News on Beta & Cancelled Games

Pirate Battle [GBA – Cancelled]


As we can read from Richard Knight site :

Pirate Battle was a turn-based strategy RPG developed for the Game Boy Advance. The concept itself was inspired primarily from Square’s epic PlayStation RPG Front Mission 3, but also gave a lot of credit to Fire Emblem, Advance Wars, and Final Fantasy Tactics. The story and art, meanwhile, were inspired primarily both my previous project and the famous manga One Piece. Our goal? Make a game so authentic to the big titles of the genre that you would assume it was Japanese.

Similar to Front Mission, characters would have a set amount of AP to manage. The changing point was that a lot of the environment was meant to be interactive; you could knock over a statue to hurt the guy behind it, drop a barrel in the water to bridge a gap, or even cause a chain reaction effect (this guy hits this guy which hits this guy, and so on…)

Adding to that was the idea of standard character classes (for multiplayer reasons) and house pillaging (for character building). Each of the story characters were also meant to have special abilities – AP sinks that could have mission-changing effects (hookshots, super attacks, etc.)

The team for Pirate Battle was small. In fact, for the lion’s share of it, there was just an artist, a programmer, and myself. Nonetheless, progress on the game was so fast on our agile team that we announced the game – screenshots and all – to IGN just prior to E3 2004. (I think we planned on asking virt to do the soundtrack again, but I don’t recall if those talks ever actually happened.)

The first version of the game was actually for the PC – Sean had put together a simple networking client, I put together some art from other games, and we just battled it out to see what worked and what didn’t with the gameplay – a crucial concern given we were trying to slam mechanics from two different games together but still keep it multiplayer-relevant. (Not to mention that most of our development hardware was typically locked down for use on the other two games in the studio.)
I think we were going to attempt to do a single-cart multiplayer mode – something we wanted to do even on Racing Gears – but the odds of that working out were 50/50 (GBA games using single-cart requires copying all data to RAM, which is a big problem since our games would always be pulling info directly off the cartridge.)

Eventually, Scurge: Hive and Juka were put on the fast track and we no longer had enough programmers for all three projects – our core programmers from the early Racing Gears days had since departed for Pandemic Studios. I departed some time after the programmer gap. It’s neither appropriate to explain nor really clear why the game never finished, but I will say that Pirate Battle is perhaps the game I am most proud of. Maybe I can do something for it again some day.
A year later, Orbital released some new screenshots with a dramatically different look (more Fire Emblem) and a new platform (DS). While the world map is either similar or based on some design work I had done – the free roaming ship mode was always part of the plan – I’m not in a position to know what the gameplay changes were (or if the game was in fact playable in its new incarnation.)

The studio appears to be gone now, so I’m not even sure who was tasked to the project after me, but it’s a shame it will never see the light of day.


Wizards / Warlocked 2 [GBA – Unreleased]


Wizards è un gioco basato su Warlocked, uno strategico in tempo reale molto apprezzato per GameBoy Color. Vestiti i panni di un Arcimago, il compito del giocatore era quello di liberare la magica terra di Talismania, dalla malvagia strega Kun-Mara.

Il sistema di controllo era adattato ai limiti del GBA: muovendo il cursore con il D-Pad nel punto desiderato, cliccando il pulsante A le nostre truppe avrebbero cominciato a spostarsi su quell’obbiettivo. Usando il pulsante B invece, venivano lanciate delle palle di fuoco in quella direzione. Esplorando i livelli avreste trovato camere segrete, trappole, nemici e amici. Una volta liberati, gli alleati si sarebbero uniti al vostro gruppo ed alla fine vi sareste ritrovati a comandare una piccola armata.

Proseguendo nel gioco, si potevano imparare anche nuovi incantesimi, essenziali per abbattere le difese delle torri nemiche. Come Jet Riders, altro gioco di questa software house, Wizards disponeva di una interessante modalità 4 giocatori, tutti accessibili da una sola cartuccia. Purtroppo l’uscita di Wizards continuò ad essere rimandata, fino a sparire senza lasciare traccie.



Luna Blaze [GBA – Cancelled]


Debuted at Nintendo Space World 2001 and developed by HAL Laboratory, Luna Blaze was an RPG for the Game Boy Advance, originally set to be released in Spring of 2002. Little is known regarding Luna Blaze’s story, only that its protagonists were a boy and a girl who used psychic powers.

What is known regarding Luna Blaze’s gameplay is that it was an RPG in which the player would assemble parties of monsters to fight various opponents. The game may have been similar to Pokemon, as the monsters would level up and could learn over 170 unique attacks. Unique to Luna Blaze is that instead of one-on-one fights as in Pokemon, every monster from either side of the fight would be out in the battle at the same time.

Luna Blaze was one of two cancelled RPG titles being developed by HAL Laboratory at the time, the other being Battland. These games shared some similarities, such as a robust combat system that allowed the player quite a lot of freedom in-game.

Luna Blaze was cancelled several months after being debuted, possibly due to the same reasons that caused Battland’s cancellation, which remain unknown.

Thanks to Bryan for the description!


Battland [GBA – Cancelled]


Battland was an action-strategy game developed by HAL Laboratory for the Game Boy Advance, first shown at Nintendo’s Space World 2001 and eventually cancelled in 2002. What was shown of its design suggests that it shared similarities with games such as Fire Emblem.

While there is little information available on this game, it is known that its main focus was action and combat, where victories in battles were less focused on pure strength, with an emphasis instead on strategy and planning. For example, the positions or location of party members in a battle had a large impact on the outcome, allowing weaker characters to beat stronger foes through superior strategy.

Description by Bryan



Dark Night [GBA – Unreleased]


ENG: This entry in the archive doesn’t have a description yet. If you want to add some info about the beta / cancelled stuff that you see in these images, just write a comment or send us an email! We’ll add your info in this page and your name in the contributors list. Thanks a lot for your help! :)

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