Fantasy Life is a quest-based RPG / adventure game that was developed by Level-5 and Brownie Brown. It was released on Nintendo 3DS in Japan on December 27, 2012, and then later in 2014 in Western territories. However, the game was was first planned to be released on the Nintendo DS; a version, which was later cancelled.
When it began life on DS, the game had a 2D visual style, similar to the one seen in Mother 3. It was first announced at Level-5 Vision 2009 on August 25, 2009, during which time it was being targeted for a 2010 release. The developers presented the first early screenshots of the game at the event, as well as a selection of concept art assets:
Level-5, however, made the call put the project on hold, before resuming development for the 3DS, due to sales forecasts. When it resurfaced on its new platform in October 2010, it was revealed that the game had underwent a big change in art direction. The 2D art of the DS version was done away with, and it had been rebuilt in a 3D engine.
Hyouryuu Shounen Keith (Castaway Boy Keith) is a cancelled action RPG that was in development in 1990 by Epic / Sony for the original GameBoy. The project looked a lot like Zelda: Link’s Awakening, but Keith was in the works 3 years before Nintendo’s title. The game’s plot was also similar to Link’s Awakening, as Keith sank on a small island called Harrods Is, where he had to complete dungeons and find musical notes to defeat the final boss.
In november 2009 Chris Covell was able to scan an article about Keith from an old Famitsu magazine and you can find more info and images at his website.
Master Slave is a cancelled action RPG (labelled as “a cinema-roleplaying game”) that was in development by Takuyo Kougyo for the original Xbox. As others unlucky Takuyo projects, Master Slave vanished in early development and it was quietly canned without any official explanation from the studio. It’s possible that they never found a publisher interested in the game and the low sales of the Xbox in japan were not of any help. It seems that the player would have took the role of Shishiro Clandart, a man who has lost his memory. With the help of Iris whom you met at a forest, Master Slave’s objective was to recover Shishiro’s lost memory. The battle involved nine different elements, using a unique system (?) to execute special moves.
Master Slave character’s design was created by Satoshi Kuramochi.
Ultima IX (9) is a RPG in the Ultima series, developed by Origin Systems and released for PC in 1999. Ultima 8 was released in 1994 and in those 5 years between the 2 titles, the “Ultima IX project” had a long and troubled development. As we can read on Wikipedia, there have been at least 4 distinct beta versions of Ultima IX, with different storyline and technological implementation.
The first version was already conceived by Ultima creator Richard Garriott when Origin began to work on Ultima VII, but this early concept was soon canned. The second version was developed between 1995-1997, following the feedback received by fans of the series.
By late 1995 or early 1996, the first beta screenshots of Ultima IX appeared in gaming magazines: it had a 3D graphic engine in which the camera appeared locked into an overhead view that approximated the isometric point of view of Ultima VIII, but could be rotated about its vertical axis and zoomed in or out. The game was planned to have a party system with multiple characters and pre-rendered cutscenes.
With the unexpected success of the beta phase of Ultima Online in 1996, Origin moved most of the Ultima IX team to work on that game. By the time work was resumed on Ultima IX in late 1997, corporate interest in Ultima IX had greatly diminished, many of the original team members had left Origin, and the 3D engine was already becoming out of date.
The third version of the game was developed between 1997 and 1998. The Ultima IX team experimented with different camera angles in a new 3D engine and decided that a third-person over-the-shoulder perspective, would have been more immersive. The game would no longer have a party of companions for the Avatar and would once again be a single-character game. In early 1998, several designers of Ultima IX left Origin.
In early 1999, Electronic Arts set Origin a deadline so that the game HAD to be shipped for Christmas. However, Ultimaa IX was still notoriously bug-ridden and it was impossible to implement the scale of the world and the big story in the given time. Trying to rescue what they could, they shrinked Britannia considerably, rewrote the plot to make it much more simple. In the final version of Ultima IX: Ascension, some elements of the previous beta storyline were kept, presumably to make use of the existing (and expensive) pre-rendered cinematics, but most of them were either heavily edited or used in a dramatically different context than originally intended.
In the gallery below you can see many screens from Ultima IX 1995 / 1997 beta version, so much different from the final 1999 version that it could be considered as a cancelled game of its own. You can find more info at Ultima Wiki!
The Witcher 1997 by Metropolis Software was a completely different game from The 2007 Witcher project by CD Projekt RED. It was merely a coincidence that CD Projekt happened to purchase a studio that was working on a cancelled game of the same name. The Witcher 1997 would have been an ambitious action RPG with a big 3D world to explore filled with quests to complete and branching paths based upon decisions made during the story; aspects that also featured in the 2007 game.
We can speculate that Metropolis could possibly have encountered some issues in realising a large scale 3D open world RPG of this nature, as all their other games released from 1992 to 1998 were in 2D. It’s also possible that they simply were unable to find the backing of a publisher.
In 2009, CD Projekt closed Metropolis Software whilst they were working on a new FPS titled “They“.
An article about The Witcher by Metropolis Software was published in EDGE magazine issue #50.
Thanks to Celine and Roninakuma for the contribution!