News on Beta & Cancelled Games

Ape Escape: Trapped in Space [PS2, PS3 – Cancelled]

Ape Escape: Trapped in Space is a cancelled action game in the Ape Escape series, which was conceived by Sony Japan Studio for Playstation 2 (or possibly Playstaton 3) after the release of Ape Escape 3. Players would have been able to visit different planets to catch monkeys, exploring a virtual universe created by Specter. The project was never officially announced by Sony, but some details were shared online by Ape Club (now offline) around 2010:

“Ape Escape: Trapped In Space (working title) was a game that was originally set for release in 2006, however due to complications, it was never released. The game was in the process of being made after Ape Escape 3. Several paper’s containing the concept were leaked on the internet in mid 2005. Japan Studio continued to develop the game, hoping that the concept wouldn’t be taken. Originally the concept was that Specter had kidnapped The Professor and it was up to the protagonist (character had not been announced yet), to get him back by catching the monkeys and defeating bosses. Specter had created a computer generated universe, with many planets which the protagonist would have to visit and capture the monkeys. The planets would each be very unique and each have its own theme. Finally, the protagonist would defeat Specter and the Professor would be rescued. After E3 in 2006, Japan Studio was disgraced to find out another popular platforming video game franchise had used this concept after it had leaked. The game was scrapped.”

While it’s said that some pages about Trapped in Space were leaked online in 2005, we were not able to find anything unfortunately. If you saved a copy of those pages back in 2005 and could help us to preserve them, please let us know!

Ape Club was founded by a few people who previously worked with Sony, as we can read in this old interview by Siliconera:

“Originally Ape Club started out as a Promo site for SCEE’s Ape Escape titles and was run by them up until 2007. In 2007, there wasn’t any maintenance to be done except Newsletters. So Rebecca, who was a major fan, was left in-charge of that. She updated the newsletters and received updates from SCEE, and Japan Studio about upcoming Ape Escape games. She was also asked to promote Ape Quest when it was released.

Are there any other canceled Ape Escape games you’re aware of?

Apart from Trapped in Space, the only other game would be Ape Escape 2 which was going to be released on PlayStation 1. However, Japan Studio (JS), was already releasing Piposaru 2001 beforehand, so releasing a PS1 game after a PS2 game didn’t make much sense. So in Early 2000, they stopped working on AE2-PS1, and worked on AE2-PS2. Apparently, looking at the leaked photo of it, it seemed to have the same graphic engine, and look, as the first.”

Tattoo Assassins [Arcade – Cancelled]

Tattoo Assassins is an unreleased arcade fighting game that was developed by the pinball division of Data East in 1994 and 1995 with the intent of competing with the increasingly popular Mortal Kombat series. The game took inspiration from Mortal Kombat II in many ways, from its digitized-actor art style to its control scheme, sound design, and emphasis on violence. The general ethos of the game seemed to be “like Mortal Kombat cranked to 11,” and it advertised both in-game (via an attract mode screen) and to game publications of the time that it would feature2,196 finishing moves.

The project was led by Joe Kaminkow of Data East Pinball and featured a story written by Bob Gale, who was also the screenwriter behind Back to the Future. The general premise of the game involved a mystical ink that, when used in tattoos on certain individuals, would allow the bearer to manifest the illustrated tattoo into the physical world. An evil villain named Koldan (the game’s final boss) steals all of the ink with the goal of enslaving mankind, and the nine playable combatants in the game all possess the power to wield the ink’s magic in combat. These nine combatants fall under Koldan’s control, but a spiritual leader named Mullah Abba finds a way to grant you (the player) control over the fighter of your choosing in order to kill the others and stop Koldan from achieving his goals.

In-game story text from the attract mode:

‘And so it came to pass, that Mullah Abba, spiritual leader of the order of colours, discovered the ancient secret of the mystic Ink of Ghize. The Ink of Ghize is an amorphous fluid organism can form into real objects for brief moments when applied to human bodies as tattoos. However, the ink is only compatible with those of a certain unusual genetic makeup, those known as hosts. The ink can cause bizarre mutations in those who prove unsuitable… Among the color guard, only Koldan was a suitable host. Thus believing himself superior to all mankind, Koldan stole the secret of the ink. His goal is to create an army of mutants and enslave the human race. Mullah Abba commanded the nine remaining color guards to find new hosts for the Ink of Ghize, one of whom might be powerful enough to defeat Koldan. Nine hosts were found. Each received magnificent chest and arm tattoos, plus a magical morph tattoo on their palm. Yet Koldans power had grown stronger. His consciousness possessed the assassins. He would use them to find the remaining ink for himself! But all was not lost, for Mullah Abba discovered the strange power of the mysterious tattooed woman, Lyla Blue. By using Lyla as a channel, Mullah Abba has the power to allow you to possess any one assassin. Choose! Now, you must defeat each of the other assassins. Use your tattoos as weapons. Earn new tattoos. Destroy the mutants. Find Koldan and defeat the mutants — If you can!

At the time of Tattoo Assassins’ development, fighting games were proving to be incredibly popular in arcades. The likes of Street Fighter 2, Mortal Kombat II, Primal Rage, and Killer Instinct were all smash hits during this early-90’s arcade renaissance, and Data East Pinball was hoping to cash in on that momentum and stand out from the crowd by amplifying what they likely felt was the driving force behind Mortal Kombat II’s success: shock value.

The game features thousands of finishing moves, but not really. That number was most likely derived from the fact that every character shared the same pool of mostly nonsensical and often shoddily animated fatalities. Each character would have a small number of unique finishers that utilized their distinct tattoos to murder their opponents, but otherwise the rest were all shared among the cast and performed by inputting simple button combinations.

It wasn’t just fatalities that Tattoo Assassins prided itself on, however. It also featured moves that allowed the player to fart a stream of gaseous clouds at their opponent, a finishing move that involved ejecting a roast turkey on a plate from the character’s anus which would then bounce off of the opponent before multiplying into other turkeys on plates, and Nudalities that would magic away the opponent’s clothes and leave them naked and shivering while attempting to shield their genitals from view. Other crude moves involved vomiting on the opponent or assaulting them with flaming farts. The inclusion of Nudalities was a particularly direct nod to Mortal Kombat II since unfounded rumors persisted of their existence in that game throughout its run in arcades.

The game’s cancellation came sometime in 1995 before going into full production as a result of management issues, struggles among the development team to make deadlines, and poor feedback from play testers. It was to be Data East Pinball’s first foray into arcade game development, breaking from their pinball-only roots, but ultimately it didn’t come together as well as they’d hoped. While it never saw a full release, there were a handful of prototype PCB’s and arcade cabinets manufactured for use at trade shows and location tests. Unfortunately, many of those cabinets were either destroyed or lost to time, and only a few original cabinets are known to exist today. Two cabinets are currently housed at the Professional and Amateur Pinball Association (PAPA) in Scott Township, Pennsylvania. Additionally, the Galloping Ghost Arcade in Brookfield, Illinois acquired another one of these exceedingly rare cabinets in November of 2017 and is one of the only arcades where you can get your hands on the real deal.

The game did enjoy a good amount of coverage prior to its cancellation in the media, however. It was featured in a four-page preview in the April 1995 issue of EGM2 and reportedly even received a full review in Next Generation Magazine.

The ROM for the game’s unfinished state was eventually dumped and circulated online, and it can be played via arcade emulators such as MAME today. One version of the game that you may come across matches that found in the few remaining official cabinets, and it was near-complete despite suffering from unfinished sound design and some minor glitches throughout.

Article by Nolan Snoap

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Robosaurus (thq) [SNES – Cancelled]

Robosaurus is a cancelled action game that was in development around 1992 by Adrenalin Entertainment and THQ (at the time known as “Toy Headquarters”) for Super Nintendo. Players would take the role of a mechanical T-Rex to destroy cities and fight against aliens, tanks, helicopters and other military enemies. While there are not many more details about this lost game, it was mentioned in Nintendo Power Magazine issue 36, from May 1992:

“Speaking of HQs, thq (Toy Headquarters) has a line-up that  includes Swamp Thing (for all three Nintendo systems). Where’s Waldo?, Family  Dog, Robosaurus, James Bond Jr. and this Pak Watchers favorite moose, Bullwinkle,  all for the Super NES. One-time Power editor and game guru, Howard Phillips, now  directs the creative projects for T.HQ. Will Waldo be wearing a bow tie? NOT!”

As noticed by Nintendo Metro and GDRI on Twitter, a single screenshot from Robosaurus was published in japanese magazine MicomBASIC, in August 1992:

“ROBOSAURUS: 巨大なロボットほがが,巧が軍め戦車  やお關おをけちらしていく巧快なダー  ム。 巧がの動きはノロイ〇”

We can assume the game was based off the real-life Robosaurus, a transforming dinosaur robot created by inventor Doug Malewicki in 1989. As written by SNES Central, the game was possibly shown at the Winter and Summer 1992 CES shows:

“Aliens want to take over the world, and they’re starting with Los Angeles. The one thing they didn’t count on was Robosaur! Use Robo’s giant metal jaws to munch enemies and fry the outposts with Robo’s flame breath.”

American Pool Deluxe (Blade Interactive) [Wii – Cancelled]

American Pool Deluxe is a cancelled pool simulation game that was in development by Blade Interactive in 2008 and would have been published by Gamecock Media / Navarre / Upshot Games on Nintendo Wii. The game was planned during the “casual games” Wii craze, but possibly canned when even publishers understood it was not going to sell enough on the market.

Some details on the game can still be found on Amazon even if it was never released:

  • Authentic Billiard Games-Variety of game modes including 8 Ball, 9 Ball, Rotation, 3 Ball, Billiards and even Bar Billiards. Polish your skills and impress opponents with Trickshot Challenge mode
  • Precision Motion Controls – Use the precise motion controls to line up the perfect shot every time. Tap in a bank shot with a gentle push or scatter the break with a powerful move
  • Career Mode – Create your own pro and work your way up from humble beginnings in local pool halls and become a global billiards icon
  • Tournament Style Presentation – Experience a life-like pool tournament setting, including professional commentators and audience interaction
  • Multiplayer 1 – 4 players

Also on IGN we can find the original press release hyping up the game:

“With superior graphics and incomparable gameplay, American Pool Deluxe is as authentic as they come,” said Eric ‘The Preacher’ Yow, World Pool-Billiard Association Masse World Champion. “For years the gaming industry has attempted to duplicate the complex physics and geometry of cue sports into a lifelike rendition for families to enjoy. Finally, a game captures the beauty of the sport and allows you to perfect your skills! Run a rack without ever leaving your chair!”

American Pool Deluxe is the first game to come out of Upshot Games, the casual games division of Gone Off Deep Inc., whose other brands include video game publishing company Gamecock Media Group. “

Upshot Games even announced a “professional cue peripheral” that would have been launch with the game, as we can read on IGN:

“Upshot Games announced today an elegant, yet ruggedly built, “RealMotion Pool Cue” companion accessory for their upcoming professional pool game for Wii, American Pool Deluxe. This is not your average controller peripheral – it is a meticulously crafted cue built specifically to take advantage of the Wii remote’s accelerometer technology for real precision and fun.

“It is the dedication to realism that led to the development of the RealMotion Pool Cue for American Pool Deluxe,” said Eric ‘The Preacher’ Yow, World Pool-Billiard Association Masse World Champion. “Tested extensively by real billiards pros like me, you can be assured this is the only real pool game for Wii.”

A prototype of American Pool Deluxe is in the hands of game collectors.

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Blood Tactics (Artefacts Studios) [PC – Cancelled]

Blood Tactics is a cancelled fantasy RTS that was in development by Artefacts Studios in the mid – late ‘00s. The team is mostly known for their work on such titles as Agatha Christie: The ABC Murders and Space Hulk Tactics, but it seems they were also planning this obscure project. Unfortunately Artefacts never officially announced Blood Tactics so the only proofs of its existence are a few images from an alpha demo, probably developed to pitch the project to various publishers.

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