Action RPG

Warrior’s Lair (Ruin) [PS3, PSVita – Cancelled]

Warrior’s Lair (working title ‘’Ruin’’)  was an action role-playing game set in a medieval fantasy universe. Developed by Idol Minds (now known as Deck Nine), Ruin was supposed to feature gameplay similar to Diablo and Torchlight, which were pretty big in the early 2010s. 

The game was to be released on the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita and sold as a single package, as then-confirmed by Shuhei Yoshida, the president of Sony Worldwide Studios, in a statement for Eurogamer

‘’Both games will be packaged together. You can play the game at home on PS3, save your data on our PSN server on the cloud, and you can continue playing the game on PS Vita by downloading the save from the PSN. And you can do vice versa. It’s a continuous experience, playing the same game on PS Vita and PS3.’’

The game was presented in June 2011 at E3. The seamless gameplay and cross-connectivity were arguably the biggest selling points of the game. Its isometric view and dungeon-crawling elements were reminiscent of games such as Diablo, confirming their main inspiration for the project. Ruin was also supposed to contain simulation of destructible environments and ragdoll physics. 

During the same E3 conference, Sony Entertainment demonstrated the ability to transfer active games between the two systems using cloud storage. Warrior’s Lair/Ruin was supposed to feature social media integration, allowing players to post their progress on Facebook and Twitter. Players could show up in each other’s games and either collaborate or compete. 

After 2 years of sitting in limbo, the game was officially canceled in July 2013, as stated by a Sony representative to IGN:

‘’Sony Computer Entertainment can confirm that Warrior’s Lair for PS Vita is no longer in development’’; We apologize to those who pre-ordered the title and ask that they contact their retailer directly to cancel their pre-sale.’’

We don’t exactly know why the game was canceled. All that we know is that Sony Entertainment San Diego was supposed to add the finishing touches back in 2012, and when the game didn’t show up at E3 2012, the future of the game was put into question. 

As we can read at PushSquare:

“Apparently, when the title was canned, Idol Minds had been working on the project for a full year. The game was supposedly just three months away from release, with Sony having already invested “millions of dollars” into it. But the plug was pulled nevertheless, even if the reasons behind its cancellation weren’t even clear to those that worked on it.

“First, I assume it had to do with the weakness of the Vita,” Floyd explained. “Sony internal studios, to me, looked like they never had much faith in it. As far as we were concerned, the game was primarily a PS3 game; we weren’t going to bank on the Vita.” Regardless, the title apparently looked and played great on the troubled handheld, with the cross-save feature working like a charm.”

Unfortunately, the chances of Warrior’s Lair eventually seeing the light of day are slim. After Reddit user u/nduval emailed the developers asking about the future of the title, they said:

It’s great to hear from you. Ruin was a passion project for the entire team and we were heartbroken when Sony ran out of funding to finish it.

Things are different over there now, with the success of the PS4, so building fan interest in the game and communicating that to Sony would be the only way forward.

We would love to return to that game and finish it.

Article by Marco Giuliani

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Forgotten Castle: The Awakening [PC – Cancelled]

Forgotten Castle is a cancelled action RPG in development by Twin Dolphin Games around 1992 – 1993, to be published on PC by Electronic Arts. The project was quite ambitious for its time: a fully 3D explorable fantasy world in early ‘90s was something amazing to see in screenshots (The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall was released 3 years later) and the game was previewed with high hype by many magazines. CDs were not much used for PC games and this would have been released on 9 disks, quite a massive size for ’90s games.

As we can red in Forgotten Castle’s preview from Edge (issue 1, 1993):

“Twin Dolphin’s Forgotten Castle could take the RPG action adventure into a new realm. Forgotten Castle is a PC showcase of spectacular quality. The Ferrari of fantasy roleplaying games. If you can imagine this detailed cityscape scaling and rotating smoothly around you, you’re about one tenth of the way to grasping the graphic flair on display. Twin Dolphin are working wonders on the PC.

There’s a huge playing area to discover with an enormous range of environments. Check out the falling water that flows into the gutter. It’s lovely. The dungeons are equally well presented with detailed graphics and unrivaled angles of perspective. Skeletons wait for you in there, too. Walk through the village and then turn and look in one of the windows for a realistic 3D interior. There’s complete freedom of movement, unlike The 7th Guest. And the scaling graphics leave you breathless.

There is a wealth of different environments including streets, caverns, crypts, and creepy dungeons. Everything takes place in real time, too, and there’s an ‘invisible’ interface to help out, without bogging down the screen in icons. You click on the mouse and something dies, basically.  Okay, there’s lots more to it than that but the feel of the whole thing is action-orientated. It’s designed to appeal to a wide range of players, and as such, might not meet the grey matter-testing requirements of diehard Dungeon Master and Ultima Underworld fans.

So what’s it all about then? The story unfolds like this. You’re a prince on an epic quest searching for your father, the last true king of the land of Alonia. Evil rules where justice once prevailed etc, etc, and you have to travel to the city of Hedburg to defeat the monsters and ‘foul Ruzakian hordes’ that have taken over the town.”

As you can imagine, Forgotten Castle was way too ambitious for a small team like Twin Dolphin. Clay Graham who worked on the project wrote on his blog:

“Twin Dolphin Games was creating a Virtual Reality game on the PC for EA Games. There was only one Oracle Tower down the street, and as a startup things were very different than the large glass covered offices of SOM. We were scrappy, and as the company’s “Virtual Architect” I was responsible for building all the spaces and experiences for their 3D Dungeon Adventure. “Forgotten Castle” was very innovative visually, but the company made a bad choice in their game engine and it failed completely.”

More details about Twin Dolphin’s failure to complete the game and their difficulties with the 3D engine were published on issue 164 of Compute! Magazine:

“The news hasn’t been good for what looked like a promising entry in the Ultima Underworld school of free-scrolling RPGs. Twin Dolphin Games’ Forgotten Castles, which looked dazzling at its unveiling at last summer’s CES, has run into the computer-game equivalent of the tuna net. The EA affiliate was to have delivered the game last November, but delays in finishing the 3-D engine and interface ultimately led to the withdrawal of the company’s main investor in late October. Matters were further complicated by the departure of the game’s chief engineer in early December, according to president Steve Ruszak. Twin Dolphin Games itself probably won’t last beyond the summer, but there are other fish in the sea, and Ruszak reckons Forgotten Castles – which is 60 to 70 percent complete – may yet surface. Both it and the 3D engine are for sale as a package, and he’s optimistic the company will find a buyer.”

As far as we know, no other publisher ever bought the IP or 3D engine from Twin Dolphin and the studio soon closed down for lack of money. Forgotten Castle was lost forever and as its name hinted, it was indeed forgot by everyone.

We can only hope former Twin Dolphin developers preserved files of their lost games, to share online in future. If you know someone who worked on this cancelled project, please let us know!

Thanks to pcloadletter for the contribution!

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Ninth Will (Seventh Cross 2) [Dreamcast – Cancelled]

In 1998 Atypical Alchemists Associate and NEC Home Electronics developed and published a weird simulation game for the Dreamcast, titled “Seventh Cross Evolution”. Similar to other “life evolution RPGs” such as EVO: Search for Eden (SNES) or Cubivore (GameCube), in Seventh Cross players have to fight against other living being and evolve to become stronger, more complex animals / beings.

seven-cross-2-dreamcast-cancelled

While the game was received with average to low scores, NEC announced a sequel in early 2000 titled “Ninth Will”. Unfortunately it seems they never shown any image from the project (or maybe there are some forgotten in old Japanese gaming magazines?) and soon it was canned, probably for the low sales of the original title.

In the end Atypical Alchemists Associate and NEC keep working on other games for the Dreamcast, many visual novels and dating sims such as Sentimental Graffiti 2, Kanon, Kimi ga Nozomu Eien and Pandora no Yume. We can assume this kind of low-budget projects was more profitable for the Dreamcast market after the discontinuation of the console in 2001.

If you ever find something more about this lost game in Japanese magazines, please let us know! 

Terraria: Otherworld [Cancelled]

In 2011 Re-Logic (an indie software house founded by Andrew Spinks) released Terraria, a 2D sandbox adventure set in a world made by blocks and biomes. The game let players to freely explore theirs worlds, dig tunnels, build buildings, crafting objects and fighting enemies.. basically it was Minecraft in 2D!

In 2015 Re-Logic and Engine Software announced they were working on a spin-off called Terraria: Otherworld, set in an alternate reality of the same universe. From the trailer we can see gameplay was similar to the original Terraria, but with new mechanics and a different graphic-style.

The game would have new items, dresses, furnitures, places and enemies, such as the Crystal Archer. Terraria: Otherworld’s developers tried to keep players’ freedom intact following a non-linear story. They retook the theme of fighting against the Corruption, but it would have been stronger than in the main game and could even corrupt other biomes such as dirt and snow. Players would have been able to build special towers to purify the lands, but these towers could be attacked by dangerous creatures and buildings had to be protected.

Their plan was to introduce more RPG and Tower Defense elements into the game, allowing players to build a defense system based on turrets and automatic weapons. They also wanted to add a level-up system for weapons, a quests system and new NPC telling the world lore.

Terraria: Otherworld was in development for 3 years before being cancelled. At first Re-Logic wanted to publish the game in 2016, but it was postponed and in 2017 Engine Software abandoned the project for unknown reasons.

Development was taken by Pipeworks, an internal team of Digital Bros Entertainment, but in 2018 Terraria: Otherworld was officially cancelled with an announce by Re-Logic. Apparently the team had a “clear vision for this game”, but they were not able to implement it into a fun game.

Article by Gin

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Shining Legend (Princess & Knight) [DS – Cancelled]

Shining Legend is a cancelled action RPG that was in development by Blueside for Nintendo DS. While the title could reminds you of SEGA’s Shining series, this project was not officially related to it. Blueside is mostly known for their work on the Kingdom Under Fire series and it’s composed by former Phantagram developers. The team initially announced this game as “Princess And Knight” in 2008 before vanishing for a couple of years and then resurrecting under the new title “Shining Legend”.

The game’s funny premise was a nice change in comparison with the usual epic RPGs:

“You’re a handsome, cunning prince studying abroad. You return to your home kingdom and find that not only has your father, the king, disappeared, but he’s left the kingdom in enormous debt. As creditors come knocking at your door, you discover that the neighboring kingdom’s seven princesses have run away after a little misunderstanding with their father and they’re now your traveling companions as you work to pay off the money your country owes. You have 800 days to pay this debt and win the heart of one of the beautiful princesses that accompanies you on your journey.”

Gameplay was also an interesting mix of RPG, hack & slash (with dozens of enemies on screen) and dating sim:

“Players have two main objectives during the course of the game: pay back their father’s debt and win the heart of a princess. Most of the player’s time will be spent fighting monsters and developing relationships with the different girls. “

“The prince, named Luchs […] will travel around the continent and complete up to 400 different quests to earn money. During these travels, he can actually be joined in battle by a princess, which gives Luchs access to different special abilities or team attacks. These attacks vary depending on the girl Luchs is courting. A princess may walk out of battle if the prince isn’t really winning her over. “

“Monsters in Shining Legend are both 2D and 3D affairs, which gives the visuals a very nice look. Most of the characters and lower-level creatures are just 2D sprites, but when Luchs faces off with a boss character, that monster will be a 3D model.”

Multiple story paths and endings were planned depending on how you would resolve the game’s quests, how many days you would need to pay off your debt and by choosing different relationships. More details about the seven princesses were posted online by Sword Machine in 2010:

Erika (19), who is the rightful heir to the Kingdom of Junon, and has trained rigorously for the position. She is also a childhood friends of Luchs. (She is the one in with the blue winged dress.)

Pofosh (18), who outwardly only cares about extravagant parties and traveling in her golden wagon, but inwardly feels very empty. (She is the one in the revealing pink party dress.)

Nana (16), who is obsessed with searching for ruins and relics, then keeping them in her room. Her collection is so large, she apparently lends some of her relics to museums. (She is the one in the short red dress holding the rabbit.)

Elara (16), who dislikes magic, and thinks the world would be a better place through the spreading of alchemy. She sometimes forces people to participate in her strange experiments. (She is the one in the green dress with glasses.)

Thimu (16), who was adopted from the fallen Kingdom of Sosan, and dreams of becoming a great pirate after reading about the legendary “Bloody Rose.” (She is the one with the long pirate jacket.)

Arphen (16), who is a half-elf, and obsessed with the lost elven civilization, hoping to rebuild their kingdom some day. (She is the tanned half-elf with light blue hair.)

Lorna (12), is the youngest of the princesses, and very shy. She enjoys sketching, and has the ability to predict the future through her drawings. (She is the blonde one with the sketchbook.)

While Shining Legend was never released on the Nintendo DS, in the following years Blueside reused their lost concept to create a somehow similar game for iOS, titled “Princess Pajama”. It’s a much more casual game, it only has 1 princess, game mechanics were simplified and character design was heavily revised.

It’s interesting to notice that Blueside was also the team behind a cancelled hentai dating sim titled “Shining Lore”, with was later changed into a MMORPG with the same name for Xbox and PC (which was also canned in the end). We can assume the “Shining” part of the name for the cancelled DS game was taken from their previous unreleased projects.

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