News on Beta & Cancelled Games

Sofa Kingdom (Angel Studios) [PC – Cancelled]

Sofa Kingdom is a cancelled arcade racing game that was in development by Angel Studios (the modern Rockstar San Diego) around 1998, planned to be published by Microsoft for PC.

This is another forgotten project that was never officially announced and only a series of concept art remain today to remember its existence. By looking at these, we can speculate it was going to be a city-based racing game, a concept that could have later been somehow reused into their cult-title Midtown Madness.

In Sofa Kingdom players would choose between a series of cartoon characters to race around the city on flying over-boards, using some kind of “grappling hook” to skidding by grabbing road signs, or as a whip-alike weapon. From concept art we can also notice how each of them carried around a pizza-bomb.. maybe they had to deliver it before time was over? We don’t have any idea, but for sure it looked like an original and fun concept.

In the end the game was canned and the team worked with Microsoft to release Midtown Madness in 1999. Angel Studios was then bought by Take-two in 2003 and renamed Rockstar San Diego. They then moved on to work on such popular titles as Red Dead Revolver, Midnight Club and Grand Theft Auto V.

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Forgotten Castle: The Awakening [PC – Cancelled]

Forgotten Castle is a cancelled action RPG in development by Twin Dolphin Games around 1992 – 1993, to be published on PC by Electronic Arts. The project was quite ambitious for its time: a fully 3D explorable fantasy world in early ‘90s was something amazing to see in screenshots (The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall was released 3 years later) and the game was previewed with high hype by many magazines. CDs were not much used for PC games and this would have been released on 9 disks, quite a massive size for ’90s games.

As we can red in Forgotten Castle’s preview from Edge (issue 1, 1993):

“Twin Dolphin’s Forgotten Castle could take the RPG action adventure into a new realm. Forgotten Castle is a PC showcase of spectacular quality. The Ferrari of fantasy roleplaying games. If you can imagine this detailed cityscape scaling and rotating smoothly around you, you’re about one tenth of the way to grasping the graphic flair on display. Twin Dolphin are working wonders on the PC.

There’s a huge playing area to discover with an enormous range of environments. Check out the falling water that flows into the gutter. It’s lovely. The dungeons are equally well presented with detailed graphics and unrivaled angles of perspective. Skeletons wait for you in there, too. Walk through the village and then turn and look in one of the windows for a realistic 3D interior. There’s complete freedom of movement, unlike The 7th Guest. And the scaling graphics leave you breathless.

There is a wealth of different environments including streets, caverns, crypts, and creepy dungeons. Everything takes place in real time, too, and there’s an ‘invisible’ interface to help out, without bogging down the screen in icons. You click on the mouse and something dies, basically.  Okay, there’s lots more to it than that but the feel of the whole thing is action-orientated. It’s designed to appeal to a wide range of players, and as such, might not meet the grey matter-testing requirements of diehard Dungeon Master and Ultima Underworld fans.

So what’s it all about then? The story unfolds like this. You’re a prince on an epic quest searching for your father, the last true king of the land of Alonia. Evil rules where justice once prevailed etc, etc, and you have to travel to the city of Hedburg to defeat the monsters and ‘foul Ruzakian hordes’ that have taken over the town.”

As you can imagine, Forgotten Castle was way too ambitious for a small team like Twin Dolphin. Clay Graham who worked on the project wrote on his blog:

“Twin Dolphin Games was creating a Virtual Reality game on the PC for EA Games. There was only one Oracle Tower down the street, and as a startup things were very different than the large glass covered offices of SOM. We were scrappy, and as the company’s “Virtual Architect” I was responsible for building all the spaces and experiences for their 3D Dungeon Adventure. “Forgotten Castle” was very innovative visually, but the company made a bad choice in their game engine and it failed completely.”

More details about Twin Dolphin’s failure to complete the game and their difficulties with the 3D engine were published on issue 164 of Compute! Magazine:

“The news hasn’t been good for what looked like a promising entry in the Ultima Underworld school of free-scrolling RPGs. Twin Dolphin Games’ Forgotten Castles, which looked dazzling at its unveiling at last summer’s CES, has run into the computer-game equivalent of the tuna net. The EA affiliate was to have delivered the game last November, but delays in finishing the 3-D engine and interface ultimately led to the withdrawal of the company’s main investor in late October. Matters were further complicated by the departure of the game’s chief engineer in early December, according to president Steve Ruszak. Twin Dolphin Games itself probably won’t last beyond the summer, but there are other fish in the sea, and Ruszak reckons Forgotten Castles – which is 60 to 70 percent complete – may yet surface. Both it and the 3D engine are for sale as a package, and he’s optimistic the company will find a buyer.”

As far as we know, no other publisher ever bought the IP or 3D engine from Twin Dolphin and the studio soon closed down for lack of money. Forgotten Castle was lost forever and as its name hinted, it was indeed forgot by everyone.

We can only hope former Twin Dolphin developers preserved files of their lost games, to share online in future. If you know someone who worked on this cancelled project, please let us know!

Thanks to pcloadletter for the contribution!

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FarCry [PSP – Cancelled]

A PSP FarCry game was in development around 2006 by Ubisoft Montreal, as found out thanks to a FTP leak and a developer’s resume. Unfortunately this PSP project was never officially announced by Ubisoft so we don’t have any detail on its gameplay. It seems it would have been a FarCry 2 conversion, but we can assume it would have been much different from the original PS3 and xbox 360 version.

farcry-psp-cancelled

If you know someone who worked at Ubisoft Montreal around 2006 and could help us to preserve more details about this lost game, please let us know!

Cosmic System [NES / Famicom – Cancelled]

Cosmic System is a cancelled NES / Famicom Disk System sci-fi RPG that was in development sometime in the late 80s by WaveJack / Imagineer / Atlus. Only a single screenshot was published in Famimaga magazine (April issue) when developers made some kind of contest asking to the readers to send character designs that would have been used for their new game.

It seems this contest was quite a success: they received 23.141 drawings of which they selected a bunch of winners that would seen their designs remade in pixel art for the project. Something went wrong during the development and in the end Cosmic System was never released.

There are probably hundreds of lost Famicom games we’ll never seen a single screenshot of, so we can say we were already lucky with Cosmic System.

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CZ [Xbox – Cancelled]

During many years of saving media from lost video games, we often find a game with no more details than a few screenshots, not knowing who was working on it nor even its title. This is the case with this cancelled project planned for Xbox, of which we just have screenshots with a file name “CZ”: what was this exactly? We are not sure.

From the look of it we can assume it was a first / third person shooter, possibly with online multiplayer? It has cool robots and a sci-fi look. Does it look like something you have played? Did you work on this game and could help us to identify it? Please leave a message below or send us an email!

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