Argonaut Games

Malice [PSX – Cancelled]

Malice is a platform game developed by Argonaut Games, that was originally meant to be released for the Playstation 1, using their Croc 2 engine. For some technical issues and (mainly) for marketing decisions, Malice PSX was cancelled and Argonaut though to port the game for the “next generation” consoles. It was 1999 and the PS2 was almost out in the market, with the new Microsoft’s XBOX soon to arrive too.

Argonaut wanted to be one of first Xbox’s developers and to showcase their new 3D engine to attract publishers and funds, so they created a Malice Xbox tech demo that looked really good for its time. Microsoft was really impressed by their work and used the Malice tech demo to show the power of the Xbox.

Argonaut aimed to release the new Malice in late 2001 as an Xbox launch title, but because of many problems in porting their project from the PSX to the XBOX, Malice was postponed too many times, was almost cancelled again and changed publishers before being finally released in 2004, with mediocre reviews.

In March 2010, the Playstation Museum published a deep article on the original Playstation version of Malice, sharing lots of screens and videos. As we can read on their site:

The bottom line is Malice PS1 combines the action of Croc 2 with the exploration and depth of a Mario 64 and is presented with a sense of unique style and graphic beauty and detail that would have become the new technological standard for the PlayStation.

Although Malice was released for the PS2 in 2004, the PS1 version differs greatly in storyline, graphics, design, and gameplay. Any of the former Malice designers will tell you that Malice PS2 was only a shell of its original design. Unfortunately many of the designs that made this PS1 version so enjoyable were removed in the PS2 version.

It’s interesting to note that in the video from the Playstation 1 version and in the early Xbox trailers, it was shown that the player could control a cat, but this never happens in the final game. [Info from Wikipedia]

Check the Playstation Museum for more info and screens!



The Malice Xbox Tech Demo:


I-Ninja [GBA – Cancelled]

The original I-Ninja is a platform / action game developed by Argonaut Games and released in 2003 for the GameCube, Playstation 2 and Xbox. Argonaut also announced a Gameboy Advance version of the game, to be developed by Destination Software (?), but this port was soon canned. I-Ninja for the GBA would have been a pseudo-3D action game, taking some of the features from the home-consoles I-Ninja (as the “running ramps” and the “slide rails”) to recreate the feeling of the game on the portable console.

As we can read in the original press release:

Following the successful GameCube, PS2, PC and XBOX versions, I-Ninja comes to Game Boy Advance! This version is a mixture of fast paced ‘Inertia Run’levels, combat arena’s, ‘Ball Rolling’ levels requiring pin point accuracy and cool showdowns in the ‘Final Boss’ levels.

Despite his size, I-Ninja is the consummate warrior and has spent years mastering his weapons and honing his fighting skills. Challenged by the world’s most wicked villain, Master O-Dor, and his menacing army of Ranx, I-Ninja is fierce in his attacks and deadly in combat. With extreme agility he navigates environments and conquers all that is evil!

We dont know why I-Ninja GBA was cancelled, but we can speculate that they did not find a publisher interested in the project or that Destination Software had some problems to port this “3D game” to the low-tech portable.

I-Ninja 2 for the PS2, Xbox and GameCube, was also cancelled when Argonaut Games had to close down in 2004 for economic issues.

Thanks to RustSh1ne for the contribution!


I-Ninja 2 [Cancelled – PS2, XBOX, GameCube]

The original I-Ninja is an underrated action game that was developed by Argonaut Games and released for the Xbox, Playstation 2 and GameCube at the end of 2003. The works on the  sequel were started after a few months, but sadly the studio had some economic problems and they had to closed down in October 2004. I-Ninja 2 was never officially announced: only some concept arts remain as a memento of the project.

From the looks of these arts, it seems that the sequel would have been set in the same setting as the original I-Ninja, with a scenario that mixed ancient Japan and futuristc robots, with even more crazier and hardest levels to play in.

Thanks a lot to Tanguy for the contribution!


Zero Hour [PSP – Cancelled]

Zero Hour is a cancelled third person shooter / action game that was in development by Argonaut Games for the PSP.  The project started out as a Playstation 2 game, but when Argonaut got PSP early development-kits, they decided to port Zero Hour to the portable console. A demo for the PSP version was shown at E3 2004, but in late October of the same year, Argonaut fired 100 employees and was put up for sale. Lack of a constant stream of deals with publishers led to cashflow issues and a profit warning earlier in the year. Zero Hour vanished with the closure of the studio.

Thanks to USERDANTE and Tanguy for the contributions!




I-Ninja [PS2/XBOX/GC – Beta & Concept]

I-Ninja is a fun and underrated action game that was developed by Argonaut Games and published in 2003 by Namco (in USA) and Sony (in Europe) for the GameCube, Xbox and Playstation 2. A Game Boy Advance version of the game was announced too, but later cancelled.


As it happened with Orchid (another Argonaut game that was later cancelled), originally I-Ninja had a much more colorful and stylized graphic, but the publisher was worried that it looked too childish, and wanted an edgier, grittier look. As we can see from the early mockup / target renders, the original style of I-Ninja looked a bit like Zelda: The Wind Waker (especially for the islands, the pigs and the scene in which Ninja is sailing a ship) but the 2 games were in development almost at the same time so it was just a coincidence.