PSP

Heartland (Homeland) [PSP – Cancelled]

Heartland (originally titled “Homeland” in its early stage) is a cancelled FPS in development by Incognito Entertainment / SCEA, planned to be released on the PSP. The project was conceived by David Jaffe as a mature shooter focused on making players thinking about their decisions and the consequences of war, with political themes related to George W. Bush’s administration and their “war on terror”.

Jaffe wanted to arouse players’ emotional reactions with a strong setting and series of dramatic events, which would have been directly affected by their choices during the game. A couple of examples of these difficult / morally ambiguous decisions would be to “blow up a bridge, stranding the townspeople, but preventing the ground assault” and “obey or disobey the order to douse an innocent family and their house with gasoline, and set them on fire”.

Heartland was meant to be a metaphor of the real US invasion of Iraq in 2003, with North American being the invaded country by a foreign army. The game was to be set in “heartland” of the US in an alternate history in which China invaded America. The main protagonist was a soldier debating whether to stay in the army and fight for America or go AWOL to find his family.  As revealed by Jaffe in a few articles on 1UP and Escapist:

“On one hand, it was supposed to be emotional, we wanted players who are sensitive types like myself – that cry at Hallmark commercials – we were hoping that those types would actually cry, and that other players would still feel something that came close to an emotional response.”

“We were trying to put in a lot of gameplay that would evoke emotion. You had sequences where you’d go into homes and your commanding officer would tell you to shoot innocent Chinese-Americans. It was very dark and was meant to cause players to consider what it’s like to live in America and be an American today.”

“It wasn’t supposed to make you hate the Bush Administration so much as, as a layperson political junkie, it was supposed to put into light – using games as a medium – all the things I didn’t like about the Bush Administration.”

The team planned to use many different and original ways to unfold Heartland’s story and its themes, for example by letting players to find a tape they could watch: initially one would see the execution of a Chinese soldier, but by rewinding the tape you could discover older footage with the soldier’s family during a vacation at Disneyland.

The Incognito team was full of talented developers and after their experience on the PSP with Twisted Metal: Head-On they were planning on making a full 1st person shooter experience to “create the definitive shooter for the PlayStation Portable.”

You can imagine Heartland’s gameplay as an open ended FPS, with several objectives in each area and many different ways to resolve them. It was meant to be more similar to a “Deus Ex” set in a contemporary american settings than another “Call of Duty” or “Battlefield”. As said by Jaffe “I was really excited about creating this almost homage to Deus Ex.” On his old blog Jaffe wrote:

“HEARTLAND: Was going to be a return to more old school, opened up single player (and co-op) Goldeneye/Doom II style level design. Plus a little Deus Ex thrown in, in terms of multiple solves, as much emergence as we could intentionally create (not the mention the happy surprises)”

 

Unfortunately Heartland would never seen the light of day: the team worked on the project for about 6 or 8 months, creating concept art, 3D models and an early engine running on the PSP, before most of them were moved to the Warhawk team to help finishing the game. As more and more people left the Heartland team, they thought to cut some parts (such as the planned multiplayer mode), but in the end with less than 10 people available it was clear they did not have enough resources to fulfill their original concept. For Sony Warhawk was a much more important project to complete and it had the priority over an ambitious PSP game.

With such a small team David Jaffe and Scott Campbell left Heartland behind and decided to start a most suitable project, which later became “Calling all Cars“, released for Playstation Store in May 2007. In mid 2007 Incognito was splitting to create two new studios: Eat Sleep Play lead by Scott Campbell and David Jaffe – which later created Twisted Metal (2012) – and Lightbox Interactive lead by Dylan Jobe – which later created Starhawk (2012).

Unfortunately we still did not save any image from Heartland (the ones you see in this article are from random videos related to the chinese army), we got in contact with a few former developers who worked on the game but they did not have any screenshot or concept art anymore. If you know someone else who worked on this lost game, please let us know!

Shadow of Memories / Destiny (The Day of Walpurgis) [Beta]

Shadow of Memories” is a 2001 released Visual Novel by Konami in guise of a Third Person Action Adventure for the PS2. Set in the fictive German town of Lebensbaum, the game combines solving a murder case (the protagonist’s very own) with a time travel element and gothic fantasy elements. Like Visual Novels, the game did not offer many possibilities to stray from the predestined path(s), which baffled a portion of its players and reviewers at the time as well as its total lack of action elements in any form. Yet, like Visual Novels, its strengths are its setting, atmosphere and story, which branch into not less than half a dozen different endings. Known as “Shadow of Destiny” in the US, the game was ported to several other platforms: in 2002 it was released in the EU for the original XBox, a short time later a PC version was produced for the west and finally in 2009/2010 it came out for the PSP in Japan and North America.

 

Isle of Minno [PSP – Cancelled]

Isle of Minno was developed for the Playstation Portable in 2006 by Sumo Digital; a company founded by former Infogrames/ Gremlin Interactive employees and which released other PSP games such as Toca Race Driver, Outrun and Driver 76 (which I truly enjoyed to play when I owned a PSP myself).

There is little information on Isle of Minno, a prototype was found by an Assembler Games Forum user and the game itself looks and sounds a bit like a children’s game. I couldn’t find a reason why the game got cancelled by Sumo Digital; the game is hardly mentioned anywhere. Game also doesn’t show up on old cached webpages of Sumo Digital’s website. In May 2006 Sony and Sumo Digital made some actual pre-production Isle of Minno UMDs, none intended for resale, but you can now easily find a leaked ISO online.

Some of the actual UMD copies even ended up on ebay and were selling for around $ 100. The dumped prototype looks to be a fully playable demo, with even a multiplayer and game sharing option.

The game starts off  with a small sequence showing a boy who washes up ashore on an island after drifting in the sea with some leftovers from a ship. After a small walk on the beach he enters a cave and finds a small village hidden in a valley at the end, presumably called Leafy Cove. After a short introduction talk from an elder person you are sent on your first mission to get yourself some decent clothes. The town is fully explorable; decent sized with loads of places to go to and now and then you find  inhabitants with which you can interact and accept missions from. After completion of a mission you’re invited over to the person’s house or you can collect a small reward for your efforts. The whole gameplay mainly seems to consist of completing small mini games like collecting feathers, fruit or other stuff, mowing lawns, throwing things out threes and of some music memory games.  The complete story of the game or its missions stays however vague.

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Duke Nukem: Critical Mass [PSP – Cancelled]

Duke Nukem: Critical Mass is a run & gun shooter game, released on the Nintendo DS platform in 2011 by Apogee Software. The game was originally intended to also come out as a Playstation Portable game but was later cancelled for unknown reasons. Rumours on the game started early as the beginning of 2008 and were later in July of that year confirmed when Apogee Software announced a completely new Duke Nukem adventure: a Trilogy which would be developed for both systems in cooperation with publisher Deep Silver and which would be developed by Frontline Studios. After being rebranded to 3D Realms this would also be the revival of the Apogee brand in game development and publishing. The trilogy would consist of three separate games with Critical Mass being the first; its original release date set in the fall of 2009 and would be followed by the other chapters Duke Nukem: Chain Reaction and Duke Nukem: Proving Grounds.

Besides the storyline the games on DS and PSP would however be completely different from each other; the Nintendo DS version would be more of a side scroller while the Playstation Portable would be more of a third / first person shooter. The game would have on both platforms a multi-mode where players could easily switch between third person, first person, isometric and side scrolling views including some extra options as a sniper mode, a jetpack mode and different boss battle modes. The Critical Mass chapter would have 9 areas to complete, divided into 27 missions and the player was promised 15 different types of weapons, multiple and secret ways to achieve in-game points and on top of that both platforms would have cinematic rendered cut-scenes between levels. The huge difference between the Nintendo DS and the Playstation Portable, being two complete different machines can be seen in the two screenshots below which I took out of a promotional video released by Apogee in March 2009 made specially for the Game Developer’s Conference; the promotional video was cut in two pieces and showed screenshots of both systems. Funny thing was that the PSP version was rated Mature and the DS was only rated Teen. So two complete different games carrying the same story.

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In the first chapter of the trilogy some Earth Defense Organization had been sending out special agents on missions into the future to ensure the safety of the Earth; none of the sent agents however reported back and our hero Duke Nukem is sent into that same future to figure out what is going on. In that future Duke Nukem finds a ruined world in complete chaos and disaster, mankind is almost entirely wiped out and the remains of it are reigned and controlled by aliens. Duke then discover that things might have gone wrong because of him; the moment he left the earth for the future it was attacked by those same alien forces. In the second chapter “Chain Reaction” Duke heads back to the present time in hope of fixing things in the present and thus also in the future. In the third chapter “Proving Grounds” Duke would see things getting worse and ends up being involved in a new World War.

So the DS version was released, being it much later then planned: what happened to the PSP version of the game? In March 2009 Apogee Software confirmed that the release date of both versions was still set for September of that year. They then went a bit silent and rumors about Apogee’s mother company 3D Realms closing its doors start to spread; everybody expected that the same would also happens to Apogee Software. Apogee however denied all rumors and stated that the company under no circumstances would be affected by the 3D Realms situation and that the development of the Duke Nukem Trilogy was going according plans. 3D Realms was at the time also working on Duke Nukem Forever. In May of the same year Take-Two, who was at that moment the holder of the publishing rights for Duke Nukem, filed a law suit against 3D Realms, stating that 3D Realms failed to deliver the game. In 2010 Take-Two announced that Forever had been shifted over from 3D Realms to Gearbox and that it had sold all the rights and the intellectual property to that same company. It was later announced that Critical Mass could no longer carry the Duke Nukem license. They decided to change the game with replacing all traces of Duke Nukem like player models, logos and even voice-overs. The name of the main character was also changed and replaced by a new hero called Cam Nash. Frontline Productions even had a new name for the game, “Extraction Point: Alien Shootout” and decided that the new game now would be released on the Playstation Network. Their biggest problem now was that they faced having to deal with a complete new IP, without a well-known and thus easier selling IP like Duke Nukem.

Things then got even weirder when later in 2011: Apogee Software stated that they did not lost the license for Duke Nukem and that the release date for Duke Nukem: Critical Mass was set for June 2011, but just the DS version. A PSP version was no longer spoken off and was said to be cancelled when developer Frontline was taken off the project; the real reason behind this decision still remains a bit vague but the confusion on loosing or not loosing the original license must have been a large part of that decision. Apogee Software denied that the decision to cancel the PSP version had something to do with the loss of any rights and they even said to have submitted a complete build of the game to Sony for final approval. Unfortunately Apogee declined all comments when asked why the game never got a PSP release.

The Nintendo DS version came out as scheduled in 2011.  It was labeled as the worst handheld game ever and received some very hard and killing critics when reviewed. End of story? No not at all. There is a complete version of the PSP version of Duke Nukem: Critical Mass. Leaked? Nope. Later release? Nope. Port of the game? Also nope.

The Library of Congress in the United States is probably the biggest library in the world. It archives besides just books also things as magazines, comics and yes, also video games. Through the copyright registration process the library receives roughly 400 games in a year. About 99,99% these games are physically released and published computer games. In 2014 a technician of the library was performing an inventory of acquired video games and he stumbled upon a DVD-R labeled Duke Nukem: Critical Mass (PSP).

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Most of the time however these DVD’s contain footage of gameplay of a game. The technician was however triggered by a line of text in the copyright database record: Authorship: entire Video Game, computer code, artwork, music. He put the DVD in his computer and discovered a file directory with the source code of a complete PSP game; a game of which he later found out to be an unreleased Playstation Portable Game. All the contents of the found disc are however copyrighted material and the disc will be stored in the digital archive of the library. Unfortunately it seems that its content cannot be shared. According to Apogee the disc is an early alpha version of the game and it was submitted to the library as required for the copyright process. Duke Nukem: Critical Mass will probably remain another cancelled PSP game that will never be released.

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Saints Row: Undercover [PSP – Cancelled]

Saints Row: Undercover (also known as Saints Row: The Fall in its early phase) is a cancelled chapter in the popular over-the-top open world series by Volition, planned to be released for Sony’s PSP. This game was meant to be the first entry of Saints Row for portable consoles and while a 3DS version was also announced many years ago (titled Saints Row: Drive-By), neither of them were ever released.

Development on Undercover was originally started by Mass Media Games (that already worked with Volition on the PS3 version of Saints Row 2) and then transferred to Savage Entertainment (the same team that ported Star Wars: Battlefront II and Medal of Honor: Vanguard to the PSP). Initially Volition wanted to simply port Saints Row 2 to the PSP, but after a while the project became a new, original sequel, with its own story and characters.

Saints Row: The Fall  was to be set between Saints Row 1 and 2, but thanks to the success of SR2 they later decided to create a sequel to the second game, to expand its story and making it more interesting for the fans. In Saints Row PSP the city would have been split as a result of a civil war within the Saints. The Third Street Saints, who the player would have joined, possessed only a little area in the middle. We would have took the role of an undercover cop, charged with investigating the civil war within the Saints, and at the end of the game we could have decided to join them and betray the police.

The plan for Undercover was to create something similar to the GTA games for the PSP, keeping the core gameplay of the series, with crazy gameplay, a fun world to explore, character customization and coop multiplayer. The game would have had 20 main story missions to complete, along with the usual SR side activities to earn respect points.

Savage Entertainment developed a short playable prototype, but unfortunately after multiple reviews Volition decided that Undercover just wasn’t meeting the standards of what they thought a Saints Row game should be. The game was cancelled and the PSP dev kit on which the project was created was hidden away in one of Volition’s storage rooms.

Only many years later Saints Row: Undercover was found again thanks to Josh Stinson (Associate Video Editor at Volition), that stumbled upon that PSP dev kit while looking around their office. After talking about it with colleagues and with the support of Alexander Mejia (Video Producer at Volition) and Mike Watson (Community Manager at Volition), they were able to convince their bosses that such a lost games should have been shared with the fans, as an interesting curiosity and a piece of gaming history to preserve. During Volition’s stream on Twitch on the 22January 2016 they officially shown Saints Row: Undercover to the world and this Thursday (Jan 28) they will do a dedicated stream around 4pm CST.

Please join their stream on Twitch the 28th of January to see more from this lost game and to ask every questions you have directly to Volition! This is really important as if this stream will be successful Volition will release even more info on other cancelled games!

Below you can download Saints Row: Undercover walk through, design doc and fully playable prototype, also shared by the lovely people at Volition. Huge props to them!

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