New Cancelled Games & Their Lost Media Added to the Archive

The Untold History of Japanese Video Game Developers book

The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers Book Gold Cover

Over the last few years, publications and books such as Retro Gamer Magazine and Atari Inc. tried to recount in detail the history of western video games. However, due to language and cultural differences, the origins of the Japanese gaming industry, if we exclude Pixel’n love books, most of which remain nonetheless available only in French, are still poorly documented.

Then again nothing seems to be impossible anymore in our crowdfunding age, and consequently, thanks to a Kickstarter campaign, even a freelance journalist like John Szczepaniak, already a contributor of various magazines and websites among which the excellent Hardcore Gaming 101, had the chance to go in Japan to interview mostly unknown programmers, game designers, illustrators and musicians, active in that extraordinary video games period that were the eighties and  the nineties. The result is the first volume of The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers.

The Untold History of Japanese Video Game Developers book

From the very beginning it is evident that one of the big draws of the book are exclusive info about Japanese home computers from the eighties, platforms virtually unknown in the west but that were the first training ground for many newcomers in the game development industry, who, economic and technical limitations notwithstanding, went to release many innovative or socially relevant games.

A very creative era, therefore, where even small software houses could create groundbreaking experiences such as Manbiki Shounen, the first stealth game (released November 1979) according to John Szczepaniak, or became the subject of parliamentary discussion with 177, a trashy eroge in which the goal was to chase and then rape a young woman .

This rough yet fascinating world is unfortunately on the verge of disappearance due to the extreme rarity of some titles and the fragility of the medium, typically floppy disks or tapes, on which they were originally published.

That’s why we find in the book an interview with the curator of the Game Preservation Society, an organization dedicated to catalogue and preserve, both in their original format and by making a digital copy, all the Japanese games released in the period that goes from the seventies to the nineties. Unfortunately, many old titles are already lost forever because nobody thought to archive them at the time.

The Untold History of Japanese Video Game Developers book

Doujin Games and Visual Novels are two other topics that historically had little coverage in the west, although in recent times, thanks to the advent of digital stores, the number of these games available in English is growing. Valuable from this point of view are thus the long conversation with ZUN, the creator of Touhou, an incredibly successful indie franchise, as well as the interview with Ryukishi07, who introduces us to the narrative techniques of Higurashi, a celebrated series of visual novels mostly known in the west for the eponymous anime.

This doesn’t mean that we can’t find in The Untold History of Japanese Videogames Developers new facts about more popular videogames. Suikoden fans, for example, will certainly appreciate the interview with the director of the first three chapters of the series, Yoshitaka Murayama, while SEGA long-time supporters can look forward to an in-depth overview of Yuzo Koshiro’s old works.

John Szczepaniak: Describe when and how you joined Konami.

Yoshitaka Murayama: I joined Konami as a new graduate in 1992 in the role of programmer. In my second year after joining the department, I was in was put in charge of creating games for Konami’s game machine and that’s when I got involved in game design. Since it was an extremely secret project inside of Konami, there were very few people involved. So even though I was close to being a new recruit, I was expected to play a very large role. The plan at first was for Konami’s game machine to be a console type and it was suggested that it have a card reader function to allow players to exchange data. The plan changed midway from a console type to a portable type game machine, and it was going to have 3D (polygon) functionality that was not common at the time.

More interestingly for Unseen64, John Szczepaniak also asked, when he could, about beta and unreleased games. This is just a incomplete list of what he discovered, confirmed or got further info in the book:

  • The Saturn version of Grandstream Saga;
  • A sketch of Soul Blazer 2;
  • Ys 3 wasn’t originally an Ys game;
  • The unreleased Namco console;
  • Bounty Arms, a cancelled Playstation game;
  • A photo of an unreleased game made by Yuzo Koshiro, Variant 7;
  • Amazing Island, a gamecube title originally started on saturn and later moved to dreamcast;
  • Street Fighter NES;
  • Unreleased Negcon Games;
  • Chulip original version;


With 36 interviewees and more than 500 pages, The Untold History of Japanese Video Game Developers is a book full of previously unknown and interesting info for fans of retrogaming and obscure japanese developers. We are happy that many info on cancelled projects and facts about the development of some of our favorite games were preserved in this book, huge props to John for his work! If you don’t like to read, you can also check The Untold History of Japanese Video Game Developers DVD ;)

You can buy The Untold History of Japanese Video Game Developers in paperback and digital from (they will be on-sale untill the end of  December 2014):

  • Paperback Silver (35.99$), Paperback Gold (44.99$) and Kindle digital (12.45$)
  • Paperback Silver (19.28£), Paperback Gold (26.33£) and Kindle Digital (9.31£)
  • Paperback Silver (25.18 euro), Paperback Gold (31.70 euro) and Kindle Digital (9.99 euro)
  • Also available on all other Amazon sites. Please search for them directly!

Some video-reviews of The Untold History of Japanese Video Game Developers from Youtube:

Ryse (Kingdoms) [Xbox 360 – Cancelled]

Ryse: Son of Rome is an action adventure game, which was developed by Crytek and published by Microsoft Studios in late 2013 on the Xbox One at the console’s launch. However, it was originally planned to be a first person brawler exclusively for the Xbox 360 under another title. This great turn in direction is just one of the numerous twists that occurred throughout its development.

Kings & Kingdoms

Years before the name ‘Ryse’ would come to be, the basis of the project was born in 2006. It was the brainchild of Crytek Co-Founder, Cevat Yerli, and was imagined then not as one game, but two. One half of the coin was a title called “Kings” – an ambitious MMO where the player joins the ranks of various factions to fight for supremacy in a mythical world of monsters and sorcerers. The other was Kingdoms, a smaller scale first person game focussed around more intimate ground combat between soldiers of warring sides. At this time, no platform was attached to it.

Kingdoms 2006 Concept Art

Early concept art for Kingdoms from 2006.

The initial plan for these two games was that they would have been set in the same fantasy-themed universe, informing one another as development went on. Crytek put together a variety of concept art and basic prototypes for them, attempting to flesh out their ideas and convey their ideas more thoroughly as the company began showing them privately to publishers.

Behind the scenes, the world of Kings & Kingdoms was steadily coming together and over the years that the developer toiled away on it, a multitude of concepts for everything from characters to settings was produced. Fortunately, we have been able to preserve a good amount of these for your curiosity. Read more

Lufia & The Fortress of Doom [Genesis / Megadrive – Cancelled]

Lufia and the Fortress of Doom is a rpg developed by Neverland and released by Taito for SNES in 1993. A (north-american only?) port for Sega Genesis was supposed to be released in 1994, but it got delayed and Taito America eventually closed down in 1995.

However, in 2014, the western programmer that worked on the port leaked a tech demo, featuring just the title screen and a testing dungeon, of the Genesis version of Lufia on the internet. According to him, he had just six months to finish the project:

Well, one of the reasons it was cancelled was because they told me to complete the port in 6 months.. there was no way in hell I could have done it since all the original SNES code was fucking indecipherable and the Japan programmers weren’t any help..

lufia genesis

For more informations check the original opa-ages topic.



Baby Titus Jr [GameBoy Color – Cancelled]

Baby Titus, also known as Titus Jr, is a cancelled Game Boy Color platform game featuring Titus the Fox (Titus’ mascot) that was in development by Mike Mika and Bob Baffy for Titus. Originally Baby Titus started as an original GameBoy game and it seems the project was almost complete, but Titus wanted to upgrade it for the “new” GBC released in 1998. While the team was working on adding colors to the game, Titus had some economic problems and did not pay the developers, so they had to stop working on it.

One video from the game was shared by Mike on Youtube and a couple of screenshot were found by eSPy in an old magazine scan.



The Last of US [Beta – PS3]

The Last of Us is an action game developed by Naughty Dog and published in 2013 by Sony Computer Entertainment for their PlayStation 3. The project was started in 2009, after the Uncharted 2 team was split in 2 to create a a Jak & Daxter reboot along with Uncharted 3. When they designed some concept arts for the cancelled Jak & Daxter 4 project, they thought that the style and target they were aiming for was too distant from the J&D IP and so decided to create a new IP, using some of Neil Druckmann’s ideas from an old concept that he did at school. That new IP was initially known as “Mankind” before to be changed into The Last of Us.

As we can read on TheVerge:

Just like in The Last of Us, [Mankind] was set in a world where Cordyceps has leaped from insects to humans, turning the infected into dangerous monsters and bringing down civilization with them. The key difference was that in Mankind, the virus only affected women. An early version of Ellie was the only female who was immune, and Joel decided to protect her in order to bring her to a lab where a cure could potentially be created.

During the development of The Last Of Us, many features were removed and the story was changed a lot, before to arrive to the final version. As we can read on GameInformer, in the original plot::

Joel partners with Tess to smuggle Ellie out of the locked-down city. In the alternate story the gang is halted at a security checkpoint. Ellie is screened for infection and comes up positive, but the guards don’t care that she may carry an immunity that could save humanity. Joel sees Ellie at gunpoint, which reminds him of his dead daughter, and goes berserk. He kills the guards, leaves with Ellie, and ends up betraying his partner Tess, who embarks on a cross-country pursuit of vengeance.

Neil Druckmann also shared some memories from a different ending for the game:

“The original ending when we pitched the game was a much more hopeful ending, where Joel and Ellie make it to San Francisco and that is a town run by people who are trying to restore society,” he continues. “Joel has killed all these doctors and lied to Ellie, and Ellie just fully buys into the lie. So, you’re left with the idea that they are going to live the rest of their lives in this town. The camera pulls back and maybe everything is going to be alright for these two. I was working on writing, and it didn’t feel honest anymore. After everything they’ve done and everything they’ve been through, that was letting them off a little too easy – especially for Joel.”

Some more changes and removed content are:

  • Downgraded Artificial Intelligence: it seems that enemies were “too difficult” for the players and it was not fun to always get surrounded and killed by a group of “intelligent” enemies (see the videos below).
  • Marlene was originally meant to die in the surgeon room
  • Some enemies were cut or the design was heavily changed, see them in the gallery below
  • They removed a dog companion that would have followed Ellie and Joel during the game

An unseen epilogue scene performed during The Last of Us: One Night Live was set 4 years after the end of the game with Joel and Ellie talking and playing a guitar, but it seems that this scene was never meant to be added ot the game: it was just a scene wrote for the live show.

More concept arts and info on the development of the game could have been published in the Art of Last of Us artbook (23$ on Amazon COM, 20£ on Amazon UK, 27 euro on Amazon IT), if you have the book let us know! If you notice more differences in the early beta screens and videos from The Last of Us, leave a comment below!