Activision

Planetfall 2: Floyd’s Next Thing [PC – Cancelled]

The original Planetfall is sci-fi text-adventure written by Steve Meretzky, published by Infocom for DOS PCs in 1983. As we can read on Wikipedia:

“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.

In 2012 Archive.org user Swizzley uploaded a playable demo of Planetfall 2 and another prototype was later uploaded in 2016 by Agustin Cordes. As we can read from the file description:

“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!”

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Crash Bandicoot (2008 Pitch) [Cancelled – Xbox 360, PS3]

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.

In this cancelled Crash Bandicoot project Tawna would came back to Crash after dumping Pinstripe Potoroo, while Nina Cortex was re-imagined as an emo/goth teenager.

In the end Activision was not interested: they closed down Underground Development and gave the Spyro IP to Toys for Bob to develop Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure (released in 2011). Only a couple artworks for this cancelled Crash Bandicoot game were found by fan of the series and preserved online.

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Project X (Activision) [Xbox 360, PS3 – Cancelled]

Project X is a cancelled third person action game for Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, which was in development around 2005 / 2007 by Z-Axis studio (later known as Underground Development) for Activision. The game was never officially announced by the company and it’s just one of many more unreleased games (such as Call of Duty: Devil’s Brigade) the team was working on, before Activision decided to close them down in 2010.

Only a few screenshots and a short video remain to remember the existence of this lost game. By looking at these, we can assume the game would have been somehow similar to other action games with super-powers like Prototype and Infamous. The main protagonist was able to morph itself into different forms of elemental energy, for example a body of ice or fire. By switching elements it would have been able to easily kill different kinds of enemies of the opposite element.

It seems only an early prototype was developed before Activision cancelled the project, maybe to switch the team to work on the PS3 version of Enemy Territory: Quake Wars.

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DJ Hero: After Party [Cancelled – Xbox 360, PS3, Wii]

DJ Hero: After Party is a cancelled spin-off to the original DJ Hero game, which was briefly being worked on by Zoë Mode, the UK based subsidiary of Kuju Entertainment, for Activision in 2009. It was proposed as a game for the Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii.

Another Spin On DJ Hero

As FreeStyleGames was in the final stages of developing the first DJ Hero, Zoë Mode set a team of artists on formulating ideas for a spin-off game to it in July 2009. The developer had, in the recent past, created other such music games as Rock Revolution and Disney: Sing It! when the project began.

Leading Light, the design studio of Christian Bravery, was contracted to help make concept art for the company, as the vision behind game was steadily being realised. Together, they imagined an alternative approach to the formula of DJ Hero, one developer explained.

“It would have had a very different vibe to it than the other games. We wanted it to have its own personality and feel. More relaxed and laid back.”

DJ: After Party would have made for a more casual-friendly approach to the series. Another developer described the possibility of it being made up of “slower, more up beat” tracks, although work on the title never got as far as assembling a set list.

The general idea behind it was that most of the show venues, as you might imagine, were after parties. Leading Light and the developers put together images of some of the events, which included celebrity wedding receptions, boat parties and a private luxury island.

Activision allowed the developer to use the DJ Hero license in developing conceptual documents and a prototype demo for their potential spin-off, as well as the opportunity to present a proposal to their management. Zoë Mode ended up working on the concept for a few months before Activision ultimately decided against pursuing the project, rejecting the pitch in October 2009; the month of DJ Hero’s first release.

According to one artist, the concepts were, however, retained by Activision and some of their ideas were later used in DJ Hero 2.

Character art:

More concepts including pitch documents/research: 

Family Guy: Back To The Multiverse [Cancelled – 3DS / Wii]

Family Guy: Back To The Multiverse is an action adventure title, which was developed by Heavy Iron Studios. It was released in November 2012 on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360. However, over a year before its release, the company was also working on 3DS and Wii versions of the title.

In May 2011, Activision put Heavy Iron in charge of creating a new game, based on the hit TV series, Family Guy. Given the difference in power between the HD platforms and Nintendo’s 3DS and Wii systems, the developer was initially ordered to make two separate versions of the game. While the 360/PS3/PC game was a third person adventure game with shooter elements, the other took on an isometric perspective; not wholely dissimilar to Family Guy: The Quest For Stuff on iOS.

The Wii version of the game was being designed around the Wii remote and nunchuck, although did not make use of any of its unique features, such as the motion sensors or pointer. It was planned to be almost entirely identical to the 3DS version in terms of gameplay.

Whereas the shooting mechanics in the released HD title used a manually controlled reticule, the 3DS and Wii game used what one developer described to us as an “auto targeting system” instead, given the isometric camera view. This automatically locked on to potential targets within the immediate area to fire at with Stewie’s laser gun or Brian’s pistol.

According to one of the programmers on the Multiverse project we spoke to, the 3DS and Wii version were outlined to be otherwise “completely undifferentiated” in terms of story; even featuring the same dialogue and voice acting clips. It would have also included the two main playable characters of Brian and Stewie Griffin from the other version.

Playable prototype builds were created but shortly afterwards, the 3DS and Wii games were cancelled in August 2011, another developer told us.

“We stopped working on them around August. They weren’t that far along but both were up and running just fine. Everyone working on it was transitioned into working on the other version of it after that”

The same former Heavy Iron employee gave us two reasons for the projects’ demise.

“The Wii version was dropped first and then the 3DS one quickly after. I think it was a combination of them wanting us to focus on making one version of the game and growing concerns about how it would perform on those platforms”

Neither of the games ever received an official announcement prior to cancellation.