News on Beta & Cancelled Games

Shitkickers [PSP, PS2 – Cancelled]

Shitkickers is a cancelled action shooter that was pitched by David Jaffe on PSP and PS2, possibly when he was working with Incognito Entertainment o Eat Sleep Play. Just as with his Twisted Metal series, Shitkickers would have heavily used vehicle-combat during missions, with the high concept being “Max Payne set in the deep South of USA“.

While the game was never officially announced and possible not greenlighted by Sony, Jaffe shared a couple of pages from their original pitch on Twitter:

“Shitkickers gives the Nascar fan their own action hero. Shitkickers is not goofy, silly ‘dumb rednck” humor, it actually glamorizes the Red State culture. Think a hard edges Dukes of Hazzard or Smokey And The Bandit. Game would have country music and southern rock soundtrack with country stars even starring in some of the smaller NPC roles (Willie Nelson, Faith Hill, Dolly Parton, etc.). Kind of like what the Urban Rap games do with the rap star (i.e. 50 Cent’s BulletProof).

Be cool to get the actual licenses for specific trucks, guns, stores and such that are indigenous to the Red State Culture. Game itself is a shooter and driving game (lots of vehicles to use in the missions). A streaming environment would be great, but I don’t know if this will work on the PSP. In an ideal world we’d be making this on PS2 as it has the more casual audience at this point and the casuals would probably dig this more than hardcore, elitist gamers who may make fun of the subject matter.

That said, if our hero is just bad ass in every way (think The Rock in Walking Tall) we could be fine on any platform. I see this as a hard T-rating, something dads and their sons can play together, it’s rough and tough and down and dirty, but it’s not nasty and dark and violent. Hell, maybe we should just get The Rock and scan him and do the 50 Cent thing? Right now, it’s just a vibe and a setting, we would have to work to really make the third person shooter gameplay feel fresh and to give it some unique ideas. But that doesn’t worry me so much.

Overall, I think it’s a fresh, fun theme that may very well be one of the last remaining cultural avenues that games have not exploited. Could this be the action game for those droves who bought ATV OffRoad Fury?”

As far as we know these 2 pages are the only remaining document proving the existence of this lost project and the team may have not started any prototype before it was rejected.

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Hell or High Water [PC – Cancelled / Prototype]

Hell or High Water is a cancelled jet-boat shooter that was in development by Wild Child Studios for PC. You can imagine it somehow like a mission-based Wave Race set in different levels from all around the world, where you had to shoot down enemies and collect key-items to complete your objectives.

As we can read in the prototype description:

“Hell or High Water fits players in a heavily armed military-type jet-boat. You have to use your best skills to outmaneuver and destroy AI-controlled opponents with your arsenal of rockets and machine-gun. The game consists of several episodes in various parts of the world with different mission objectives. For example, in the episode at Amazon River your goal is to collect dynamite and use it to mine and blow up a river dam, while in the Nord episode you have to find and destroy a crashed plane prototype and pick up the black-box. The whole game is an intense race against time in the world of water, fire and explosions!”

The team worked on this prototype to test gameplay using Driver-Inter‘s proprietary engines, but in the end the project was cancelled, possibly because they did not find a publisher interested in funding it. Wild Child Studios were also working on another water based game titled “Extreme Wakeboarding”, which was also canned in 2002.

Thanks to Mihapsx for the contribution!

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Cult County (Renegade Kid) [Cancelled – 3DS, Wii U, PS3, PSVita, PC]

Cult County is a cancelled psychological horror game that was in development by Renegade Kid around 2013, originally announced for Nintendo 3DS at PAX 2013 and later also planned for PS4, PS3, PSVita, Wii U, PC, and Xbox One when they unsuccessfully tried to fund the game on Kickstarter. Their plan for the project was to create an episodic horror tale, something like “The Walking Dead meets Silent Hill 2 from a first-person perspective”.

The team is mostly known for cult-classic Nintendo DS horror titles such as Dementium: The Ward and Moon, plus fun platforming adventures such as Mutant Mudds and Xeodrifter. While they always showed skills and love for Nintendo consoles, their games never sold much unfortunately.

Some details about Cult County can still be read on their Kickstarter campaign page, which raised just  $ 46.736 of their $ 580.000 goal:

“Cult County is an all-new first-person survival horror game that blends the episodic story-telling of The Walking Dead with the classic tension-filled exploration and action of Silent Hill and Resident Evil, presenting an opportunity for fans to help a veteran team produce a new experience that is fresh, exciting, and scary!

Rebirth of the survival horror FPS genre, crafted with fan input.
Story-driven gameplay, featuring memorable character interactions.
Small West Texas town filled with tension, mystery, and scares.
Vulnerable and personalized melee and firearm combat.
Varied cast of creepy enemy encounters and devious boss battles.

You assume the role of Gavin Mellick, whose mother has fallen deathly ill. Unable to reach your older sister, Alissa, by phone you drive the 6 hours across Texas to visit her in person and share the sad news. You return to the small town where you spent your summers as a child with Alissa, at your late aunt’s house. There is a particularly savage dust storm rolling in when you arrive.

Unable to locate your sister, you ask some of the locals for help. You quickly learn about their suspicions of a cultish group that recently moved into town, and the unexpected suicide of Father Pearce. The locals offer very little help finding your sister, and it isn’t long before your search takes an unexpected dark turn, leading you down a road of no return.

You are alone. You are unarmed. You see strange “people” linger on the edge of the dust storm, who seem to be watching your every move. But, as soon as you turn your head to face them, they disappear. Who are they? Where do they go? What do they want?

As you explore deeper into the town, searching for any clues that might lead to your sister, you meet various town folk who offer their own anecdotes on what the “people” might be. Some claim they are just your imagination, and some say they are part of the new cultish group who recently moved into town. One person even goes as far to name them “Dust Devils“!”

With no support on Kickstarter, Renegade Kid possibly tried to find a publisher for Cult County, but without success. After releasing Moon Chronicles and Dementium Remastered on Nintendo 3DS, in August 2016 Renegade Kid announced that it was shutting down. It’s currently unknown if Cult County could be resurrected in the future, but if so we could see it from Infitizmo, the new team created by former Renegade Kid cofounder Gregg Hargrove.

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Senjo no Demae Mochi [Xbox – Cancelled]

Senjo no Demae Mochi (Battlefield: Home Delivery) is a cancelled “poetical pizza delivery game” that was in development by Microsoft Games Studio Japan around 2002 – 2003, planned to be released for the original Xbox. This weird project was conceived by Gabin Ito, who is mostly known for his works on Parappa the Rapper, Um Jammer Lammy and Cubivore.

The game was officially announced at Game Show 2002, with a live-presentation by Gabin Ito and designer / manga artist Katsuki Tanaka, who was hired as a character designer for the project. While not many details about Demae Mochi’s gameplay were shared, they described their project as a surreal pizza delivery game. It looked like a strange mix between Katamari Damacy, Crazy Taxi and Yume Nikki.

The game’s protagonist was a girl named “Fran-chan”, working as a delivery-girl at a pizzeria. By following the client’s orders, you had to move around the city to deliver pizza, while avoiding cars and meeting weird characters. When asked what kind of game he wanted to make with Senjo no Demae Mochi, Gabin Ito answered “a poem”.

Promotional footage was also shown at the Tokyo Game Show presentation: you can see a panda rolling around (but Ito told the press that “there will be no panda nor battlefield in the game”) and some acid-filtered gameplay parts with Fran-chan walking around followed by some kind of white foxes (?). For sure it looked like an original project, so it’s quite unfortunate it was never completed.

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Spectac (Cauldron) [Xbox 360, PS3, PC – Cancelled]

Spectac was an ambitious cancelled project that was being developed in 2004/2005 by Slovakian studio Cauldron. It was planned to be a prequel to Cauldron’s 2003 game Chaser: a futuristic First Person Shooter similar to Red Faction in tone, set in a time when humanity has successfully colonized Mars. Spectac in turn was to be set before these events, dealing with the hunt for a terrorist group threatening to unleash a viral weapon on the world, and the team tasked with putting an end to their plans.

From what we can tell, Spectac was to be a stealth-action affair, very inspired by other espionage and military-science stealth series such as Metal Gear Solid and Splinter Cell, but played from a first-person perspective. And like in the latter franchise, the player was to make heavy use of sound and shadows for things such as masking their actions or distracting enemies, along with a strong emphasis on climbing, swimming, and other means of infiltration.

Players would have been helped by other team members, in a feature that would show some inspiration from the Rainbow Six or SWAT series. This would add a strategic element of choosing what individual skill sets would be useful in each mission and what paths they would open. This would in turn allow for greater replayability, as not only could a level play out differently depending on what team members are present, but one could also step in their shoes and play from their perspective. A sniper and a security expert/hacker, named Isis and Evac, respectively, would also be available to help the player at all times.

The engine that had powered Chaser (CloakNT) had been upgraded, and its 2.0 version allowed for many innovative features. The Havok physics engine had been integrated as well, and Cauldron was ready to take full advantage of their new technology by allowing for extensive interaction with the environment in Spectac. For example, to use a simple numeric keypad or keyboard, the player would have to physically move the character’s hand in order to press the individual buttons. The same approach would be used if they needed to swipe a keycard to open a door, or use a mouse at a computer terminal, and so on.

The hand-to-hand combat would apparently also use this system to some degree, with different techniques such as neutralizing an enemy by choking or pistol-whipping requiring active player interaction.

Graphically, the game was to take visuals to the next level as well. The geometry was now much more complex, allowing for more detailed models. In conjunction with the aforementioned first person interaction, the lighting would have offered a great deal of immersion as well, filling the levels with dynamic shadows. Spectac looked a bit like F.E.A.R. another game that became known for its rich lighting and physics interaction, developed by Monolith and released in 2005. In addition, missions in Spectact were to take place in locations heavily inspired by real-life landmarks, such as the Hoover Dam.

All of this, however, seemed to be just a little too much for Cauldron. Spectac was conceived as a possible next-gen title to be released on PC and the then-upcoming PS3 and Xbox 360 platforms, but apparently even the most powerful computers of the time were struggling to run it in 2004. Possibly for this reason, the project was eventually abandoned some time around 2005, after being deemed too ambitious, and never entering full production.

Cauldron themselves would infamously continue on to create lower budget games in a partnership with the Activision Value publishing brand, such as Soldier Of Fortune: Payback and a string of hunting-themed and war-themed First Person Shooters for the Cabela’s and History Channel brands, respectively. We know the team also worked on the cancelled Project Revolution and Seven Days, before being acquired by Bohemia Interactive in 2014 and renamed to Bohemia Interactive Slovakia.

Article by António Pedro Pinto

Thanks to Chris and Piotr for the contribution!

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