Action RPG

Federation (Dimension Creative Designs) [PC – Cancelled]

Federation is a cancelled sci-fi action RPG / space exploration adventure that was in development by Dimension Creative Designs (Synthetic Dimensions) around 1996 / 1997, planned to be released on PC. We cannot find information about this project anywhere online, but thanks to Alex we saved a short preview that was published at the time in a Spanish magazine.

As many other canned space-adventures of the ‘90s the team conceived Federation as an overly ambitious 3D galaxy full of planets you could freely explore. We could imagine it as a mix between Mass Effect, Elite and Star Citizen: players would have been able to fly between planets, explore their continents, trade with their inhabitants and resolve various space-missions.

Dimension Creative Designs is mostly known for working on such titles as Corporation, Druid: Daemons of the Mind, Ed Hunter but as far as we know they never released anything similar to Federation and it’s unclear what happened to this lost game. If you know someone who worked at DCD please let us know!

Thanks to Alex for the contribution! 

Justice Unlimited (LucasArts) [Cancelled – PC]

Justice Unlimited is a cancelled superhero action RPG with gameplay similar to Diablo, that was pitched by LucasArts around 1997. We would imagine it as a top-down 2D adventure, exploring modern-day cities and the suburbs taking the role of different superheroes to hunt down criminals, level-up and collect rare loot. While the game was never officially announced, some details and artwork were shared in the book “Rogue Leaders – The Story Of Lucasarts”:

“From 1997 to 1998, LucasArts worked on a game concept meant to challenge Blizzards’s popular Diablo RPG game. The entire concept was essentially  “Diablo, except with superheroes” recalls LucasArts designer John Stafford. Lots of concept art and story were generated for the game, but no work was completed on a game engine, and the idea was shelved.”

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Jibaku-kun: Zero no Ki no Kajitsu [Game Boy Color – Cancelled]

Jibaku-kun: Zero no Ki no Kajitsu (ジバクくん 零の樹の果実 ワールド) is a cancelled Action RPG that was in development by Enterbrain and Media Factory for Game Boy Color. The game is based on a manga / anime series by Ami Shibata and gameplay is kinda similar to the Tales Of series: players can explore the world and its cities, talking to NPCs and resolving quests, while fighting monsters in side-scrolling combat.

This is one of the playable GBC prototypes that was found in the Nintendo Gigaleak in September 2020, so luckily it was preserved: a few  screenshots and gameplay footage are available online.

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Dragon (Eclipse Entertainment) [PC – Cancelled]

Dragon is a cancelled action RPG that was in development around 1998 – 1999 by Eclipse Entertainment, planned to be published on PC by Microsoft. The game was based on the chinese mythology, somehow similar to another Microsoft published RPG: Jade Empire. The game was quite hyped at the time and it was featured on Eclipse’s old website and on their 3D Engine page:

“Step into a 3D world more beautiful, more dangerous, and more amazing than any you have ever seen. Explore an ancient Chinese temple, teeming with evil. Play as one of 6 champions, alone, with, or against friends. Bone crunching martial arts, sizzling spell effects, and richly detailed world make Dragon a Grandmaster among games.”

Some more details about the game were published in a preview by Next Generation magazine (issue 51, march 1999):

“Although start-up Eclipse has only one game under its belt (last year’s Jack Nicholas for Accolade), its employees have experience in the game industry everywhere from Infocom to EA to 3D0 to Origin. And Eclipse has already built the engine on which the game will be based, the impressive Genesis 3D, which supports such features as realtime light detraction, true mirrors, vertex morphing, and soft-skin polygon characters.”

“The story is based largely on Chinese mythology. You take the role of either the grandson (slower but stronger) or granddaughter (faster but weaker) of a martial arts master, who has been kidnapped and placed in the dungeons of Quinggong by your father. Quinggong is the Teetering Palace, a temple that borders the mountains, the ocean, and the spirit world. Your job? Infiltrate the temple, defeat your father’s army of supernatural beings, and rescue your grandfather.”

“Although play balancing has yet to begin (which may change things dramatically), the game is about 50% combat and 50% exploration and puzzle solving. The puzzles, thankfully, look to be more than just the “find the switch” dreck that has come to characterize too many action/adventures. In one room, for instance, players are confronted with a river of lava they must cross. Too wide to jump, the solution is to smash a huge clay pot in the room, causing water to flow onto the lava, cooling it.”

“Players fight by using a combination of martial arts and supernatural powers (spells) and grow in skill (by learning new fighting moves and spells) as the game progresses, and separate bars will measure physical and spiritual health.”

Unfortunately Dragon quietly vanished and was never released: today it seems no traces remain online of its existence, but this page on Unseen64. We don’t know what happened to the project, but in late 1999 WildTangent acquired the team: maybe their new owners were not interested in continuing such an ambitious game or Microsoft was not happy with how it was shaping up, deciding to cancel their collaboration.

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Reprisal (Power Infused) [PC, Xbox – Cancelled]

Reprisal is a cancelled first person shooter / RPG that was in development from 2001 to 2004 by Power Infused Productions for PC and the original Xbox. The team conceived it as a hybrid between Quake, Thief and Deus Ex, featuring 3 different playable races, each one with their own gameplay mechanics, weapons and abilities. For example you would use stealth to play as humans, direct assaults to play as a cyborg, and manage resources to play as an Alien.

In august 2004 the team was searching for more developers on the CGSociety forum:

“Reprisal is the story of conflict between three races over a space station (Joshua 20) at the edge of our solar system Humans have kept their CAT battle machines stationed there in case of conflict for centuries. The invading alien army, guided by a Prince who seeks to prove himself, struck the station first, seeking to turn these weapons against their masters. The plan goes awry, causing the CATs to turn against both human and alien, and trapping all three races together in a desperate struggle for survival.”

As the game progresses, players would have taken control of the three sides and learn to use their unique powers. These races were:

  • Cyborg Assault Tanks (CATs) – Vicious and overwhelmingly powerful, these killing machines were once used to fight wars for humans. In Reprisal, they have turned against their masters and gone into a killing frenzy.
  • Humans – Weak and devoid of natural armaments, humans are the most adaptable of the three races. They are also able to squeeze into areas of the space station the others can’t access.
  • Aliens – Masters of genetic engineering, aliens are capable of altering their own bodies to suit their needs. While not as overwhelming in force as the CATs, aliens have the distinct advantage of being able to retreat from battle only to return more powerful than before.

“Playing each race requires a different skill set. For example, while CATs can charge into battle, wildly firing at everything, Humans need to sneak around conflicts, searching for a safe place to attack from.

While the game is set entirely on a space station, it has been designed to contain a large enough variety of environments to satisfy even the most hard-core gamer. During the course of the game, the player will venture through enormous mechanical devices, simulations of alien worlds, zoos filled with genetically engineered monsters, infested hallways that come alive, and even venture out onto the hull of the station itself.”

Reprisal would have offered some interesting features for its time:

  • Adaptive characters – The player will be able to adapt the look and abilities of the characters they play. In some cases, these changes will be minor and other cases will be major (replacing the lower torso with wheels).
  • Destructible weaponry and environments – Certain weapons will become available that allow the player to knock holes in some walls and destroy some weaponry (to keep it out of the “wrong hands”).
  • Body specific targeting and damage – over forty different spots on the body where the player can cause damage to the opponents.
  • Overlapping storylines – Players will encounter themselves in previous and future incarnations as they play through the scenario.

Unfortunately the team was not able to find a publisher interested in Reprisal and the project had to be canned in late 2004.

Thanks to Dan for the contribution!

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