Beat ’em up

Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari 2 (River City Ransom 2) [Wii, PC – Cancelled]

As we can read in the Kunio-Kun Wiki, Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari for the NES / Famicom is the third entry in the Kunio-kun series, published in the west as River City Ransom / Street Gangs. The game is more RPGish and open-ended than other beat ’em ups, with a non-linear city to freely explore while fighting against enemies to level-up your characters. In the main Kunio series you take the role of Kunio, a japanese high-school delinquent (bancho) with a good heart, punching and kicking other gangs to free the streets of your city.

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The game was released for the Wii Virtual Console in 2007 and a sequel titled “Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari 2” was announced in 2011 by Miracle Kidz (a team of former Technos developers), planned to be released for Wii and PC. Unfortunately the team decided to officially cancel the project in 2012, to switch resources on different projects.

As noticed by Arc Hound on Twitter:

“Miracle Kidz’s teaser site for Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari 2 (the canceled Wiiware sequel to River City Ransom) is still up after all these years, although it only contains character bios and a link to purchase the planning document from their site.

Sueshiro and Okita, the two planned protagonists from DNM2, actually appeared in a fan-video from 2008 by AC-Promenade supporting the launch of Miracle Kidz’s website. Shame that the game become vaporware and Miracle Kidz has since been disbanded.”

If you can do a translation / summary of the details found in those japanese Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari 2 design doc pages (saved in the gallery below), please leave a message below!

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Death Monsters [PS3, Xbox 360 – Cancelled]

Death Monsters is a cancelled horror beat ’em up in development by french studio Birdies Road (formerly Punchers Impact) around 2010 / 2011 for Xbox 360 and PS3. Not many details are available on this lost project: it was quietly announced in early 2011 on some French websites but was soon canned after a playable prototype was completed. The main protagonist could transform himself into a werewolf and levels would have been played as in a side-scrolling game, fighting enemies (zombies, monsters), resolving simple puzzles and jumping around to avoid  traps.

Unfortunately it seems their publishers (Mindscape) did not pay the team for a few months, and without money Birdies Road had to close down for bankruptcy in July 2011. Death Monsters was then cancelled and lost forever. Only a few screenshots, artworks and videos from the prototype are preserved below, to remember its existence.

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Satellite Man [SNES – Cancelled]

Satellite Man was a scrapped, albeit completely finished, game for the SNES by Japanese developer T&E Soft. The game was a comedic side-scrolling brawler akin to Final Fight that featured Satellite Man, a superhero who could harness the power of satellites, as he attempted to make his way to the moon to save it from an evil mastermind who claimed it for himself.

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Details of the game are scarce as few people have seen it and it is unlikely that any of it remains to this day, but descriptions of the game by its developers reveal that the game had an absurd sense of humor, such as the fact that the titular hero is broke and has to hitch a ride to the moon on a NASA rocket ship.

The game’s bosses reflected this comedic style as well with “Baron Engine”, a man with a v8 engine for a body who chased the player around in a child’s toy car, a bee who carried explosives appropriately named “Dynamite Bee” and “Captain Go”, an Apollo Lunar Module with a dangling body and a face of a man from T&E’s sales department.

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Unlike some of the other side-scrolling fighters at the time Satellite Man was single player only and had a button for punches, kicks, grabs and special attacks.  There were three special attacks, two of which were the ability to shoot down a damaging beam from a satellite and the ability to create two shadow versions of yourself to help fight.  These special moves were unlocked by filling a recharging “satellite bar” and the player could use three special attacks in a row if the bar was fully charged. In an attempt to make the game seem more like an American comic book the developers added text bubbles like “BOOM” and “POW” that would pop up when enemies were hit.

Despite being 100% finished after half a year of development the game never saw the light of day.  This was mostly due to the fact that one of the developers handed a copy of the game to company co-founder Eiji Yokoyama and promised him he would laugh every 30 seconds, to which Yokoyama responded by not laughing once throughout the entire game.

The developers also chalk it up to the fact that T&E had recently worked on the SNES version of Rise of the Robots, a critical and financial failure that is lauded as one of the worst fighting games of all time, and didn’t think they could sell another fighting game so soon afterwards. As many other lost SNES games, not much remains from Satellite Man: a single screenshot was found by Arc Hound in the Mar. ’93 issue of Micom BASIC Magazine, while a sketch and few memories from former T&E Soft developers were published by John Szczepaniak on the “The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers Volume 2”.

Article by Tristan Avery, thanks to John for the contribution! 

We Are the Mods (The Warriors 2) [PS2, Xbox 360 – Cancelled]

We Are The Mods is the cancelled spiritual sequel to The Warriors, the cult classic beat ’em up based on the 1979 movie of the same name. We Are The Mods was in development in 2006 by Rockstar Toronto, initially as a Playstation 2 project, but soon Rockstar decided to move it to the Xbox 360 as one of their first games for the 7th generation of consoles.

We Are The Mods would have not been a direct sequel, as it abandoned the movie setting to create its own one, set in 1960s England during the mods and rockers brawls. As we can read on Wikipedia:

“Mods and rockers were two conflicting British youth subcultures of the early/mid 1960s to early 1970s. Media coverage of mods and rockers fighting in 1964 sparked a moral panic about British youth, and the two groups became widely perceived as violent, unruly troublemakers.”

The game was never officially announced by Rockstar and it was unveiled only because of leaked assets in 2011. Some details were also found on the same developer’s website:

“The project had begun as a PlayStation 2 spiritual follow-up to the earlier hit ‘The Warriors‘, but part way through the development cycle Rockstar New York asked us to switch Mods from a Sixth Generation to a Seventh Generation development, changing from the PlayStation 2 to the Xbox 360 as the primary development platform. Much of the content here reflects that change, with Mods being the first Seventh Generation project the team had worked on. It was a learning experience for everyone involved. The game was similar in design and style to “The Warriors” but set in 1960’s England at the height of the “Mods” vs. “Rockers” era.”

After a while the project was canned, possible because Rockstar Toronto had to help with development on Manhunt 2, that was seen as a more profitable game for the company.

After We Are The Mods leaked on major gaming websites such as Kotaku and CVG, the original game page on the developer’s website was removed. We found a few more developers who worked on this cancelled sequel, but unfortunately it seems Rockstar don’t want them to unveil anything more on their lost project.

Only a few 3D models and early assets are preserved in the gallery below, to remember its existence. 

(b)Last (quantic dream) [PS2, Xbox – Cancelled]

Before to became a hugely popular studio among Playstation fans thanks to successful games such as Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls, Quantic Dream was a somewhat obscure French studio mostly known for their cult adventure games Omikron: The Nomad Soul and Fahrenheit.

In early ‘00s Quantic Dream was trying to expand their portfolio with many different projects for the 6th generation of consoles (Dreamcast, PS2, Xbox, GameCube), announcing a few titles that never seen the light of day: Omikron 2, Quark and (b)Last.

(b)Last is for sure one of their most obscure and mysterious project, with only a few details and low-quality images to remember its existence. As far as we know it was meant to be an action game / beat ‘em up in a sci-fi / fantasy setting mixing together Lovecraft tales and the Matrix movies, with weird tentacle monsters, laser weapons, super powers and many different characters to interact with.

While Omikron 2 was probably Quantic Dream’s major focus at the time, only a small team of artists and developers were working on (b)Last: unfortunately the project was soon canned for unknown reasons, but we can speculate the studio fell into some issues while developing so many different games at the same time, making it hard to create a quality, fun game.

As we can read in an old interview with David Cage:

UL: Does QD canceled projects live in this new project? bLast, Quark… other?
DC: We usually start several projects at the same time. Over the last years, one of them get so much interest from publishers that we had to cancel or at least postpone the others. Each Quantic Dream’s project requires up to 80 people and all our attention. It is difficult to start several original project with the same ambition in matter of quality…

At the moment only a couple of images are preserved from (b)Last, we hope to be able to save many more artworks in the future with the help of former developers who worked on it. If you know someone who worked on (b)Last, please let us know!

Thanks to Maik for the contribution!

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