News on Beta & Cancelled Games

Demon Driver [PC – Cancelled]

Demon Driver is a cancelled point & click adventure / racing game hybrid that was in development for PC by french team Haiku Studios around 1996. During their short existence Haiku Studios released only two games, The Koshan Conspiracy in 1994 and Down in the Dumps (probably their most popular title) in 1996. All of their other projects such as Elric and The Island of Dr. Moreau were never completed, lost and forgotten when the studio closed down in 1997.

From the few Demon Driver screenshots shared online by Abandonware France we can assume it was going to be a funny adventure game similar to Down in the Dumps, but with some kind of racing gameplay added to it. While their only released games were welcomed with mixed reviews, it’s unfortunate they did not have another chance to complete another promising project.

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Alien Alliance [Cancelled – Playstation]

Alien Alliance is a cancelled sci-fi / space combat game that was in development by Orbital Studios around 1995, planned to be published by Virgin for Playstation and PC. As we can read in an old issue of Computer Gaming World magazine:

“In addition, Virgin and Orbital Studios will present a space game called Alien Alliance that could surprise a lot of gamers. It is a  space combat game in the X-wing and Wing Commander traditions, but it has a much more robust structure to it. Gamers will work their way up through the  ranks of a space navy, starting with wingman and working up to fleet commander. Each stage will give the player more power to direct the war as they see fit.

In Electronic Entertainment magazine (December 1995) we can also read:

“Virgin’s Orbital Studios is hard at work on an exciting strategy and space simulation game called Alien Alliance for DOS CD-ROM, due by the end of the year. The game  features strong graphics, two different terrain engines, and the ability to graduate from wingman to fleet commander in an intriguing conflict between several alien races.”

A couple of screenshots were found by Youlute in CD Consoles magazine (issue 10, September 1995). The game seems to have been later reworked and released as a PC-exclusive under the name “Forced Alliance” in 1997.

Trunski (Core Design) [Game Gear – Cancelled]

Trunski is a cancelled platformer that was in development by Core Design (Chuck Rock, Tomb Raider, Fighting Force) around 1993 – 1994 for Sega Game Gear. The game was shown at Winter CES 1993 and a single screenshot was published in Consoles+ magazine (issue 29, February 1994, found by Youloute):

“Trunski is an elephant. After a little tour away from his native jungle, he returns to realize that it is now populated by infamous rhinoceros. Under the leadership of Rhinus P.Itus, they plan to set up a mining installation in the middle of Trunski’s territory. In summary, this platform game is non-violent, humorous, ecological and politically correct.”

Not much is known about this cancelled project as most details about its existence are already forgotten and lost in time. If you know someone who worked at Core Design on Trunski and could help to preserve more screens, footage or details about the game, please let us know!

Orcs: Revenge of the Ancient [PC – Cancelled]

Orcs Revenge of the Ancient is a cancelled real-time strategy / action game that was in development by Berkeley Systems around 1998 / 1999, planned to be published for PC by Sierra Entertainment. It was going to use J.R.R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings / Middle-earth settings and gaming magazines and websites at the time were quite hyped for the project and was described by IGN as being “somewhere between Pokemon, Die by the Sword, and Master of Magic”.

As we can read from its original press release:

“Sierra Studios proudly announces Orcs Revenge of the Ancient, a fantasy strategy game developed by Berkeley Systems set in the world of Middle-earth from J.R.R Tolkien’s internationally acclaimed trilogy The Lord of the Rings. Cast as an Orc chieftain who has been assigned command of an elite group of fighting Orcs by Sauron, the Dark power, your group is charged with keeping the peace between the many evil factions of his army using whatever brutal means necessary. However, two other evil powers have emerged from the past to vie with Sauron for your aid in their respective quests and you must choose your alliances carefully to survive.

Orcs Select up to four common Orcs and transform them into brutal fighting machines, each with a unique fighting style created by you. Customize your Orcs’ fighting skills through intense training in which you build the best combination of killing moves suited to your Orc. Each Orc has its own specific personality and characteristics. For example, an Orc who is prone to violent outbursts may be difficult to train but ferocious in battle. Develop your Orcs’ Statistics such as intelligence, strength and dexterity in arena and field combat and sustain these skills with training exercises.

You will command your Orcs in real time 3-D combat, choosing their armor and weapons and suggesting fighting moves. Pit the Orcs under your command against over 30 enemies before taking them online to match skills with other Orcs in multiplayer mayhem.

As the original story of Orcs Revenge of the Ancient pulls you deeper into Tolkien’s Middle-earth, you will find yourself trapped in a deadly conflict of interests between the three dark powers. Your Orcs’ survival within this violent power struggle will determine whether they are capable of self-determination or merely servants of the Darkness.

Product Features

+ Original and rich storyline based in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth
+ Open-ended gameplay
+ Customizable training and fighting
+ RPG-based skill system
+ Combo builder to create custom moves
+ Multiplayer online component”

Unfortunately the game was canned in late 1999 due to an internal reorganization, as we can read on IGN:

“What we do care about is the fact that due to this reorganization, Sierra has cancelled four of their upcoming titles including Desert Fighters and Pro Pilot Paradise (for which we shed no tears), and, more seriously, Babylon 5 and Orcs: Revenge of the Ancients. Worse news still is that the company has laid off more than 100 people who were working on those titles.”

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Mean Arenas [Playstation – Cancelled]

Mean Arenas is a cancelled multiplayer game that was in development for Playstation by SCE Studios Team Soho (the same team behind Porsche Challenge and The Getaway) around 1996 / 1997. Unfortunately the project was never officially announced and it was soon forgotten when the team decided to focus on other games.

It was conceived as a 4-player beat ‘em up, to take advantage of Playstation’s multitap peripheral. Not much is known about Mean Arenas and as far as we know only 1 image remains today, preserved below to remember this lost Playstation project.

If you know someone who worked on Mean Arenas and could help to save more details and media, please let us know!