Adventure

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time [Playstation – Cancelled]

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (時をかける少女, Toki o Kakeru Shojo) is a cancelled adventure game that was planned around 1998 by Bandai for the original Playstation. The game was based on the 1967 novel of the same name by Yasutaka Tsutsui and possibly the related 1997 movie (and not the 2006 anime, unless Bandai leapt through time), which were quite popular at the time.

By looking at gameplay from the available footage (found in the VHS edition of the 1997 movie and on a CD-ROM from “Pre-Pre” PlayStation CLUB magazine) the game looked similar to Revelations: Persona on PS1, with top-down 2D exploration and animated cutscenes. As far as we know there was no combat in The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, but there could have been some kind of dating-sim mechanics.

Character design for this lost PS1 video game was by Minene Sakurano (who at the time was working on Mamotte Shugogetten) and the scenario was written by Hiroshi Yamaguchi (mostly known for his participation in Gainax and Gonzo). A preview was published in Dengeki PlayStation magazine (Vol.76, June 1998): if you are able to translate the most important parts from this preview, please let us know in the comments below!

Thanks go GIoN for the contribution

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Broken (Magenta Software) [PSVita – Cancelled]

Broken is a cancelled detective adventure game that was in development around 2011 – 2012 by Magenta Software, planned to be published by Sony on PSVita as one of their launch titles. The team was inspired by movies such as Mystic River, Zodiac, and Se7en: players would take the role of a detective in Miami, examining crime scenes and trying to stop a serial killer.

As far as we know the game was never officially announced by Sony nor the team, but some details and screenshots were shared online by former Magenta Software developers and artists:

“The Idea of the game was to showcase the features of the new PlayStation Vita hardware by utilizing some of the unique game-play scenarios the hardware could offer, such as the touch-screen, the back of console touch sensor, the cameras and the gyroscopes. In the initial game-play, the detective would be represented as a floating first-person camera, and navigate interior crime-scene environments by touching point of interest nodes in the 3d scene which would trigger dialogue, navigation, interactions, and cut-scenes. During development, this progressed through moving a 3d character model along “rails” between points, and further into the player having full autonomy of the character in a first-person perspective.”

“Another unique element of the game was the use of the console itself as an in-game “smartphone” owing to the device’s similarities. When evidence was collected from the crime scene, it could be examined within the smart-phone. The phone could be used to make calls to other officers during the investigation, examine evidence with Mini-games such as DNA matching, and even take photos of the game’s environment using the gyroscopes to detect the orientation of the device.”

In the end Broken was canned by Sony when they switched their market strategy:

“Regrettably for budgeting reasons Broken was eventually canceled by Sony, as early sales forecasts for the PS-Vita indicated that only larger budget games such as Uncharted, or much smaller budget games were expected to be successful on the console, leaving Broken in an unfortunate middle-ground.”

Screenshots from this lost game are preserved in the gallery below, to remember its existence.

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Gruesome Castle: Gee Whiz! Mystery Club [PC – Cancelled]

Gruesome Castle: Gee Whiz! Mystery Club is a cancelled adventure game that was in development by Gee Whiz! Entertainment for PC around 1998. It was announced as a ground-breaking project, the “first true 3D graphic adventure”, planning to “combining the 3D freedom of Nintendo’s Mario 64 with the classic adventure game play of LucasArts’ Monkey Island series” with cartoon horror setting and multiple protagonists, somehow similar to the Scooby-Doo cartoon.

As we can read on the old Gee Whiz! website:

“Gruesome Castle follows the exploits of Jake and Anna King and their pals Skip, Wendy, Brad and Jeepers the dino-monkey. Together they form the Gee Whiz! Mystery Club – an adventurous gang of teens who travel the world solving mysteries.

Their latest adventure brings them to England where they are to visit their cousin Edward at Gruesome Castle. Upon arriving they quickly discover that Edward has gone missing and that the castle is haunted. It’s up to our intrepid team to solve the riddle of the ghost and uncover the dark mystery of Gruesome Castle.

Game play features:

1) Taking control of Jake, players can explore a large castle with scores of rooms, including a Dungeon, Hedge Maze, Vast Underground Catacombs and a Spooky graveyard

2) Each location is very large with dozens of characters and objects to interact with

3) Witty dialog via a conversation system that allows you to talk to all the game characters

4) Inventory system lets you examine and manipulate all of the items that you find during your adventure

5) Ability to read books allows you to read from the extensive library and uncover the dark secrets of Gruesome Castle

6) Dynamic cameras in every room give a cinematic feel to game play with pans, tilts and dollies. Players can change from the default mode to any of the many alternative viewing modes allowing them to place the camera where they want it.

7) Includes a Bonus Mystery Quest mode where you seek out the Mystery Club Bonus Items that are hidden throughout the locations. Recovering all the Bonus Items reveals a secret room

8) Look around mode allows you to look at the 3D location from any angle”

A playable prototype was uploaded online some years ago, so you can take a look to see what the team had in mind for this lost project.

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The Insider: Back in Black (Dramaera) [PC, PS2 – Cancelled]

The Insider: Back in Black is a cancelled adventure game that was in development for PC between 1998 and 2001 by french company Dramaera (AKA In-Visio or Dæsign). The game’s protagonist was Simon Blurr, an international thief in search of new pieces for his private art collection. Set in 1920s Paris, The Insider was conceived as an ambitious exploration – simulation game, where each character had its own live and emotions, artificial intelligence and daily routine, probably following an internal clock.

Players could move around different buildings of Paris to plan their next robbery, by observing streets, houses, museums and people who live in them. French publisher Canal+Multimédia was initially supporting the team, but in March 2000 they closed their relationship with Dramaera because their project was not proceeding as expected. As we can read on Mobygames:

“The company then signed a contract with index+ in June 2000 with an investment for the game and an additional financial promise to cover the costs to port the game to the PlayStation 2. The companies knew each other well, as Réunion des Musées Nationaux had tasked Dramæra to create the game Paris 1313: The Mystery of Notre-Dame Cathedral, published by index+.

A few weeks after the contract however, index+ was sold to Wanadoo Edition. The relationship quickly deteriorated when Wanadoo decided to focus on more mainstream products. The Insider, the project Dramæra had been working since 1998 with an investment of € 900,000, was to be turned into a classic adventure game with a new team. Jean-Noël Portugal refused and because of this the studio ran into financial troubles at the end of 2001.”

We don’t know how much of the game was dove before its cancellation, but it would be interesting to see a prototype leaked one day, to understand what the team was able to achieve.

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My Neighbor Totoro [SNES – Cancelled]

Around 1992 Tokuma Shoten Intermedia planned to develop or publish a tie-in Super Nintendo video game for the popular Studio Ghibli anime My Neighbor Totoro. At the time Studio Ghibli was part of Tokuma Shoten and the company published a few anime-related games such as Yadamon: Wonderland Dream and Eternal Filena. As far as we know the game was never officially announced by the company, but in 2019 Itoh Shigeyuki (former artists at Tokuma) shared on Twitter a couple of images from the game pitch they showed to Miyazaki.

As translated by Nina Matsumoto on Twitter:

“About 27 years ago, I drew these from scratch pixel by pixel to pitch a My Neighbor Totoro Super Famicom game to Hayao Miyazaki. (*for Tokuma Shoten Intermedia. The game got shelved). There were no decent scanners back then, so I had to stare at an art book and draw these one pixel at a time”

And a few more details “translated” by Google Translate:

“At that time, I felt a good bleed out when I saw it with a CRT while working, and it was more anime-like. Tokuma Shoten proposed a plan because he wanted to put it out, but unfortunately the director’s ok did not appear.

I couldn’t tell you the details of the reason for the store, but as you pointed out, he didn’t seem to like the game.

I guess it was more like an adventure game. I want to ignore the project and put out a racing game on a cat bus (laughs)

I think that there was a certain amount of odds, and I think that I had a plan for Manager Miyazaki, but in terms of adventure-oriented content, it might not have been as meaningful to turn it into a game.

Because it was for planning purposes, I think that I use more than 16 colors. However, the number of colors is considerably reduced.”

In the end after this undeveloped Super Famicom pitch there has never been an official My Neighbor Totoro video game.

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