements as the main enemy that could move so fast that he appears to teleport around.
Day 1 Studios were able to create an early prototype, with a playable demo in a shopping mall to test how the game would have been played, but in december 2011 Konami decided to cancel the project and the studio had to laid off 95% of the team. This was the end for the Silent Scope reboot.
Darkworks was an independent French studio not widely known by the average gamer, but they released a couple of fan favorite games as Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare (Playstation, Dreamcast and PC) and Cold Fear (PS2, PC and Xbox). The company was founded in 1998 and unfortunately was closed down in 2012, because of economic issues and difficulties in founding new publishers for their titles. In about 15 years of activity, Darkworks were able to successfully complete and release only 2 games, while all their other projects were either cancelled or moved to different developers. There are already a good number of interesting lost Darkworks games in the Unseen64 archive, but many more still remain unseen and even if we tried multiple times to get in contact with people that worked at the studio, it seems almost impossible to know more about what happened to them or to their cancelled games.
Between all those unfinished projects once in development at Darkworks, there was what it looks like a reboot of the OneChanbara series originally created by Tamsoft, the games in which to play as a girl in bikini and cowboy hat, slashing down enemies with double katanas. In the images archived below, you can see that they created a concept art for a western version of Aya (the “clothes” are identical to the original character), one of the main protagonist of OneChanbara. We can speculate that Darkworks tried to pitch to D3 Publisher a new OneChanbara game for PS3 and Xbox 360, during the same time in which D3 also tested a western version of their popular Earth Defense Force series by letting Vicious Cycle Software to develop EDF: Insect Armageddon. Unfortunately for Darkworks, this project was not greenlighted and we’ll never know how good a French OneChanbara could have been. Only a few concept arts remain, to preserve the existence of this lost pitch.
Warfare Afghanistan is a cancelled third person team based tactical shooter that was in development by Pivotal Games in 2007 / 2008 for Xbox 360 and PS3. The project was meant to be a reboot of the Conflict series of which the last chapter was Conflict: Denied Ops, published in 2008 by Eidos Interactive. Conflict: Desert Storm 1 & 2 were loved by many fans for their fun coop multiplayer, in which each mission has to be played with a bit of strategy, using the special skills of each character to be able to survive and to complete the most complex objectives.
Unfortunately the last games in the series lost the charm of the originals and Denied Ops was mostly a linear, single player experience: it was clear for the team that they had to reboot their saga, to earn again the love of their fans. Planned to have a full coop campaign up to 4 players offline (split-screen) and online, Warfare Afghanistan would have returned to Conflict’s roots, to create a compelling gameplay, with strategy and collaboration between players at its core.
The game’s story and setting were also meant to be something deeper than the usual shooter. The team wanted to create something like Spec Ops: The Line in terms of realism and players’ experience, by hiring a military consultant and slowing down the pace of the game, following a plot that handled the Afghanistan conflict, with all its moral dilemmas.
Unfortunately Warfare Afghanistan was still in early development when Pivotal Games’ parent company Sales Curve Interactive / Eidos (now Square Enix Europe) decide to disband the studio in August 2008, probably because of internal restructure and low sales of their last game. Only a pitch prototype was done before the cancellation, with basic cover, animations and melee mechanics: by looking at the footage available we can only imagine what could have been and it’s sad to know that the team did not have a chance to win back again the heart of their fans.
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