Captain Blood is a cancelled pirate-themed action adventure based on a series of novels by Rafael Sabatini, that was in development for PC and Xbox 360 since 2003 by Russian studio Akella (the team behind titles like “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Age of Pirates”). The game was never officially canned, as of May 2016 you can still find its website online and in the last 13 years it had multiple reboots: Captain Blood easily became a legendary vaporware and was labeled by some fans as “The Russian Duke Nukem Forever”.
When still in early development, Captain Blood’s leads Dmitry Demyanovski and Andrei Ivanchenko decided to open their own team “.dat” and left Akella: the remaining team restarted the game with Renat Nezametdimov and Yuri Rogach taking the new lead. At E3 2004 Captain Blood was officially announced by 1C Company, the Russian publisher of other games made by Akella, showing a gameplay trailer with open sea naval combat and realistic sword fighting system.
This second version did not last much longer and in 2005 Captain Blood suffered more heavy changes, becoming like a pirate version of God of War, with fast-paced over-the-top fights, finishing moves, quick time events, lots of blood and gore. Akella was split in two different teams, named respectively SeaDogs and SeaWolves, with the first working on Age of Pirates, and the latter to develop this new version of Captain Blood.
In 2007 for some unknown reasons SeaWolves were sold to 1C, along with Captain Blood. New people took lead of the project and it was updated to a more powerful 3D engine. At this time the game looked great, like a mix between Fable 2 and God of War, but because of the new acquisition by 1C many of the original developers left the team.
Even with some internal issues, SeaWolves and 1C continued working on it and in 2010 Captain Blood seems to have been completed, ready to be published. Unfortunately another complication fell against the game: Playlogic (the company that would publish it in Europe and USA) sued 1C for some disagreements over the license and this blocked the release of Captain Blood. We don’t know what happened, but maybe Playlogic tried to get some money to save themselves from their economic troubles, a move that did not help them at all, as in August 2010 they were declared bankrupt.
Strelka Stories is a cancelled action adventure game planned for Playstation 3 that was in development by CyberConnect2 (Tokyo Studio and Fukuoka office), as a new chapter in their “Little Tail Bronx” series of anthropomorphic animal characters and fantasy floating world, composed of three main chapters: Tail Concerto (1998, Playstation), Solatorobo: Red the Hunter (2010, Nintendo DS) and Little Tail Story (2014, Android and iOS). The series is not widely known to the main public and sales were not great, but thanks to its fun gameplay, light hearted animal characters and interesting world-lore (mixing Jules Verne-steampunk style technology, mechs, magic, Laputa style floating islands and airships) it grown a cult following of fans in the last 18 years.
Strelka Stories was originally announced in July 2010 when CyberConnect2 were celebrating their 15th anniversary and opened a teaser site for this new PS3 game, showing artworks featuring their usual anthropomorphic animal characters, a 19th-century fantasy town (feeling like something out of a Studio Ghibli movie, especially if you think about Sherlock Hound) and a space-conquering theme.
Over those artworks there are a series of sentences in Japanese, that can be roughly translated as ““I will surely go to space, surely”, “To the children who depart someday”, “The world’s first man-made crystal power plant, it was built against the press-cutting international public opinion”, “This country was always engulfed in restless shadows” and “The road was collapsing, they gathered Strelka, a rocket engineer…”. By reading these, we can speculate that Strelka Stories could have told the story of how the world of Little Tail Bronx became a series of floating islands and the efforts of its inhabitants to escape from the collapsing of their planet.
“Belka (Белка, literally, “Squirrel” or, alternately, “Whitey”) and Strelka (Стрелка, “Little Arrow”) spent a day in space aboard Korabl-Sputnik 2 (Sputnik 5) on 19 August 1960 before safely returning to Earth. […] Strelka went on to have six puppies with a male dog named Pushok who participated in many ground-based space experiments, but never made it into space.”
“Solatorobo was set in an imaginary scientific world, which targets the current generation of boys and girls. The content for this one [Strelka] will target ‘Adults who were once youths’. I believe those who like Gurren Lagann and Evangelion will enjoy it. We actually didn’t get approval of the project from a client or publisher. It’s a title that we started because we wanted to make it.”
The lack of a publisher for Strelka Stories is probably the reason why the game was never completed, with CyberConnect2 busy to work on other projects for which they were hired. In fact the studio released many games for Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 (such as Asura’s Wrath, .hack//Versus and the Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm series), but unfortunately it seems that Strelka Stories never found support and had to be quietly cancelled. CC2 also planned a Tail Concerto sequel in late ‘90 / early ‘00, but it had to wait 12 years to be finally released (as the spiritual sequel Solatorobo), so we can assume that one day we could still see the ideas conceived for Strelka Stories in a new chapter of the “Little Tail Bronx” series.
CyberConnect2 are a big company today, they are currently working on the Final Fantasy VII Remake for Square-Enix and opened a new studio in Montreal (Canada). In April 2016 Famitsu magazine published another interview with Hiroshi Matsuyama, in which he teased a new game codenamed “Project Venom” or “CyberConnect Creative (CCC)” (it’s not clear if the two titles are for the same game or for two different projects) a self-published digital shooter planned to be released the next year for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. The artworks revealed in the magazine show a fantasy setting with characters similar to the ones seen in “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind” and no space rockets, so we can assume that this will not be directly connected to the Strelka Stories concept.
MediEvil was a hack and slash adventure series that consisted of two games on the original Playstation (MediEvil in 1998 and MediEvil 2 in 2000) and a third game on the PSP (MediEvil: Resurrection in 2005). All three games were developed by SCE Cambridge Studio (now Guerrilla Cambridge), and although the series was moderately successful it was never granted the greenlight for a true third installment (MediEvil: Resurrection just being a remake / re-imagining of the first game). However, a concept for a MediEvil sequel on the Playstation 2 was actually pitched back in early 2003, when the developers within Sony Cambridge were considering several options after the less than amazing sales of Primal.
This new game would have been called “MediEvil 3: Fate’s Arrow”, a title that was later reused as an inside Easter egg for the name of a mini-game (Arrow o’ Fate) in MediEvil: Resurrection. Loosely, the story would continue from where MediEvil 2 left off, with Sir Dan travelling back in time to Gallowmere. Specifically, he travels back 100 years before the events of MediEvil 1, and just a few weeks before the Battle of Gallowmere is due to occur. We know that by rights, Sir Daniel Fortesque will be shot in the eye by the first arrow thus freeing up his men to fight on to victory, unburdened by his ‘leadership’. But Dan learns that the timeline has somehow changed: a mysterious new figure has aligned herself with Zarok – an Egyptian sorceress: Kiyante.
Kiya has played Dan like a fiddle: tricking him into rescuing her, stealing the Time Machine and delivering her into the company of the one figure from history whose evil ambitions (and talents) mirror her own. By using the fabled Anubis Stone she will aid Zarok by raising an army of undead. She will ensure that living Sir Dan doesn’t die so soon and instead sticks around long enough to truly doom his brave compatriots. If that happens, together Zarok and Kiyante would achieve a crushing victory, the earth would be overrun with demons and mankind enslaved.
The aim of the game was for Sir Dan to keep the timeline pure by stealing the Anubis Stone and ensuring that his cowardly living self is firstly compelled into leading the battle charge and falls at the first arrow, allowing Zarok to be defeated and history to play out as it should. This was also to be a chance to reflect on the real story of Sir Dan and in doing so to appreciate the true hero he has become in death compared to the miserable individual he was in life (there would have been a few shades of the British comedy series Black Adder here, season one specifically).
MediEvil 3 would have borrowed a few ideas from Primal, featuring a companion sidekick character who would be a key figure to the game. In this case, the companion is Lupo – Sir Dan’s originally-under-appreciated, but utterly faithful hound who first meets skeleton Sir Dan at the beginning of the game and then joins him in his journey. A squeaky dog toy was going to be an item you could throw around to direct his attacks, especially against larger enemies and bosses. Generally he would tear around as an AI character, loosely following you and doing general side-kickey stuff.
The game also would have featured a more open, hub based structure to the world with story driving things forward. Dan and Lupo would travel to both old and new locations of Gallowmere in their attempt to find allies to aid them against Zarok and Kiya and one ally they meet is an eccentric genie named Al-Zalam. The developers were also planning to bring back the Hall of Heroes after it was lost in MediEvil 2.
This third chapter of Medievil for Playstation 2 of course would have also featured some exciting new weapons, puzzles, and power ups. One new addition would be beast riding, where Dan gets a mount in the form of one of those weird elephant-dragon things that were seen in the underwater portion of The Lake from MediEvil 1. Below you can see one of the concept arts created for the MediEvil 3 pitch, with Sir Dan and Lupo riding the beast mount:
The depth of this game would have expanded the MediEvil universe in a whole new way and would have featured a satisfying conclusion to Sir Dan’s heroic journey. Sadly, this never came to be. At the time this game was pitched, a couple things happened: the popular 24 TV-series license became available to Sony Cambridge, and the PSP became a significant company focus. MediEvil: Resurrection on the PSP was ultimately conceived as a way to re-introduce the franchise with a shorter scale project. A couple elements from this MediEvil 3 concept were carried over into Resurrection – one of them being the Anubis Stone and another being the character Al-Zalam.
This lost MediEvil 3 project for PS2 was never more than a design proposal plus a few lovely artworks made to shown some of the new features and characters, but it would have been a great conclusion to the MediEvil trilogy. In January 2013 Sony restructured their Cambridge Studio to develop Killzone Mercenary for the PlayStation Vita and the team was renamed into Guerrilla Cambridge. Sony did not forgot MediEvil and they tried again to develop a third MediEvil in the following years with different developers, one game for Playstation 3 and another for Playstation 4: this time they even created a playable prototype, but in the end both projects were also cancelled. We’ll have more on the lost PS3 and PS4 MediEvil sequels in the future.
Witchwood is a cancelled action adventure game that was in development from 1994 to 1996 by Team 17, the studio best known for the Worms series. The game would have been published by Ocean for Amiga and PC, but in 1995 moved to PC, Playstation, Saturn, and Jaguar. As noted by Hallfiry of the Betaarchive Forum, while working on Witchwood, Team 17 was also developing Speris Legacy; another action adventure similar to the Legend of Zelda games that was released on Amiga in 1996.
The reason for the project’s termination is as of yet unknown. One possibility is that Team 17’s publishing partner, Ocean, elected to drop the game’s funding in light of Speris’ apparently lacklustre sales; rather than risk making another loss.
Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun is a cancelled a PS3 / Xbox 360 / PS4 and PC single-player action adventure game developed by Climax Studio, that was intended to mark the return of the Legacy of Kain series. The title was first leaked in 2013 by NeoGAF user, Mama Robotnik, in an extensive research thread about the many canceled games of the series throughout the years. According to his research, the production of Dead Sun began sometime between 2009 and 2010 with some supervision from Crystal Dynamics and was subject to strict NDA terms that prevented the developers from discussing any details of their work in the project.
Development and Cancellation
It seems that Square Enix laid down several requirements, which the title had to adhere to, such as being single-player with a multi-player component. The new main characters and a story set apart from the original series would have been an idea by game director Sam Barlow and Climax, because of the difficulty to follow LoK’s intricate storyline. Climax Studio worked on the production of the single-player game, while the multi-player was being developed independently by Psyonix Games.
The development went through several stages, initially intended as a small project to be released on Xbox 360 and PS3, even if a former developer wrote on NeoGaf:
That’s the only info that I think is wrong. It was never a downloadable game, not as long as I worked on it. Always intended as AAA. Same with the PS4 launch thing – it was intended for cross gen, all systems.
By the time it was cancelled for “old gen consoles” it was being considered as a potential launch title for PS4. This is namely one of the reasons for its cancellation in the first place, as was stated by the source that contacted Mama Robotnik to reveal further details of the project:
– This game was pushing the 360 and PS3 to the limit. A combination of sheer level scale, the twin realm mechanic and the ageing Unreal 3 engine meant it was a struggle to get this running to an acceptable level. A commitment to next gen would have possibly seen the game avoid the chop as we would have been freed from some hefty technical restraints that were holding the game back in a number of areas, including the visuals. Conversely, I can see why switching to next gen would have made the numbers even less attractive to SE top brass, given the far smaller install base.
– Having just finished Shadow of Mordor, which I found hugely enjoyable, I have to say it was eerily similar to the open world (hub as we termed them) areas of Dead Sun. From the art style, to the switching worlds, the environment traversal, character ability progression, combat and numerous other aspects, SOM was incredibly close to half the game we were making.
– The Dungeons were the other half. Given how much work obviously went into SOM, one of the most polished games I’ve played, I think Dead Sun was too ambitious, which probably also contributed to it getting the axe. It would have been a monster of a game – the wetlands hub area you’ve already seen was just one of 3 or 4 entirely different open hub areas, never mind the various dungeons that were planned. They all had distinctively different looks, puzzles and boss fights. The team wasn’t big enough to pull that lot off in a reasonable time frame, to the quality level required of a AAA release.
– Which is all a great shame, as the design of the game was excellent and meticulously thought through. Whilst not a straight sequel to previous LOK games, and not featuring previous favourite characters, it had more than enough depth and references to previous games to both satisfy (most) fans and really bring the LOK series back to life in a modern format. It was certainly a lot more than a re-skinned Assassin’s Creed or Batman, even if it did share some aspects with those games. But there we go, the vagaries of the games industry. Those design docs will still be around somewhere at Climax (or possibly elsewhere) – all it would take is someone with a spare $100 million or so and that’d see it up and running.”
In 2012, Square Enix decided to stop production since the title was no longer forecast to meet sales expectations, with some doubts about the game’s quality and its overambitious features. Due to the amount of work that went into this project, there was a lot of frustration among members of the team when it was canceled. Allegedly, certain members of the team weren’t informed of the decision and kept working on it after the cancellation.
The story was set in the distant future of Nosgoth; not being a direct sequel of the previous games, but taking place in a similar universe as the Soul Reaver games, to became a reboot of the series. The game would have introduced a new clan of vampires called ‘the Saradin’, who were much closer in appearance to the ancient vampires than their ancestors from Soul Reaver. The Saradin also had very similar powers to that of Raziel, being able to move freely between the material and spectral realms.
Dead Sun’s narrtive revolved around two main characters, Gein and Asher, who were Saradin vampire and human respectively. It would have began when Gein attacks Asher’s village, slaughering many, including Asher and his pregnant wife.
One of the main themes explored in the story would have been fertility. The human race in Dead Sun was inexplicably suffering from infertility and the fact that Asher and his wife were able to conceive a child is recognised being of great significance, as later revealed by Gein, the very reason of their deaths.
Unexpectedly, after Gein feeds off Asher’s soul, Asher becomes trapped in Gein’s body. The game would have featured both characters in the body of one; a unique creature with the body of a vampire and the soul of a human. Their quest to discover the reasons behind Asher’s assassination and who was behind it would eventually have led to a it more close tying in with the original Legacy of Kain lore. Another significant topic was religion and how this influenced human rituals and their interaction with vampires.