News on Beta & Cancelled Games

Burnt Out Cop [PS2, Xbox – Cancelled]

Burnt Out Cop is a cancelled action game that was in development by Infinite Lives and HotGen Studios around 2002 – 2003, planned to be published by Sega for Playstation 2 (and the original Xbox). Infinite Lives spent a few months developing a playable demo and creating an extensive Game Design Document (that was later shared online on their official website). HotGen Studios was impressed by their work and offered them more funding and resources, while the game was proposed to Sega for publishing. Unfortunately internal issues between HotGen and Infinite Lives caused the latter to lose the IP and in the end the game was canned.

More details about Burnt Out Cop can still be found in the original Design Doc:

“Unorthodox methods and unnecessary force alienate this street-wise cop from his precinct. This adrenaline-fuelled, arcade style, third-person shooter is predominately viewed from a top-down position. The gameplay is heavily based on classic arcade games combining the art of Street Fighter with the frenetic frenzy of Smash TV and Powerstone. Rather than using standard rendered 3D models, the game employs a hand drawn look giving it an unconventional comic book edge. Exaggerated movement and animation, as opposed to life-like motion capture, emphasise the speed and power of the characters. In contrast to Burnt Out Cop’s fast gameplay and slick image, its action is often humorous. Taking a tongue-in -cheek approach, it features many cop movie clichés, including larger than life characters and recognisable locations and set pieces. The cop’s manoeuvres are heavily based on those found in many John Woo films (for example, Hard Boiled and Mission: Impossible II) combined with the slapstick nature of Jackie Chan fight sequences. A fictional Hong Kong environment containing eighties undertones provides the backdrop for the explosive showdowns.”

  • Advanced gunplay: Floor bad guys and catch their guns out of the air or grab an opponent and use him as a human shield.
  • Rapid Targeting: Aim and shoot at the press of a button. Hold two guns and simultaneously target multiple opponents.
  • Extensive Weapon Range: Contains plenty of slapstick action: use traditional ballistic weapons mixed with everything you can get your hands on, including frying pans, chickens and prosthetic limbs.
  • Humour: A true crowd pleasing game featuring a witty send-up of classic cop movies and other games.
  • Self-Improvement: On his path to redemption his mental state and physical abilities are regained and improved.

“Guns play a key role in the game, both in terms of how they are acquired and how they are used. Another important feature is the relative lack of ammunition available. Unlike games where this would result in more cautious and frugal play Burnt Out Cop creates a mad scramble for any guns left by dead guys. When shot, their gun would fly from their hand or skid across the floor, allowing the cop to quickly collect it or catch it out of the air – just like the movies.”

Check the footage below to see how the game would have been played, if only completed.

Images:

Videos:

Unseen64 Survived 2019: How is This Possible?

2020 is coming soon and as every year we’d like to review what we did last year and make some plans for the new one.

As most of you know we work on Unseen64 in our own free time, after a long day of our day-jobs. We take away this extra time from our sleep, friends and family just to search info on lost games, write articles, read Unseen64 related emails, reply to messages on social networks, resolve technical issues on the site, save media and contact developers.

Here are some of the lost games we archived on Unseen64 in 2019:

You see a few articles published on the site every week, but to keep Unseen64 alive we invest dozens of hours of work every week. 95% of needed work is done by monokoma and in the last few years it became harder and harder to find more people who can help the site steadily. Most contributors just write one or two articles, before vanishing forever.

As we wrote in 2018 working for Unseen64 is getting harder and harder every year. In 2019 we had the same issues: people are not much interested in a website of this kind, especially when popular lost games are already unveiled and well known. It’s hard to keep the interest high and find new support on Patreon:

  • We still have hundreds of lost games for console and PC to write about, but most of them are obscure projects by small studios. There are no more popular projects like “Resident Evil 1.5” or “Sonic Xtreme” to uncover or it’s almost impossible to gather information about them.
  • Even for those obscure and little cancelled games, it became harder to receive more details and write good articles. Some years ago we could contact 5 developers who worked on a lost game and we would get at least 2 or 3 answers. Now we contact 10 or 20 developers and 99% of the time we never get any answer. Internet has become a fearsome place, where news could deform and spread uncontrollably on social networks. Developers seem scared to talk about their old jobs, because they don’t want to get in trouble.
  • Without being able to get in contact with developers, we cannot even save more screenshots or footage from many lost games we are researching. With no exclusive images or videos, we cannot even keep up with Patreon higher tier bonuses. This means people who donate to get bonuses are not happy (and we understand their disappointment).
  • Without details and without good footage, we cannot create interesting video articles. In 2019 we just dropped our plans to create new videos, because we can’t get new information from developers. With the few details, screens and videos available is best if we focus on preserving some memories from these lost games in our website.
  • Most people are not interested in supporting an old website in the age of Youtubers. With no interesting video content, not many people support Unseen64 on Patreon and we are not shared on major websites anymore. Many years ago those same websites would write news for many of the lost games we wrote in our site in 2019. Today if you don’t make a good video about it, you are not picked up by those websites.

Is Unseen64 doomed? Not yet.

Thanks to people like you who read articles on our website and support us on Patreon we survived 2019

We still work every week to keep Unseen64 alive, instead of closing it down:

  • We keep remembering those obscure lost games on Unseen64, even if most people don’t care about them.
  • We keep sending emails to developers, even if 99% of the time we never get a reply.
  • We write as much as we can about a lost game, by doing deep-research online, in old magazines, closed websites, developers’ resumes and online portfolios.
  • Unseen64 support on Patreon remained stable in 2019 (it did not grow, but it did not decrease much compared to 2018).
  • We keep working on other methods to raise funds (as with StoryBundle ebooks and publishing short physical books using the same content we publish on the site).
  • We were able to lower fixed expenses for the site (asking for a discount and cheaper support to our server provider), saving money with no major issues for the site. This means that in 2020 we’ll spend less for the U64 server!

Patreon is essential for the survival of a niche project like Unseen64, a website mostly managed by a single italian guy in this age of Youtube and gaming videos in english.

In 2019 we were able to stay alive by focusing on text-articles about obscure lost games.

This is already a huge victory for Unseen64 :)

Will 2020 follow this trend? We’ll have to wait and see.

We are really grateful for your kind words and your help: without our Patrons, Unseen64 would already be dead. You prompt us to keep doing this, even during the hardest times.

Big gaming networks such as IGN, Polygon or Kotaku have the resources to own powerful servers and to pay a team to work full-time on their websites, keeping them online and publishing daily updates.

We don’t have their resources, but we have you: a community of gamers interested in preserving the unseen history of video games.

We’d like to thank all of you who are currently helping U64 on Patreon:

Joshua, gamemast15r, Sez, Malkavio, Thomas, chubigans, Patrick, Becki, Alex S., Marco, Patryk, Nick, Jordan, Reoko, Davidlee, Marty, Cody, Lachlan, Jake, James, Matthew, Rylan, Jessi, Riptide, Renee, Mcsahon, Itay, Faisal, Julian, Shane, Kaleb, Emily, Vitor, Joe, Peter, Robert O., Nathan, Alexandy1, Kirk, Robert D., Pedro, Ehren, Bransfield, Thibaut, joef0x, Conrad, Nick, Daniel, TheUnbeholden, MARTAZIA, Knight, Ben, The Video Game History Foundation, The Outpost Network, allan, tydaze, Gabe, Tim, Thomas, Mauro, Olivier, Alex M., Anders, Joe, James, Paul S., Brice, Guilherme, Alpha, Paul, Josh, Dan, Niels, Lou, Matthew, PtoPOnline, Jesus, Brandon, Martin, James, Tony, Christopher, Liam, DidYouKnowGaming, Cameron, Goffredo and everyone else! (did we forget someone?)

Space Opera: Great Gods [NES / Famicom – Cancelled]

Space Opera: Great Gods ( スペースオペラ 大いなる神々, Supesuopera Oinaru Kamigami) is a cancelled JRPG that was in development by Software Industrial (?) for the Famicom (NES). Only a few screenshots are available, showing off a classic RPG similar to Dragon Quest or Final Fantasy, but played in sci-fi settings (similar to Phantasy Star). Some details about this lost game were shared online by a japanese website:

Space opera is a subgenre of science fiction movies, where the hero is usually on a high-speed spaceship. Around summer 1990, a certain magazine hosted a game creator contest by Software Industrial. The tournament was set in three categories: fantasy art, scenario, and software. For each category they offered a grand prize of 1 million yen! Their plan was probably to find new ideas to create a new successful Famicom game.

One of these new ideas was announced in 1991: Space Opera, a sci-fi RPG with an automatic combat system. Using artificial intelligence and by gaining experience during battles, players would be able to improve their character’s AI to improve their fighting abilities. It seems you could also befriend monsters after battle, turning them into cards to be carried around and used in battles, just like in Pokemon.”

We don’t know what happened to Space Opera, nor Software Industrial as we cannot find anything about them online. If you know more about this lost Famicom game, please let us know!

Images:

Demon Driver [PC – Cancelled]

Demon Driver is a cancelled point & click adventure / racing game hybrid that was in development for PC by french team Haiku Studios around 1996. During their short existence Haiku Studios released only two games, The Koshan Conspiracy in 1994 and Down in the Dumps (probably their most popular title) in 1996. All of their other projects such as Elric and The Island of Dr. Moreau were never completed, lost and forgotten when the studio closed down in 1997.

From the few Demon Driver screenshots shared online by Abandonware France we can assume it was going to be a funny adventure game similar to Down in the Dumps, but with some kind of racing gameplay added to it. While their only released games were welcomed with mixed reviews, it’s unfortunate they did not have another chance to complete another promising project.

Images:

Alien Alliance [Cancelled – Playstation]

Alien Alliance is a cancelled sci-fi / space combat game that was in development by Orbital Studios around 1995, planned to be published by Virgin for Playstation and PC. As we can read in an old issue of Computer Gaming World magazine:

“In addition, Virgin and Orbital Studios will present a space game called Alien Alliance that could surprise a lot of gamers. It is a  space combat game in the X-wing and Wing Commander traditions, but it has a much more robust structure to it. Gamers will work their way up through the  ranks of a space navy, starting with wingman and working up to fleet commander. Each stage will give the player more power to direct the war as they see fit.

In Electronic Entertainment magazine (December 1995) we can also read:

“Virgin’s Orbital Studios is hard at work on an exciting strategy and space simulation game called Alien Alliance for DOS CD-ROM, due by the end of the year. The game  features strong graphics, two different terrain engines, and the ability to graduate from wingman to fleet commander in an intriguing conflict between several alien races.”

A couple of screenshots were found by Youlute in CD Consoles magazine (issue 10, September 1995). The game seems to have been later reworked and released as a PC-exclusive under the name “Forced Alliance” in 1997.