Action Adventure

The Haunted Mansion [GBA – Cancelled]

The Haunted Mansion is a cancelled adventure game that was in development around 2002 – 2003 by Pocket Studios, planned to be published for GBA by TDK Mediactive, the same company which published The Haunted Mansion for PlayStation 2, Xbox and GameCube. The games were based on the homonym Disneyland ride and the home-console versions were released in the same year of the Haunted Mansion movie (also based on the Disney ride).

This canned Game Boy Advance version was quite impressive for its 3D graphic, something that was not common on the console. Players would explore the mansion Resident-Evil- Style, finding keys and avoiding enemies, plus some on-rails sections on a classic mine cart.

It seems the GBA version of Haunted Mansion was canned when TDK Mediactive was bought by Take-Two Interactive. As wrote by a former Pocket Studios developer on Youtube:

“I was a coder on this game. The main reason for its non release was the TDK the original publishers being bought out mid development by Take2. I’m certainly not in the know as to what went on between Take2 and Pocket but after the takeover it was clear the game wouldn’t get a release. Lets just say Pocket wanted to hit its milestones to get paid and fill the contract and Take2 tried to make that hard.

As for the game. Publishers were at the time were eager to have games that were more 3D-ish, especially lower end publishers with less than amazing franchises as it made the game stand out from the flat 2d, iso games that almost every release was. The simple fact is the GBA doesn’t do 3D well, but I think looking back nearly 20 years and saying the 3d is broken isnt really fair. Personally I think some of the art in this game is lovely. I still think this game is technically impressive… Did anyone notice the transparent ghosts???? If any other game does transparency on the GBA I’ve not heard of it.

TBH the gameplay sucks. The card game was absolutely pointless, and the free roaming made the game weirdly empty and slow. I think a number of the team wanted to do a more side on 3d platformer affair, but that was ruled out fairly early as death/weapons was something you couldn’t do with this Disney property.”

Some years ago a ROM of the game was leaked online, so at least we can marvel at its technical achievement.

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Prince of Persia Redemption [Cancelled – Xbox 360, PS3, PC]

Prince of Persia: Redemption is a cancelled reboot of the classic series, that was internally pitched at Ubisoft Montreal (FoxTeam) around 2010 – 2011, just after the release of The Forgotten Sands. The project was mostly unknown until May 2020, when fans finally noticed a video uploaded on Youtube in 2012 by an anonymous user. By looking at this footage, the game looked like a mix between 3D Prince of Persia, God of War, Uncharted and Assassin’s Creed: a cinematic adventure game with huge monsters and time-rewind mechanics.

As wrote by former Ubisoft animator Jonathan Cooper on Twitter:

“Wow – haven’t seen this in ages. Amazing work from animation director Khai Nguyen (For Honor) and team. This target game footage (pre-rendered game pitch) inspired our own pitch for Assassin’s Creed 3 as they did such a great job making it look like real gameplay.

Sadly Ubisoft are generally quicker to cancel Prince of Persia games than others IPs because AFAIK original creator Jordan Mechner still holds license rights so the profit margins are lower. Would love to see a new one though. I’ve always wanted a PoP set in contemporary Iran.”

We can assume The Forgotten Sands did not sell enough for Ubisoft to invest more resources on another title, preferring to focus on the more profitable Assassin’s Creed series.

Thanks to Jason for the contribution!

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SNO (Headstrong Games) [Cancelled – PC, PS4, Xbox One]

SNO is a cancelled action adventure that was in development  by Headstrong Games in 20142015, planned to be released for PC and unannounced consoles (possibly PS4 and Xbox One). The project was officially announced in February 2015 on their site and by reading its description it sounds a bit like Okami, but unfortunately it soon vanished with no explanations.

“Usher in Spring and bring your frozen world back to life in this 3rd person action puzzle game.

Clear the ice and snow that have blanketed your world. Encounter and defeat mysterious ice demons intent on holding back Spring. Discover ancient secrets and paths through the frozen wasteland as the Gods guide you on your journey.

SNO toys with your expectations, leaving you wondering whether you’re a dead soul raised to tend a magical land, or an android designed to repair a deserted spacecraft. As you emerge from your grave-like stasis chamber, it’s apparent a catastrophe has occurred – the world is carpeted in a thick layer of snow. As you clear the ice and snow, you reveal verdant patches of grass that catch the light and start to fend off the creeping frost.”

Headstrong were mostly known for their Art Academy series and Battalion Wars series published by Nintendo, but around 2017 Kuju Entertainment (their parent company) dissolved the team to incorporate their employees directly into Kuju.

If you know someone who worked on this lost game and could help in preserving more images or footage, please let us know

Lanfeust of Troy (Nadeo) [PC – Cancelled]

Lanfeust of Troy is a cancelled action adventure that was in development for PC by Nadeo around 2001, before they became a favorite team among fans of arcade racing games, thanks to their release of TrackMania in 2003. In 2001 Nadeo was still trying to find their niche, working on many different prototypes such as Windracer and Cyberdrive to pitch them to different publishers.

Lanfeust of Troy was based on a popular french comic:

“In the world of Troy, most humans have a single magic power. Each power is unique to the person and includes such diverse feats as walking on water, personal teleportation, and causing thirst in others. However, none can use their power unless in the close or remote presence of a sage of Eckmül, Troy’s version of a studied magician.”

Probably Nadeo thought that by using an existing franchise as the base for their action adventure prototype, it could have been easier to find a publisher interested in their talent. Unfortunately this was not the case: their Lanfeust of Troy video game was never completed and was just forgotten by everyone. Some fans randomly found out about the project in 2011, saving a few images before they could have been lost forever.

In the end Nadeo was lucky enough to get hired to work on Virtual Skipper 2 and 3, something that helped to keep them alive while waiting to find real success with Trackmania.

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Project: Advena [PC – Cancelled]

Project Advena is a cancelled sci-fi, survival adventure game that was in development by Illfonic and Psyop Games around 2015 – 2016. The game was officially announced by the team and a short description was available on their old website:

“Alone, and marooned on an alien world, a humble space freighter pilot must face dwindling resources, a hostile environment, and his own internal demons to make his way toward his only hope for rescue, a flickering beacon forgotten on a precipitous mountainside. Each step on his journey threatens to bring him face to face with his imminent mortality, dwindling supplies, strange creatures, and the deepening shade of his own solitude.”

Venture Beat also published an interview with Illfonic in late 2015:

“After THQ shut down, we started doing work for hire putting our CryEngine knowledge to good use, and we worked on Star Citizen, Evolve, Armored Warfare, Sonic Boom … the Team Challenges … a tech demo with AMD, Crysis 3, and some other really cool unannounced projects.

Currently, besides Friday the 13th: The Game, we are working on Moving Hazard and Project Advena — a working title — with Psyop Games, along with relaunching Nexuiz real soon. In addition, we are continuing working on our MMO Revival, which is build in stages and has a pretty cool update coming to Phase 1 real soon.”

Nothing more is known about Advena’s gameplay. Only a few promotional images are preserved below, to remember its existence. After a while the game quietly vanished, while Illfonic switched their resources on different projects. We can speculate Advena was not proceeding as planned and the team decided to focus their efforts on more secure and profitable projects.

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