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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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Project Nano (Epic Games) [Cancelled – PS4, Xbox One, PC]

Project Nano (Epic Games) [Cancelled – PS4, Xbox One, PC]

Project Nano – also known as Blueprint – is a cancelled third person, open world cooperative shooter being developed by Epic Games. The project was going to become their new major IP following the popular Gears of War series, and was scheduled to be released for Playstation 4, Xbox One and PC. A few details about this obscure game were already leaked online in November 2013 thanks to VGLeaks but we’ve managed to gather some more info about this ambitious project thanks to an anonymous source.

Nano started development in 2008, around the same time Epic were also working on Gears of War 3. GoW3 was later released in September 2011 as an Xbox 360 exclusive title, but Nano was meant to be Epic’s “next gen” IP, a multi platform (PS4, Xbox One) series planned to be a successful trilogy. Epic put a lot of time and money in creating the Blueprint trilogy, a “noir adventure in the grim and desperate world of 2043”, but unfortunately the series was abandoned after a few prototype demos. The studio had to put Blueprint on hold in 2010 / 2011 while they were struggling to complete Gears of War 3, initially planned to be completed in early 2011 but then postponed several times. It seems that after GoW3 was shipped they continued to work on Nano for a while, albeit without success.

While Nano was never officially announced by Epic, they did show some parts of the game in their Samaritan Unreal Engine 3.5 tech demo revealed at the 2011 Game Developers Conference. Looking at Samaritan we can have a better idea of the style and graphic quality they were targeting for Nano, even if the playable prototype was still too early to look nearly as good as this tech demo.

In mid 2013 former Epic Games design director Cliff Bleszinski wrote a bit about the difficulties behind the development of Nano (and Samaritan) on his personal Tumblr, as reported by Kotaku:

“Q. What was that “Samaritan” demo that Epic produced a while back?

One day I’ll be able to give the full story on that. It’s really a doozy. If journalists nag Epic enough and they give the OK I’d be glad to give details.”

Cliff’s comment about Nano / Samaritan was later removed and another Epic spokesperson gave another comment about the demo:

“We don’t have anything new to say about the Samaritan demo. Really! It was a “doozy” of a learning experience – after all, it was Epic’s self-proclaimed love letter to hardware manufacturers. Samaritan shows what developers can do with Unreal Engine 3’s DirectX 11 feature set, and in terms of R&D, it helped us realize new ways to optimize Unreal Engine 4 for next-gen game development.”

We can assume that Blueprint was already in development hell at that point, but somehow Epic was still working on Nano in 2014, when they quietly announced a new IP at GDC, as reported by Polygon:

“After selling Gears of War to Microsoft earlier this year, Epic Games is building a new game and intellectual property to carry the studio forward. During the “Animation Bootcamp: Animation Prototyping for Games” panel at this year’s Game Developers Conference, lead animator Jay Hosfelt detailed the studio’s revamped design philosophies as it builds its new game without a publishing partner. No name or release timetable was given, though concept art and character models shown during the panel resembled the unnamed hero of Epic’s 2011 “Samaritan” technical demonstration.”

Even if later this was denied by Epic Games’ PR manager, we can confirm that the main character model used in the Samaritan tech demo was indeed a character from Nano (Owen) and even the street level shown in Samaritan was available in one of the early Blueprint prototypes. By reading Epic’s comments, it’s easy to see how they don’t really want to talk about what happened to Nano, so it’s not easy to gather details about its development and cancellation.

Even if it’s not directly related to Nano (as far as we know), it could be useful to also show what Epic were able to achieve with their Infiltrator tech demo shown at the GDC 2013:

By looking at this footage we can imagine how playing Nano could have looked like in Unreal Engine 4 if only it could have been completed. Unfortunately it seems that only a series of early prototypes were created for Nano, before it was finally cancelled or at least completely changed into a different project still to be announced.

It’s interesting to notice that these Nano prototypes have plenty of music from The Dark Knight movie that was released in 2008, as well as some from Transformers. The few songs used were “A Dark Knight – Hans Zimmer”, “I’m Not a Hero – Hans Zimmer”, “Aggressive Expansion – Hans Zimmer”, as well as “Arrival To Earth – Transformers Score”. Temporary music of course but gives you a glimpse of the type of music they were trying to achieve for the game. Another great example of them working on the project in 2010 was the Toronto G20 summit, as they used a few pictures of Toronto Police cars being destroyed as well as some of the riots that took place as temporary UI assets and inspirations.

The game was still pretty early in development at this time but they keep working on it for a few years. All gameplay levels in the Nano prototype are just grey-boxes, there are a few “art levels” such as the Samaritan demo area for example, with a more finalized graphic style, but they just didn’t go that far in at that point to apply more details to any of the levels.

The Blueprint trilogy would have revolved around a tyrant government, with the main protagonists belonging to the resistance trying to defeat them. They would partnered with an intelligent AI system which is on their eyes, cleverly named “IRIS” (Internal Retinal Information System). IRIS was the in-eye implant system that enhances the protagonists’ vision systems. It would inform them about the world, characters, data from raw in-game exposition, mission objectives and combat potential within individual fights: it was basically the game’s HUD provided via a story mechanism.

Nano was set in the near future (2043) in an open world resembling the DC and New York area, where Nanotech chips have been installed into people’s necks as form of ID and several other things. The company providing this technology to the government was called MetaCorp. They provide the government an extreme arsenal of droids that patrol the streets along with peace keepers. Examples of their technology are the barricades on some streets, giant flying droids called BullRam and Springers as well as smaller ones called TechTick. Players would join the resistance to try to take down MetaCorp and the government through various means.

In this near future dystopian New York a pair of nanotech-enhanced dissidents would search for answers and revenge as they unravel the mystery of their missing family members only to spark a revolution against the totalitarian regime. The two main playable characters were Lyrik and Owen: early in the game both would acquire Nanotech powers, a Handforge (some kind of “3D Microprinter” which lets them use nanotechnology construction technology to recreate 3D objects when needed) and the IRIS Augmented Reality Systems. Thanks to Nanotech they would improve their strength, stamina and receive amazing abilities such as phasing through gates, fences, doors, etc. With the Nanotech, you could ground pound and survive heights anyone would die from and abilities to hookshot to higher places.

Lyrik and Owen are not initially members of the rebel faction: once they join, they must earn the trust of the group and would eventually rise up the ranks to be respected “captains” of rebel operations.

Other than what was already leaked online thanks to VGLeaks, we were able to gather a few more details about the two protagonists. Owen Mackinnon was meant to be a cool-headed antihero, smarter than most, trusts few, likes fewer. Haunted by his past, Owen sees the events in DC as an opportunity to get out of debt and forget the problems in his life. His story arc would have been one of redemption and acceptance, as he comes to understand it’s ok to rely on other people, and to be relied upon. Lyrik Syverson was instead meant to be the driven idealist. She begins her story searching for family members taken from her. Intense and focussed, her personal story becomes a political one as she fights against the system – and starts winning. In the eyes of the government and MetaCorp, Lyrik is a very dangerous individual: her goal is to make the world right at any cost, and to kick the security forces out of DC.

The two main protagonists had mostly the same abilities, except Lyrik had a staff for combat and Owen a knife / swords. Both can use guns and the same abilities shown in the Samaritan demo. The game was meant to be an open world stealth game with Nanotech powers, somehow similar to titles like Infamous, Crackdown, Prototype and a bit of Assassin’s Creed. The missions would progress pretty much like in GTA: the difference is that you would have been able to hide in the crowd like Assassin’s Creed. Just like GTA, doing “illegal” actions would increase your police level called “Threat Level”.

Combat in Nano was a mix between first person and third person shooting, plus beat-em-up with energy swords and an extremely interesting way to get around the city by hacking flying cars, using energy beams to climb walls and buildings, jumping around on poles and riding energy cables. You could also use stealth to resolve missions if you wish to take that route instead. Players would have a bunch of weapons at their disposal, such as LMGs, rockets, grenade launchers, assault rifles, pistols, swords and many more. You would be able to upgrade weapons as well as your abilities, plus learning new ones or purchase blueprints for new abilities at Shops. Just like the Gears of War series, Nano was meant to be fully playable in coop, with a possible multiplayer deathmatch mode too.

We’ll never know exactly what happened to Nano, but Epic Games’s expectations for their Blueprint trilogy were very high, targeting 5+ million sales worldwide for the first chapter with an expected release in 2015, and expecting the game to win many GOTY awards for that year. The studio also wanted to create their own version of Rockstar Social Club / Battle.net to be somehow used with Blueprint, as well as some kind of mobile app for the game to be able that lets players connect to social media. We can speculate that this part of the project turned into Epic Launcher for UE4.

While there are not official reasons why the Blueprint project was never completed, it’s possible that Cliff Bleszinski’s departure from Epic in October 2012 could have put the last nail in the coffin for the game. Former Epic Games president Mike Capps also retired from the company in December 2012, just a few months after a Chinese company acquired most of their share capital. We can speculate that this sudden change of management and leaving staffers could have been fatal for an ambitious and risky project as the Blueprint trilogy, in which Epic already invested a lot of resources.

After selling the Gears of War IP to Microsoft in 2014, at the moment Epic are currently working on three projects: a new free to play Unreal Tournament, a MOBA titled Paragon and Robo Recall for Oculus Rift.

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Blue Angelo [GBA – Cancelled]

Created by Adriano Baglio (Virtual Spaghetti) and published by Shibuya Interactive, Blue Angelo was originally developed in 2004 for the Korean GamePark 32 console and well received by the public. Little information is available on Shibuya Interactive but the company appears to be no longer in existence. Unfortunately the GP32 sold poorly and prevented the game from gaining any real attention. While a Game Boy Advance version of Blue Angelo was planned for release after the European launch of the GP32, the Korean handheld was never released there and thus the Game Boy Advanced port was canceled.

Firmly embedded in sci-fi and fantasy, Blue Angelo’s storyline involves the idea that Earth is a planet created by a group of unknown creatures. While Earth is instinctively violent, humans have progressed to the point where a large number of the population has left the planet in order to pursue colonization in other parts of the galaxy. One of these planets, Lyra, has been afflicted by a variety of monsters and demons. The scientists on Lyra create a fighter of their own (controlled by the player) in an effort to eliminate any existing threats on the planet. Mysterious in nature, the fighter does not eat or drink and has a lifespan limited to the course of only one year. This creature is called “creature 331” or Blue Angelo. The subtitle of the game appears to have been “Angels from the Shrine,” but it remains uncertain exactly how this subtitle factors into the Blue Angelo storyline.

blue-angelo-gba-cancelled

Blue Angelo for the Game Boy Advance was about eighty percent completed on Livello, a level editing program, before it was canceled. There are currently two playable versions of the of the GBA version available online: one offers only a demonstration of two monsters, while the second version is a more polished prototype. These small samples of the game are merely intended to provide an idea of the work in progress and show off gameplay elements. The GBA version of Blue Angelo utilized parallax scrolling of 4 or 5 layers while adding transparency special effects, which at the time was unprecedented for handheld consoles. It is unknown if the GP32 version used the same method.

The sidescrolling mechanics and button use for Blue Angelo appears to be fairly standard with the exception that the L button of the GBA port is designated as the “call the invocation lavos” button (according to available information on the game). While not exactly explained, this does sound like a summons button and would fit with the game’s world.

For many years, a reboot of Blue Angelo was considered. A failed Kickstarter campaign was launched for a PC version of an updated Blue Angelo game, emphasizing a complete redo of the game with improved graphics and providing each character with a unique feature. The game’s designers wanted to use the Unity Engine 2D to achieve organic 2D effects that are both easy to understand and simple to navigate. New stories and a unique universe apart from the GP32 and GBA versions of the game were also created for this renovation. It’s unknown how much of the story would carry over from the original game.

This Kickstarter was run by the publisher Vetasoft, a company founded in 2009 by the brothers Adriano and Massimia Baglio in Mons, Belgium. Vetasoft has established a reputation as a game developer for mobile devices, developing such games as Lucky Luke Shoot & Hit, Yakari Wild Ride, and Garfield’s Wild Ride. While the Kickstarter failed to reach its goal, it’s unknown if Vetasoft will continue pursuing the Blue Angelo reboot.

Article by Blake Lynch, thanks to Lanz for the contribution!

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