News on Beta & Cancelled Games

Tiltronica [Xbox – Cancelled]

Tiltronica is a cancelled racing / flipper / puzzle game that was in development by Vision Scape Interactive for the original Xbox. You would use some strange vehicles inside a sphere, somehow like in Super Monkey Ball, moving and shooting around arenas inside giant flippers. You main objective seems to have been to shoot down targets and collect balls.

A playable prototype was found in 2009 and a few collectors got copies on the Xbox debug-kits. This was in development by the same team who worked on the Sonic Extreme pitch.

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Crash Bandicoot (2008 Pitch) [Cancelled – Xbox 360, PS3]

Toys for Bob is an american video game studio owned by Activision, mostly known for their work on such games as Pandemonium! and the Skylanders series. In 2008 Toys for Bob with support from Underground Development tried to pitch a new Crash Bandicoot game, but without any luck.

In this cancelled Crash Bandicoot project Tawna would came back to Crash after dumping Pinstripe Potoroo, while Nina Cortex was re-imagined as an emo/goth teenager.

In the end Activision was not interested: they closed down Underground Development and gave the Spyro IP to Toys for Bob to develop Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure (released in 2011). Only a couple artworks for this cancelled Crash Bandicoot game were found by fan of the series and preserved online.

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Zero-G Marines [PC – Cancelled]

Zero-G Marines is a cancelled first person strategy shooter that was in developed by Strategy First in 2000, planned to be published for PC. The game was set in a orbital space station and it featured “zero-gravity combat”, as you could freely move around 360° through the environment. As we can read on an old IGN preview:

“The game action centers on several “domes” or “clusters” — orbital stations designed and operated by TerraCorp. These clusters are located around Mars and the moons of Jupiter and serve as bases for “research or mining.” Somehow or other, the genetic research being carried out on these stations goes horribly off track and a virus breaks out on the various clusters. As if that wasn’t bad enough, a group of religious zealots carry out an assault on the clusters and now hold them hostage. Who’s going to take them back? That’s right — you.”

“The suit gives you full freedom of movement in all three dimensions. To preserve the sense of up and down, you won’t be able to use the mouse look to pass through the points directly above and below you. Basically you can’t flip end over end. In this powered body suit, you can hold 8 weapons. “

“There are a few other vehicles in the game as well. You can hop into the driver’s seat of the Outrider, a “fast, one man space vehicle.” The Zealots have converted them into flying weapons platforms. You can fly these both inside and outside of the clusters. The larger and slower shuttles act as troop transports. Your own transport, parked just outside of the cluster, will act as a weapons store and home base during the game. “

“Smart players will shepherd their resources and endeavor to fight from an advantageous position. On the most basic level, each “dome is associated with one of three resources” — research, industry and prisoners. Research domes give you advanced weaponry and industry domes give you extra weaponry. “

“The prisoner resource intrigues me the most. On certain of the security domes are station personnel that have not yet been infected with the virus. If you can free them, you can add them to your squad pool. They’re not the best fighters out there, but they’re the only option you have to increase your manpower. Oh, right…I should have mentioned that you’re not doing any of this alone. You can choose to take up to six squad members along on each of the missions. “

“The planning of the mission structure is still in early stages as well. The current idea is to have about 15 separate missions that can be played in an open format. You can switch the order of the missions a tad to suit your needs. For instance, if you’re up against a tough assault mission, you might want to plan a raid on a security dome first to obtain more manpower. Then you’ll have more forces with which to carry out the assault. The team is also looking to include a 16-player multiplayer component similar in character to Tribes. Oh, and there’ll be co-op mission play too.”

The game was officially put on-hold in 2002, as we can read on Gamespot:

“Strategy First has suspended the development of Zero-G Marines, its 3D space shooter, due to some changes in its development studios. The company is moving parts of its Ottawa studio – where the game was in development – to Montreal. The product development department, headed by former Westwood COO Chuck Kroegel, has put the game on hold temporarily as a result of the move. “

In the end the project just vanished and was never completed. As they worked at least a couple of years on the game we can still hope someone saved files or playable demo to be preserved in the future.

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Fate (Airtight Games) [Cancelled – Xbox 360, PS3]

Airtight Games was a development studio founded in 2004, formed by former members of FASA Studio, Will Vinton Studios and Microsoft. Between 2010 and 2011 the team was working on a new, unannounced AAA action adventure project titled “Fate”, possibly to be published by Square Enix or another unknown japanese publisher.

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As we can read on Kotaku:

“Rather, this Square Enix game seems to be Airtight’s primary project – an “unannounced AAA title” it has been developing since the completion of work on Dark Void. The company’s website describes this project as “another ambitious AAA title in a genre that is both unique and refreshingly unexplored”.

Given the development timeline, Airtight’s current AAA effort is likely a continuation of a project called Fate, a post-Dark Void project for an unnamed Japanese publisher, which was temporarily placed on hold in April 2011 so that work on the game “could be reassessed”. That decision resulted in much of the team working on Fate being let go. Assets from the time of the developmental pause suggested an aesthetic influence from BioShock, but the game has likely changed considerably since then.”

Only a single logo for this cancelled project was shared by the team. As we can read on Engaged:

“Aside from a job listing popping up late in the year for “several AAA titles,” and the high-profile hire of Portal lead Kim Swift just before Dark Void‘s launch, the studio kept mum all the way until this past summer. […]

“There are currently two projects at Airtight: ours, and another unannounced project,” Swift told me during a pre-New York Comic Con preview for Square’s titles. “I can’t speak to what the game is,” she added (unsurprisingly).”

Fate-Airtight-Games-logo

Unfortunately there aren’t any more details about what kind of game Fate was. Some years later the project or at least the collaboration with Square Enix was restarted, with heavy changes on its original concept. Somehow the “Fate project” morphed into “Murdered: Soul Suspect”. As we can read on Kotaku:

“They used to call this game Fate (Studer even did by accident a couple of times during the demo). It’s the adventure of a detective named Ronan O’Connor. He’s been killed at the start of the game after poking his way through a house in the spooky American town of Salem. A mysterious figure throws him out of a three-story window onto the pavement below and then shoots him for good measure.”

We tried to get in contact with former Airtight Games developers to preserve more info on their lost game, but without luck. If you know someone who worked on Fate, please let us know!

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Dinosaur Zoo (Dogfish) [PS2 – Cancelled]

Dogfish Entertainment was a rather obscure studio established in October 2000, created by former employees of Bullfrog Productions (Syndicate Wars, Dungeon Keeper 2, Dark Omen). The team worked on many different prototypes, trying to pitch their ideas to publishers. One of these concepts was for a park management game, kind of like a Jurassic Park Sim titled “Dinosaur Zoo“, which around 2001 was green-lighted by Sony as a first-party game, along with another game titled “Horrorville“.

Dinosaur-Zoo-Dogfish-PS2-Cancelled

A prototype and 3D engine were created for the game, but it was still in very early development when it was canned because Blue Tongue Entertainment and Vivendi Universal Games bought the official license to develop a “Jurassic Park Simulator”, later released as Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis for PS2, Xbox and PC. Dogfish though their original game would not be able to compete against the “real” dinosaur zoo IP.

In 2002 Sony decided to cut their collaboration with Dogfish and the company had to close down. Developers went to other companies in the Guildford area, such studios as Big Blue Box, Small Rockets and Lionhead. Every Dogfish prototype is now lost forever, with not much saved from oblivion.

Thanks to Mogens for the contribution!