News on Beta & Cancelled Games

Brooklyn Stories [Cancelled – Xbox 360, PS3, PC]

Brooklyn Stories is a cancelled adventure game that was in development in 2008 / 2009 by French team Lexis Numérique, planned to be released on Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and PC. The project was quite ambitious and original for its time, mixing interactive storytelling, several playable characters, multiple narrative paths and some kind of “time travel” mechanic in which you could go forth and back in time to modify the fate of its protagonists.

Brooklyn Stories would have been played somehow like a mix between The Sims, Disgaea Infinite, Shadow of Memories and games by Quantic Dream (Omikron, Heavy Rain, Detroit: Become Human) and Telltale (The Walking Dead, Batman: The Telltale Series). Players would have been able to play as many different characters living in Brooklyn in the same townhouse building, following an intricate storyline spanning from the 1930s to the ‘00s.

Each character had their own life and problems to resolve. You would have been able to observe them living in their apartment and listen to their thoughts or dialogues with other characters, to help them or interfere with their actions by choosing how they would react or which item to use in different situations. Each choice would then change the course of the following events and each event would affect other characters and their related events, until reaching one of the many different endings. You could always go back in time to make different choices and see different reactions to each different action.

The game was divided into chapters set in several years, but always following the lives of the inhabitants of the same townhouse building. Each chapter had many endings which would then affect what would happen in the following ones. It was quite the intricate and epic storyline, touching the daily lives of normal people but also political, social and criminal intrigues. You could interact with the characters living in Brooklyn Stories to trigger funny and comical skits but also to save their life from violent murders.

Unfortunately after 2 years of development Brooklyn Stories was canned by its publisher, leaving Lexis Numérique with an incomplete project and without funds to continue working on it. In the following years the team developed less ambitious games such as Tales of Elastic Boy (2010, WiiWare) and  Amy (2011, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC), but with low sales and without publishers backing up other major projects they had to close down in 2014.

Only a few images and a short trailer are preserved below to remember the existence of this promising, lost game.

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Pain Boarders [PS3 – Cancelled]

Pain Boarders is a cancelled “snowboard ragdoll” game in development in 2009 by Idol Minds (now known as Deck Nine, the team that worked on Life Is Strange: Before the Storm) for Playstation 3. Since the late ’90s Idol Minds developed such snowboard games as Cool Boarders 3, Cool Boarders 4 and Cool Boarders 2001. In 2007 they released Pain for PS3, a strange ragdoll puzzle game in which you had to shoot a character with a slingshot to destroy the environment or hit targets. As we can read on Wikipedia:

“In Pain the player attempts to damage the ragdoll character they play and the environment as much as possible by flinging them from a rubber-band slingshot, using the Havok physics engine. The characters have distinctive poses and phrases, can move by “ooching” and can grab things to throw or hang from”

As you can imagine from the title, Pain Boarders would have been a mix between Pain and their Cool Boarders games. While Pain Boarders was never officially announced nor any footage of it was ever shown to the public, we can speculate players would have to fling a snowboarder down the snow slope and possibly creating chaos on the ski run.

Many crazy characters would have been available, such as a cool yeti snowboarding on a log. Pain Boarders could really have been a fun game, but unfortunately it was canned when Sony stopped funding the project. Only a couple of images remains to remember the existence of this lost project.

Pain Boarders was just one of many Idol Minds games Sony cancelled between 2009 and 2012 and the team had to layoff half of their developers because of it.

In the video below you can see the snow level from Pain, which we can assume was somehow similar to the general concept behind Pain Boarders.

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Alone in the Dark 5 [PS2, Xbox – Cancelled]

Alone in the Dark 5 is the cancelled, fifth chapter in the cult-classic Alone in the Dark series that was in development by Atari / Infogrames Lyon House Studio in 2002, planned to be released on Playstation 2 and Xbox. One year after Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare (developed by Darkworks) and six years before the Alone in the Dark 2008 reboot (developed by Eden Games), AitD 5 was in development directly by Infogrames Lyon as one of their major internal projects.

In early ‘00s Infogrames had already a few economic problems: in 2002 they had a loss of $67 million and things would only get worse during the following years. While Alone in the Dark 5 was never officially announced by Infogrames it could have been a successful game for them, bringing in some good sales. Unfortunately this never happened.

Alone in the Dark 5 was soon cancelled, possible because of quality issues or because the series and the classic survival horror genre were not as popular as before among gamers. The project could have been seen as a risk to complete in such an unstable market.

In 2003 Infogrames renamed all of its brands into Atari (after they bought out the name from Hasbro) and heavily re-organized the company and their projects. During the early ‘00s Infogrames canned many more interesting games, such as La Femme Nikita, Urban X-Tribe, Ghostbusters Academy, Riders and NetLife.

Only a few images from Alone in the Dark 5 are saved in the gallery below, to preserve its existence.

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Alien Reign (SquareSoft) [Playstation? – Cancelled]

Alien Reign is a cancelled sci-fi real time strategy game in development by SquareSoft USA (Redmond) in late 1995 / early 1996. While the project was still in early concept phase when it was canned and no console was decided yet, by looking at the partnership between Squaresoft and Sony in 1996 we can speculate that if only completed Alien Reign could have been released on the original Playstation (and maybe on PC?).

The team that was working on Alien Reign was the same which worked on Secret of Evermore, released in October 1995 for the Super Nintendo. This would have been their second game, if Squaresoft Japan would have not closed them down in spring 1996.

Alien Rage was conceived while the Squaresoft USA team was waiting to know their fate while their parent company was going to decide what to do with their American branch. Clayton Kauzlaric, Daniel Dociu, Brad Clarkson and a few other Squaresoft developers tossed around ideas for this new RTS inspired by their love for Warcraft 2.

As wrote by Kauzlaric in his blog:

“We were just ramping up on 3D at Squaresoft during the completion of Evermore, and I was interested in finding tools that would be simple and easy for artists to pick up and learn quickly. KPT Bryce seemed like it had possibilities. I also wanted a look that wasn’t obviously made of tiles like most RTS games. I hoped our backgrounds could have larger pieces of nicely rendered terrain.

These pictures from March of 1996 are the result. I did the terrain. The buildings and robot were designed by our art director Daniel Dociu then modeled and rendered by Square’s resident Alias guru Brad Clarkson.”

When Squaresoft USA was closed down, many former developers (including Kauzlaric) were hired by Cavedog Entertainment (a sub-division of Humongous Entertainment). Cavedog was already working on a new, ambitious sci-fi RTS titled “Total Annihilation”, later presented at E3 1997. As wrote by Kauzlaric:

“It’s a small world. I was sitting in Redmond thinking up ways to incorporate 3D art into an RTS game. It turns out there was a guy just a couple miles away working on an engine for an RTS game with 3D height maps. Once those two thing met up, very good things started to happen.”

In the end Alien Reign was never released, but its concept somehow survived into the Total Annihilation project. As we can read on Wikipedia:

“Total Annihilation was a commercial success. It shipped 250,000 units by October 30, 1997. It ultimately sold over 1.5 million copies by 2002. The game was highly praised by critics, and won numerous awards, including GameSpot’s Game of the Year Award for 1997. It won GameSpy’s Top Ten Real-Time Strategy Games of All Time in 2004, leaving StarCraft in second place.”

Commando (Namco) [Playstation – Cancelled]

Commando is a cancelled third person action / shooter game that was designed by Stephane de Luca for Namco, planned to be released on the original Playstation. Stephane pitched the project to Namco thru Virtual Studio, which at the time were also working on Snow Break for Playstation and Ar’Kritz the Intruder for DOS PC.

Stephane with the help of a few more developers such as Pavlos Germidis worked at Virtual Studio from october 1997 to september 1998. In just 3 months they developed a short prototype for Commando, used to show off its 3D engine and main mechanics. Stephane worked on the game’s 3D engine, its tools and game programming while Pavlos worked on the artwork design, the story pitch and the CGI movie which would introduce the game.

Commando would have been an interesting take on the 3D action genre. The game was divided into different missions, each set in a different area on Mars full of enemies and huge final-bosses. You could steal and control enemy mechs and bikes, there would have been different ways to resolve a problem such as killing an enemy or avoid it with by flying away using a jetpack. It was a bit more open-ended than similar third person shooters of its time.

The deal for Commando was that Stephane would create the game and handle everything directly with Namco. Only the financial aspect would go thru Virtual Studio, which would get 30% of the price for being a financial go-between. Many trips to Japan were required in order to find an agreement on the game design, technical features and financials terms. The contract was finally signed by Stephane in Tokyo at the Namco building.

Unfortunately it seems that Virtual Studio misunderstand its part in the whole deal. When Stephane directly signed the game with Namco, Virtual Studio were surprised to be limited to a financial partner and quickly changed their mind about the deal. In the end the game had to be cancelled.

Only a few, tiny screenshots from the Commando prototype are preserved below, to remember its existence.

Thanks to Stephane for the contribution!

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