Gravity Kings is a cancelled overboard / overbike racing / skateboarding game that was in development by Microsoft Game Studios for the original Xbox. Unfortunately there are basically no details on this lost project, but just a few images from an early prototype: by looking at these we can speculate it could have been similar to the Tony Hawks’ Pro Skater games (exploring the levels, doing tricks), but with an alien twist. The game was set in a modern-looking city, but with strange, orange-skinned aliens.
Images from this early prototype are preserved below, to remember the existence of this cancelled game. If you worked on this lost project and could help save more details, screenshots or videos, please let us know!
Hybrid is a cancelled FPS focused on high-level enemy AI and environment interaction, that was in development by Vulcan Software, planned to be released on PC. After working on many beloved Amiga titles, in 1999 Vulcan switched to PC development and started creating MOTHER3D, their set of 3D game development tools. Preliminary work on Hybrid started in late 2003 and in 2004 they released a tech demo of Hybrid through their website but in the end the project was never completed.
“Hybrid is Vulcan Software’s first game to be entirely developed using their MOTHER3D engine, and will benefit from an impressive array of engine features, which include advanced physics, complex A.I. and fully interactive environments. […] There will be countless ways to kill, evade or fool the enemy characters, who will eventually possess A.I. systems that allow them to use the interactivity of their environments to their own advantage.
The player, equipped with a wealth of firepower must embark on a single-handed assault on the alien hybrid race that has killed both the crew of the NAVASOTA and the occupants of the research and mining facility on the moon’s surface”
“Hybrid’s combat system will be varied and change according to the environment the player finds himself in, and the type of alien he engages in combat. […] Successful outcomes at this stage will be based on the player’s ability to act in a subversive fashion, avoiding direct confrontation until more powerful weaponry is discovered, and instead using objects at his disposal to set numerous traps.”
“Hybrid presents us with an opportunity to truly interact with our environment, and as a logical progression, introduce NPC’s that have the same abilities to interact with their environment as the player. Well it’s only fair, and along with that, makes for more challenging game-play if your adversary is well able to change the dynamics of a location, i.e. by turning off lights, opening and closing doors, moving objects around to create obstacles in your path, and then proceeding to hide behind or inside them. In other words we’ve upped the ante on the freedom endowed on the player, and mirrored this in the capabilities of the NPC’s. “
“There will be opportunities for the player to modify weaponry to create more powerful versions, enhanced for specific uses, and there will be several weapons that can be set up in suitable locations and then operated remotely. The most powerful weapons will incorporate alien technology and will be available to the player as the game progresses. Examples of two such weapons are the DNA reversal gun and the force-field implosion gun.
Exploration will be a major factor of Hybrid, and blueprints of the locations involved will be made available to the player. There will frequently be more than one route through any one area, and as each will have its share of obstacles, it will be up to the player to identify the best route and to plan his advance accordingly, taking into account his current arsenal of weaponry and its suitability for destroying the alien types within each vicinity.”
“The AI system is one of Hybrid’s key features, as it’s an area we felt is still open to exploitation within the FPS genre. To that end, the challenges have not been great, there are few examples of awesome AI for us to aspire to, and as a result, we’re having a ball creating characters with skill sets, behavior patterns and even their own unique psychology.
Our enemy NPCs will not allow you to just shoot them; they will evade your fire, they will hide, or they will pack hunt if necessary – anything to push the odds in their favor. If a weapon is lying on the floor between you and an enemy NPC, don’t expect it to act like it isn’t really there; they are more likely to kick it out of your reach, or pick it up and use it against you.”
“There will be a lot of friendly NPCs in Hybrid, and presented in a variety of circumstances. In some situations, you’ll be faced with the responsibility of their welfare, especially those that are still alive within the mining facility. There will be options to aid in the rescue of some of the friendly NPCs, although it may be just kinder to put some of them out of their misery.
The importance of many of the NPCs however, is found in the psychological aspect of their presence within the aliens’ hybridization laboratories. You will see them in many disturbing scenarios, there will be a degree of nudity, and some scenes will be verging on grotesque. This is designed to psychologically disarm the player, adding new dimensions of fear to the overall experience.”
“We are science fiction fans, so it seemed logical to create a sci-fi themed game, drawing off our extensive experience of the genre gleaned through reading endless books and years of watching movies such as Alien, 2001, etc. Our previous games were the best they could be based on the platform they were created for… the Amiga. We adopt the same philosophy here and now; Hybrid is the best it can be in every respect for current high spec PCs.
It may be some time before Hybrid is seen on shop shelves. Development time is a hard thing to quantify, as constant release date slippages of other games tell you. The engine work is more or less complete, but there is a great deal of content work still to be done. I would imagine another year of development time at the very least.”
Unfortunately it seems that working on such an ambitious project was too much for a team used to Amiga titles and in the end Hybrid was never completed.
Dead Next Door: Life After Death is a cancelled FPS that was in development by The Zombie Squad around 2003, planned to be released on PC. It was officially based on the homonymous 1989 zombie horror movie by Director JR Bookwalter: players would begin as a rookie officer in the agency known as the Zombie Squad, an elite group of soldiers formed to dispose of the zombie threat created by an accidental virus outbreak. You would ultimately discover a new breed of “intelligent zombies” that are attempting to gain control of the humans.
Today this game is basically forgotten by everyone and major websites do not have any news about it, but we can read some details in an old interview published at the time by HomeLan:
“HomeLAN – What sorts of locations and settings will be seen in Dead Next Door?
Brad Gaffney – The game’s locations and settings will be a real-world environment. Frankly, I’m tired of space stations and future cities. The player will be exploring in a city environment (unnamed city at the moment). A dark a dreary atmosphere will be the driving force for creating suspense. To add to the suspense, most sections will not be wide open spaces. Besides, there is nothing scarier than being trapped in a narrow hallway with 6 zombies and 2 bullets.
Some of the settings include a hospital, the city streets, office buildings, apartment buildings, warehouses, and a chemical plant. Of course, all the levels will be a rampaged mess, due to all the zombie activity. “
“HomeLAN – What other unique gameplay features will Dead Next Door have?
Brad Gaffney – The game will start out similar to a survival horror title, but then blend into a mission based game. It’s very easy to have a player wander around blasting everything that moves. But in later levels the game evolves to a mission based levels. It seemed like a good and smooth transition while writing out the design. Stealth will also be a key advantage to finishing the game. After all, do you really want to draw the attention of several zombies, when you don’t have unlimited ammo.
HomeLAN – What is the current status of the game’s progress and when will it be released?
Brad Gaffney – Currently, we are working on a tech demo. A few publishers have shown some interest in the title. So we are working on the tech demo to prove we can deliver. Once the tech demo is done, we will have the completed groundwork for the game. “
The game soon vanished and was never released, so we can assume the team did not find any publisher interested in funding the project.
Timber 64 is a cancelled 3D platform game that was rumored to be in development by Rare for the Nintendo 64, but it’s existence was kinda unclear even by reading interviews with former rare developers (and some fans consider it an urban legend). When asked about Timber 64 some of them don’t remember such a game ever being in development at the time, but others even describe a Timber 64 prototype demo they created. This contradiction between ex-RareWare employees may have been caused by how the studio was organized during the N64 era. Different Rare teams worked secretly in their own office, without knowing what the other teams were doing at the same time.
“Rare was famously secretive,” Steve Mayles recalls, “and that included other games being made in the company. Many people on the team wouldn’t have seen much (if anything) of DK64 and Conker.”
“Rare’s practice of separating teams across its infamous ‘barns’ naturally created some competition. “I’m not really sure we thought about that at the time,” remembers lead environment artist Steven Hurst. “In those days each team worked in relative isolation and competed against each other to develop the ‘best’ games – a healthy rivalry if you like. I do remember actually that we changed BK to be more of a ‘proper’ 3D game (similar to Mario 64) after seeing the work that the Conker team were doing.”
As you probably know Timber the Tiger was later seen in another Rare game: it’s one of the playabler racers in Diddy Kong Racing. Originally Timber was meant to be the main protagonist of the game, when it was not using the Donkey Kong IP.
“NES: There was a rumor that Timber 64 was a game Rare was developing during the N64 days. Basically, the rumor was that Timber from Diddy Kong Racing would get his own game just like Banjo and Conker did. Pipsy and Bumper would co-star in Timber 64. Can you or Lee provide any details on this rumor? It’s interesting because Diddy Kong Racing takes place on Timber Island so it seemed that Rare really liked the Timber character.
Martin Wakeley: I couldn’t say for definite but I have no recollection of that ever being in development. Where the rumour may have started is that an early version of DKR (I think it was called RC Pro Am at the time) had Timber as the lead character. I’m sure I’ve got a badly fitting Nylon polo shirt with the game logo on it somewhere.
Lee Musgrave: There was never a Timber 64 game. Yes, there was Pro-Am64 that had Timber as the main character, but that became Diddy Kong Racing and that was the end of that.”
“After finishing work on Diddy Kong Racing in 1998, I started work on a project that was to become a 3D adventure game based in a fantasy style world, similar to that of Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time but in a prehistoric environment.
The main character was originally going to be – believe it or not – Timber, the cute tiger from Diddy Kong Racing. That’s because he was intended to be the star of the previous year’s racing game, when it was originally known as R.C. Pro-Am 64.”
“In Dinosaur Planet, Timber was going to be a ‘time-travelling tiger’ with a rucksack, little fingerless gloves, a baseball cap and a small dinosaur for a sidekick.
Actually, I even tried out Timber in a project prior to DKR, where he walked around on all fours like a real tiger cub. It was an early 3D platforming test and I wanted him to use his claws to scale walls. But this project was abandoned and so he was moved into DKR and that’s as far as his career went!
Now, if only somebody could dig up that really old demo with Timber in his rucksack…”
In the end not only Timber 64 was once a real concept in development at Rare, but it was kinda real for 2 different projects: there was a first Timber 64 3D platformer (then cancelled to create RC Pro Am 64 / DKR) and later a different Timber 64 3D action adventure (which later became Dinosaur Planet / Starfox Adventure).
These two Timber games for Nintendo 64 could have been mentioned to someone in the gaming press, and the rumors started circulating. As written by Bayliss, now we just have to wait for someone to find footage or even a playable version of those Timber 64 demos.
Dai Mao ZARK Densetsu (大魔王ZARK伝説 – Legend of the Great Demon King ZARK) is a cancelled side scrolling action RPG that was in development by J & U for Famicom (NES) around 1990. Previews and screenshots of the game were published in Japanese magazines at the time, but it quietly vanished and today not much info remains about this game. By looking at the few screenshots available it seems you could use your horse to move through different levels in an overworld map similar to the one seen in Super Mario Bros 3, and each stage had some fantasy enemies to fight.
As noted by Chris Covell, this may have been somehow related to another cancelled Famicom RPG titled “Off Zarken”: if you can read Japanese and would like to translate the main details found in these photos, please leave a comment below!
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