News on Beta & Cancelled Games

Kyskrew (Call Of Destiny) [Dreamcast, PC – Cancelled]

Kyskrew (also known as “Call Of Destiny“) is a cancelled RPG for Dreamcast and PC, originally meant to be released sometime in fall / winter of 2001. Even if the game seems to have been mostly a fan-project in early concept stage, it’s quite interesting to learn about it because before this article there were not many evidences about its existence online: for sure it’s one of the most forgotten unseen games planned for Sega Dreamcast.

The graphic shown in these early screenshots (published in various French magazines such as “Gameplay RPG” #31 in july/august 2001, “Dreamzone” #25 in June/July 2001 and “Joypad” #113 in November 2001) was good for its time, but most of the models and environments were  pre-rendered and it’s currently unknown how much of the game was really in a playable state.

Kyskrew was in development by Dragonhydre (later renamed Crystal Dream), a small independent French team that was disbanded just after the cancellation of their project in mid 2002. It seems that Dragonhydre was composed of 12 members (with age ranging from 16 to 23 years-old) who meet in various French gaming forums and decided to organize a development team to create their own game.

In an interview published on Dream-Emu a former member of Dragonhydre said that their plan was to release the game for free on their website, to let people to download the ISO and play it on their Dreamcast and PC.

The plot of Kyskrew involved the Goddess of Love and Creation – Eloina – who imprisoned her arch-enemy, the God of Hate – Gainer. Unfortunately a fragment of Gainer’s tainted soul would escape from his prison and reincarnate in a human being to take revenge and destroy the world.

It seems Kyskrew would have featured different combat mechanics, they wanted to use real-time combat system to fight normal enemies through levels but then combat would became turn-based during boss fights. Several character classes were planned to play the game with, including knights, magicians, and thieves. There was also an internal clock system that alternated the game time between night and day, a feature that have since become a standard in many modern RPGs including Elder Scrolls and Fable.

The world of Kyskrew also appears to have been particularly large, with 5 continents that included a good number of cities and dungeons. It was reported by the project’s director that the game would have had over 40 hours of gameplay.

As the Dreamcast was near the end of its life-cycle, in late 2001 Dragonhydre decided to move the game to Playstation 2, plus adding a GBA version too. It’s hard to say how much work was really put into these consoles, as the team was soon disbanded.

In 2004 another former member of Dragonhydre wrote a few pots on the Yaronet forums, revealing that they had many internal problems: work done on the game was not very good, team members keep changing during development and even early deadlines continued to be postponed, until the cancellation of the project.

A few tech-demo videos were once available on their official website, but unfortunately it seems Archive.org doesn’t have the files anymore. If you know someone who worked on this game who could still have some footage saved, please let us know!

Article by Blake Lynch & monokoma, thanks to Isatis_Angel for the scans and contribution!

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Indy the Magical Kid (Shounen Majutsushi) [NES – Cancelled]

Indy the Magical Kid (Shounen Majutsushi Indy – 「少年魔術師インディ」) is a cancelled Famicom (NES) turn-based RPG that was meant to be published by IGS Corp. Somehow it looks like a mix between Dragon Quest and Mother / Earthbound. Previews and screenshots from Indy the Magical Kid were published in many japanese gaming magazines at the time and some scans of those were gathered by Video Games Densetsu on their blog. Character designer for the heroes of the game was Hiroshi Fuji (mostly known for Valkyrie no Densetsu and Valkyrie no Bōken), while enemy design was by Yūichirō Shinozaki (mostly known for The Tower of Druaga and Baraduke)

Indy the Magical Kid was based on a short series of “choose your own adventure books” with the same title, published in Japan by Futabasha / Recca-Sha. By searching for more details about these gamebooks, it seems Indy the Magical Kid was written by the same author as the Final Fantasy 2 gamebook and fans feel the two interactive novels are quite similar.

These japanese adventure books were more complex than the average “choose your own adventure books”: other than choosing different choices at the end of each chapter to change the story accordingly, readers were also able to use dices and gather money, items and experience, that would be used to resolve combats and other key events.

As in most gamebooks Indy the Magical Kid had multiple endings depending on your choices, so we can assume that the Famicom game could also have offered many different endings and multiple storylines. The plot of the game would have probably followed the one seen in the books:

“During the absence of his master, Indy – an apprentice magician – has unlocked the seal of the “Magical Inferno” for curiosity. In order to escape from this world he will have to exterminate demons with the help of master’s cat Miau and another magical girl, using weapons, rods, magic-letters, and spirits’ protection.”

As noted by GDRI a short video of Indy the Magical Kid was shown during a Japanese TV Show titled “The TV Power” and it could have been developed by Graphic Research. Looking at this footage (re-uploaded on Youtube by Dosunceste) it seems that by using magic portals players were able to jump into different parallel dimensions of the same world in which NPCs, cities and dungeons were slightly different from each other.

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Holy War [PC – Cancelled]

Holy War is a cancelled game that was in development between 2003 and 2005 by Gamelords, a portuguese team that would later become Seed Studios. The game was produced with an in-house 3D engine and financed by Linha de Terra Studios and Norhold Investimentos.

Holy War was set in the conflict between Israel and Palestine, reproducing real world locations, weapons and people. A multiplayer mode was also planned, allowing players to choose which faction to fight for.

An early demo developed in 2005 was shown for the first time during the event “Games 2006” bearing only the minimum features necessary to get publishers’ attention – four maps (including the wall built by Israel and the Gaza Strip), part of the tutorial, some weapons and some computer-controlled characters for single player.

Filipe Pina is a developer who worked on Holy War at the time and in an e-mail interview he was able to explain some more details about its development:

“While developing the game, we were in constant contact with a Palestinian and an Israeli that helped us make everything as real as possible. The guns of the Israeli, combat equipment and everything else was faithfully recreated. The Palestinians used guns from the Russians among other things.”

The demo also provided some interesting features:

“(…) the demo used “normal maps”, real-time shadows and a day/night system. It was one of the first FPS to allow gameplay in both 1st and 3rd person. It was also possible to drive vehicles.”

The team received very good feedback from publishers praising the game’s graphics and gameplay, but the controversial theme  – even if it had brought them free advertisement – provoked some fear on investors.

To quote an interview with Bruno Ribeiro (another developer who worked on the game), about a meeting with members from Take Two Interactive:

“We managed to show the game to some members of a very famous publisher. Initially they were very excited by our work, but that changed once they noticed that the theme wasn’t a generic one. They started to see characteristic elements of Israel and asked “will there be any suicide bombers?”. As soon as we said yes, they immediately said “That is going to be a problem”.”

The team was pressured to change the theme to a more generic setting – “maybe some American soldiers killing terrorists” – but publishers refused to support a videogame that represented a more realistic and delicate situation.

Gamelords considered having a digital release on PC for Holy War but without any support from publishers and having to totally finance the project themselves, they were not able to continue working on it. Despite the cancellation of their Holy War project, Gamelords learned a lot during its development and allowed them to gain a valuable work experience for their future as Seed Studios.

It’s also important to mention that the tools and technology developed by the company for Holy Wars were later reused for other projects, even outside the area of videogames.

In the gallery below you can see some sketches, renders and screenshots from the Holy Wars demo, gently provided by Filipe Pina.

Article by Jump/Error, original version in Portuguese on the Videogame PT Blog!

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Ride to Hell: Retribution [Beta – Xbox 360, PS3, PC]

Ride to Hell: Retribution is a low-rated action game developed by Eutechnyx and Deep Silver Vienna, released in 2013 for Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and PC: the game is a linear, buggy, and occasionally tasteless mess. When it was originally announced in late 2008 as Ride to Hell it was meant to be an true open world adventure taking place in 1960’s California, with influences coming from Biker films. The game was planned to be published in 2009 and formally shown off as the cover story for the January 2009 issue of Play magazine.

As we can read in the first press release:

“Action loaded from the very start with free roaming environments, players can immerse themselves in the liberty and freedom of riding full throttle with their gang on a multitude of different vehicles through the dusty flats of Western America. Protecting their turf, their brothers and their machines from rival gangs is just a taste of what this epic game will involve.

‘Ride to Hell’ is not for the faint hearted; it’s aimed heavily at the player who wants to become fully involved in the original West Coast biker culture. With its hard drinking, bare knuckle environment, this is as close to the action as you can get.

In a movie style production model, the internal Deep Silver studio is teaming up with leading creative companies such as Eutechnyx, Perspective Studios, and others, to bring the authentic and massive game world of ‘Ride to Hell’ to life.”

The keyword to describe the original “beta” game was “free”: freedom to explore the world as you please with your bike. The team’s goals were to create a vast experience, a sandbox world with incredibly high details. Your motorcycle was just as important: it would be used to move around the map, earn respect from other NPC bikers and to show your power. You could have been able to customize your own motorcycle to recreate nearly anyone you’d find in real life.

You would take control of a man named Ray, a Vietnam War veteran returning home to find his world changed. He would soon join a Biker Gang named Devil’s Hand: this would start the game’s adventure, with the mission to earn respect for the gang, to make it grow and heighten your reputation as one of the best bikers. This had effects on gameplay and on the game’s NPCs, with other bikers following you as a posse, drivers being weary about you and Police trying to arrest your gang. All depending on how you would play.

Sex, drugs, rock and roll: these all would find a place in Ride to Hell.  Allegedly, over 300 licensed songs were to be featured in the game, fitting each mood, from Blues, Country, to Hard Rock. Born to be Wild by Steppenwolf was even featured in the reveal trailer. In the original beta version of Ride to Hell you could deliver mushrooms to a chef to cook them and eating the wrong one would cause a psychedelic reaction. You could have been able to help a doctor bring special medicine to an outskirts Hippy Joint, work on a porn movie-set to earn a camera you could use to blackmail a sheriff found with a prostitute. These are a few examples of the sandbox mechanics were planned for the original version of the game.

Unfortunately development of Ride to Hell was not going well and the title would be cancelled in 2010, along with the closure of the Deep Silver Vienna team. The game would reappear in early 2013 with only Eutechnyx to develop it, losing most of its original open world and sandbox mechanics. The beta main protagonist Ray was replaced by Jake Conway, a  Vietnam War veteran on a quest for revenge after his brother was murdered by the Devil’s Hand, now a rival gang.

In the end Ride to Hell: Retribution was published in 2013 by Deep Silver, a Xbox Live Arcade / PSN game titled Ride to Hell: Route 666 and a mobile game titled Ride to Hell: Beatdown were also planned, but due to the highly negative reception of the main game both titles were later cancelled.

Article by Nicolas Dunai

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Eden (Antichrist) [Cancelled – PC, Xbox 360, PS3]

Eden is a cancelled psychological horror game that was in development in 2009 by Zentropa Games as a tie-in / epilogue of the Antichrist movie directed by Lars Von Trier. Zentropa Games was part of Zentropa Entertainments, the Danish film company started in 1992 by Von Trier and producer Peter Aalbaek Jensen and from an interview published on Eurogamer DK it seems that Aalbaek was the one to suggest making a game related to Antichrist.

eden Zentropa Games - antichrist tie-in

Eden was based in the same universe as Antichrist, with a new plot starting where the film ends. The player would have assumed the role of Willem Dafoe‘s character, who goes back to the lodge in the woods (called “Eden”) to try to figure out the cause for the violent events seen in the movie. Eden would have been a deep dive into your darkest and most gloomy personal fears, as players had to create their own profile at the start of the game, answering to a series of questions about their fears, and thus making the adventure a very personal experience, that would change for each individual.

We can assume gameplay would have been somehow similar to the Silent Hill series mixed with Heavy Rain and other Quantic Dream games, but played in first person. The game was conceived to be played multiple times, to see all the different endings and events. Zentropa Games planned to release Eden in 2010 for PC, Xbox Live Arcade and PSN.

As we can read in an article by Superannuation published by Kotaku:

Morten Iversen, formerly a writer on the Hitman franchise at IO Interactive, led the development of the game, and Politiken added that “Von Trier [had to] approve the [team’s] final design. […] In an e-mail, Iversen said Eden “was originally intended to be a companion piece to [the film],” but the development team ultimately felt Antichrist’s audience was too narrow, so they decided to reposition it as a unique story-driven title appealing to people interested in games like Heavy Rain. Iversen compared the connection between Eden and Antichrist to that of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and the Andrei Tarkovsky film of the same name: there would be elements – the setting and general universe – discerning fans would recognize, but it would still be an accessible product for a larger audience.

The game began “with a short prologue about legal and emotional repercussions” of Antichrist’s events, and then tasked players with “collecting clues in a mystery that slowly unfolds – [they] unlock areas in and around the cabin [from the film],” Iversen said. In order to succeed in Eden, players had to confront their personal phobias and “explore the darkness in [the game’s] universe” and within the players.”

eden Zentropa Games - antichrist tiein Willem Dafoe

Unfortunately in early 2010 Zentropa Games had to close down because of economic issues:

“Even after receiving 100,000 Euro in aid they just couldn’t manage to keep it going. It seems that the games industry in Denmark is coming to a crushing halt as now 4 developers have closed in the last 12 months.  “There was just no budget to continue development. Over the years it became increasingly clear that there simply was not enough money,” said Morten Iversen, former head of Zentropa Games to PC World.”

Only a few concept arts remains from the development of Eden: if you know someone who worked on this game that could have some screenshots or videos, please let us know!

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