News on Beta & Cancelled Games

Spirits (Jadestone) [N-Gage – Cancelled]

Spirits is a cancelled MMORPG / collectible card game that was in development around 2005 by Jadestone Group for the ill-fated N-Gage portable console / mobile phone. By taking advantage of the device’s mobile network features you could have been able to play against people from all around the world, fighting them and collecting new cards / monsters to use in your team / deck. As we can read in the original website:

“A long time ago, peace ruled the Earth as mankind lived in harmony with nature and all the other inhabitants of the planet – those you could see and those you couldn’t. Spirit beings born out of the four elements were all around us, and some humans could even communicate with them.

The memory of those ancient times is buried somewhere in the collective consciousness of mankind, but there are still spirit beings here to this day. SPIRITS™ tells the story of people that have been involved with the spirits in different ways over the millenia. The epic saga, which began in the ancient past of humanity, now plays out in the streets of today’s metropolitan cities.

SPIRITS™ is a massively multiplayer online (MMO) game with one main objective. You must fight the CUT – a doomsday sect trying to stop overpopulation by creating natural disasters to kill innocent people. You’ll have to hunt and collect spirits, test your skills in duels, perform rituals, and take on challenging missions that require tactical thinking and speedy reflexes.”

It seems Nokia and Jadestone had a demo of their game available at E3 2005, as reported by Gamestop at the time:

“Spirits aims to tap into the immensely addictive qualities of collectible card games, like Magic: the Gathering, to combine them with the massively multiplayer online capabilities of the N-Gage. It’s pretty clear that simply sticking a collectible card game, wholesale, into a video game doesn’t make for a great experience — and waves of mediocre Magic games have proven it — so Spirits is built upon a fairly complex backstory to provide the gameplay with some context.

The entire game will play out on N-Gage Arena, much like Pocket Kingdom does today. There are four basic gameplay elements in Spirits: collecting spirit cards, completing missions, dueling other players, and optimizing your “team” of spirits to keep it in fighting shape. To get new spirit cards, you’ll have to participate in a little minigame, called a “hunt,” where you actually catch spirits as they float around.

First, you assemble a team of six spirits that will comprise your troops. Your team and your opponent’s team are then placed on either end of a small isometric game board. Combat seemed to be really simple, at least at this point in development, so you select an attacking spirit, and then you choose an enemy spirit to target. The two collide, and damage is assigned. The gameplay’s turn-based, but both players make their decisions simultaneously, which adds a little more guesswork to the mix.”

Thanks to Jason for the contribution!

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They (Metropolis Software) [Cancelled – PC, PS3, Xbox 360]

They is a cancelled survival mystery-horror FPS that was in development for PC, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 by polish videogame developer Metropolis Software, founded in 1992 by Adrian Chmielarz and Grzegorz Miechowski. In 1997 the studio acquired the license of “The Witcher” from Andrzej Sapkowski, however, they ceded it around 2000 to CD Project as they were already worked on 3 games at the same time (one of them being the cult-following turn-based rpg game “Gorky 17“).

Metropolis started working on They between 2005 and 2006 and officially announced it at the Game Convention 2007, but CD Projekt acquired the studio in 2008. The majority of the team was then taken over to work on “The Witcher” series and in the end Metropolis were subsequently closed in 2009.

One of the most interesting mechanics conceived for They was its weapons customization system: you only had a single weapon, which could have been modified, upgraded and designed with hundreds of different items. The PC Action magazine mentioned “a large amount of over 250 upgrades and design parts“, including stickers and logos. As we can read on Destructoid:

“Throughout the game, weapon body-parts and plug-ins will frequently crop up for the collecting. Maybe they’ll be part of a boss’ arsenal, dropped when you kill it, or you might just find them lying around in the aftermath of a battle. However you get hold of them, they can be put together, Lego-style, and tweaked and tuned to make a gun to do whatever the player can think up.”

“Every variety of gunfire, from single-shot, to machine gun, to explosive, to laser, to pretty much anything else you can think of can be blended and combined with however many others you want, along with all kinds of special properties such as fire, ice, lighting, and God knows what else. On top of that, there are loads of little adaptations to be had in the way of reload speed, shot frequency, blast damage etc. You want a rapid-fire electro-shotgun with exploding shells? You’ve got it. Grenade launcher with freezing ammo and your choice of blast radius and trajectory? Why not?”

We also know from IGN’s preview, levels in They would have been partially destructible, to let players create new ways of moving around:

“Of course, this being the next generation and all, it’s possible to destroy some buildings with a well placed grenade or two which, interestingly, is more than a simple aesthetic gimmick – laying waste to buildings uncovers shortcuts through levels and even secret power-ups. However, it’s worth remembering that being hit by falling debris is seriously bad for your health so take precautions. “

Metropolis Software’s philosophy with the weapon customization system was detailed in an interview on GGMania:

Q: You announced a unique weapon feature, where you are able to upgrade a flexible weapon to your individual needs. Can you tell us a bit more about that?

A: Without naming so many things of the weapon yet, you might think of a soldier in every war. He only wears some few weapons – mostly knife, gun and maybe pistol. Common FPS games are really unrealistic in that point of view, that a soldier is really able to wear 10 more or less heavy guns at the same time (or he must be HULK to carry them all). In THEY you will have this one weapon, where you identify yourself with, which you can customize and enhance it based on YOUR needs and preferences! You will be able to store setups, so you have the expected control system with keys 1-0 to have access to different types of weapon setups – but it still will be YOUR buddy, YOUR best friend, YOUR WEAPON. The appearance will change dramatically, but you are still able to identify yourself with the weapon. So what we will bring to the genre is some more realistic and believable approach in sort of weapon handling. The fear of players, to have only one gun can be easily refuted, as you have hundreds of combinations which you can store and customize at your own discretion – to create YOUR perfect weapon setup, store it to the expected keys 1-0 and have access to them at all time! So each player will have the weapons of HIS choice, a large variation to be used based on needed functions (gameplay relevant decision!) and need not to get along with standard weapons – this is something unique and new to the genre and will grant more freedom for each player! On the other hand, if someone WANTS’ his standard “pumpgun/rifle/Ak47” feeling, he is able to create that…but when he will figure out the fun and possibilities from our new weapon system he will get used to it soon.”

Weapon customization was essential, because you would fight against some weird and stealthy alien / robot creatures in a “not so distant future”. The setting was a destroyed English city and the main plot was told by a little, mysterious boy.

“Set in near-future London in a world crippled by increasingly severe terrorist attacks, THEY follows the story of a British soldier during the emergence of a new global threat. An army of robots has appeared and begun laying waste to everything around it, and while everyone has assumed that a new terrorist faction is behind it all, it will eventually turn out that things are a lot more complicated than that. The robots are far more intelligent in their combat tactics than anyone can believe possible, and seem to be able to work together without any visible signs of communication. Needless to say, humanity is taking a serious kicking to the face, and it’s during one of these kickings that the player’s story starts.”

“The game will take in around twelve levels, and IMC/Metropolis were keen to point out that they’re taking an episodic structure to the game’s story. Taking their model from shows like Heroes and The X-Files, they’ll be making each level work as an individual episode, but will be building a bigger overall story arc as the game progresses.”

We can only hope one day someone could find a playable version of They, so it could be preserved online.

Thanks to Sam and Dan and for the contributions!

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Project Witches (Eternal Light) [Cancelled – Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PC]

Project Witches (aka Eternal Light) is a cancelled coop-focused action game that was in development by Revistronic for Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Wii and PC. Gameplay would have probably been similar to Diablo or Gauntlet, with 4 players team up together to kill dozens of enemies and huge bosses. Eternal Light was officially announced in 2007, but then postponed for multiple times until it was considered vaporware among gamers.

As we can read on the original press-release and official website:

“Project WITCHES (Provisional Title) available w/w is a third-person action adventure game developed by Spanish developer, REVISTRONIC. In WITCHES players find themselves in terrifying dark surroundings in an epic struggle for survival in order to take freedom and peace to an oppressed medieval kingdom.

Across a landscape of devastation, players manage a squad of Witches, sultry warriors that still resist the dark will of the Evil Lord and his horde of awful creatures and lead the rebellion against his satanic power. Above all, it is a game where teamwork is vital: all modelling, levels and scenes are designed to promote cooperative play.”

Key  features

“Everything reeks of death, torture and destruction. The people have been enslaved. They are prisoners of a dark power that has established a reign of terror and devastation throughout the land. Your aim is to eliminate the evil creature that dwells in the depths of a sinister castle and to rescue the crushed inhabitants from their horrifying destiny. In order to survive in the face of this satanic power and its cruel armies, you must learn the art of combat and acquire terrible dark powers yourself.

Sultry girls against satanic monsters: Let yourself go in this dark medieval narrative and enjoy the contrast between sensual beauty and sinister horrors. Direct the beautiful but dangerous Gwen in a spectacular fight against hordes of repellent deformed creatures.

Feel the fear: Skies rent by terrifying storms, hair-raising shrieks, shadows in the fog, stealthy movements and menacing growls, the glint of monstrous eyes that watch from the shades. The oppressive certainty of death lying in wait for you.

Spectacular system of tactical combat: Combining spectacular combat with sequences of caution and stealth. The tactics you use will be decisive for your survival. You must rescue the captives and obtain their help. You will lead your team. You can be a great leader or sacrifice your comrades in the fight. Your decisions will shape your destiny.

Totally interactive environment: All game items can be used, creating a sensation of total immersion such as never before. You can use all kinds of objects to achieve your aims, even the amputated limbs of adversaries.”

There are a few gameplay videos from the game, but we don’t know how much was really completed before Revistronic closed down in 2011 for bankruptcy.

Thanks to Jean for the contribution!

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NinjaBread Man 2: Blades of Fury [Wii – Cancelled]

The original NinjaBread Man was a low-budget action game developed by Data Design Interactive and released for Playstation 2, PC and Wii. While the game was received with low scores, somehow it gained a cult-following of fans and the team officially announced a Wii sequel in 2008, titled “NinjaBread Man 2: Blades of Fury”.

As we can read on the original press-release:

“Guide Ninjabread man through Candy Land on his mission to rescue his girlfriend ‘Treacle Tart’ from the evil clutches of ‘Emperor Sly’ Fox and his three Fox Cub Overlords. NinjaBread Man: Blades of Fury will be a combat and exploration based adventure utilizing the Wii remotes unique control method to create an intuitive, fun and involving game experience with plenty of exciting game features.

Fight your way through Emperor Sly’s armies of Wasp Warriors, Rat Thugs and Jelly Ninjas as you explore the Sweet and Tasty worlds of Candy land. Use Ninjabread Mans Grapple Hook to Swing over chasms, disarm enemies and pull down objects to create bridges to new areas. Buy new weapons and stock up on useful items at the many Candy land ‘Weapon outposts’.

Learn amazing combat skills and new moves by entering the Training Dojo and find out how to take out your enemies quicker by using combination attacks. Take on Emperor Sly and his three maniacal Fox Cub Overlords in this stunning action packed Ninja adventure.

Storyline: after ridding Candy Land of the Hordes of evil Cupcakes Ninjabread Man found himself a nice girlfriend called ‘Treacle Tart’ and settled down for a quiet life in the lush Candy Fields estate. One misty moon lit night an elite band of Jelly Baby Ninja’s sneak into Ninjabread Man’s home, knock him out and kidnap Treacle Tart. They take her away to their secret base deep within the ‘Sugarcane Wastes’ of Candy Lands northern territory.

Outraged by this unnerving turn of events Ninjabread Man sets out in search of his beloved Treacle Tart and the despicable individuals responsible for her kidnap. Little does he know that an evil presence more powerful than he could have imagined is plotting his downfall and that the adventure he is about to embark on will be the most challenging he has ever encountered.”

An archived version of the official NinjaBread Man website is still accessible via the Wayback Machine from the Internet Archive. On this site fans were asked to send in ideas for the sequel in the form of artwork or descriptions of challenges. The designs would’ve been published on a forum where other users could comment on them, and the best designs would be put into the game, with the creator getting a place in the credits.

In the end Data Design Interactive went quiet after NinjaBread Man 2 announcement and soon closed down. Back in 2016 Zander Shepherd contacted Stewart Green (the founder and CEO of Data Design Interactive) to ask about the state of the game. His reply was:

“Sorry Ninjabread Man 2 was never started above design work, we have no plans to release it at this time.”

Unfortunately it seems not much remains from this cancelled sequel, but the fan-designs published online by the team and now preserved below. If you know someone who worked at Data Design Interactive and could have saved more documents from Ninjabread Man 2, please let us know in the comments below or by email.

Thanks to Zander Shepherd for the contribution!

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Russian Retro Sci-Fi Horror Project (SCEJ) [Cancelled – PS3]

Between 2008 and 2010 Sony Computer Entertainment Japan were working on a new “Russian retro Sci-Fi Horror” video game for their Playstation 3, but in the end the project was cancelled. While this new PS3 game was never officially announced by Sony, a single concept art was revealed by Masahiro Ito (of Silent Hill fame) on Twitter in 2017, before he removed its own tweet.

Ito also talked about this lost game during an interview with Silent Hill Memories:

Out of the games that you have worked on, which game stands out the most for you and why?

It is a game when I have worked on in SCE from 2008 to 2010, but was not released. It’s a Russian retro Sci-Fi horror action game.”

As noted by GodzillaDB on NeoGAF in 2017:

“it would appear that conceptualization of the Russian sci-fi horror project began somewhere close to 2006 based on images from his official website. If you start from the top of the paintings section (while being mindful of some sensual imagery), the entire third row along with parts of the fourth seem dedicated to the production. I wasn’t aware these works actually belonged to an unfortunately scrapped game until fairly recently. I was actually under the impression they were simply a “subject matter” study that he explored in his art book, The 2nd Wild Pig, which was released at Comiket 74; however, it has been difficult to obtain exact details about its content despite remarks from the artist about making his work available in the West in some form or another. Ultimately, it appears a multi-media project called Acid Bufferzone has cannibalized remnants of the material shared between figurines and seemingly a manga series from Ito-san as well.”

Unfortunately at the moment this concept art is the only remaining document from the game. It would be interesting to see screenshots from the probable prototype they were able to create during the early development.

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