Action

Incursion (Argonaut Games) [PC – Cancelled]

Incursion is a cancelled squad-based action game that was in development by Argonaut Games in late ‘90, possibly planned to be released on PC. While many other lost games by Argonaut were widely known, a few ones such as Kanaan and Incursion remained forgotten for many years. Argonaut is mostly remembered today as the studio behind such classic games as Starglider, Star Fox and Croc, but between the late ‘90s and early ‘00s they fell into obscurity, until their closure in 2004.

Incursion started development after the cancellation of Kanaan, by the same team. As it happened with Kanaan there are not many details about the game, but only a few small, pre-rendered images. Players would have used a squad of robots, to fight against other robots and aliens squads in different missions.

From what we can see from these images it seems Incursion would have been a real-time action / strategy game, in which players would give commands to their robot-allies while playing as one of them in third or first person view. The team attempted a 3D cell-shaded graphic style for their game, that looked quite awesome for its time.

After Incursion was canned, part of the team left Argonaut to form Pompom games. We tried to get in contact with a few developers who worked on Incursion, but with no luck. Only a few images are preserved below, to preserve the existence of this lost Argonaut project.

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Aero the Acrobat 3: A3RO [Playstation – Cancelled Pitch]

Aero the Acrobat 3 (also known as A3RO or Aero 3D) is the cancelled third chapter in the action platformer series composed by Aero the Acrobat, Aero the Acro-Bat 2 and Zero the Kamikaze Squirrel. Aero 3D was conceived at Universal Interactive Studios in the mid ‘90s, while they were also working with Naughty Dog to create the first Crash Bandicoot for Playstation.

David Siller was the original creator of the Aero the Acrobat series and he later bought back his Aero IP and sold it to Universal Interactive Studios, when he was hired to produce two new 3D platformers: Crash Bandicoot and Aero the Acrobat 3D. In the mid nineties 3D platformers where one of the most successful genres and Universal Studios wanted to to take advantage of the profitable Playstation market to make some money.

As wrote by David in his (now deleted) Facebook page “Crash Bandicoot Untold Story” (archived by Crash Mania):

“Tension was heighten at Universal as they bought from me an IP that I had created at SUNSOFT called “Aero the Acrobat”. I had just bought it from Sunsoft as I departed there for the Universal lot!  Rubin and Gavin again went on the extreme offensive believing that Universal’s new acquisition would become more important than Crash or Willy. I began also designing the new AERO 3D polygonal video game to be added to the line-up.”

In 2016 David shared a few pages from the Aero the Acrobat 3 design doc in his Twitter account (now deleted):

david siller aero the acrobat 3

From these documents it seems the game would have had multiple playable protagonists and 3D flying levels.

From what we know the game was still in early conceptual phase when it was canned. We can speculate that the success of Crash Bandicoot and the internal issues between David, Universal Interactive Studios and Naughty Dog put and end to the project. As we can read from the same archive at Crash Mania:

“Back in Rubin’s office, he was angry at me about “this letter” and then threaten my life! He said I was going to be sorry! I did NOT report this to management or anyone one else at that time. I was a mature adult who could take this and I wasn’t afraid of Rubin as I came from a tough neighborhood and had loads of associates myself. Rubin’s father was a lawyer and I suppose told him to always act tough or people will shit on you. Those tactics do NOT work, but that was the final straw. Mark Cerny then used this severed relationship to get involved as Sony had just arrived. He said quote “They don’t like you!”….”

“When I was hired to join Universal Interactive Studios, it was owned by Matsushita Electric, the largest Electronics manufacturer in the World located in Japan. It was run by the longest in place Management team in all of Hollywood, Lew Wasserman and Sid Sheinberg! It was utopia as far as I was concerned. Everything was so damn cool, everything the Studio did was classy and first rate. Soon as Crash Bandicoot was approaching completion, Matsushita sold their majority interest to the Canadian distillery Seagrams! Everything then became chaotic and all the top tier managers were fired. Sony then came into the picture and that caused even more chaos. This of course played into Rubin and Gavin’s agenda and the s*** hit the fan!”

It’s currently unknown what happened to David after he deleted all his online profiles and if he’s still working on video games.

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Commando (Namco) [Playstation – Cancelled]

Commando is a cancelled third person action / shooter game that was designed by Stephane de Luca for Namco, planned to be released on the original Playstation. Stephane pitched the project to Namco thru Virtual Studio, which at the time were also working on Snow Break for Playstation and Ar’Kritz the Intruder for DOS PC.

Stephane with the help of a few more developers such as Pavlos Germidis worked at Virtual Studio from october 1997 to september 1998. In just 3 months they developed a short prototype for Commando, used to show off its 3D engine and main mechanics. Stephane worked on the game’s 3D engine, its tools and game programming while Pavlos worked on the artwork design, the story pitch and the CGI movie which would introduce the game.

Commando would have been an interesting take on the 3D action genre. The game was divided into different missions, each set in a different area on Mars full of enemies and huge final-bosses. You could steal and control enemy mechs and bikes, there would have been different ways to resolve a problem such as killing an enemy or avoid it with by flying away using a jetpack. It was a bit more open-ended than similar third person shooters of its time.

The deal for Commando was that Stephane would create the game and handle everything directly with Namco. Only the financial aspect would go thru Virtual Studio, which would get 30% of the price for being a financial go-between. Many trips to Japan were required in order to find an agreement on the game design, technical features and financials terms. The contract was finally signed by Stephane in Tokyo at the Namco building.

Unfortunately it seems that Virtual Studio misunderstand its part in the whole deal. When Stephane directly signed the game with Namco, Virtual Studio were surprised to be limited to a financial partner and quickly changed their mind about the deal. In the end the game had to be cancelled.

Only a few, tiny screenshots from the Commando prototype are preserved below, to remember its existence.

Thanks to Stephane for the contribution!

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Zone of the Enders 3 (Enders Project) [Cancelled – PS3, Xbox 360]

Enders Project (also know as Zone of the Enders 3) is a cancelled game which seems to have been planned for Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 (and possibly also for PS4 & Xbox One) by Hideo Kojima and Konami. The game would have been the third chapter in the popular Zone of the Enders game series, but it was scrapped at a very early stage in development.

Zone of Enders, the series

The first Zone of the Enders is a third-person shooter / hack and slash type of video game set in 2172 where the player assumes controls of a mecha (known as Orbital Frame) called Jehuty. His mission is to free Jupiter’s colony Antilia from the military force BAHRAM. Its sequel, Zone of the Enders: The Second Runner (know in Japan as Anubis: Zone of the Ender), followed the same style but improved on many aspects, introducing more enemies, abilities and a more immersive environment. ZOE 3: Enders Project was conceived as a direct sequel to Second Runner, without taking place on futuristic colonies but rather in an “ancient civilization”.

“Unofficial announcement” of ZOE 3

The game was ‘announced’ on 25 May 2012 during a Zone of the Enders HD Collection preview event held at the Shinjuku Wald 9 theatre in Tokyo, with many Kojima Productions’s employees and ZOE developers, including Hideo Kojima himself, Yoji Shinkawa (mecha designer and illustrator for the series), Noriaki Okamura, Shuyou Murata, and Nobuyoshi Nishimura. As 4gamer reported, it was not an official announcement, rather a presentation of details about a future project for ZOE, experimenting with different concepts and models.

Quote from andriasang.com:

As detailed at Famitsu.com, Kojima indicated that the game is currently in an early prototyping phase. Producer Ryosuke Toriyama and other key staff are currently conducting tests on what can be done using the internally developed Fox Engine, explained Kojima. Toriyama took the stage and revealed that he and his staff are at the state where they’re making models (real models) and converting them into Fox Engine assets.

 

Project X (Activision) [Xbox 360, PS3 – Cancelled]

Project X is a cancelled third person action game for Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, which was in development around 2005 / 2007 by Z-Axis studio (later known as Underground Development) for Activision. The game was never officially announced by the company and it’s just one of many more unreleased games (such as Call of Duty: Devil’s Brigade) the team was working on, before Activision decided to close them down in 2010.

Only a few screenshots and a short video remain to remember the existence of this lost game. By looking at these, we can assume the game would have been somehow similar to other action games with super-powers like Prototype and Infamous. The main protagonist was able to morph itself into different forms of elemental energy, for example a body of ice or fire. By switching elements it would have been able to easily kill different kinds of enemies of the opposite element.

It seems only an early prototype was developed before Activision cancelled the project, maybe to switch the team to work on the PS3 version of Enemy Territory: Quake Wars.

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