New Cancelled Games & Their Lost Media Added to the Archive

DogTag (DiezelPower) [PC, Xbox, 360 – Cancelled]

DogTag is a cancelled shooter that was in development around 2005 by DiezelPower for PC, Xbox and Xbox 360, to be published by British company Digital Jesters. It was going to be a third-person squad based shooter, featuring cover mechanics and basic orders that could be given to teammates. It would encourage players to use the environment for defensive and offensive maneuvers, with blindfire, flanking and enemies that would counter tactics being used against them.

For the gaming press some of its elements drew comparisons to other cover-based shooters such as Kill.Switch and the then-upcoming Gears Of War, but DogTag had a slightly different gameplay style in mind. By mixing the fast action gameplay of traditional shooters and the slower, tactical combat of games like Full Spectrum Warrior, DiezelPower wanted to create a breed of game in which both these styles would come together. It would create a gritty, but arcade-like tactical shooter, in which players would have to think to defeat their opponents, but could also have fun in fast-paced shooting. Online co-op was also going to be a major feature.

The story would have certainly helped with that grittiness. Described as “controversialby publisher Digital Jesters, the plot focuses on one of the civil wars that frequently ravage a large number of nations in Africa. After a United States-backed group is forced to retreat from the conflict, the U.S. sends in a battalion of Marines to replace them. For reasons unknown, however, the colonel of this battalion revolts and leads a mutiny against his own country. The U.S. once again send in a small elite force tasked to bring the colonel back for questioning. Hell breaks loose when they arrive in Africa, as they are immediately met with heavy resistance from the rebelling American forces, starting a long fight that would pit U.S. soldiers against each other, something rarely seen in a video game.

The most obvious inspiration for the storyline would probably be Apocalypse Now, but it is also eerily similar to another controversial title that would come out in 2012: Spec Ops – The Line (which also featured streamlined tactical combat and a story about a U.S. force led by a mutineering officer and the special ops team sent it to capture him, with the setting changed to an evacuated Dubai stricken by a catastrophic sandstorm). But if the storyline in DogTag was intended to be as psychological or as critical of violence as it was in Spec Ops: The Line, it is unknown.

DogTag was to be released in 2006, and would have been a next-gen title at that point in time. Initially, it would only be released on PC and Xbox, but an Xbox 360 port was planned later on with added content. However, it seems the game was not meant to be.

Towards the end of 2005 publisher Digital Jesters became the center of controversy when it faced several accusations of wrongdoing from many of their business partners. These accusations included lack of payment for games developed by external studios, price changing and selling of games in territories not covered by their contracts, and doing business under different names in what seemed like an attempt to escape financial troubles. Despite a substantial investment that Digital Jesters claimed had left them “110 percent financially secure”, KaosKontrol (the company that owned DiezelPower) petitioned the UK High Court to force Digital Jesters into liquidation, in what is known as a winding-up order. Legal action was also threatened against the key people in the company directly and many of their publishing deals were cancelled. The Digital Jesters website disappeared not long after that.

KaosKontrol claimed that it still owned the rights to DogTag, that its development was not affected and was ready to seek out another publishing deal for their game. However, nothing else was heard about it. With the team presumably unable to find another publisher and left in financial trouble (and possibly accumulating legal fees) they had to close down some time afterwards. DiezelPower themselves seem to have survived in some form and are still around to this day, with their two most recent games, Nation Red and Versus Squad, being available on Steam.

Article by thecursebearer, thanks to Daniel Nicaise for the contribution!

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Dragon Ball Z: Legacy of Goku 4 [3DS – Cancelled]

Around 20152016 Webfoot Technologies pitched a fourth game in their “Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of Goku” series, to be developed on Nintendo 3DS or possibly Android / iOS smartphones. Like previous chapters, The Legacy of Goku 4 would also be an action RPG, at least by reading comments posted by the team on their official Facebook page:

“Yes, we developed LOG1 as an indie game, without any funding (they didn’t give us a contract until the game was almost finished). Then when it sold well, we got contracts immediately for LOG2. And there’s a whole giant story on how we only got half the funding we should have on LOG2, but someday I’ll be writing a book and telling all the business deal secrets.”

“Ok, so there is interest in LOG4! If we did the Indie Go Go over the Summer, could you guys help point people to the page so we could get the support we need? I really think from the interest posted in just a few hours, this really could work.”

“We’re trying a few 2D concepts and mockups will follow soon. Mandi will create a few different sprite styles soon. Keep in mind this was her first quick mockup only!”

“We’d like to keep gameplay almost the same, but finish balancing the games properly this time. Also, Go Go backers will be able to vote on certain aspects of the game style.”

It seems Webfoot Technologies were not able to find a publisher interested in funding their new DBZ project, while the old games are abandoned and playable online. They hinted at a possible crowdfunding campaign, but it would have been quite hard to do something like that unofficially using the Dragon Ball IP. After drawing some concepts, 2D and 3D mockups, The Legacy of Goku 4 had to be canned (at least for now).

Thanks to William for the contribution!

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Kabuki Samurai Sensei: Bride of Shadows [3DS, PSVita – Cancelled]

Kabuki Samurai Sensei: Bride of Shadows is a cancelled action RPG adventure that was in development by Smack Down Productions (AKA SDP games) for Nintendo 3DS and PSVita. The game was announced in August 2010, with just some concept art and vague details about its gameplay. Players would explore medieval Japan, through temples, floating castles and dizzying waterfalls.

The game was planned to feature Zelda-style side quests and “Dragon Ball style action”, with the main protagonist using swords and shurikens in epic fights. Battles would take place in arenas, with Quick Time Events, using magic elements of fire, earth, wind and water against different types of demons from Japanese folklore.

While the game was initially announced as a 3DS exclusive, we found footage of the game running on what seems a PSVita. At the time Smack Down Productions did not have a publisher for the game, so we speculate they never found one and the project was quietly canned. Bride of Shadows concept and models were later reused for a simpler side-scrolling hack & slash titled “Kabuki Samurai Sensei” which seems to have been published on Apple Store in November 2011, but later removed.

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Promethus (Geekaysoft) [PSP – Cancelled]

Promethus is a cancelled side-scrolling action game that was in development by Geekaysoft around 2008 – 2009, planned to be published on Sony PSP. Players would have been able to explore the Promethus planet using different skills and items, unlocking new areas and secrets (metroidvania style).

As we can read in their official press-release:

“You are the renowned space mercenary Angel. Your mission is to infiltrate the seemingly peaceful planet of Promethus and uncover the plot of the Evil Lord Duroth. Recover and use the energy blaster, katana, grenades and whip to vanquish the enemies. Uncover ancient promethan relics and crystals to powerup your attacks. Little does she realize the depth of the deception, and the perilous adventure that will decide the fate of the known galaxy that awaits her on the planet Promethus.”

Features

  • A mysterious world to explore – complex mazes and secrets take you to every corner of the planet
  • Can you outwit the Ancient Promethans and find the secrets to their crystal puzzles
  • An arsenal of weapons and acrobatics at your disposal
  • Customize and enhance your characters abilities
  • Fight through 7 bosses to the final epic encounter with Duroth

While the game is basically forgotten today, it was featured as a playable demo on PSN in 2009 and because of its similarities to Metroid people were quite curious to try it. As we can read from their old website:

“We are pleased to announce that a free demo of PROMETHUS  will be available on PSN starting October 29, 2009. Featuring 7 great levels of platformer gameplay in the full version, you will recover and use the energy blaster, katana, grenades and whip to vanquish your enemies.  customize your attacks and abilities with collectable powerups and crystals.  The demo will let you explore the first level of the game, Torden.  We hope you will enjoy the demo as we continue sprinting to the finish line on the final version”

Unfortunately this demo was not good at all, with unresponsive controls, bugs and floaty jumps. We can assume the team was not able to fix these issues and in the end decided to cancel the project. You should be able to find the playable demo online, preserved in various ROM pages.

Thanks to Iqra for the contribution!

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Reign Of Thunder (Day 1 Studios) [PC – Cancelled]

Reign Of Thunder is a cancelled mech arena combat game that was in development by Day 1 Studios around 2011 – 2012, planned to be released on PC as a Free to Play title. The team previously worked on the Mechwarrior series for Microsoft (with a cancelled Mechwarrior 3 pitch), so fans were quite interested in a new mech game by Day 1 Studios.

The game was going to support up to 16 online players, with fully customizable mechs to fight in deathmatch, team deathmatch and objective based modes. As we can read in their (now offline) official website:

“Reign of Thunder is a free-to-play fast paced multiplayer action oriented Mech combat game currently slated for the PC. The game features deep customization options allowing players to create and customize Mechs to match their play style, choosing from thousands of weapon, shield, and gadget combinations. Players can also join factions and form clans to support community engagement and team play.”

Some more details were shared in an interview by Neowin:

“Ever since we shipped MechAssault 2 we’ve been eager to return to the Mech genre and really take advantage of current generation hardware.  Recently a window of opportunity to do this presented itself so we’ve jumped into this game with incredible enthusiasm.  It’s been something we’ve talked about doing for a while and now we’re finally able to bring this opportunity to life.

One of our goals for Reign of Thunder was to create a property we could have ownership of.  The other universes are well developed, but the next step for Day 1 Studios as an organization was to create something we own and have control over.  Reign of Thunder was the next logical step in our business plans. Additionally, we wanted to take the game in a creative direction that just would fit some of the licensed products.

At the moment the bulk of the gameplay experience revolves around online competition.  There is a training mode to allow players a chance to familiarize themselves with how their Mech controls and get to know the maps.  At the moment all of our efforts are being directed towards the online competitive experience.”

Reign of Thunder was announced in February 2012, but just a year later Day 1 Studios were bought out by Wargaming, renamed to “Wargaming Chicago-Baltimore” and the game was put aside to focus the team on World of Tanks console ports.

Thanks to Daniel Nicaise for the contribution!

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