New Cancelled Games & Their Lost Media Added to the Archive

Rites of Acerbus (Crest of Dharim) [PC – Cancelled]

Rites of Acerbus (AKA Crest of Dharim) is a cancelled Action RPG that was in development in the late ‘90s / early ‘00s by OMG-Games, a small, forgotten studio founded in 1998. The project started as an Unreal mod, changing the popular FPS into a role-playing game. Soon the mod evolved into a full-fledged game with some interesting features for its time:

“You are Jordan – the son of Eldric, King of Arzaron. Your birthday is a shamble as you are arrested for the murder of your father, rushed through a mockery of a trial and thrust headlong into prison – forever. You’ll be seeing more of your world than you ever wanted as you follow the effects of the rituals of a dark, ancient prophecy bent on the destruction of life on your planet. Step through the political intrigue, militaristic maneuverings, and just plain treachery in search of your father’s killer and the answers you need to stop Acerbus Caelestis from engulfing the world in darkness. You’ll be stepping in style, too, disguising yourself as anyone you can to get the information you need; from a soldier in an enemy army to a priest behind the confessional lattice. You won’t be stepping alone either – several people will find it necessary to join your cause along the way, be it for their own reasons or the noblest cause of all.”

  • Third-person 3D Action/Adventure/RPG
  • Dramatic and compelling storyline and characters, with in-game cinematics
  • Puzzle-based and action-based challenges
  • Ability to disguise yourself as the enemy and other characters
  • Up to three AI characters in your party
  • Multipath dialogue tree-based interaction with all NPCs
  • Real-time combat system based on unique weapon skills
  • Unique magic system
  • “Beast of Burden” for travel and inventory storage
  • Vast game world covering 4 different kingdoms
  • All unique races
  • 70+ hours of gameplay

According to the developers you could meet hundreds of NPCs in this world, each one with its own side quests. They planned an action-combat system against crowds of enemies, and it would have been possible to climb rocks to freely explore the land (just like what Zelda: Breath of the Wild did 17 years later).

The plot followed the misadventures of a certain prince, sent to jail after being accused of killing his father. After escaping the protagonist would try to find out who set him up:

“Once a world of magic and beauty, the Kingdom of Arzaron has fallen into Darkness. You are Jordan, First Prince and sole heir to the throne of Eldric, King of Arzaron. Your father led his nation honorably and fairly, and you have followed closely in his footsteps. It is the eve of your twentieth birthday when the King dies mysteriously in his sleep, of poisoning, says the royal physician; a vial of poison is found in your bedchambers the next day. By law, a prince is old enough to govern the nation without the supervision of the Council on his twentieth birthday. According to the law, a prince must be raised to the crown the day after the king dies.

The coronation proceeds directly after the funeral, which is cut short by the magistrate and a number of guards who accuse you of murdering your father and arrest you. You are shuffled through a mockery of a trial, branded as a slave (tattooed on the inside of your left forearm), and nearly dragged behind a horse across your nation’s borders to a slave camp where five years pass.

You must travel through distant, foreign, not-always-friendly lands in order to gain support and learn about the conspiracy against you in any way you can. You’ll disguise yourself as anyone you can to get the information you need. What follows is a quest into the depths of evil as you discover that your fathe’rs murder was but a small part of a much larger chain of events. Ancient prophecy speaks of the six Rites that would bring about the return of Acerbus, the Ruler of the Dark. “

Development of Rites of Acerbus continued until 2002, but as it often happens with cancelled games by small teams, it was probably too ambitious for their skills and resources. With no publisher backing the project, the game was canned after four years of development.

Thanks to Josef for the contribution!

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The Saboteur [Prototype – Xbox]

The Saboteur is an open world action game developed by Pandemic Studios and released on Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC in 2009. Initially the project was pitched with a prototype built using the same 3D engine Pandemic used for Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction, running on the original Xbox. In this early version the protagonist was William Grover-Williams, a real life race car driver turned SOE agent during the Second World War: he was the inspiration for what later became Sean Devlin, the protagonist of the final game.

This Xbox prototype was graphically impressive for its time, with some destructible environments and explosion psychics. In the footage below you can see a mission in which players had to capture a Nazi truck, following it with a racing car. You would then enter into a Nazi base, destroying a huge building with a sniper rifle.

Unfortunately Pandemic Studios was shut down in 2009, leaving behind many canned projects: Legends, Mercenaries 3: No Limits, Mercs Inc, The Next Big Thing and Batman: The Dark Knight.

Thanks to Dan for the contribution!

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Pac-Man World 4 [Cancelled – Xbox 360, PS3]

After releasing Pac-Man World 3 in 2005, between 2008 / 2010 Namco America (Namco Hometek) were working on a “Next Gen” Pac-Man 3D platformer for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. While this “Pac-Man World 4” was never officially announced, fans of the series found a concept trailer created for the project by a former Namco animator. Gameplay looked similar to previous Pac-Man World chapters: Pac-Man would have been able to roll and run around the levels, transforming itself into different forms such as a propeller and some kind of spiky drill.

We don’t know why this project was never completed and fans had to wait till 2013 for another Pac-Man platformer, when Namco released Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures. Concept art created for this lost game are preserved below, to remember its existence.

Thanks to Marie for the contribution!

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GunForge [Nokia N-Gage – Cancelled]

GunForge is a cancelled run ‘n gun that was in development in 2005 by TKO Software for the ill-fated Nokia N-Gage. As far as we know the game was never officially announced by the company and was soon cancelled when TKO Software was closed down by their parent company. A few GunForge sprite animations created by a former TKO employee are preserved below, to remember the existence of this lost project.

TKO were also working on another canned N-Gage game titled “Leisure Suit Larry – Pocket Party”, but part of the team later formed Method Solutions, who were able to release Call of Duty and Space Impact for Nokia’s console / cellphone hybrid.

If it Happen [Dreamcast – Cancelled]

If It Happen is a cancelled horror adventure game that was in development by Fujicom around 2001 – 2002, planned to be released on Dreamcast. As reported by IGN the game was officially announced in Japan in June 2001, and it was mentioned in a few Japanese magazines such as Dorimaga, but soon it vanished with not much ever being shown. In 2021 The Dreamcast Junkyard found a trailer for “If It Happen” hidden as an unlockable video in another Fujicom game titled “Bokomu no Tatsujin”:

“[…] there is a shop in this game that lets you purchase appliances for your home such as a computer, an air conditioner and – most importantly here – a television. Once you eventually pony up the cash for this TV you can view both the Bomber Hehhe and this horror game trailer on it.”

The style of characters and the hotel / mansion shown in this trailer looks similar to other japanese horror adventures such as Clock Tower or D. Unfortunately there are no details about how it would have been played, but we can assume players would have explored the mansion, escaping from evil mannequins (?). Dice covered in blood were somehow part of the story.

If you find something else about If It Happen in other japanese magazines, please let us know!

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