News on Beta & Cancelled Games

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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The Unseelie [PC – Cancelled]

In 2004 Australian developer KaWow! started working on a first-person shooter called The Unseelie, that mixed horror with adventure elements. The game told a storyline about an old haunted forest and a village trapped in time. It was planned to be published by Octagon in 2005, but sadly the project was cancelled for unknown reasons.

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KaWow! were founded in 1997, helping other studios with the development of some games for PC and consoles, such as GORE: The Ultimate Soldier and other projects for television multimedia integration, LAN and Internet multiplayer first person games.

The Unseelie’s story still stand out today and is a quite haunting and mysterious one:

“In a chilly November evening, Damian Logan is driving his car on the countryside, crossing a dark Irish forest, when suddenly a child-like figure appears on the road. Trying to avoid an accident, Damian`s car gets out of control and crashing into a nearby tree.

Upon awakening he stumbles into an ancient forest, called “Tir-Na-Bràch-Marbh” – Land of the Eternal Death. Wandering lost deeper and deeper into the woodlands, he discovers stones, buried in the shape of a septagram, with a source of light shining from its center.

Walking towards it, the light is bright and dazzling, but suddenly dimming – plunging the forest in absolute blackness. Strange voices begin whispering from left and right, near and far….

As the story unfolds, we learn that Damian is trapped in a world between the living and the dead. The dark haunted forest has tangled and enclosed a 17th century Irish village, severing its contact with the rest of the world and stopping time from passing.

In order to escape and return home, the protagonist has to battle “The Unseelie” (pronounced “Un SHEE Lee”), an unblessed cursed fairy race, based on Celtic mythology.

By defeating all seven demon lords, Damien would obtain certain ritualistic objects which allowed him to escape the clutches of Lord Finvarra, the King of the Dead, by opening a portal to his reality and returning home.”

To help during your quest you would be able to use an arsenal of roughly 30 different weapons, plus the possibility of crafting your own weapons from materials found in the game. By battling foes like Banshees, Goblins, Demons, Elementals and Ghosts, new experience points were collected to unlock skills and upgrade weapons.

The Unseelie is a great game to work with because of the way it uniquely combines Celtic mythos with popular first-person gameplay,” said Lloyd Melnick, Co-Founder of publisher Octagon.

Over the course of your journey, protagonist Damien would have gained access to a wide range of powers and attacks related to Fire, Water, Earth, Air, Wood, Metal and Spirit. Some monsters were resistant against physical attacks and could only be beaten with certain magic.

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The adventure-aspect of the game focused on players using elemental powers to solve many puzzles on the way through the 7 levels of the three-dimensional environment, generated by their homemade AMP II engine, which offered real-time lighting, matrix shading, high-resolution textures and bump mapping.

We used all of the visually stunning rendering techniques of our engine and combined them with the sinister forest setting of Celtic legend and some engaging game play design to make something that makes you want to play, but keeps you looking over your shoulder,explained Steve Woodgate, who was KaWoW! CEO until 2016 and is currently managing director of Coronum Pty Ltd.

It is unclear what happened to the studio. Since Mr. Woodgate left KaWoW! in 2016 we can assume they were active at least until that date, even though no other game seems to have been released since the cancellation of The Unseelie.

The company’s old website (www.kawow.com) is unreachable, and what remains today are only screenshots, a few articles splattered across the web and a couple of videos showing in-game footage. This was probably from the beginning of the game, when Damien escapes his crashed vehicle and discovers a stone-circle with a beam of light in the middle, showing: “Some fairy tales were never meant to be told…“.

Article by Niko, thanks to Dan for the contribution!

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