Angel Quest is a cancelled action adventure that was in development by french company Virtual Studio (Ar’Kritz the Intruder, S.T.O.R.M.) around 1996 / 1997, to be published by GT Interactive (Driver, Oddworld: Abe’s Exoddus, Critical Depth) for Playstation and PC. You could freely explore a huge (for its time) 3D world by flying around with its winged protagonist, somehow similar to a 3D Kid Icarus. You would fight against enemies in real time, helping NPCs and resolving quests as in a classic Action RPG.
As far as we know GT Interactive never officially announced this project, but thanks to Stéphane de Luca who shared some images and details on his website, we can preserve the memory of this lost game:
“This project was the first to use optical motion capture for real time animation: we pioneered this advanced technology. The heroes was an Angel living in a very large world: he could make use of his ability to fly to speed up its move towards the next location to visit. Numerous characters were also there to help him find his way, giving him potential clues through interactive dialogs.
Angel Quest was running on PlayStation on which I programmed the engine and the game in C and assembler. All the characters were in 3D and animated through motion capture: I developed a compression tool that reduced the data stream (curve) that was moving each node of the skeleton. The word was really huge: I had to stream all blocks silently from the CD-ROM drive as the heroes was moving: it was a big challenge due to bandwidth limitation.”
In the end Angel Quest was canned for unknown reasons. Virtual Studio later worked on other cancelled action games for PS1, such as Commando and Valerian.
Insane Warrior is a cancelled game by Core Design, that was planned to be developed for the original Playstation. Assembler Games Forum user Decapicitated found a few screenshots from this lost project in the online portfolio of a former Core Design developer who worked on it. As we can read from Decapicitated’s posts:
“Insane Warrior was developed by Core Design and was unfortunately cancelled. It wasn’t exactly a playable game, more or less a tech demo. Part of the team which developed the game went onto developing Ninja: Shadow Of Darkness which was released September 1998. The game itself looked very similar in terms of the camera style, it was identical to Ninja. I also believe some of the ideas of this game were implemented into Ninja therefore, it could be quite possible to just call it an early tech demo of Ninja.”
“Yeah, it’s definitely a PSX exclusive. It was nothing more than a tech demo which was developed after Tomb Raider, but before Ninja as the team working on this was pushed on to making Ninja in 1997 to be released for 1998. This game got canned or the engine was probably re-used for Ninja. The game is very similar as I said before and these are the only screenshots in existence, I got these off a website which belonged to one of the devs a VERY long time ago; the website is now defunct”
At the moment there are no other details about this cancelled game. If you know someone who worked at Core Design between the original Tomb Raider and Ninja, please let us know!
T’ai Fu: Wrath of the Tiger is a beat’em up PS1 game which was developed by Dreamworks Interactive (who also developed “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” and “Small Soldiers”) and published by Activision in 1999. The story follows the path of a muscular tiger with Kung Fu skills seeking revenge after his clan was wiped out by the Dragon clan, leaving him the only survivor.
The game is heavily inspired by chinese tales and can be seen as the “ancestor” of the Kung Fu Panda movies, both having been developed by Dreamworks although T’ai Fu was released 9 years prior.
The game was first announced for release in 1998 but was later delayed to early 1999. Despite good reviews overall, the game didn’t sell very well – probably due to missing the Christmas period. Reviews noted good combat, great characters and graphics (for the time) but twitchy platforming and camera issues.
Like all games, it had several changes during development. Some magazines exhibit those differences:
The camera was much closer to the player.
The health meter was totally changed. It probably was covering too much space on screen.
T’ai had cyan color pants at some point. It was changed to give a darker tone to the game.
Noah Hughes, credited as Game Design Lead provided some more insights on the game development:
“My friend Lyle got hired at Dreamworks and brought me down from Crystal where we met. We were to make a new character based IP like Crystal had done with Gex. He and I went through a number of project ideas before landing on that one.
We would make design pitches and work with concept artists to visualize each concept. We had great concept artists and there was probably 3 main ideas before we settled on Tai fu.
When it started, we knew the game would be about a tiger here learning kung fu styles from all the animal clans but we went through a lot of revisions of the style itself. One was about a spider and it was more like Gex style platformer. A ringtail character with a prometheus inspired storyline.
Both felt a little like typical mascot platform characters for my taste and Lyle shared a passion for old kung fu movies, so this really became the one we both fell in love with.
The visual evolution of tai was one of the more interesting aspects of designing the game. Early on he looked a bit more cartoony and a bit more anthropomorphic. So Jeffrey Katzenberg was one of the execs at Dreamworks and he had come from running Disney. He was the one that challenged us to evolve the character. He said it was “too tony the tiger“.
We also wanted to appeal to a slightly older gaming audience. So we started to play with the more badass look with more unique posing and silhouettes. His pants were that light blue for a long time. In the end the artists felt the darker pants looked better. A little less “cartoony” by moving away from primary colors.
We had an amazing storyboard artist named Rion Vernon who did most of the character art. The Kung Fu Panda movie was actually inspired by his art for this game many years later.”
A beta build has been found dated October 28th 1998 while the final is dated March 6th 1999, almost 5 months later. Differences with the final version include:
Much longer cutscenes
Longer levels (some big chunks were removed in the final release)
Missing “Beat X enemies to continue” sections
Camera angles were changed
Some bosses play totally differently
A debug mode to move the character anywhere
A bit more difficult
Various minor differences in gameplay and sounds/voices
A footage from this beta can be found here:
Some development screenshots and artists were also retrieved from various sources as seen in the gallery below.
LoveDeLic were one of the most interesting and creative Japanese developers active during the late ‘90s / early ‘00s. They developed cult-classic, peculiar adventures such as Moon: Remix RPG Adventure (PS1), UFO: a Day in the Life (PS1) and Lack of Love (Dreamcast). Unfortunately all of their games were too bizarre and unusual for their time, selling low number of copies and leading to the closure of the team in 2000.
Moon was their first project and after the game was published by ASCII Entertainment in 1997 for the original Playstation, LoveDeLic pitched a sequel titled MooN 2: Mansion Omnibus Occupant Nest. Concept art and a photo of the early design document were posted on Twitter by former LoveDeLic’s Character Designer Kazuyuki Kurashima in 2017.
In the end the project was changed from a sequel to MooN to a different, original adventure: it became “UFO: a Day in the Life”. UFO was later published in 1999 by ASCII, an interesting game that somehow mix together point & click adventures, characters and events which follow an internal clock (just like the original Moon, or Zelda: Majora’s mask) and a “photography simulation” somehow similar to Gekibo (PC Engine, 1992) or Pokèmon Snap (N64, 1999).
If you take a look at the concept art, you can see how it’s similar to the main idea behind UFO: a building divided into different rooms, inhibited by quirky characters. Instead than a cancelled “Moon 2” you could also see this as an early concept for UFO.
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!