News on Beta & Cancelled Games

Trunski (Core Design) [Game Gear – Cancelled]

Trunski is a cancelled platformer that was in development by Core Design (Chuck Rock, Tomb Raider, Fighting Force) around 1993 – 1994 for Sega Game Gear. The game was shown at Winter CES 1993 and a single screenshot was published in Consoles+ magazine (issue 29, February 1994, found by Youloute):

“Trunski is an elephant. After a little tour away from his native jungle, he returns to realize that it is now populated by infamous rhinoceros. Under the leadership of Rhinus P.Itus, they plan to set up a mining installation in the middle of Trunski’s territory. In summary, this platform game is non-violent, humorous, ecological and politically correct.”

Not much is known about this cancelled project as most details about its existence are already forgotten and lost in time. If you know someone who worked at Core Design on Trunski and could help to preserve more screens, footage or details about the game, please let us know!

Orcs: Revenge of the Ancient [PC – Cancelled]

Orcs Revenge of the Ancient is a cancelled real-time strategy / action game that was in development by Berkeley Systems around 1998 / 1999, planned to be published for PC by Sierra Entertainment. It was going to use J.R.R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings / Middle-earth settings and gaming magazines and websites at the time were quite hyped for the project and was described by IGN as being “somewhere between Pokemon, Die by the Sword, and Master of Magic”.

As we can read from its original press release:

“Sierra Studios proudly announces Orcs Revenge of the Ancient, a fantasy strategy game developed by Berkeley Systems set in the world of Middle-earth from J.R.R Tolkien’s internationally acclaimed trilogy The Lord of the Rings. Cast as an Orc chieftain who has been assigned command of an elite group of fighting Orcs by Sauron, the Dark power, your group is charged with keeping the peace between the many evil factions of his army using whatever brutal means necessary. However, two other evil powers have emerged from the past to vie with Sauron for your aid in their respective quests and you must choose your alliances carefully to survive.

Orcs Select up to four common Orcs and transform them into brutal fighting machines, each with a unique fighting style created by you. Customize your Orcs’ fighting skills through intense training in which you build the best combination of killing moves suited to your Orc. Each Orc has its own specific personality and characteristics. For example, an Orc who is prone to violent outbursts may be difficult to train but ferocious in battle. Develop your Orcs’ Statistics such as intelligence, strength and dexterity in arena and field combat and sustain these skills with training exercises.

You will command your Orcs in real time 3-D combat, choosing their armor and weapons and suggesting fighting moves. Pit the Orcs under your command against over 30 enemies before taking them online to match skills with other Orcs in multiplayer mayhem.

As the original story of Orcs Revenge of the Ancient pulls you deeper into Tolkien’s Middle-earth, you will find yourself trapped in a deadly conflict of interests between the three dark powers. Your Orcs’ survival within this violent power struggle will determine whether they are capable of self-determination or merely servants of the Darkness.

Product Features

+ Original and rich storyline based in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth
+ Open-ended gameplay
+ Customizable training and fighting
+ RPG-based skill system
+ Combo builder to create custom moves
+ Multiplayer online component”

Unfortunately the game was canned in late 1999 due to an internal reorganization, as we can read on IGN:

“What we do care about is the fact that due to this reorganization, Sierra has cancelled four of their upcoming titles including Desert Fighters and Pro Pilot Paradise (for which we shed no tears), and, more seriously, Babylon 5 and Orcs: Revenge of the Ancients. Worse news still is that the company has laid off more than 100 people who were working on those titles.”

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Mean Arenas [Playstation – Cancelled]

Mean Arenas is a cancelled multiplayer game that was in development for Playstation by SCE Studios Team Soho (the same team behind Porsche Challenge and The Getaway) around 1996 / 1997. Unfortunately the project was never officially announced and it was soon forgotten when the team decided to focus on other games.

It was conceived as a 4-player beat ‘em up, to take advantage of Playstation’s multitap peripheral. Not much is known about Mean Arenas and as far as we know only 1 image remains today, preserved below to remember this lost Playstation project.

If you know someone who worked on Mean Arenas and could help to save more details and media, please let us know!

Enemy in Sight [PC – Cancelled]

Enemy in Sight is the cancelled spiritual sequel to the Hidden and Dangerous series, in development around 2005 by Illusion Softworks and Pterodo (later merged and acquired by Take-Two Interactive in 2008, renamed as 2K Czech) and planned to be published by Atari for PC. It was conceived as a new multi and single player military shooter, set on 100-square km battlefield. The team wanted to offer interactive environments deformable by explosions, where players could drive military vehicles (tanks, airplanes):

“Centred around a great war between superpowers in the very near future, the game focuses on first person action set within vast battle landscapes. Massive online multiplayer capabilities enhance the sheer scale and dramatic impact of the fire fights and battles within the sprawling, realistic environments. Every building can be destroyed, the landscape is fully deformable, and players can command any of over 25 vehicles in the game, all based on their real-life counterparts and painstakingly designed to scale.”

Some details were shared in an interview by Gamespot with former Atari producer Peter Wyse:

GameSpot: Give us a brief overview of Enemy in Sight.

Peter Wyse: The cold war never died. It just went into a deep freeze until global events brought it to a full boil. You are a soldier in today’s army. You are called into action to fight a conventional war between Russian and American forces using today’s latest technology. You have all of the modern weapons of war at your disposal, from the latest machine guns to the laser-guided missile launchers, from modern tanks to state-of-the-art helicopters.

GS: Tell us about Enemy in Sight’s multiplayer. Will it emphasize team play over lone-wolf tactics?

PW: Modern warfare is about team play and team tactics. We could not build a credible multiplayer game using modern weaponry without building scenarios and battlefields that will rely heavily on team tactics. So there will be scenarios that force players to combine ground, air, and artillery support to strike a target. But we do recognize that going it alone has its own appeal, and for those players that want to test their limits against overwhelming odds, we have created Green Beret mode.

GS: Tell us about the actual gameplay. Could you disclose the modes at this point? Is the game going to be focused on head-to-head deathmatching or on goal-oriented gameplay?

PW: The single-player mode is very objective-oriented, as you’ll be defending or attacking key targets, engaging enemies, establishing new frontlines, and collecting intelligence, to name a few of the scenarios. But the multiplayer and quick-play modes support a number of different scenarios and allow you to tailor your gameplay experience to your own flavor and speed. For example, if all you want to do is drive tanks and run through buildings, there will be scenarios that are very tank-centric. We’ll announce the specific modes at a later date, but variety of gameplay is not an issue.”

Soon the project vanished and in May 2006 Atari sold the project to another publisher due to financial problems. In 2007 part of the Illusions Softworks team left the studio and most of the remaining developers had to focus their efforts on finishing Mafia II, finally released in 2010

Thanks to Dan for the contribution!

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Jason Bourne: Treadstone (Radical Entertainment) [Cancelled – Xbox 360, PS3]

Treadstone is a cancelled action video game based on the Jason Bourne novel series by Robert Ludlum, that was in development by Radical Entertainment (The Simpsons: Hit & Run, Prototype) around 20072008 for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. The Bourne license was revived in 2002 through a new film series and another Bourne video game titled “Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Conspiracy” was already published in 2008.

Jason-Bourne-Treadstone-VideoGame-Radical-Entertainment-01

The name of the game was taken from a top-secret black ops program of the CIA in the Jason Bourne series of novels and movies. This cancelled Treadstone game was never officially announced by the company, but footage was leaked online around 2011 and some details were already rumored around 2008 thanks to an article by Variety’s Ben Fritz:

“What is Treadstone?” you ask, in your best Matt Damon impersonation. According to Variety “it’s a multi-player online game set in the world of the spy agency that trained Bourne.” We’ll assume that contraction is short for “it was” because, whad’ya know, “production has stopped” on the project. Perhaps once Ludlum Entertainment finds a new publisher for Bourne, whatever work Radical has already invested in “Treadstone” will find a new home, but that sounds unlikely to us.”

It seems the game was canned because of Activision Blizzard’s merge and their abandonment of the Bourne property rights once owned by Sierra / Vivendi (among all of their other IPs), of which they did not want to publish another game:

“Activision Blizzard is also reviewing Sierra’s other properties that they will not be publishing: think Bourne, 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand, World in Conflict, et al. Activision Publishing CEO Mike Griffith says, “We are reviewing our options regarding those titles that we will not be publishing.” Those games won’t be published by Blizzavision because they’re not “a strong fit with [Activision Blizzard’s] long-term product strategy.” No word on the fate of Sierra’s classic adventure games like King’s Quest, Leisure Suit Larry, etc.

As for the status of Sierra’s in-house developers, Blizzavision will “realign staffing at Radical Entertainment and High Moon Studios” – the developers of Prototype and The Bourne Conspiracy respectively – while “exploring options regarding Massive Entertainment and Swordfish Studios” – the devs behind World in Conflict and 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand, respectively. Those “options” include “the possibility of divestiture.”

Some more details on the game development and cancellation were published online by a former employee who worked on the project:

“After wrapping up my work on Prototype I moved onto a new project helping to build a new team and new game. We went on to create an action adventure playable game demo in the spy genre. In less than a year while developing a new engine and building a new team we delivered an “open neighborhood” playable demo with cover based gunplay, vehicles and parkour style locomotion.

In 2008 Activision and Vivendi merged. The above mentioned project was cancelled for several reasons. They said the game looked great but needed to turn into something else. They expressed their decision with the fact they already had the James Bond Franchise, and stated several other decision points based around the IP and the game’s potential returns.”

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