Activision

Legend of the Five Rings: Ronin [PC – Cancelled]

Legend of the Five Rings: Ronin is a cancelled RPG that was in development in 1997 – 1998 by Engineering Animation Inc (EAI), based on the homonymous collectible card game (at the time owned by Wizards of the Coast) and planned to be published by Activision for PC. Gameplay would have been similar to Diablo (released in 1997), with dungeons to explore, many enemies to kill, loot to collect and a world inspired by the fictional empire of Rokugan.

It seems the game was playable at E3 1998, but we were not able to find any footage yet. Unfortunately there are no details about what happened to the project, it just vanished and then forgotten by everyone. We can speculate gameplay was not food enough to rival Diablo and Activision just decided to kill the project.

If you can find more screenshots or videos from this lost game, please let us know!

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Blur 2 (Bizarre Creations) [Cancelled – Xbox 360, PS3, PC]

Blur 2 is the cancelled sequel to 2010 arcade combat racing title of the same name (basically “Mario Kart with Real World Cars”) developed by Bizarre Creations and planned to be published by their parent company Activision for Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC. It would have expanded Blur’s gameplay with a new 3D engine and more interactive tracks, for example by using rainstorms and avalanches to spice-up the course, or adding a new ability to race sideways on buildings.

Unfortunately Blur 2 was cancelled due to low sales of the first game, when Activision decided to close down the team in 2011. As we can read on Shacknews:

“Over the past three years since our purchase of Bizarre Creations, the fundamentals of the racing genre have changed significantly. Although we made a substantial investment in creating a new IP, Blur, it did not find a commercial audience. Bizarre is a very talented team of developers, however, because of the broader economic factors impacting the market, we are exploring our options regarding the future of the studio, including a potential sale of the business.”

A few years later footage from Blur 2 was leaked online, showing off some new ideas they had for the game:

“This video shows us trying out some new visual effects, partly just because we thought it would be cool, and partly to see how more intense effects would effect the player’s experience (i.e. is driving through a storm shooting and dodging weapons fun and exciting or stupid and annoying).

So we built a load of big storm effects into the Brighton level from Blur and did some fancier animated turn markers. The ‘Shunt’ power up also got an overhaul from the big red ball in Blur, to a big refractive energy pulse here. This new one would throw tear up the road as it homed in on its target, leaving a trail of broken tarmac and scattered, twisted lamp posts.”

In late January of 2020 a Blur 2 playable prototype was also leaked online, preserving what was done on the game before its cancellation. From this proto we can learn the game would have had tracks based on Detroit, Dubai, North Africa, a ski resort, Odessa, Miami, Liverpool, and Hong Kong. Each location would have around 3-4 tracks, along with several test maps, but most of them are just whiteboxed in this build.

Several new cars would have been added, ranging from Ultima, Ferrari, Mazda, RUF, Bugatti, Mitsubishi, and more. There were also a couple of new powerups added, such as a star and a variant of the Shunt powerup, that unfortunately have no effect when used in the proto build. Lastly, a new mode was planned to be added, called “Fans”. It seems that it would have been a competition to get the most fans in a race.

Thanks to AceArroww for the contribution!

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Iron Man Video Game (Z-Axis) [PS2, Xbox – Cancelled]

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.

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Jason Bourne: Treadstone (Radical Entertainment) [Cancelled – Xbox 360, PS3]

Treadstone is a cancelled action video game based on the Jason Bourne novel series by Robert Ludlum, that was in development by Radical Entertainment (The Simpsons: Hit & Run, Prototype) around 20072008 for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. The Bourne license was revived in 2002 through a new film series and another Bourne video game titled “Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Conspiracy” was already published in 2008.

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The name of the game was taken from a top-secret black ops program of the CIA in the Jason Bourne series of novels and movies. This cancelled Treadstone game was never officially announced by the company, but footage was leaked online around 2011 and some details were already rumored around 2008 thanks to an article by Variety’s Ben Fritz:

“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.”

Some more details on the game development and cancellation were published online by a former employee who worked on the project:

“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.”

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Hero Mix [Cancelled – Xbox 360]

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.”

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