Around 2003 – 2005 Z-Axis (AKA Underground Development) was working on a new Iron Man video game tie-in for Activision, using the Marvel license. The project was planned to be released for Playstation 2 and Xbox, but in the end it was never completed and quietly vanished, forgotten by everyone.
As we can read on IGN, Z-Axis was hiring new devs for Iron Man around November 2003:
“Z-Axis, the hard-working folks who brought gamers Dave Mirra’s BMX Freestyle and Aggressive Inline (and if you go a little farther back, Fox Sports College Hoops and Thrasher: Skate and Destroy), is now officially working on two new games for Activision based on the Iron Man and X-Men Marvel licenses.
Activision has not officially announced either of these two titles, but we have learned that both are definitely action games. The X-Men game is all new, and should not be confused with the Raven-developed X-Men: Legends.”
In the end only Z-Axis’s “X-Men: The Official Game” game was released in 2006. We can assume the team had some issues in developing two Marvel games at the same time and Activision decided to cancel Iron Man. Some screenshots from an early Iron Man prototype are saved below, to remember the existence of this lost game.
“What is Treadstone?” you ask, in your best Matt Damon impersonation. According to Variety “it’s a multi-player online game set in the world of the spy agency that trained Bourne.” We’ll assume that contraction is short for “it was” because, whad’ya know, “production has stopped” on the project. Perhaps once Ludlum Entertainment finds a new publisher for Bourne, whatever work Radical has already invested in “Treadstone” will find a new home, but that sounds unlikely to us.”
It seems the game was canned because of Activision Blizzard’s merge and their abandonment of the Bourne property rights once owned by Sierra / Vivendi (among all of their other IPs), of which they did not want to publish another game:
“Activision Blizzard is also reviewing Sierra’s other properties that they will not be publishing: think Bourne, 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand, World in Conflict, et al. Activision Publishing CEO Mike Griffith says, “We are reviewing our options regarding those titles that we will not be publishing.” Those games won’t be published by Blizzavision because they’re not “a strong fit with [Activision Blizzard’s] long-term product strategy.” No word on the fate of Sierra’s classic adventure games like King’s Quest, Leisure Suit Larry, etc.
As for the status of Sierra’s in-house developers, Blizzavision will “realign staffing at Radical Entertainment and High Moon Studios” – the developers of Prototype and The Bourne Conspiracy respectively – while “exploring options regarding Massive Entertainment and Swordfish Studios” – the devs behind World in Conflict and 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand, respectively. Those “options” include “the possibility of divestiture.”
“After wrapping up my work on Prototype I moved onto a new project helping to build a new team and new game. We went on to create an action adventure playable game demo in the spy genre. In less than a year while developing a new engine and building a new team we delivered an “open neighborhood” playable demo with cover based gunplay, vehicles and parkour style locomotion.
In 2008 Activision and Vivendi merged. The above mentioned project was cancelled for several reasons. They said the game looked great but needed to turn into something else. They expressed their decision with the fact they already had the James Bond Franchise, and stated several other decision points based around the IP and the game’s potential returns.”
Hero Mix is a cancelled music game / music tool that was in development by 7 Studios around 2010, planned to be published by Activision on Xbox 360 (and possibly Playstation 3). As you can assume by its title it was meant to be part of Activision’s Hero series of music games, composed of such games as Guitar Hero, DJ Hero, Band Hero and the cancelled Sing Hero, Dance Hero and Drum Hero.
Activision never announced this game officially, but some screenshots with mock-up UI were found online by fans in 2013. By looking at these we can speculate you would have been able to mix together different songs by playing some kind of rhythm game. Basically it could have followed the same premise of other Hero music games, but with mixing mechanics instead than playing a plastic guitar or DJ set.
In the end the Hero music game market collapsed and Activision just canned all the remaining projects still in development:
“In October 2009, following the completion of DJ Hero, Activision laid off an estimated 30 people from 7 Studios, about half of the team. In February 2011 Activision announced to discontinue all music games series. On 9th February 2011 staff members confirmed that 7 Studios had been shut down.”
“The game starts with the user assuming the role of a lowly Ensign Seventh Class on the S.P.S. Feinstein, a starship of the Stellar Patrol. Overbearing superior Ensign First Class Blather assigns the player to mop decks, not exactly the glorious adventures promised by the recruiters on Gallium. But a sudden series of explosions aboard the ship sends the player scrambling for an escape pod, which eventually crash-lands on a nearby planet. There are signs of civilization, but curiously no traces of the beings that once lived there. Eventually encountering a helpful but childlike robot named Floyd, the player must unravel the mysteries of the single deserted structure on the planet, Resida, and find a way to get back home.”
3 years later the company was bought by Activision and in the mid ‘90s they tried to create a sequel titled: Planetfall 2: Floyd’s Next Thing. The project was started at least a couple of times, but it was always cancelled in the end.
Two trailers were released promoting the two versions of the sequel: the first one looked a bit like Myst, with per-rendered graphics, while the second version of the game was in full, real-time 3D.
“Don’t get your hopes up: this is a very early prototype from the cancelled sequel to Infocom’s classic text adventure. It’s barely playable, though it does provide an interesting look at how the game would have played with a realtime 3D engine. The prototype does introduce a puzzle (at least the only one I could find) and features voice acting as well as a pretty cool soundtrack tune. Judging by the puzzle, you were able to give orders to your robot companions similarly to how Infocom’s classic text adventures worked.
[…] back in 2007, an alleged ex-employee from Activision was auctioning this CD on eBay. He couldn’t verify the contents of the disc, but many enthusiasts including myself still pledged hoping it was legit. My top bid was $40 (hey, it was a pretty decent sum at the time) but the CD was sold at a whooping $90. I wasn’t going to give up, so I contacted the seller who in turn put me in touch with the buyer. Turns out he was a nice guy who exchanged the same ISO I’m uploading right now for a physical soundtrack of Scratches and a signed copy of the game. It was a fairly good deal. This prototype brings back great memories.
It’s been almost ten years since that transaction happened, and I think the time has come to properly preserve this rare piece of software history. Enjoy!”
Toys for Bob is an american video game studio owned by Activision, mostly known for their work on such games as Pandemonium! and the Skylanders series. In 2008 Toys for Bob with support from Underground Development tried to pitch a new Crash Bandicoot game, but without any luck.