Titan A.E. is a cancelled action/shoot ’em up game developed by Blitz Games Studios and published by Fox Interactive, from 1999 to 2000, for the PC and the Playstation. It was based off the animated Sci-Fi adventure film of the same name.
“When Fox purchased the Don Bluth studios they started developing Anastasia, and we were asked to put a concept together for a PlayStation game. They were very impressed, but it was decided that Anastasia was not the right game for the PlayStation, and they produced an activity centre for PCs with somebody else instead. However, they promised that next time they had an opportunity, they would consider us first.”
“Then in January 1999 I got a call asking if we would be available to produce an arcade action game for the new film from Don Bluth – Planet Ice. We started work in March 1999, and a few months later the film was renamed Titan A.E.”
The game was based very closely on the movie, in which a young man by the name of Cale finds himself racing across the galaxy to save what is left of the human race, after the planet Earth was destroyed by a powerful but xenophobic alien species called the Drej. “The storyline of the film reads very much like the plot for a video game, and therefore it made perfect sense to follow the same story and let the player control Cale and Akima [the movie’s love interest], and escape from the Drej to find the Titan.”
The game’s settings and visuals were also closely based on the movie, and “Fox Animation (the Don Bluth group) sent us monthly updates of the film, as well as concept artwork and 3D models of things likes space ships. It’s only been in the last few months that we’ve needed audio, and they have been very supportive.”
It was showed at E3 2000, and IGN wrote some more details on the title:
(…) Titan A.E. pits players as either Cale or Akima as they fight Drej aliens and search for the lost ship known as Titan, which holds the secret to salvaging the last of the human race.
Players can take the game on in two ways, through a third-person action/adventure game, or through the cockpit of a ship. Environments and detailed characters will appear from the movie itself, and the story will parallel the movie, but it’s likely that the development team will take some creative license to create an engaging game on its own.
But only a month later, the project was cancelled after the movie bombed in the box-office:
IGN learned today that Fox Interactive has decided to halt the development of Titan A.E. for PlayStation. Previously set for a fall release in North America, the title was based on the animated film by Don Bluth that completely tanked at the U.S. box offices with a total gross of just over $22 million.
While the poor showing of the movie at the box office seems like a good enough reason to cancel the PlayStation game, according to a PR representative from Fox Interactive it was only one of many different factors that resulted in the decision to discontinue the development of the game.
At Eurogamer, Philip Oliver added:
“Producing video games is a risky business. Development costs are high and time scales long. The public naturally buy things that they have heard of, therefore it removes a great deal of risk to produce games based on popular licenses. Unfortunately it means less creative freedom for us producing the game, and ultimately the game’s success is based more on the license than the game itself. Titan A.E. did not do well at the US box office, and that effected everyone involved in spin-off’s from the movie. It’s a great shame that the American public didn’t buy into Titan A.E. ; I believe lack of marketing had a great deal to do with it. It was a good film, and this sets back the whole movie industry in attempting to create SGI animated sci-fi movies, which ultimately could have been great, as well as a good source of material for the games business.”
Some years later, the playable demo of the game leaked on the internet, and a PSX demo CD is also available for purchase on Ebay.
Thanks to Matt for the contribution!
Article updated by Daniel Nicaise