New Cancelled Games & Their Lost Media Added to the Archive

Pyross (American Sammy) [NES – Cancelled]

Pyross is a cancelled action platformer based on the original Wardner / Pyros arcade game, which would have been published by American Sammy Corporation for the NES. While a 8-Bit version of Wardner was released for the Famicom Disk System in Japan, it was a different game from this canned one. Pyross was shown a few times in gaming magazines previews (such as in EGM 13), its american box-art was already designed and they even had an advertisement flyer ready, but in the end the game just vanished forever:

Princess Pudding has been captured, and it’s up to the dashing prince to rescue her. But this is no mere walk in the woods! He must challenge hordes of vile creatures, avoid deadly traps, and master the weapons of fire before time runs out! Shall the beloved princess be crystalized by the forces of darkness, or will Ala Mode make things too hot for evil to handle?”

We can only hope one day a prototype of this canned NES version of Pyross could be found by someone and preserved online.

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queen of Fighters [GP32 – Cancelled]

queen of Fighters is a cancelled fighting game that was in development around 2003 by obscure team Icon for the ill-fated GP32 handheld console. After so many years this game seems to have been forgotten by most of the internet, and just a few proof of its existence are still available online. From artwork and a single screenshot preserved in the gallery below we can assume it would have been a classic 1 VS 1 fighting game, featuring female warriors. As it often happens with lost games for less-known consoles, we’ll probably never know more about the project unfortunately.

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Poacher (Exileworks) [PC – Cancelled]

Poacher is a cancelled “illegal hunting game” that was in development around 2003 – 2004 by Exileworks Inc, planned to be released on PC. When it was announced magazines and gaming websites were a bit concerned about the concept of hunting endangered species (rhinos, elephants, tigers, gorillas, etc.) and maybe this could have been one of the reasons the game was never completed.

Players would have to use stealth to weave through the bushes and avoid being seen by the animals, while fighting off natural reserve wardens as they try to stop you across the entire globe. Many different areas would have been available, such as the South American forests, snow covered Russian reserves and the African Savannah. Your main objective would have been to earn more money by hunting rare and dangerous species, selling them on the black market. With this money you could then buy new weapons, equipment and vehicles (ATV, Truck, or helicopter), to help you hunt down even bigger and more difficult animals. We can read more about the game from the original press release:

“This upcoming title represents an entirely new facet of gameplay for all first person shooter and resource management enthusiasts. You are Roman Sar, a poacher with a bad attitude and big guns. You fight and struggle your way through the African Congo to the deep jungles of India as you hunt for the most famous of endangered species; all the while avoiding and battling the dreaded Game Wardens.

Poacher is a free form game that allows the player to choose their hunting grounds, and to upgrade their character as time goes by. You control your destiny as you plot your way through some of the most dangerous places in the world. You must avoid capture and defeat the Game Wardens who constantly attempt to capture or kill you! Trade your goods on the black market to gain more money and power!

It should be noted that the game is very dependent on the players stealth ability. The animals are far from defenseless, and therein lies the challenge! The hunter is often the hunted and lack of caution will lead you to a quick end. Before you know it a tiger has you in its claws, or an elephant is using you as a doormat.”

In 2004 HomeLAN published an interview with Peter Khojasteh, at the time working for Exileworks on the project:

HomeLAN – What can you tell us about the basic gameplay for Poacher?

Peter Khojasteh – The game is played from a first person perspective emphasizing stealth. Using a wide variety of weapons, including some explosives, the player will move through wilderness environments hunting animals while trying to avoid getting killed. At the same time the player will also have to avoid or engage the wardens who will actively hunt the player. Vehicles will also play an important role.

When the hunt is over, the player is taken back to the GWI (game world interface) where they will manage resources. This includes planning trips to other hunting sites, buying and selling the goods you acquire, buying new equipment including vehicles and weapons, and checking the status of goods on the global market. The GWI is essentially the player’s portal into the various 3d environments, and also adds its own unique gameplay elements.

HomeLAN – What types of animals do you hunt in the game and how is the combat handled between the poacher and animal?

Peter Khojasteh – There are Rhinos, Elephants, and gorillas to name a few. In addition to this there are some things that the player will simply not expect. Combat will involve pre-planning and intelligent use of resources. Given certain situations, the player will not be able to succeed easily unless they have the right equipment for the job.”

Peter was also interviewed by Gengamers:

Let’s talk about the gameplay, please! Is Poacher a typical action game or will you implement interesting gameplay variations?

Poacher is a hunting game with quite a bit of action. If you’re not chasing down an elephant, or outrunning an insane crocodile along a riverbank, chances are you’re being shot at by game wardens or Interpol. The game mixes this sort of enjoyable gameplay with resource management that is not just an afterthought. The choices you make with your resources really affect the way Roman (the main character) can interact with the various environments and challenges he faces. We’ve worked extensively on the AI to help the player become truly immersed in the game world.

Will the player be able to drive vehicles?

We have helicopters, Atv’s, Trucks, and even a barge. There are so many vehicles in this game, the player will always have something awesome to crash.”

“How many weapons will appear, and what’s up with the equipment? Will we see some helpful goodies?

There are many different types of weapons ranging from hunting rifles to machine guns and c4. The weapon a player uses directly affects the outcome of many situations. It’s important to remember certain circumstances require different weapons and different tactics. The equipment really gives Roman his edge. For example, the night vision and various forms of camo are really important to maintain a stealthy profile.

How long will it take for the player to finish the game? Will you include different endings? Is there any replay value?

The game is essentially endless, so the reply value is substantial. Along with proposed multiplayer modes, the player will have many gameplay choices.”

Thanks to Dan for the contribution!

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Rhino Rumble Puzzle (Formula) [Game Boy Color – Cancelled]

Rhino Rumble Puzzle is a cancelled puzzle-platformer featuring four playable characters and more than 60 levels (+ mini-games), that was in development by Formula Games / Lost Boys Interactive around 2001 – 2002, planned to be released on the Game Boy Color. Lost Boys was the original name of Guerrilla Games, prior to their acquisition by Sony and before creating such popular titles as the Killzone series and Horizon Zero Dawn. In particular Formula was Lost Boys’ internal team dedicated to handheld games, responsible for producing titles such as Rhino Rumble, and Tiny Toon Adventures: Dizzy’s Candy Quest for GameBoy Color.

Some details on Rhino Rumble Puzzle can still be found in an old preview by IGN:

“It’s a standard side-scroller, but the added challenge of protecting the water barrel changes the dynamics dramatically. And if that’s not enough puzzle madness for you, you can build your own stages in the game — a rarity in puzzle games and an unheard-of concept in side-scrolling games. Let your imagination run wild, then trade data with your friends via the Infrared link and challenge them to beat your tricky track.”

We can read the original game’s description on the archived Lost Boys website:

“The time has come again. Rhino has already eaten too many peppers! This time however, all the animals had foreseen this, putting all the available water in barrels and hiding on high ledges in labyrinth-like caves. Put yourself in the shoes of one of Rhino’s four best friends, and try to quench Rhino’s thirst by getting him the barrels of water. Using your own cleverness and objects scattered throughout the levels, your task is to jump and drill your way through the caverns. Dodge enemies, solve puzzles, and do it all within a time limit, without dropping the barrels! The animals will understand your actions, but they’d rather Rhino finally learn a lesson from his greed, so they’ll try to stop you. Crush, crush, drill and chop your way through over 60 challenging puzzle levels and earn a place in the hall of fame”

Rhino Rumble Puzzle was also mentioned in a 2011 interview by Gamasutra with Mathijs de Jonge (Game Director at Lost Boys / Guerrilla Games):

“I have very fond memories of a Game Boy Color game we made during the Lost Boys Games days, which we sadly couldn’t find a publisher for. Even though it was a Game Boy Color game, we had the same ambitions we had with Killzone 3, in a way. […] It’s a puzzle platform game but it has a level editor built in, and all the 80 or so levels in the game we made with the in-game level editor. If you remember it, the Game Boy Color had an infrared port, so you could submit the levels/puzzles you made to your friends that way.

That was already a big and ambitious project, and that was such a long time ago, and it’s really sad we couldn’t find a publisher for it — because back in those days publishers wanted licensed characters, and asked us to change the nice characters we created to well-known cartoon figures. We didn’t want to compromise our game, and sadly, that ensured that nobody wanted to publish it.”

At the time Lost Boys were also working on another cancelled Game Boy Color game titled “Knights”, originally conceived as a canned Dreamcast multiplayer brawler and later reworked as a Playstation 2 action platformer (also unreleased), before the team was sold to Media Republic and renamed Guerrilla Games.

Thanks to Squiddy Goat for the contribution!

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Raiko (Blizzard + Flextech) [PC – Cancelled]

Raiko is a cancelled action RPG that was in development by Flextech between 1996 and 1998, planned to be published by Blizzard Entertainment for PC. The game was conceived as a “3D Diablo with samurai”. At the time Raiko was not officially announced by Blizzard, but its name was later shown in a list of cancelled games they talked about at DICE 2008. In 2017 former Flextech founder and developer Felix Kupis published a few screenshots of their Raiko prototype on Linkedin:

“Raiko was a Diablo style game with a 3D engine set in ancient Japan. Even though the game got cancelled for various reasons, we did manage to have a working 3D engine, RPG system and a level editor. I can still run the engine today almost 20 years later on windows 10. Here are some screenshots from March 1998.”

Just a year before we had the pleasure to interview Felix for our bookVideo Games You Will Never Play”, when he shared some of his memories working on Raiko:

“As a fan of Diablo style games and Asian folklore I wanted to make a game that was essentially a 3D Samurai Diablo. This was built on a 3D engine but was played from a similar view to Diablo. You could turn the camera around to see more of the environment and the game was coming along but got cut when Vivendi bought Blizzard.

Myself and my crew of a couple people that did the work on the game traveled down to E3 when it was held in Atlanta and set up a meeting with Alan Adham and Bill Roper on this game demo we made for Raiko. I got to know Alan Adham when I told him my story of basically being kicked out early from Westwood (I was leaving after finishing Red Alert) for wearing a Blizzard shirt.  At that time the heads of Westwood hated Blizzard for “stealing” their RTS ideas so after wearing the shirt to piss off my boss I got the boot early. Anyway I was a good in with Mr. Adham and got me the meeting at E3, it was actually the very last meeting of the show for Blizzard.  After looking at our demo I remember Alan and Bill Roper both had a huge smile on their face and told us this is the game we have been looking for.”

“After Raiko got cancelled, Blizzard kept all the rights to it so we were basically looking for a new project before we ran out of funding.  We pitched Disposable Heroes to a bunch of publishers including GT interactive, Atari, and some others.  Disposable Heroes was basically Halo way before Halo but nobody would give us the funding for the game before money ran out and we had to shut down Flextech.  I still have the original documents for Disposable Heroes, it’s really funny reading them now and looking at how close it was to Halo.”

Thanks to Robin for the contribution!

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