Charlie Brown’s All-Stars [PS2/Xbox/Wii/PSP – Cancelled]

Charlie Brown’s All-Stars is a cancelled baseball game that was in development by FarSight Studios and going to be published by Namco Bandai Games, around 2006-2007, for the PlayStation 2, Xbox, Wii and PSP systems. The game was based on the prime-time animated TV special of the same name, about the popular comic strip Peanuts, by Charles M. Schulz. The plot of the cartoon was used for the game too:

After Charlie Brown‘s team loses their first game of the season (123-0), his team throws down their caps in disgust and quits. Frustrated and depressed, Charlie Brown wanders around aimlessly until Linus meets him with good news: Mr. Hennessey, operator of a local hardware store, is offering to sponsor Charlie Brown’s team, place them in an organized league, and even buy them new uniforms.

We can read more details in Namco Bandai’s official press release:

The cast of Peanuts has come together in an entertaining and fun pick-up-and-play baseball game, Charlie Brown’s All-Stars. Players can help Charlie Brown end his 900 game losing streak as they play baseball with an incredible cast of more than 30 Peanuts characters. Players can also take part in any of four Party Games, including batting, fielding and pitching contests, as well as a good ol’ fashioned game of “Lucy Says.” As players progress through the game they will have the chance to enjoy classic Peanuts storylines, artwork and unlock tons of bonus content including every baseball-related Peanuts comic strip. Charlie Brown’s All-Stars steps up to the plate in Spring 2007. This title has not yet been concept approved by Sony Computer Entertainment America.

Years later, contributor Matthew Culley managed to get in touch with developer Christopher Kline:

M.C.: How far into development did the game get?

C.K.: This is a guess since it’s been so long but apparently we had 6 different playfield environments, a number of characters, a few special effects, the start of a basic original soundtrack, and playable game mechanics. I believe you could play a very basic game of baseball in our demo.

M.C.: The ad mentions over 70 playable characters, this seems like a lot for a Peanuts game.  Was a list ever made?

C.K.: I managed to dig up a player roster that confirms the high character count.  Some of them were just made up characters with names taken from different employees kids.  Chandler was named after my first born son, for instance. (…) Every character had at least a first pass done, so I would assume all were playable. I did a few basic character models we used in the early stages (mainly Charlie Brown)  and we hired Christopher Pavia to be the lead character artist on that game. I know he was pumping out a lot of characters (…).  Tom Green was the Art Director at the time (…).

There were 8 teams of 9 players:

Charlie Brown’s All-Stars

Pitcher:             Charlie Brown

Catcher:            Schroeder

First Base:        Shermy

Second Base:    Linus

Third Base:       Pig-Pen

Shortstop:         Snoopy

Left Field:          Violet

Center Field:      Lucy

Right Field:        Frieda

Peppermint Patty’s Pelicans

Pitcher:             Peppermint Patty

Catcher:            Thibault

First Base:        Leland

Second Base:    Jose Peterson

Third Base:        Floyd

Shortstop:         Franklin

Left Field:          Sophie

Center Field:      Shirley

Right Field:        Marcie

Junior League Champs

Pitcher:             Royanne

Catcher:            Ethan

First Base:        Wayne

Second Base:    Patty

Third Base:        Lila

Shortstop:         Cormac

Left Field:          Roy

Center Field:     Poochie

Right Field:       Truffles

Team Beagle

Pitcher:             Molly

Catcher:            Olaf

First Base:        Mom

Second Base:    Dad

Third Base:       Andy

Shortstop:         Spike

Left Field:          Marbles

Center Field:      Belle

Right Field:        Nephew

Bully Team

Pitcher:             Bully (unnamed bully 6/22/94)

Catcher:            Bad Call Benny (4/16/82)

First Base:        Tapioca Pudding

Second Base:    Guido (unnamed street hustler 7/10/75)

Third Base:        Puck (unnamed hockey bully (1/10/78)

Shortstop:         Molly Volly (4/23/82)

Left Field:          Joe Agate (4/8/95)

Center Field:      Keith (unnamed bully 10/17/93)

Right Field:        Junior (unnamed bully 8/8/74)

Pig Pen’s Cousins

Pitcher:             Stinka

Catcher:            El Guapo

First Base:        Trashcan

Second Base:    Sugar Pen

Third Base:        Buck

Shortstop:         William

Left Field:          Fifi Bug

Center Field:      Ink Pen

Right Field:        Bull Pen

Tiny Team

Pitcher:             Austin

Catcher:            Maynard

First Base:        Shirley

Second Base:   Clara

Third Base:       Five

Shortstop:         Milo

Center Field:      Ruby

Right Field:      Rerun

Left Field:        Sally

Camp All-Stars

Pitcher:             Gabi

Catcher:            Magson

First Base:        Hale

Second Base:    Zoey

Third Base:        Sophie

Shortstop:         Troy

Left Field:          Chandler

Center Field:      Vivian

Right Field:        Patrick

M.C.: How many fields were planned, and how many were actually made before development ended?

C.K.: We apparently had 6 environments fairly polished with 12 planned in total.

M.C.: Where did the inspiration come from? Did someone go through all the old Charlie Brown comic strips and movies looking for content that could be adapted into the game?

C.K.: Bobby King might be able to answer this one better from the perspective of how the game idea ever came to be.  Once we knew we were working on it, we traveled to the Charles M Schulz museum and got access to an online archive of all the old Peanuts strips.  We also looked at the holiday movies.  Then we studied all the nuances we could find with both the baseball related references and just Peanuts in general to try to mimic as much as possible to give the game that special Peanuts vibe.

M.C.: Are there any more renders/screenshots/videos that you are willing/able to share?

C.K.: I happened to have a couple screenshots that I had saved for my portfolio. That’s what you already found online. There is always more random stuff but I don’t really know what we could share at this point. Screenshots would be tough since it would require pulling up the actual game on a PS2 dev kit. No idea if the studio still has any of those. You would have to talk to Bobby to see if he could / would want to do that. I doubt he would want to show off things that weren’t very polished.

M.C.: I understand the game was shown off at E3 2006. Have any trailers or videos or builds from this event survived?

C.K.: I would assume a video was made for E3. That plus the original build might still exist on FarSights internal servers. There were 2 Peanuts games that were originally supposed to premier. The other was Snoopy vs The Red Baron.  Snoopy was much further along and premiered at E3 but Baseball didn’t get shown for some reason. I remember attending and walking up to the booth disappointed to not see our game on display. This might have been right around when it was cancelled. Bobby may have more answers there.

M.C.: How much did this game’s development influence the later Backyard Baseball games that were developed by FarSight Studios?

C.K.: Technology wise, quite a bit. I think a lot of the games core framework was used and/or modified.

Further details were shared by him about the project development:

For the music side, as Audio Director I was searching for people who could pull off an authentic Vince Guaraldi style soundtrack.  We had a local pianist/musician, named William Morosi, who we were working with at the time that did a fantastic job.  That addition behind all of the menu screens and during game play really made a big difference, giving it a really authentic Peanuts feel.

We were attempting to add in all kinds of fun nuances to gameplay as well.  As I recall, if you hit the ball near Charlie Brown while he was pitching, he would do his infamous POW spin where his hat, gloves, socks, and shoes all came off before he could scramble for the ball.  I think I was also looking to add in the infamous “waa waa waa” adult speak sound as the announcer for the player at bat, which was supplemented with on screen text so you could understand them.  One of the big challenges with special effects as I recall was getting them to look right with that 2d comic feel while being in a 3d environment.  I think the 3D Peanuts movie by Blue Sky Studios did captured that style really well.  We could never pull that off back then.  Our internal game engine at the time was very basic, so we did the best we could with what we had to work with.

The title was canned because FarSight was over booked with too many games and not enough staff. Charlie Brown’s All-Stars was supposed to be developed in tandem with the game Snoopy vs. the Red Baron and was going to share some assets from that:

Peanuts was one of my favorite games we were working on during that time in the studio, and as far as I can recall, we were stretched really thin to get it all done in time.  I can’t remember how many other games we had going at the same time, but it was always multiple.  We also were constantly at a disadvantage with our engine tech so making a game look higher end to compete with the rest of the market was extremely challenging.  Ultimately it’s my understanding that Namco decided to pull the plug because Snoopy vs The Red Baron wasn’t performing as well as they had hoped.  I was very sad to see it get cancelled, and would love to see a studio take on a Peanuts baseball game now using Unreal engine tech.  I think that could do really well and be distinct from other baseball games if they do their homework, keeping it full of fun Peanuts nuances, and don’t try to make it a serious baseball game.

Red Baron turned out to be a good game, so it’s a shame Charlie Browns All Stars didn’t follow in its footsteps.

Thanks a lot to Chris Kline for the contribution, and a lot to Matthew Culley for the interview!

Article updated by Daniel Nicaise


Parkour [PSP – Prototype]

Parkour is a prototype for a platform / action game that was created by Torus Games to pitch some publisher for a full game. It was loosely based on the  extreme sport with the same name, in which people run and jump from city roofs and buildings, to moving from one point to another as smoothly, efficiently and quickly as possible. In the game we would have been able to jump around the city to arrive to the final gateway and fight a boss to complete the level. Sadly it seems that they never found a publisher interested in the project, so Parkour was cancelled.



Cannon Fodder 3 [PSP – Cancelled]

Cannon Fodder 3 is the cancelled PSP sequel of a series of  war themed RTS / top down shooters developed by Sensible Software, initially released for the Commodore Amiga. On 28 August 2006, Codemasters announced that a brand new version of Cannon Fodder would appear exclusively on the PlayStation Portable. The game would have retained its familiar top down view, and the big heads of the soldiers, and for the first time the game would have been 3D. The game has since been canceled by the publisher. [Info from Wikipedia]

As we can read from an interview with Jon Hare (co-founder of Sensible Software) at Cubed3:

It does upset me that three times we started that project. It was a good project, good design, we had an extremely good team in London to develop it. Unfortunately, through no fault of their own, Codemasters hit economic problems and had to sell the studio, so everything just went.

Thanks to Celine for the contribution!


The Elder Scrolls Travels: Oblivion [PSP – Cancelled]

The Elder Scrolls Travels: Oblivion [PSP – Cancelled]

The Elder Scrolls Travels: Oblivion is a cancelled action RPG in The Elder Scrolls series that was planned to be released for PSP, based on the main Oblivion game released for PC, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2006. The game was in development at Climax Group London (former Syrox Developments, from Kingston upon Thames, UK) with some help from Climax Group Los Angeles  in 2005 / 2006, with new characters, inventory system, combat system, levels and more features exclusive for this PSP version.

“The game was originally being created using an ‘inhouse’ game engine that was  being developed alongside the Oblivion PSP game. The engine used a BSP based renderer and early levels were prototyped using GTK Radiant. Eventually development moved over to use Renderware Studio following successes found through the engine’s use in Ghost Rider PSP and Silent Hill PSP (both in different stages of development at other Climax studios at the time).”

Because of the Playstation Portable hardware limitations, Elder Scrolls Travels: Oblivion was going to be a more linear game than the original Bethesda Game Studios version. There was a hub world which contained various vendors, NPCs and story characters, and player would have used a teleportation crystal to go to each of the explorable areas of the game. The hub world would change and react to the events that went on in each area, for example going on a side mission in a level and rescue an NPC, that NPC may show up in the HUB world as a special vendor or quest giver.

“One of the problems faced with Renderware was the use of navigation meshes that lead to NPCs not being able to physically being located above the player in 3D space. I’m not sure if this was limited to just the Oblivion PSP version of Renderware, however this limitation led to the levels that were implemented having no overlapping tiers or level layers (e.g. floors above floors) because the NPCs wouldn’t ‘find’ their way up overlapping paths. This problem wasn’t successfully resolved in time to have a positive effect on the designed levels. If the project progressed it’s possible that this would have been resolved leading to more complex multi-tiered environments. In the tech demo, this is why the Oblivion towers had no lifts, or vertical stairwells, and relied on the player walking through doors to load in the next level segment with a separate AI navmesh.”

Each area had multiple paths to be explored that were open or closed depending on which quest was active. Oblivion PSP was designed in a way that would maximize the console limitations, but there was a lot of levels planned and at one point Climax even thought it might have to be split on to two UMDs.

oblivion psp travels cancelled

The team at Climax had access to early builds of Oblivion and played it heavily to be able to better get the feel of the main game. Even Todd Howard was really impressed with the design that the team was able to create for the portable version, that included all of Oblivion’s main core mechanics, plot, characters and playable areas related to TES4: Oblivion’s storyline. The game took place at the same time as Oblivion, but wanted to express that the Oblivion Crisis was happening all over Tamriel, not just in Cyrodiil, so it was set in and around High Rock. Some of the levels were set in Moonguard, Anticlere, Glenpoint and even Daggerfall, each with their own explorable world areas and plane of Oblivion that was a unique reflection of the level location.

“The story was planned to take the player across the northern regions of Tamriel, mainly focusing on High Rock, and be timed to take place as a second storyline during the main story in the main Oblivion game. The idea was that Oblivion gates were opening all across Tamriel, not just limited to Cyrodiil.

The main antagonist was going to be called Zhurl. The story was the player basically tracking and following Zhurl through the zones and Oblivion gates with him always being 1 step ahead until the end of the game.

Originally there was due to be 10 levels across 5 regions that would each have its own counterpart Oblivion gate. The idea was that, because of being linear rather than open world, progression would go from Tamriel to Oblivion for each leg of the game.”

  • Rhalta: the starting location of the game, with the player starting in a prison cell to mirror what happened in the main Oblivion game. The idea was that the player was experiencing an adventure that was equally as important and the story would be intertwined with references to the events of the main Oblivion game.
  • Anticlere: This was a walled city – the player would traverse through house interiors and streets, winding their way upwards towards Anticlere castle. The Oblivion plain level was to be a winding maze of underground caverns that would cross paths on multiple levels.
  • MoonGuard: a village in the province of High Rock. It is one of several possible locations that the Eternal Champion may discover in The Elder Scrolls: Arena.
  • Glenpoint: Intended to have the player to start in an underground cavern system, walk their way down a mountainside to then travel across open green spaces, ending at a church and graveyard.
  • Daggerfall: This was planned to be a return to Daggerfall, but completely destroyed. The idea was that the whole city would have been torn apart with lava and some aspects of the Oblivion plain would have started to merge with Tamriel. Destruction was to be done partially by huge worms (think the sand worms from Tremors) that ate through the ground and destroyed the city streets. The player would spend time walking in the tunnels left behind by these worms that would lead the player underneath buildings and up and out to resurface on the other side.

The hub city was planned to have several small quests to help you navigate and familiarize the player with where key vendor NPCs were (e.g. there was a planned burglar quest within the main city for the armourer with a reward for 50% discount on repair for armour and weapon damage).

In The Elder Scrolls Travels players would have helped a Mage to try to stop the Oblivion Crisis, and each plane of Oblivion featured it’s own unique boss.

oblivion psp cancelled

The designers had planned more than 180 quests, which took on a variety of things from the main quest line to a huge variety of side quests, including quests for the various guilds. The plotline (and side quests) on PSP referenced the Oblivion game and plot line at several points to tie the two products together, and even explained / foretold some of the events of Oblivion – for example, the Dark Brotherhood quest line heavily featured Lucien Lachance (before his demise in the main Oblivion game).

Monsters / NPCs were to include:

  • Rat
  • Prison Guard
  • Scamp
  • Rhalta Mage
  • Rhalta Guard Captain
  • Mythic Dawn

The skill system was closely aligned with Oblivion, and was planned to include:

  • 18 unique skills
  • Player had to choose 7 skills as ‘major’ while the rest became ‘minor’
  • Increasing abilities in major skills was the only way to level up
  • Major skills to start with 25 attribute points
  • Minor skills to start with 5 attribute points

The team developed a few playable levels using Renderware Studio and most of the core gameplay systems was already working or planned, as the combat mechanics (which allowed the player to sub-select parts of an enemy when targeting them, due to only having one analogue stick on the PSP), inventory system, TES character statistics system using Oblivion’s own attributes / skills formula and the conversation system.

the elder scroll oblivion psp

Unfortunately we’ll never be able to play a final version of this unique version of Oblivion. A playable prototype was leaked online in June 2016, you can search the ISO on Google.. check the videos in this page for more info! Although the PSP game was announced for release in spring 2007 and the team had already created some great content, The Elder Scrolls Travels was soon cancelled and it vanished forever without any official comment from Climax or Bethesda.

Eventually, with the changes in game engine and technical challenges faced, each environment was reduced from being fully unique levels – the scope of the game was reduced to meet project milestones. This meant that the game changed to use a modular approach to level design instead of fully unique regions and the scope was reduced to reuse Oblivion plain levels. Each level ‘module’ was then used like jigsaw puzzle pieces to create the levels – artists would then take these piecemeal levels and complete a pass to make them correctly lit and integrated stylistically. The leaked tech demo mainly includes the standalone levels (I.E. those that were not created in a modular fashion).

The original deal was signed with too little time and too little money to actually make it. In early development Climax were going to use their own internal 3D engine for PSP, but when that didn’t move quick enough they switched over to using Renderware Studio (which was already been used on other games) for an easier and faster development. Sadly this was too late to save the project and Oblivion PSP was cancelled.