News on Beta & Cancelled Games

Project Carbondale (Sega) [Xbox, PS2 – Cancelled]

Project Carbondale is a cancelled survival horror game that was being development by SEGA in 2003 for Xbox and Playstation 2. While the game was never officially announced, the public found out about its development thanks to a few articles published online by various websites, including The Southern Illinoisan, in which they wrote about Sega employees exploring the city of Carbondale (Illinois) to take inspiration and capture reference for the project.

“CARBONDALE – Aliens have landed in Carbondale and they are killing anything that moves. Your natural instinct is to flee, but a severe mid-winter blizzard has cut off all hopes of escape. Quick! Grab a gun, a sledgehammer, a scythe, any weapon you can get your hands on. Your only hope for survival is to stand your ground and fight – in the mall, the old Carbondale high school, city hall, even the sewer system if you have to. This is a fight to the death and it’s going to be bloody.

The battle isn’t real, though. It’s one of the biggest video game releases of 2004 being developed by Sega. Thousands of people, maybe even millions, will be fighting to save Carbondale from alien beasties next year. “Initially Sega said ‘We want to place this game in a small town,'” said Cord Smith, product manager for Sega of America. “Initially they said an East Coast town, but they just wanted something that wasn’t the West Coast. (The Japanese game designers) are familiar with San Francisco and California culture, but to them, that’s not America. America is what’s between the two coasts.”

carbondale sega game cancelled

Smith is now spending nine days leading a team of eight game designers from Tokyo around key Carbondale locations, including University Mall, the old high school central campus, the police station, city hall, water treatment plant, local homes and apartments, and yes, even the sewer system. “They’re soaking all this in, with the biggest smiles on their faces,” Smith said. “They keep saying this is kind of what they imagined, but they’re blown away that everyone has a yard, everything’s beautiful, everything’s so lush and green.”

The game’s designer, Shinichi Ogasawara, says bringing the design team all the way from Tokyo to see the Midwest for themselves is the best way to create a realistic small-town environment. The team is shooting digital videotape and still photographs that will be used to provide the textures of the games’ three-dimensional environment. Some team members photographed close-ups of anything that could be interactive, such as light switches and the weights used by Carbondale firefighters. Other team members photographed walls, ceilings, floors and artwork hanging on walls.”

Shinichi Ogasawara had previously worked on many different light gun arcade games, such as “Gunblade NY: Special Air Assault Force”, “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” and “The Maze of the Kings”, but it seems this would have been his first console project.

At the time, Cord Smith was resigning from SEGA and about to join Ubisoft, but his sister was the acting City Attorney of Carbondale, and – through her many city contacts – he was able to grant unlimited access to many locations that could have been used in the game: the abandoned high school, hospital, shopping mall, fire station, police station (and armory and shooting range), water treatment plant, and even the underground waterways & sewer system. The team met in Illinois and toured together for multiple days at the various sites.

carbondale-sega-game-cancelled-3

As far as we were able to gather, Carbondale was being developed for Playstation 2 and Xbox, but at that time, many devs were also looking into next-gen tech. We were told that the early prototype of Carbondale seemed to be on the PS2. Unfortunately it appears that this early prototype simply wasn’t of high enough quality to receive the green-light for its next milestone, but there is not enough info available to know exactly what happened to the game, and additional details about its gameplay mechanics are scarce.

It seems that the game was meant to be a traditional survival horror with moments of more “bombastic action”, potentially through the invasion of alien enemies. People who talked with Ogasawara at the time got the sense that they wanted it to be SEGA’s answer to the Resident Evil franchise, featuring a much more realistic Western setting (hence the research), but also SEGA’s leanings towards action and arcade-like fun factor.

We were able to exchange a few emails with Cord, who shared a few memories about this lost game and their Carbondale exploration:

“One of my favorite locations was an abandoned high school. The city had built a new one and left the old in an eerie state, with lots of books, equipment, and other items left behind. We visited it at night, so it was as if a apocalyptic event had occurred and everyone evacuated in a hurry. In other words: perfect video game reference.

The mirrors behind the theater stage still had cosmetics nearby, the cafeteria had trays out on the tables, and textbooks were strewn about the classrooms. We split up into two teams, each with cameras and flashlights, and in one area I found a CPR dummy, which amounted to a dressed male mannequin torso. Without hesitation, I took it and returned to the main stairway near the school’s foyer. I could see the other team’s flashlights scanning the walls along the distant hallway, and faked a scream before sliding the torso along the floor towards them. As the seemingly severed body moved into the beams of their flashlights, the school erupted with the other groups’ terrified screams. And we laughed, and laughed. So much fun!”

We hope to be able to preserve more details and footage from the game in the future.

Thanks a lot to Mortimer for the contribution!

Images:

Game Boy Gallery [Beta]

Game Boy Gallery is a collection of Game & Watch mini games (Ball, Vermin, Flagman, Manhole, and Mario’s Cement Factory) released in Europe  and Australia in 1995 for the original Game Boy. Aidan noticed that a 1994 UK ad for the Super Game Boy has beta footage of Ball, Vermin, Manhole, and Vermin’s mode select screen. The footage is only a couple of seconds (or, in Ball’s case, a couple of frames), but you can check a few screenshots here, with comparisons to the original G&Ws and the final version of Game Boy Gallery. Manhole’s character also changes his expression!

Thanks to Aidan for the contribution!

Images:

Videos:

Sacred Pools [Sega Saturn, PC – Cancelled]

Sacred Pools is a cancelled interactive movie / FMV game that was in development by Code Monkeys and Segasoft in 1995 / 1996, for Sega Saturn and PC. It seems the project was shown in video form at E3 1996 along with other classic Saturn titles, such as Nights, Panzer Dragoon 2, Virtual On and many more, but in the end Sacred Pools was never released. A few details were published by various gaming magazines at the time, as in Ultra Game Players #74 (January 1997), Mean Machines Sega Magazine #45 (July 1996), PC Player #07 (July 1996), and Sega Saturn Magazine UK #10 (August 1996).

The game had a quite negative feedback from the press and that could be one of the reasons of its cancellation:

“Just when you thought the interactive movie was dead.. along comes Sacred Pools. This is another Segasoft venture, and one which they say revolutionises adventure gaming by mixing computer graphics with video footage. At present only the video footage was on show, and it’s the usual mix of Dr. Who effects and actors without dignity. And we thought they’d learned their lesson with Double Switch.”

As far as we know, Sacred Pools was meant to be one of the first adult-only titles for the Sega Saturn, in the form of “erotic thriller” with explicit (?) sex and violent scenes, but we don’t know exactly what the team wanted to shown in the game. Sacred Pools was just one of many unreleased games planned by Segasoft, such as G.I. Ant, Heat Warz, Ragged Earth and Skies.

A few more details were shared in the Assembler Games Forum by an anonymous user who seems to own a playable beta of the game:

“SEGASOFT paid over $3mil to develop the game. The company is called Codemonkeys now. Not sure if they had a different name back then. But Segasoft pretty much entirely funded the company during that period. […] My knowledge is limited. They spent a bunch of money developing this game that was supposed to be “revolutionary”. The game missed milestones and went way over budget. I have never played that far through the game but what i’ve seen is that it is basically a FMV game where you can sort of move around the world. You have choices of which direction to go and what to do, but they are limited and (obviously) on tracks.”

If you have more images or details about this lost game, let us know! We hope to be able to preserve some footage from the game in the future.

Images:

Blue Angelo [GBA – Cancelled]

Created by Adriano Baglio (Virtual Spaghetti) and published by Shibuya Interactive, Blue Angelo was originally developed in 2004 for the Korean GamePark 32 console and well received by the public. Little information is available on Shibuya Interactive but the company appears to be no longer in existence. Unfortunately the GP32 sold poorly and prevented the game from gaining any real attention. While a Game Boy Advance version of Blue Angelo was planned for release after the European launch of the GP32, the Korean handheld was never released there and thus the Game Boy Advanced port was canceled.

Firmly embedded in sci-fi and fantasy, Blue Angelo’s storyline involves the idea that Earth is a planet created by a group of unknown creatures. While Earth is instinctively violent, humans have progressed to the point where a large number of the population has left the planet in order to pursue colonization in other parts of the galaxy. One of these planets, Lyra, has been afflicted by a variety of monsters and demons. The scientists on Lyra create a fighter of their own (controlled by the player) in an effort to eliminate any existing threats on the planet. Mysterious in nature, the fighter does not eat or drink and has a lifespan limited to the course of only one year. This creature is called “creature 331” or Blue Angelo. The subtitle of the game appears to have been “Angels from the Shrine,” but it remains uncertain exactly how this subtitle factors into the Blue Angelo storyline.

blue-angelo-gba-cancelled

Blue Angelo for the Game Boy Advance was about eighty percent completed on Livello, a level editing program, before it was canceled. There are currently two playable versions of the of the GBA version available online: one offers only a demonstration of two monsters, while the second version is a more polished prototype. These small samples of the game are merely intended to provide an idea of the work in progress and show off gameplay elements. The GBA version of Blue Angelo utilized parallax scrolling of 4 or 5 layers while adding transparency special effects, which at the time was unprecedented for handheld consoles. It is unknown if the GP32 version used the same method.

The sidescrolling mechanics and button use for Blue Angelo appears to be fairly standard with the exception that the L button of the GBA port is designated as the “call the invocation lavos” button (according to available information on the game). While not exactly explained, this does sound like a summons button and would fit with the game’s world.

For many years, a reboot of Blue Angelo was considered. A failed Kickstarter campaign was launched for a PC version of an updated Blue Angelo game, emphasizing a complete redo of the game with improved graphics and providing each character with a unique feature. The game’s designers wanted to use the Unity Engine 2D to achieve organic 2D effects that are both easy to understand and simple to navigate. New stories and a unique universe apart from the GP32 and GBA versions of the game were also created for this renovation. It’s unknown how much of the story would carry over from the original game.

This Kickstarter was run by the publisher Vetasoft, a company founded in 2009 by the brothers Adriano and Massimia Baglio in Mons, Belgium. Vetasoft has established a reputation as a game developer for mobile devices, developing such games as Lucky Luke Shoot & Hit, Yakari Wild Ride, and Garfield’s Wild Ride. While the Kickstarter failed to reach its goal, it’s unknown if Vetasoft will continue pursuing the Blue Angelo reboot.

Article by Blake Lynch, thanks to Lanz for the contribution!

Images:

Videos:

Road Trip [Xbox 360, PS3 – Cancelled]

Road Trip is a cancelled zombie-apocalypse adventure game that was in development in 2009 / 2010 by French studio Hydravision Entertainment (mostly known for the popular survival horror game Obscure) planned to be released on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. Initially known as Project T, the game was meant to be a more mature and open-ended take on the “zombie survival” genre, with a gameplay mechanic similar to State of Decay (released only 4 years later) and a characters-driven storyline, with a strong, non-romantic relationship between the two main protagonists, a man and a woman, somehow similar to what Naughty Dog did many years later in The Last Of Us. Road Trip was ambitious in scope and was likely Hydravision’s last chance for success, as the studio went bankrupt in 2012.

Popular books, comics and movies such as The Walking Dead, World War Z, 28 Days Later, Life After People and I Am Legend were the main influences for Road Trip. The studio wanted to create an open ended survival-horror game focused on action, immersion, and the feeling of freedom, while keeping pressure on players as much as possible, to surprise them with huge zombie hordes.

Road Trip was meant to be different from other third person shooters in that the player was going to have to deal with a constant sense of omnipresent danger. Instead of being in a shooting gallery and just walking toward the enemies, the player would be pushed into difficult situations and forced to figure out the best way to deal with the situation. Players would have never been completely safe in Road Trip: infected could be already roaming in the areas or appear suddenly. Zombies could pop up at anytime and from anywhere like open doorways, through windows, and even from the ceiling. These monsters would never give up, and they would hunt their prey aggressively as they were able to scale most obstacles.

Luckily players could use the environment to protect themselves, taking refuge inside a building and barricading it (pushing furniture in front of an exit to block it, closing and locking doors, windows, shutters, nailing wood boards on exits, etc.), slowing the enemies down while fleeing or using various items to help kill dozens of zombies at once (shooting a gas tank, wired grenades, etc.).

In this post-apocalyptic zombie world cities have been deserted (they are too dangerous, plus diseases are spreading quickly because of all the rotting flesh). A small proportion of the population has managed to adapt and survive in suburban areas, but most died in the first few days. There’s no electricity to be found, but petrol is still usable, providing you can find it in abandoned gas stations. Read more

Page 1 of 59312345...102030...Last »