News on Beta & Cancelled Games

Kunio-Kun RPG [NES, Famicom – Cancelled]

Kunio-kun is a cult-classic series of action adventure games originally conceived by Technos Japan in arcades and for the Nintendo Famicom console. In its main titles you take the role of Kunio, a japanese high-school delinquent (bancho) with a good heart, punching and kicking other gangs to free the streets of your city. 

While in the west the series is mostly known for Renegade and River City Ransom on the NES, in Japan many more Kunio games were developed and published. In 1988 Super Dodge Ball (a sport-based Kunio-Kun spin off) was released on the Famicom. A strategy guide was published by Technos in Japan and as noticed by Arc Hound on Twitter, at the end of the volume there was an announcement for a cancelled, forgotten Kunio-Kun RPG.

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Luckily japanese user 3Ways posted a photo of this page on Twitter. In the same thread we can read that Masaki Wachi wrote the scenario for this lost Kunio RPG: he’s mostly known in the west for his work on such classic games as Shining Force, Time Stalkers and PoPoLoCrois Monogatari.

By looking at the only enemy concept art published in the Super Dodge Ball strategy guide and by thinking of what kind of RPGs were mostly published on the Famicom in those years, we can speculate Kunio-Kun RPG would have been a turn-based RPG very similar to Dragon Quest, but with its usual modern high-school, bancho settings.

Thanks to thingumajig13 who translated the short Kunio-Kun RPG description:

“Nekketsu series – Part 4

RPG Kunio Kun (tentative title)

Wow, an RPG where Kunio-kun plays a big role is in the works! Set in Tokyo, this game features Kunio-kun and his friends battling it out against an army of delinquents. This standard RPG is chock-full of unique characters, puzzle solving, and Nekketsu drama! Kunio-kun and his friends set out on a great adventure filled with laughs and tears! It takes place in Shinjuku and Shibuya, so it’s pretty realistic! Currently, the script is being written with plans to release the game in the summer of next year. We hope you look forward to it!

v Planned enemy character. He looks pretty strong!

^ These kinds of enemy characters are appearing one after the other!”

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Geist DS [Nintendo DS – Cancelled]

The original Geist was a first person adventure developed by N-Space and published by Nintendo in 2005 for their GameCube. In the game you play as the spirit of the dead protagonist, who can interact with the physical world through possession of things, animals and human beings. The game had an interesting gameplay mechanic in which you had to scare NPCs before being able to possess them and many clever puzzles revolving around your possession ability.

A Nintendo DS port / sequel was in development at N-Space in mid – late ‘00s, but in the end the project was canned, possibly because of low sales and mixed reviews for the GameCube version. As we can read on Wikipedia:

“Nearing the end of development, a Nintendo DS port was rumored by an IGN tour to be in development. Although this port was never announced, and no information of it has ever been officially released, n-Space did have development kits for the DS at the time, and traces of the ports existence have been found within the ROM of the DS version of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, which was developed by n-Space, as two text documents for the credits of Geist DS are present”

You can read the Geist DS credits hidden in CoD4 DS at TCRF.

While the game was never officially announced and it was quietly cancelled with no media ever shown to the public, fans of the original game found some early footage of Geist DS, preserved below to remember its existence.

N-Space did a great job with their portable FPS (Call of Duty, GoldenEye), so it’s safe to say we missed another good one with the cancellation of Geist DS. We hope one day someone could share online a playable prototype, maybe along with their DS version of Halo.

Evil Twin 2: The Messenger [Cancelled – PS2]

The original Evil Twin: Cyprien’s Chronicles was a horror platformer developed by UbiSoft and In Utero originally planned as a Dreamcast project, but then also released on PlayStation 2 and PC in late 2001 / early 2002. Players takes control over a young orphan called Cyprien, who is taken to a nightmarish world and possesses the ability to transform into a “demonic” version of himself.

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As told us by Omar Cornut during an interview published in our “Video Games You Will Never Play” book, in 2002 In Utero started working on a sequel to Evil Twin, planned to be released on the Playstation 2:

“Near the end of the company they started designing and prototype what would become Evil Twin 2, with an older character manipulating a stick. After the company closed Diego, Nino and Cedric from In Utero formed their studio Fandango working on a PSP game called Carnival: Theorem One which I think was inspired by those early Evil Twin 2 design. The game unfortunately was not finished.”

This cancelled sequel was also referred to as “The Messenger”. While we were not able to get a confirmation (other former In Utero developers never replied to our emails unfortunately), we can speculate that as the first game received mixed reviews and low sales, they later decided to change their sequel into an original IP, trying to find another publisher.

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In the end In Utero closed down soon after and Evil Twin never got a sequel. Only a couple of screenshots from their early Evil Twin 2 prototype are preserved in this page, to remember its existence.

If you know someone who worked on this lost game and could help us to save more, please let us know!

Jacks of Evil [PC – Cancelled]

Jacks of Evil is a cancelled horror FPS which was in development between 2003 and 2004 at Fear Studios. Unfortunately, little information is known about this game and the team behind it. It was planned to come out in July 2005, but the exact period and reason for its cancellation remain undetermined.

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As stated by a developer in an old interview on GenGamers, the backstory was as following:

“You’re working in secret organization, that opposite Dark Forces. It’s name is “Jacks Of Evil”. People in this organization call each other as “hunters”. Killing creatures of Dark Forces, such as Demons, Vampires, Zombies etc – is their usual work. You are a professional hunter. Your name is Aleksey Gromov. Once our hero is sent to Shanta city in Siberia. It seemed to be usual work, but… something went wrong. It seems that happened we all were aware of. People and Evil cooperated to help each other.“

The Studio also described some ideas they planned to implement in their canned FPS, such as slow-motion effects with motion blur and a damage system. Werewolves, Vampires, Zombies, and Demons were some of the classic enemies players would have to hunt down during the game, giving it some recognizable characters in the horror genre. More ambitious concepts and mechanics were also considered by the team:

“It’s planned to make a game scenario with key scenes, that can be generated randomly. I.e. you are walking through the room and then suddenly you’re attacked by a Vampire. Youīre losing the battle, then loading your save-game, walking to this place and … there is no vampire! And of course there will be different story lines. Probably there will be 3-4 different endings. I think that’s enough for such games.“

Fear Studios also wanted to implement a multiplayer mode, featuring mod-support (to be available soon after the game would‘ve come out) to bring even more variety to the game. 

In the end we can speculate the team did not find a publisher for their project and Jacks of Evil was quietly canned.

Article by Vipaah, thanks to Dan for the contribution!

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Apros: Tenku no Sho (WolfTeam) [Sega Mega CD – Cancelled]

The original “Apros: Daichi no Shou Kaze no Tankyuu Sha hen” was an adventure game based on a series of Japanese Sci-Fi Fantasy novels, developed by WolfTeam (now Namco Tales Studio, mostly known for their Tales Of series) and published in 1992 for PC-98. A few months later they were already working on a sequel for Sega Mega CD, titled “Apros – Tenkū no Shō” (アプロス天空の章), but in the end was quietly cancelled when the main developer / designer has left the team.

As noticed by Kid Fenris on the Lost Levels forums:

“The only screenshots I’ve found are in this vaguely worded capsule preview from the February 1993 issue of (Diehard) Gamefan.”

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“Apros was mentioned again in the June 1993 Gamefan, where the letters columnist informed a reader that the guy who was developing Apros has left Wolfteam (along with many others) and is starting his own company. He told Kei that he will continue development but is unsure of what format Apros will appear on. (It may be several.)”

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As noted by Zigfried these images from the Sega Mega CD version of Apros are completely different from their first PC-98 game, so we can assume it was really going to be some kind of sequel:

“It’s a fantasy adventure game with lots of (non-CG) animation. I’ve got the PC-98 game, and I’ve got a magazine that shows screens from *before* the Mega CD version was canned… and I’ve got to say, it looks nothing at all like those pics from the Gamefan mag.”

VGDensetsu also found more images in Beep! Mega Drive magazine (November 1992 + February 1993)

If you find out more about this lost game, please let us know!