News on Beta & Cancelled Games

Lanfeust of Troy (Nadeo) [PC – Cancelled]

Lanfeust of Troy is a cancelled action adventure that was in development for PC by Nadeo around 2001, before they became a favorite team among fans of arcade racing games, thanks to their release of TrackMania in 2003. In 2001 Nadeo was still trying to find their niche, working on many different prototypes such as Windracer and Cyberdrive to pitch them to different publishers.

Lanfeust of Troy was based on a popular french comic:

“In the world of Troy, most humans have a single magic power. Each power is unique to the person and includes such diverse feats as walking on water, personal teleportation, and causing thirst in others. However, none can use their power unless in the close or remote presence of a sage of Eckmül, Troy’s version of a studied magician.”

Probably Nadeo thought that by using an existing franchise as the base for their action adventure prototype, it could have been easier to find a publisher interested in their talent. Unfortunately this was not the case: their Lanfeust of Troy video game was never completed and was just forgotten by everyone. Some fans randomly found out about the project in 2011, saving a few images before they could have been lost forever.

In the end Nadeo was lucky enough to get hired to work on Virtual Skipper 2 and 3, something that helped to keep them alive while waiting to find real success with Trackmania.

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Helix Core [PC – Cancelled]

Helix Core is a cancelled online sci-fi FPS that was in development around 2002 – 2003 by Bright Light Productions, planned to be released for PC. Its main focus was the high number of players who could frag together in a single arena: up to 64 players. This was worked on 8 years before MAG and its 256-players deathmatch, or 13 years before PlanetSide 2’s 1158 simultaneous players: at the time it was quite an ambitious feature for Helix Core.

As we can read from the official press-release:

“In Helix Core, you and 63 of your friends engage in a massive multi-theatered struggle across the universe! Helix Core seamlessly blends gritty team-oriented First Person Shooter warfare with dramatic vehicular action, layering the combat with a powerful strategic component. Fight on foot, and in ship, on land and in space as you work to accomplish mission objectives in epic dynamically scripted levels. As you try to defeat the other team in any of the game’s vast environments, you’ll cooperatively pilot over 20 vehicles ranging from single-person nimble Starfighters to massive multi-personnel Capital Ship behemoths. Teamwork is key as you collectively earn credits for each small victory over your opponents, allowing Players to pool their resources to buy bigger, better technology for their forces.

In Helix Core, you’re not just a grunt. You’re a pilot, a spy, an engineer, a tactician — a combat-hardened soldier of a dark future. In Helix Core’s gothic sci-fi universe where “good” no longer exists, a fascist government combats a ghost of the past, and the only sure thing is bloodshed. Vengeance, hatred, betrayal — all are weaved together in the midst of this terrible struggle surrounding you. Ideas do not come in black and white anymore, there are no rights and wrongs — only greys.”

An interview was also published on VGInsider:

VGI: Can you tell us a little about how the vehicular portion of the game will work?

Jeremy:  A lot of the ships/vehicals in the game require cooperation.  You can have a Capital Ship that can fit 20 players in it. Once you load it up, you can take the behemoth out, and your turret gunners can make mince meat out of their opponents.  Eventually you make your way to the enemy base in this moving battlefortress. Without teamwork though, it will be very difficult to make your way to the enemies headquarters. That is why we are going to have up to 64 players in each game.  In a game like Tribes, most of your vehicles are limited to 3 or 4 people tops, which leads to a very unstructured experience, and people don’t really have much of a way to cooperate in real game mechanics. Helix Core will change all of that.

VGI: I am just wondering, what kind of servers will be required for a concurrent 64 members on at one time, it seems like a lot of computer power would be needed (Counterstrike limits to 21 or 20) and it also seems like bandwidth.  Do you think latency will be a problem?

Jeremy: 64 players is for people with the most powerful of systems, that’s for sure.  I wouldn’t recommend a 64 player game to people who barely meet the minimum requirements for the game.  We figure the typical game will hold 32 players or less.

VGI:  That is great to hear.  Console gaming is more popular than ever, if Helix Core went over well on the PC, could you see it on say. . .Xbox?

Jeremy:  If there’s any console that could do Helix Core, it would certainly be the Xbox,  because it’s graphic capabilities are essentially that of the GeForc3, one of our target cards.  Although on Xbox there would be those damned online fees. . .

Tim:  Honestly, PC is where it’s at for now.  Who knows though, it all depends on how well HC goes over on the PC.  Console gaming would definitely be where we’d look next, before moving on to another game.

VGI: You could always port it to the Dreamcast!  :-)

Jeremy: Dreamcast eh? Hell yeah — then you wouldn’t have to pay any fees. ;-)”

And some more details from their old website:

“Players can walk up to any space flight vehicle, ranging from nimble starfighters to huge multi-personnel battlecruisers and Capital flagships, and take control of it in the multiplayer environment to cooperatively aid their team. Analogous to the many starship types available for flight (in both space and planetside missions), there are 5 player classes for each of the two races that emphasize different game styles and player skills. Your class determines what weapons you can use, but also gives you special abilities that makes certain aspects of the game more suitable for your character — say, piloting, heavy combat, or starbase defense construction.

Missions in Helix Core are objective-oriented & story-oriented, depicting the chronological course of a vast interstellar military conflict between a fascist government and a tortured foe from long ago. Each mission, in addition to having a backstory in the cinematic universe of the game, is different in scope and gameplay — one particular mission has one team staging an Alamo-style last stand for a period of time, while another is a two-way base assault on land and air, whereas a certain mission is a race to reach a remote in a treacherous hostile region of space.

In Helix Core, you’re not locked in combat in some phony hallway in the middle of nowhere, you’re in a location on a massive battle spacestation in a greater battle of an epic war. Your teammates outside are cooperatively piloting starships both small and huge in an effort to keep the supply lines open and ensure that your Space Station Assault succeeds. On both land and in space, foot and flight, the future of cooperative multiplayer team gaming is Helix Core. Be a pilot, be a grunt, be a real-time strategy tactician: The choice is yours, and the battlefield awaits you!”

Around 2002 – 2003 there were also a couple of videos on their website, but unfortunately they seem lost forever.

In 2003 Helix Core vanished and today there are no more details available about the team or their projects. It seems Helix Core was reworked by some of its devs and resurfaced in September 2004 under the name of Cry Havoc. It became a FPS/RTS game, but in the end it was also canned. By looking at screenshots and previews Cry Havoc sounded much different from the original Helix Core concept, so we may have another page on Unseen64 to remember it.

Thanks to Dan for the contribution!

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Maddrax (Soft Enterprises) [PC – Cancelled]

Maddrax is a cancelled action adventure that was in development by German team Soft Enterprises / i3D Software around 2002, planned to be released on PC and other possible platforms:

PC: Our engine is capable of using the power of high-end PCs as well as running on slower machines.

Xbox: Thanks to our good relationship with nVidia and the current state of our engine a conversion can easily be done.

PS2: Although our engine isn’t supporting PS2 yet Renderware could be integrated as render layer. Thus a PS2 version could be delivered in reasonable time.

Gamecube: Possible, but regarding the target audience not a preferred platform.

PC and Xbox are preferred development platforms.”

The game was based on a popular (in Germany) novel / comic book series, a science fiction and horror crossover combining the fascination and thrill of both genres. As we can read from the official fact-sheet:

“In the year 2012 earth is threatened by the imminent impact of the gigantic comet “Christopher-Floyd”. A squadron of fighter jets led by the pilot Matthrew Drax is sent out to observe the effects of earth’s last hope – a barrage of long range nuclear missiles launched from an interstellar space station. The attempt fails and the comet hits earth. The resulting impact hurls Matthew Drax and his squadron 500 years into the future leaving them stranded in a reality radically changed as a result from the comet hitting earth.

It is the 25th century. The pilots witness the remainders of huge glaciers – the end of an ice age. Matthew Drax crashes and is rescued out of his crashed jet by the barbarian woman Aruula. Aruula – a skilled sword fighter and psychic talent – accompanies the pilot. Together with his female companion Matt experiences amazing adventures while trying to make sense of a world where most human societies have degenerated and many creatures have mutated to furious monsters.”

They also shared a short description of its gameplay:

“Maddrax The Game will be a 3D action adventure featuring adventure as well as action parts. Depending on the chapter of the game the player will control either Matthew Drax or Aruula. Matthew Drax will be played from a first person view allowing the player to use modern weapons and machinery. Aruula will be played from a third person view making the best use of her swords fighting skills and psychic talents.

In multiplayer game mode two players control one of the characters in a cooperative mode making this game unique. According to their special strengths and weaknesses the individual characters will not be able to use some of the objects found in the game. The players therefore need to work together in order to complete the given puzzles and levels.”

The Maddrax video game was in development for a short time before the team eventually abandoned the project and closing down in 2003. Soft Enterprises were also working on a multiplayer FPS called “Deathmatch Arena” but that fell through when their publisher Phenomedia collapsed.

A playable prototype used by the team to pitch Maddrax to publishers was found and preserved online thanks to Björn Heussner. You can get it from this page (180 MB). If you are able to record some gameplay footage from this prototype, please let us know!

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Sentient (Sensory Sweep) [Cancelled – Xbox 360]

Sentient is a cancelled side-scrolling run ‘n gun that was in development around 2008 by Sensory Sweep Studios, planned to be published for Xbox 360 Live Arcade. While the project was officially announced by the team, details about its gameplay are scarce.

Sensory Sweep did release a few (tiny) screenshots but description on their original website did not say much about the game:

“Sentient is the newest project by Sensory Sweep Studios for Microsoft’s Xbox Live Arcade. This flagship title will showcase Sensory Sweep’s new DreamFuel engine.  Sentient provides fast paced gameplay set in a sci-fi environment that aims to set a new standard for tension-filled arcade gameplay.”

The game was cancelled when Sensory Sweep finally closed for bankruptcy, with employees working without being paid for months. As we can read on Mobygames:

“The company filed for bankruptcy in September 2005, but kept all projects going with two name changes (including Fooptube). In early 2008 the employees stopped receiving contributions, even though their paychecks were still deducted for the next few pay periods. Soon after that the paychecks bounced and Sensory Sweep lost Brash Entertainment as a big client when it folded at the end of 2008.”

What remains of the game today is just some images, preserved in the gallery below to remember the existence of this lost game.

Among Sensory Sweep other cancelled games there are such titles as Crash Tag Team Racing DS, Time Traveler, Raphael and Oregon Files.

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It Came for Zog [PC – Cancelled]

It Came for Zog is a cancelled point & click adventure that was in development around 1999 – 2000 by Pixeleers Entertainment, a now-forgotten Danish team with not much information online. Luckily we were able to find an old preview for the game on the Web Archive, written in June 2000 by Bob Mandel for The Adrenaline Vault:

“Scheduled to be published by TopWare Interactive, this product shows every sign of bringing the laughter back into personal computer gameplay. The story is that Zog is a prehistoric character who unexpectedly finds himself in the midst of an alien civilization, having been kidnapped by purple creatures from outer space. Zog’s father was the greatest warrior of all time, but now he is old, weak and is facing death. His trusted club, Whammi, is to be inherited by Zog, and it is the most powerful weapon around, capable of even knocking out huge aliens and steel doors. Meanwhile, in the other end of the universe on the Anabolic Asteroid, a bright young scientist named Barfly had created a leader named The General for his people, the Boinks. The General became a feared dictator, and had gotten out of control in training and took to arming the Boinks for war. From this point on, you can perhaps guess what is going to happen as Zog enters the picture.”

“In the words of writer/developer Kristian List when describing the overall tone of It Came For Zog, Zog just cannot help being funny “everywhere, all the time.” When asking Zog to do a simple thing, such as turning the lights on or opening a door, you can be assured that he will find an awkward Neanderthal way to do it. Zog is not the only weird one, as the rest of the bizarre cast promises to be zany and silly as well.

The development team has always considered the adventure genre to be one of their personal favorites. The team wanted to tell a truly unique story, and found that the basic fish-out-of-water conflict with a Neanderthal in an alien outer space setting was the perfect choice. The original rough script was written way back in 1997, but surprisingly there are precious few changes compared to the present work in production. Nonetheless, the developers have been quite happy with the flexibility of their design process: from the beginning they had in mind to make room in the schedule for adjustments as they went along.”

“To guide Zog through his adventures, you must apply the proper Stone Age logic, often yielding surprising results. A little good old-fashioned violence goes a long way in achieving your objectives. List claims the very best element of It Came For Zog “has to be the political incorrectness” — Zog does all the things a main character should not.

It Came For Zog contains an interesting mix of 2D perspectives and 3D settings, combining real-time scenes for indoor environments and pre-rendered scenes for outdoor environments. The developers planned this pattern to make the game run smoothly even on ordinary computers. Because the title’s universe is built as one physical entity, you move absolutely seamlessly between indoor and outdoor areas, not realizing the differences between them in their mode of graphics construction.

As List points out, the basic guideline of the gameplay in It Came For Zog from the beginning has been, “We don’t want the player to get seriously stuck at any point.” The developers desire the gaming experience to be fun and laid back, not frustrating or exhausting. If they had to compare the gameplay contained in this title to that in other releases, they perceive that the style of It Came For Zog has certain similarities with games like Grim Fandango and Full Throttle. The designers do not hide at all that LucasArts has been inspirational to them, having had a large impact on their adventure upbringing.”

After a while the game just vanished without any trace. It seems Pixeleers also worked on another cancelled game, “Aeropa: Fall of the Covenant”, but at the moment we did not find any remaining image from it. We can speculate Pixeleers just close down when their projects became too ambitious to be kept alive.

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