Action RPG

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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The Tales of Walenir [PC – Cancelled]

The Tales of Walenir is cancelled first person action RPG (ala Elder Scrolls) that was in development by Temporal Games (Moscow, Russia) between 2006 and 2009. The game was quite ambitious for such a small and inexperienced team and after some years of development it quietly vanished without any explanation. Here we can read the original press-release with a few more details:

The Tales of Walenir is the fantasy-style first-person 3D action/RPG. The game takes place in the original universe Al’Venion, on the northern island Walenir.

Walenir is full of myths and legends. The hero will unravel the mysteries of the past, travel through the world inhabited with unique, playable races, and choose one of the many plot variations in order to achieve one of the numerous endings. The main priorities for this project are: the dynamic playing process with the freedom of movement, compact highly detailed world, interesting plot, and high quality performance.

That doesn’t mean, however, that the gaming experience will be strictly connected to the plot; a player will face a never-ending freedom of choices.

The game is being developed on our own cutting-edge graphic engine, which has been dubbed the “Temper Engine”. It gives us an opportunity to make a great number of beautiful visual effects while retaining a high performance.

According to ancient legends, the Gods came to Al’Venion from the north, from the island of Walenir – the origin of magic and nature forces. However, long standing dissensions within the pantheon caused the damage of the main relic, and slowly gods lost their ability to embody. And so, the interference of gods in the life of the continent’s residents became less frequent, which eventually led to the end of worldly appearances and miracles. Epochs after epochs, numerous wars and victories – the residents of the continent soon forgot the ancient gods altogether. Instead, they found replacements – Idols and Heroes of the past.

And so, the ancient gods were forced to return to their home – the island of Walenir. According to the legends, the last temple of the Six Gods is located there. Walenir is the last refuge for those who still remember the greatness of Sigelwar and the anger of Sevol, the deception of Walla and cheerfulness of Rivael, cruelty of Telias and tranquility of Ardar. The residents of the four states of Walenir are the last chance for the ancient pantheon to once again retain its former greatness and power.

  • Detailed in-game world “lives,” changing as the player progresses through the game”
  • Several races with their own original architectural styles, gear, equipment, and mentality
  • 3 different classes of characters
  • Non-linear gameplay
  • Intricate network of secret locations & quests not connected with the main storyline
  • Original role-playing system based on constant interaction with the in-game gods
  • Freedom of actions, movement, and exploration

After the cancellation of their first game project, Temporal Games don’t seem to have released any other game on PC or console. Today there’s another gaming collective with the same name, but we are not sure if it’s the same team which was working on The Tales of Walenir.

Thanks to Mihapsx for the contribution!

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