New Cancelled Games & Their Lost Media Added to the Archive

Clockwork Aquario [Arcade – Cancelled]

Clockwork Aquario (Tokeijikake no Aquario in Japanese) is an arcade game developed by Escape / WestOne Bit Entertainment, the same guys behind the Wonderboy series, that was cancelled in 1994 after about two years of development.

In 2011 Johnny Undaunted, a lostlevels forum user, translated an interview with the game’s music composer…

Sakamoto: It was going to be similar to Wonder Boy 3: Monster Lair. It was going to be a forced side-scrolling game, but with a bit of a cooperative multiplayer mode. It was originally going to be a 2-players game, but then we decided to add a third player as well. The three characters consisted of a boy (named Hack Rondo), a girl (Elle Moon), and a robot (Gash). The method of attack was by stomping on enemies and then grabbing them to throw them out. Oh, I think you could even catch enemies thrown by other players as well or something like that. You could even head butt thrown enemies thrown at you.

…and some notes wrote by a japanese gamer who played Aquario in 1993 in a location testing

Aquario was a Super Mario Bros.-type side-scrolling action game. The controls originally consisted of three action buttons (“throw”, “jump” and “invincibility”).

Enemies are attacked first by jumping over them, rendering them unconscious. When the player moves towards an unconscious enemy, he automatically picks it up. At this point the player can throw the enemy by pressing the throw button. Enemies that are thrown flies off in a single horizontal line and are defeated by flying off-screen or being bashed to a wall. Thrown enemies can be used to knock other enemies unconscious as well. Moreover, by holding the joystick upwards, enemies can be thrown to the top of the screen as well.

Pressing the invincibility button makes the player invincible to enemies for a brief period. In the upper portion of the screen, there’s an invincibility gauge underneath the score display and when it reaches zero, the player’s invincibility will wear off. The gauge can be replenished by picking up items.

The key to the exit of each stage is kept by a sub-boss. By defeating the sub-boss, the player can obtain the key and use it to enter the boss’ lair. Each boss can be defeated by jumping over him repeatedly or by throwing his henchmen to him. The boss of the first stage in this version was a crab.

The game featured a 2-hit points per life system similar to Ghosts ‘n Goblins and Midnight Wanderers, in which getting hit once would make the player’s clothes look tattered, and then getting hit a second time would make him lose a life. The player’s clothes can be restored by picking up a health power-up.

* Impressions of the June 14 version.
This version was really difficult. I couldn’t defeat the crab boss after several plays. It was a pretty difficult experience for novice players, since enemies move quickly and a lot of fake-outs are used by them. The invincibility button was difficult to use as well. Because it was difficulty to predict what kind of dangers would face in these kinds of action games, getting through them was simply a matter of “pressing the button on time”. There were also unfair trap placement as well, such as the snapping trap in Stage 1. The game was still unfinished at the time, as there were bugs such as glitched text display during the playing instructions at the start of the game. However, the colorful graphics really caught my attention.

*August 15, 1993
Another location test for Aquario was held, this time in the comic book shop near the Spo-Lan in Shinjuku Nishiguchi. The content of the game were greatly altered since the last location test, to the point that the game was almost completed.

Impressions of the August 15 revision.
The number of action buttons was reduced to only two (punch and jump). This time, invincibility is only provided by a power-up item for a limited period (similar to the Starman in Super Mario Bros.). The invincibility gauge was replaced with a 1UP gauge that gives player an extra life when filled and it seems enemies are now defeated by knocking them unconscious with a punch, moving onto the unconscious enemy, and then throwing them. It was also possible to defeat enemies by simply punching an unconscious enemy further until he disappears . Since players were irritated that they were unable to defeat enemies quickly in the June 14 version, the resulting changes in this version made the game easier to play in longer periods. Perhaps because of this, the game was still deemed unsafe to release to the market yet.

*August 29, 1993
Once again location testing was held in the Spo-Land store in Shinjuku Nishiguchi. I was wondering at this point why it wasn’t already released yet (how unfortunate).

Changes made in the August 29 revision.

The differences are very minor this time. However, there seems to be a 2-Players competitive mode this time (there wasn’t one in the August 15 version). I have no idea how it worked because I never saw it in action. From what I remember, a few graphical details were changed, but I didn’t have much difficulty. Even though I wanted the game to come out already, I had a bad premonition at the time.

It was the last day I ever saw the game. I heard stories that another location test was conducted in the Spring of ’94, but I’m not sure what changes were done at that point. Because of this, I now associated location tests with the process of a game company coming up with the decision of having to cancel a game. I thought to myself I shouldn’t get too involved with location tests. However, I must consider myself fortunate to have the chance to had played this game due to my fascination with the company’s Monster World series.

Thanks to an hardcoregaming 101 interview with Ryuichi Nishizawa, director of Aquario and of almost all the Wonderboy games, we also know that the source code survived and the reasons behind the game’s cancellation:

“Aquario of the Clockwork” was the last arcade game developed by my company. I had been working and suffering for a long time to complete it, but the location test results were poor. It was an eccentric action game with three player simultaneous play. The graphics were quite excellent, but it was not released, unfortunately. The program is located in the archives of my company, so I do not have any screenshots.

The soundtrack of Aquario is  available to buy here. For more informations check this hardcore gaming 101 blog post. Thanks to Youloute for the contribution!

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Gex 3 [Beta – PSX N64]

Gex 3: Deep Cover Gecko is a 3D platform game that was developed by Crystal Dynamics and Gratuitous Games for the original Playstation and Nintendo 64. Steve noticed a lot of beta differences from the various Gex 3 demos that were released before the final game.

First up, a video featuring the level “Clueless In Seattle” that is in volume 4 in a series of Eidos demo discs (it seems that this demo also appears in a greatest hits version of Tomb Raider II).

There are noticeable differences here compared to the level that is in the game’s retail release:

In the retail version, bears are enemies that can be found in the hedgemaze of this level. In this demo, the bears are absent there and only appear as these statues that can hurt you if you jump into them. These statues are also present in the retail version, but will not harm you if you jump into them. Also, there is an instance in the retail version where a small scene occurs in which the statue bears – for a lack of a better term – come to life as enemies. In this demo, this scene never occurs and the statue bears never come to life: Read more

Monster Dunk [Cancelled – N64]

Monster Dunk is a cancelled arcade basketball game that was in development by Mindscape Inc for the Nintendo 64, as a part of Nintendo’s “dream team” of developers that were working on titles for their “Project Reality”. It seems that the game was announced at E3 1995 but the developers never shared any official screenshot, even if the project could have been at least in a concept / prototype form, maybe if we are lucky some images could resurface some day.

In the original press release we can read:

 

The game takes a unique and humorous twist on the basketball game genre, featuring famous monsters playing two-on-two basketball. “Monster Dunk” will take advantage of Nintendo Ultra 64’s unique capabilities, such as providing players with dozens of stunning special-effects moves (for example, one character becoming a cloud of smoke, morphing into a bat, flying above the basket and dropping the ball through), creating dozens of random court hazards (hands periodically reaching up from the floor and grabbing players’ legs), and including humorous game- and season-ending winning team sequences (the winning team throwing the losing team out of the stadium).

In 1996 Mindscape was in huge economic problems, with expected loss of 46 millions GBP following a loss of 6.9 millions GBP in 1995, and they decided to stop the development of Monster Dunk for the N64.

Thanks to Celine for the second scan!

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monster dunk n64

Monster Dunk announced for the nintendo 64 (scan from Nintendo Power 74, July 1995)

monster dunk by mindscape for the nintendo 64

Monster Dunk by mindscape for the Nintendo 64

Video from E3 1995 (no footage of Monster Dunk sadly):

Earth No More [Cancelled]

Earth No More is a cancelled FPS that was in development from 2007 to 2009 by Recoil Games (a studio based in Finland and founded by Remedy Entertainment co-founder Samuli Syvahuoko), using UE3 game engine, and it would have been published by 3D Realms / Radar Group for Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and PC. Earth No More would have been set in a small New England town quarantined due to a mysterious environmental apocalypse. Sadly the development had to be stopped because Recoil Games had some financial problems. After a while, they were able to create a new game, Rochard, that was released as a digital title for PC, Mac and PS3, but it’s currently unknown if Earth No More will ever be resurrected for current-gen consoles. You can find more about Earth No More on Wikipedia, IGN and Gamasutra.

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SciFi Action Game [PS3 – Cancelled]

Between 2006 and 2012, SCEE CAMBRIDGE (now known as Guerrilla Cambridge), the team behind popular Playstation games as MediEvil, Ghosthunter and Killzone: Mercenary, was working on many different concepts and prototypes to create new games for the Playstation 3 and in 2011 they tried to pitch an action game set in Science Fiction world that would have made use of the PS3 Move controller, as another of their released games, “TV Superstars“. This sci-fi game looked much better than TV Superstars, but it was cancelled for some unknown reasons, maybe because of quality issues or the end of the “motion controller” fad.

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