Action

Ocean Warrior (Extreme Outer Reef) [Xbox 360, PS3 – Cancelled]

Ocean Warrior is a cancelled action game that was in development by a small team known as “Stardust Interactive Media” between 2001 and 2004, planned to be released for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. The game was initially conceived as some kind of mix between “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater” and “Waterworld”, an extreme-sport video game titled “Extreme Outer Reef” about big-wave surfing in flooded cities.

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As we can read from an old press-release published in 2002:

“If things go according to plan for Stardust Interactive Media, the startup will soon be making waves – monster waves – in the video-game market. Big waves are the name of the game for Stardust, creators of a sports-action surfing video title, “Extreme Outer Reef.” The game is based on one of the most dangerous sports in the world, “extreme big-wave surfing”–surfing waves 75 feet and taller with the aid of high-powered jet-skis.

“Extreme Outer Reef” capitalizes on the recent success of other extreme board-sports videos, such as snowboard and skateboarding. “People love board sports and we’ve created a game in a way that’s never been done before,” said Markland Fountain, chief operating officer for Stardust Interactive, one of 10 finalist companies in The Business Journal’s Business Plan Competition. “Surfing is just a sexy, interesting sport and you can’t get any crazier than this,” Fountain said.

The game is the brainchild of Chief Executive Dan Meyers, a native Oregonian who has surfed the Oregon Coast for the past 23 years. He and Fountain–also a surfer dude–are heading up the company. And they’re backed by a solid team of video-game bigwigs and world-class giant-wave surfers.

Scott Orr, whose video titles have sold nearly $2 billion in the past 20 years, signed on as executive producer for “Extreme Outer Reef.” Chief technical consultant is Stewart Apelzin, creator of best-sellers “Myst” and “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?”

Other surfing videos exist, but Stardust insists its game will be unique. For one thing, the game thrills players with monster waves up to 200 feet, but Stardust also has developed a “dynamic waves physics engine” — a software application that generates waves that behave the way real waves work in the ocean.

“No other surf game makes waves with a real-time physics model,” said Meyers. Picture “giant liquid avalanches,” say the business partners. “You have endless variability, and it becomes this crazy surface where you can pull tons of tricky maneuvers,” Fountain said. “It gives the game replay value,” as opposed to existing surfing videos, which can quickly become boring.”

During development the project evolved into Ocean Warrior, a more cinematic action game featuring speed-boats equipped with machine-guns in a post-apocalyptic flooded world, similar to Waterworld.

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As we can read from the description added to the box mock up (made using the original Xbox games’ template as the Xbox 360 was not released yet):

“The Earth’s major cities are under water! The world’s ocean levels had been rising for years, but a nuclear blast set off by the evil NERVA organization has caused the sudden flooding of coastal cities worldwide. As an elite Ocean Warrior, you take to the waves to rescue the innocent and to bring NERVA to justice.

Waterborne combat is back with a vengeance! Pilot a variety of heavily armed watercraft through unbelievable apocalyptic ocean environments!

Drive the boat, or man its turret, bail out and swim at any time. Commandeer any craft you can find! Disable an enemy crew, climb aboard, and take their boat for yourself!

Protect your floating base at all costs. Your base supplies all of your new weapons and repairs, and holds items and personnel captured or rescued in the field!

Monster surf like you’ve never seen! Ride 100-foot tidal waves through modern cities and ancient canyons!

Exciting story of global destruction takes you to disaster zones around the world, your AI teammates will have your back!

Tons of multiplayer modes! Play deathmatch, CTF, Destruction, King of the Kill and more on a split screen, with system link or over xbox live!”

Stardust Interactive tried to pitch the game to different publishers, but in the end Ocean Warrior was never released, only a few screenshots and footage from the early prototype are preserved below, to remember this lost project.

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Super Shadow of the Beast (IGS/ Psychnosis) – [SNES – Cancelled]

Super Shadow of the Beast would have been the Super Nintendo port of an old Amiga side-scrolling action game which was originally developed in 1989  by Reflections Interactive and published by Psygnosis. The game since then has been ported to almost every known platform at that time, so why not a Super Nintendo version?

The SNES version was developed by a company called IGS (Information Global Service) and was first reported seen at the summer edition of the 1992 Consumer Electronics Show (CES): in an article on Nintendo Power it was mentioned as a promising upcoming title for the SNES.

The original Shadow of the Beast game and most of its ports to other systems contain many grim, dark looking and bloody details such as bloody spikes, bouncing bloody eyeballs, flying skulls and decapitated enemies. To get approval from Nintendo and thus a license to publish the game on the SNES platform this port of the game had to undergo some serious censoring, mostly graphical adaptions like removal of blood,  redesigned levels and removing or redrawing of enemies.

Some screenshots of this censored SNES port were found at a site called Schnittberichte.com: they did an excellent job in showing the differences between the SNES version VS the Mega Drive one. Apparently all the efforts from IGS to change the game weren’t good enough for Nintendo USA and thus Super Shadow of the Beast was not approved.

Other rumors however state that the mature content cannot have been the only reason why Nintendo dropped the game. It’s possible that Super Shadow of the Beast was just not good enough to be released, with its poor graphics and colorful style it became something too much different from the original game and its dark atmosphere.

However  the SNES version of the game is not entirely lost: a rom of the game was leaked a while ago and it appears to be fully playable (segameplay videos below). I even came across some reproductions of actual SNES cartridges of the game if you prefer to play it directly with your original Super Nintendo console (if you still own one in working condition of course)

Censored SNES version vs SEGA Mega Drive version (Thanks to Schnittberichte.com):

Youtube gameplay video, end sequence & credits & music:

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End Sequence & Credits

Soundtrack

 

 

 

 

 

 

Screenshots various:

Nintendo Power August 1992

  

Cutie Poo (DMA Design) [Mega Drive – Cancelled]

Cutie Poo is a cancelled action / platform game planned for Mega Drive and Amiga that was in development in 1990 by the legendary DMA Design team (Lemmings, GTA, Body Harvest), and it’s probably one of the lost games with the most bizarre titles ever. Cutie Poo was conceived from a character animation created by Gary Timmons just for fun and inspired by Disney cartoons and their smoothly animations: when David Jones (DMA founder) saw Gary’s animation he was so impressed that proposed him to develop a full game using that same character (named Bob).

Tony Colgan (a friend of Mike Dailly from the Abertay Computer Club) was hired as a freelancer coder to help Gary with development of Cutie Poo and they had to imagine what kind of game they could create with Bob as the protagonist:

“When Tony started on Cutiepoo, he and Gary sat down and came up with a simple game design. Basically, Cutiepoo (the main character), was trying to save little furry Tribbles (as inspired by startrek), from a character called Doc. Mallet.

This was the days of simple games, and true to this mantra, Dr. Mallet ran about trying to kill the tribble by squishing them with a huge mallet. This all took place inside a chocolate factory – for some reason.

Gary was now trying to get levels together for Cutiepoo, and had drawn the first in a series of test backgrounds. He, Tony and Dave then sat down to decide which style to use. The winner turner out to be the chocolate factory, since they could all see some funny situations cropping up in here.”

It seems that the main objective of the game was to guide Bob through the levels and find the exit as fast as possible, while avoiding traps and trying to save as many Tribbles as possible. Tribbles would also move around the levels and could die in traps or be killed by Doc. Mallet.

Unfortunately Gary’s fluid animations became a pain to code into the game and after a year of development Tony didn’t make enough progress, so DMA decided to cancel the project and focus their efforts on other, more successful games (such as Lemmings).

A playable demo of Cutie Poo was shown at the European Computer Entertainment Show London in September / October 1990, along with other DMA demos such as Walker and Gore (another cancelled Amiga action game), so we can still hope that one day someone could find this demo and share it with the world.

Some scans below are from Raze magazine Issue 1 and Retro Gamer issue 62

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(b)Last (quantic dream) [PS2, Xbox – Cancelled]

Before to became a hugely popular studio among Playstation fans thanks to successful games such as Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls, Quantic Dream was a somewhat obscure French studio mostly known for their cult adventure games Omikron: The Nomad Soul and Fahrenheit.

In early ‘00s Quantic Dream was trying to expand their portfolio with many different projects for the 6th generation of consoles (Dreamcast, PS2, Xbox, GameCube), announcing a few titles that never seen the light of day: Omikron 2, Quark and (b)Last.

(b)Last is for sure one of their most obscure and mysterious project, with only a few details and low-quality images to remember its existence. As far as we know it was meant to be an action game / beat ‘em up in a sci-fi / fantasy setting mixing together Lovecraft tales and the Matrix movies, with weird tentacle monsters, laser weapons, super powers and many different characters to interact with.

While Omikron 2 was probably Quantic Dream’s major focus at the time, only a small team of artists and developers were working on (b)Last: unfortunately the project was soon canned for unknown reasons, but we can speculate the studio fell into some issues while developing so many different games at the same time, making it hard to create a quality, fun game.

As we can read in an old interview with David Cage:

UL: Does QD canceled projects live in this new project? bLast, Quark… other?
DC: We usually start several projects at the same time. Over the last years, one of them get so much interest from publishers that we had to cancel or at least postpone the others. Each Quantic Dream’s project requires up to 80 people and all our attention. It is difficult to start several original project with the same ambition in matter of quality…

At the moment only a couple of images are preserved from (b)Last, we hope to be able to save many more artworks in the future with the help of former developers who worked on it. If you know someone who worked on (b)Last, please let us know!

Thanks to Maik for the contribution!

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Devil’s Third [PS3, Xbox 360, PC – Cancelled]

The premiere game of Tomonobu Itagaki‘s Valhalla Game Studio, primarily made of ex-Team Ninja members Devil’s Third was released in 2015 to incredibly divisive reception.  This would come as no surprised as the title was in development on and off for the good hunk of six years.  Starting development as a Microsoft published Xbox 360 title only to move to a multiplatform title under the now defunct THQ, only to soon after transfer to the Korean Publisher Doobic, a partnership that promised mobile and PC releases as well, who too would end up going out of business, finally resting on the Nintendo WiiU as a Nintendo published title.

The game was first formally announced at E3 2010 by THQ,(who later that year would announce the ill fated Insane) after Itagaki met with Danny Bilson, who would stay with the game until the end. Announced as a PS3/360 title the game looked to be an action game with a deep focus on mixing gunplay with melee combat.  While that much is true in the final WiiU release, one big change can be seen right away.  Despite being used for the reveal trailer and title logo, the 3 characters that had been shown would end up replaced by the new protagonist Ivan.  Not much is actually known of the original cast of three, but the male character focused on in the trailer bears a resemblance to a villain in the final game named Big Mouse.  Another change that can be seen is the excursion of wall running in the final release.

The game would not be shown off more until another trailer the following year, this time focusing on the Japanese celebrity Hard Gay (Masaki Tsumitani) going on a tour of Valhalla’s studio. Despite being four years before the eventual release, in this video a boss (Saha Grundla) and many characters from the final game can be seen.

Another drought of information would come, this time for three years until randomly showing up at E32014, this time by Nintendo.  The game had made a drastic change from the last time shown and the lead protagonist was the easiest to see.  This would be the first time the game would be shown off in any real detail including a multiplayer mode, according to Itagaki a main reason for Nintendo picking the title up to begin with.  The title would then release the following year, despite promises of Nintendo polish, the title would be plagued with issues relating to framerate and lower end graphics, which would give off a very last-gen feel.  The contributing factor to polish issues comes from the title shifting through almost as many engines as it did publishers.  Starting from proprietary to the Darksider’s Engine, ending with Unreal 3.

Despite the lukewarm reception of the WiiU title in most regions outside of Japan, Valahalla also released a multiplayer-only PC version in Asian territories and their subsidiary Soleil is developing the upcoming Naruto to Boruto: Shinobi Strike for current consoles.  Valhalla also opened up a headquarters in Vancouver to watch over each of it’s subsidiaries.

Article by Nicolas Dunai

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