News on Beta & Cancelled Games

Shinbatsu (Gainax) [Sega Saturn – Cancelled]

Shinbatsu (神罰, Divine Punishment) is a cancelled strategy / simulation game that was in development for the Sega Saturn around 1995. The project was being produced by popular animation studio Gainax, just a few months before the first original run of their cult-series: Evangelion.

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Character design for Shinbatsu was done by Kenji Tsuruta, mostly known for his Spirit of Wonder manga. Unfortunately we don’t have much more details about this lost game, but VGDensetsu found a page with a few screenshots and a short preview in Sega Saturn Magazine (March 1, 1995).

If you can read Japanese and could write a short summary of what they wrote about this game, please leave a comment below!

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Raiders (Coop Tomb Raider) [Cancelled – PS3, Xbox 360, PC]

Raiders is a cancelled project in the Tomb Raider series, that would have been developed for Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and PC as a coop multiplayer spin-off, before Crystal Dynamics decided to instead working on Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light. Raiders’ concept was heavily different from The Guardian of Light, as it would have been much more similar to the original Tomb Raider games, with third person exploration, platforming and shooting combat.

The story focused on the clones of Lara Croft, known as the Doppelgangers. It’s currently unclear if players would use these Doppelgangers as their playable characters, or if they were the main enemies. In the end the game was canned in pre-production, when they just had some concept made with placeholder graphic and some gameplay ideas to pitch to the studio managers.

While the game was never announced by Eidos nor Crystal Dynamics, fans of the series found documents of the project online, preserving its existence from being forgotten.

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Joust X [Nintendo 64 – Cancelled]

The original Joust is a 1982 arcade game developed by Williams Electronics, that became quite popular at the time. As we can read on Wikipedia, “The player uses a button and joystick to control a knight riding a flying ostrich. The objective is to progress through levels by defeating groups of enemy knights riding buzzards”.

The game boosted a fun 2-players coop mode, that probably contributed to its popularity in arcades, where friends could play together to survive against dozens of enemies.

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Midway tried many times to resurrect their Joust franchise in 3D, but with no luck. Dactyl Joust for the Atari Jaguar and Joust 3D for Xbox & PS2 were soon cancelled and forgotten. Adding to this list of canned Joust reboot, there’s the lost Nintendo 64 version, titled Joust X or Joust 64.

The game was officially announced by Midway / Atari Games and was featured in many N64 release lists in gaming magazines and online, as this one by IGN from 1998. In the end the game quietly vanished, and Midway never released any official screenshots of the project.

We can assume Joust X would have been a fully 3D game, set in arenas where to fight against hordes of enemies, riding your 3D ostrich and possibly playing it in coop with one or more friends. Imagine it as a mix between 007 GoldenEye and the Battle Mode from Mario Kart 64. The Nintendo 64 was a great multiplayer console thanks to its 4 controllers ports and many great multiplayer titles. Joust 64 could have been another fun game to play with friends, but unfortunately it never seen the light of day.

In the end Midway did release other remakes / reboots of their old catalogue on the N64, such as Gauntlet Legends and Paperboy 64. If you know someone who worked on Joust 64, please let us know!

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Scan from 64 Magazine, issue 5.

Dancing Eyes HD [PS3 Move – Cancelled]

The original “Dancing Eyes” was a quirky puzzle game developed by Namco for Arcades in 1996. You move a small monkey on a grid around 3D girls to cut out their clothes piece by piece while avoiding enemies, somehow similar to the concept behind cult classic QiX.

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An “HD Remake” of Dancing Eyes was announced in 2011, to be part of the Namco Generations digital releases, along with Pac-Man Championship and Galaga Legions. As wrote by Siliconera:

“Namco announced three “models” for Dancing Eyes on the official site – Crisitia Saietta, Francoise Mystere, and Musaki Kikka who appears to be tied to Japanese voice actress who played Alicia in Valkyria Chronicles.”

It seems this Dancing Eyes HD would have been a PS3 exclusive (with PS Move support) but in the end the project was canned for unknown reasons.

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Showdown: Scorpion [PC – Cancelled]

Showdown: Scorpion is a cancelled FPS in development around 2005 by B-Cool Interactive, planned to be published by Akella for PC in 2007. It was set in a cyberpunk future (the music you can hear in one of the trailers is from Ghost in the Shell), where you could use guns, technology and even paranormal skills to fight your way against sci-fi soldiers and zombie-alike monsters.

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IGN played the game at E3 2007:

“Tucked away on the E3 showroom floor was Scorpion: Showdown, a first-person shooter from Akella. Set in the 2040s, this game puts you behind the sights of about 15 weapons and sets you lose on a land filled with bats, zombies, beasts and soldiers. You’ll get updates on the mission from a woman named Anna, but other than her, you’re on your own.

We got to take Scorpion through a flooded warehouse today, and as we ducked beneath scaffolding and blasted man-eating zombies, it was clear Akella was going for a jump-out -and-scare-you feel. Filled with dark corners and creepy monsters, there were plenty of opportunities to crap your pants, but you could always arm your night-vision goggles or flashlight.”

.. and also GameSpot were able to play the same demo:

“Showdown: Scorpion seems to be a fairly straight-ahead shooter. There are supposedly two methods to the madness here: Either you can proceed stealthily and attack your enemies with silenced weapons, or you can go to town with a number of modern and futuristic weapons if you wish to just blow some stuff up.

The weapons here are, at least in the section that we saw, a fairly normal group of pistols and machine guns, including a slightly advanced model of the venerable AK assault rifle family. There are going to be some wackier weapons on hand, though, such as the quote-unquote “gravity gun,” which shoots out a ball of gravity that violently repels anyone near the center of the explosion away from it. In addition, the genetic experimentation that was performed on you will let you enter a bullet-time state to slow down your enemies, a la Max Payne, or even in some cases psychically dominate your enemies and force them to fight for you.”

This was meant to be B-Cool’s first project, but it seems it was too much for a small team. In the end Showdown: Scorpion was cancelled. Some models were later reused for Scorpion: Disfigured, which was a different game despite a similar title and look. B-Cool was closed in 2009, with many more canned projects such as a “Scorpion” sequel, “Metro-3” (third game in The Stalin Subway series for Buka) and “La Guerilla 2040”.

Thanks to Dan for the contribution!

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