Climax Studios

Diddy Kong Racing Adventure [GameCube – Cancelled]

Diddy Kong Racing Adventure is a planned but ultimately canceled GameCube game developed by Climax Studios. Thanks to a video research made by PtoPOnline we know that the game was pitched to Nintendo sometime after April 2004 although no official date could be found. The story had to do with Wizpig coming back for a rematch with Diddy Kong and friends. If Wizpig wins, the forest will be paved over. To defeat him, you have to go through several villages (16 to be exact, 3 courses each + mirror mode). These villages were themed after a good character from the Donkey Kong Country franchise (excluding Wizpig’s lair). Each item was under a baddie’s control and to free it, you would have to first beat the baddie in a one-on-one race than show your worthiness by finding an item or something similar. You could control quads, plans, buggies, jet skis and hover scooters, these vehicles were fully customizable.

Upgrading and customizing your vehicle could help you find hidden areas. You were also able to change potion on the vehicle to maneuver across paths and get max speed. You could also jump onto other vehicles mid-race. Many characters from the original Diddy Kong Racing were in this installment although this might have not been this case if this game had actually released due to the rights to some characters staying with Rare who was recently bought by Microsoft. This game would be like many other kart racer games except each character had their own special attack. Characters from other games like Banjo Kazooie and (surprising) Conker’s Bad Fur Day were also considered although since Rare was bought by Microsoft as mentioned before, this was unlikely. There were some unique game modes too like knockout mode, a demolition derby type mode, and even a Simon says type mode. Huge props to Andrew Borman for sharing this interesting prototype!

Article by Joe H

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Silent Hill: Cold Heart [Wii – Cancelled Pitch]

Silent Hill: Cold Heart was a pitch for a new Silent Hill game that eventually became Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. This pitch came to light when the developers Climax Studios held a competition to give away eight copies of the document to fans, who since have uploaded it to the Internet so that other fans can enjoy it. Cold Heart was planned in 2007 by Climax for the Wii and would have been published by Konami.

Cold Heart would have followed Jessica Chambers an athletic but emotionally vulnerable college student. The protagonist would have recently being talking to a psychiatrist after being plagued by horrific nightmares and being unable to sleep. These distressing circumstances lead to Jessica leaving her college town and going on a road trip to go back to visit her parents, on the way back Jessica becomes caught in a blizzard and so follows an ambulance that leads her to the town of Silent Hill. This is where the game would begin with Jessica stranded and needing somewhere to stay the evening: she explores the town, but now her nightmares start to become real.

silent hill cold heart wii cancelled

The game would contain the usual elements of a Silent Hill game but would use features of the Wii such as the Wiimote to control where the player shines the flashlight. The Wiimote was to be used for a large number of controls in the game, in combat the player would swing the remote to enact the actions on the screen, it is also noted that the sound of hitting an enemy would play through the speaker on the remote. The remote would also be used for when puzzles needed to be solved, using push, pull and turning motions. Also for puzzles certain audio cues would be played through the remote that would hint on how to solve them. The remote was also going to be used for interactions with other characters, allowing you to point, nod or shake your head.

The “world’s first real psychological horror” is how Silent Hill: Cold Heart is described in the pitch, this is because of the ways in which the game would tailor itself to the individual, creating unique experiences for different players. These experiences that would change would be story events, dialogue, sound cues, monsters and even camera field of view. Profiling was one of the ways this would be done when certain questions were asked by Jessica’s psychiatrist, the players answer would be logged, also your response to events would also be tracked, thus building up a psychological profile for the player. Climax also wanted each player’s psych profile to be shared and compared to friends over Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection.

Climax also wanted to change the way that the player can use their inventory, rather than being able to collect many items, it would be restricted to what could only be worn or stored on the body of Jessica, or in a small backpack the player could use. This was because Climax wanted to have survival type elements to the game, with the player having to find new clothes to protect themselves from the blizzard that would rage through Silent Hill. The player would also have to eat food and drink water to maintain their health. These items would not just maintain the health of the player though, it would also maintain their body heat and stamina.

silent-hill-cold-heart-wii-cancelled-climax

There are a few puzzle examples also noted in the pitch document, such as the metal detector, the player would have to slowly move the Wiimote and use the audio cues of beeps from the remote to find hidden objects in the snow. “Sewer Fishing” is also another puzzle noted, this is where the player would have to try and collect a key while using rumble and audio cues to fish it out.

The main technical features that are mentioned in the document are that the game would have dynamic weather, mentioned are updated fog effects from Silent Hill: Origins, these would allow the fog to react to the different shapes of the environment. The variables of the weather would also change so that the player would have different intensity of the blizzard.

Climax also wanted the game to be seamless, to do this they were going to “stream” content ahead of the player by anticipating where the player would guide Jessica, this would mean that there would be little to no loading times in the game.  They also wanted to push photo-realistic graphics on the Wii and were confident that they could “redefine” what people could expect from real-time graphics on the WII.

One other feature that was mentioned, pending talks with Nintendo, was the integration of players Mii, their local weather and news. Climax wanted to be able to quote this in the game so that it would “spook” the player. With the Mii integration they wanted to use certain aspects of the user created Mii such as hair colour and project them on to the main characters in the game.

Contained in the document is a large description of some exploration, combat and puzzle solving, if you would like to read through this to see some of the experiences you would have in the game, please download and read the pitch to get a detailed understanding.

Ultimately, Cold Heart was never realized but a few details were used in Silent Hills: Shattered Memories as the cold and harsh environment, the use of a psychological profile to change some situations and parts of the plot. This pitch is however a really interesting look into how a different version of one of the top rated survival horror games could have looked like. Shattered memories was released for Wii in 2008 which was essentially a reimagining of the very first Silent Hill game, and it reviewed fairly well, it does however leave questions of how well a different story and character would have done.

If you have any more information on this game or any questions, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.

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The Elder Scrolls Travels: Oblivion [PSP – Cancelled]

The Elder Scrolls Travels: Oblivion [PSP – Cancelled]

The Elder Scrolls Travels: Oblivion is a cancelled action RPG in The Elder Scrolls series that was planned to be released for PSP, based on the main Oblivion game released for PC, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2006. The game was in development at Climax Group London (former Syrox Developments, from Kingston upon Thames, UK) with some help from Climax Group Los Angeles  in 2005 / 2006, with new characters, inventory system, combat system, levels and more features exclusive for this PSP version.

“The game was originally being created using an ‘inhouse’ game engine that was  being developed alongside the Oblivion PSP game. The engine used a BSP based renderer and early levels were prototyped using GTK Radiant. Eventually development moved over to use Renderware Studio following successes found through the engine’s use in Ghost Rider PSP and Silent Hill PSP (both in different stages of development at other Climax studios at the time).”

Because of the Playstation Portable hardware limitations, Elder Scrolls Travels: Oblivion was going to be a more linear game than the original Bethesda Game Studios version. There was a hub world which contained various vendors, NPCs and story characters, and player would have used a teleportation crystal to go to each of the explorable areas of the game. The hub world would change and react to the events that went on in each area, for example going on a side mission in a level and rescue an NPC, that NPC may show up in the HUB world as a special vendor or quest giver.

“One of the problems faced with Renderware was the use of navigation meshes that lead to NPCs not being able to physically being located above the player in 3D space. I’m not sure if this was limited to just the Oblivion PSP version of Renderware, however this limitation led to the levels that were implemented having no overlapping tiers or level layers (e.g. floors above floors) because the NPCs wouldn’t ‘find’ their way up overlapping paths. This problem wasn’t successfully resolved in time to have a positive effect on the designed levels. If the project progressed it’s possible that this would have been resolved leading to more complex multi-tiered environments. In the tech demo, this is why the Oblivion towers had no lifts, or vertical stairwells, and relied on the player walking through doors to load in the next level segment with a separate AI navmesh.”

Each area had multiple paths to be explored that were open or closed depending on which quest was active. Oblivion PSP was designed in a way that would maximize the console limitations, but there was a lot of levels planned and at one point Climax even thought it might have to be split on to two UMDs.

oblivion psp travels cancelled

The team at Climax had access to early builds of Oblivion and played it heavily to be able to better get the feel of the main game. Even Todd Howard was really impressed with the design that the team was able to create for the portable version, that included all of Oblivion’s main core mechanics, plot, characters and playable areas related to TES4: Oblivion’s storyline. The game took place at the same time as Oblivion, but wanted to express that the Oblivion Crisis was happening all over Tamriel, not just in Cyrodiil, so it was set in and around High Rock. Some of the levels were set in Moonguard, Anticlere, Glenpoint and even Daggerfall, each with their own explorable world areas and plane of Oblivion that was a unique reflection of the level location.

“The story was planned to take the player across the northern regions of Tamriel, mainly focusing on High Rock, and be timed to take place as a second storyline during the main story in the main Oblivion game. The idea was that Oblivion gates were opening all across Tamriel, not just limited to Cyrodiil.

The main antagonist was going to be called Zhurl. The story was the player basically tracking and following Zhurl through the zones and Oblivion gates with him always being 1 step ahead until the end of the game.

Originally there was due to be 10 levels across 5 regions that would each have its own counterpart Oblivion gate. The idea was that, because of being linear rather than open world, progression would go from Tamriel to Oblivion for each leg of the game.”

  • Rhalta: the starting location of the game, with the player starting in a prison cell to mirror what happened in the main Oblivion game. The idea was that the player was experiencing an adventure that was equally as important and the story would be intertwined with references to the events of the main Oblivion game.
  • Anticlere: This was a walled city – the player would traverse through house interiors and streets, winding their way upwards towards Anticlere castle. The Oblivion plain level was to be a winding maze of underground caverns that would cross paths on multiple levels.
  • MoonGuard: a village in the province of High Rock. It is one of several possible locations that the Eternal Champion may discover in The Elder Scrolls: Arena.
  • Glenpoint: Intended to have the player to start in an underground cavern system, walk their way down a mountainside to then travel across open green spaces, ending at a church and graveyard.
  • Daggerfall: This was planned to be a return to Daggerfall, but completely destroyed. The idea was that the whole city would have been torn apart with lava and some aspects of the Oblivion plain would have started to merge with Tamriel. Destruction was to be done partially by huge worms (think the sand worms from Tremors) that ate through the ground and destroyed the city streets. The player would spend time walking in the tunnels left behind by these worms that would lead the player underneath buildings and up and out to resurface on the other side.

The hub city was planned to have several small quests to help you navigate and familiarize the player with where key vendor NPCs were (e.g. there was a planned burglar quest within the main city for the armourer with a reward for 50% discount on repair for armour and weapon damage).

In The Elder Scrolls Travels players would have helped a Mage to try to stop the Oblivion Crisis, and each plane of Oblivion featured it’s own unique boss.

oblivion psp cancelled

The designers had planned more than 180 quests, which took on a variety of things from the main quest line to a huge variety of side quests, including quests for the various guilds. The plotline (and side quests) on PSP referenced the Oblivion game and plot line at several points to tie the two products together, and even explained / foretold some of the events of Oblivion – for example, the Dark Brotherhood quest line heavily featured Lucien Lachance (before his demise in the main Oblivion game).

Monsters / NPCs were to include:

  • Rat
  • Prison Guard
  • Scamp
  • Rhalta Mage
  • Rhalta Guard Captain
  • Mythic Dawn

The skill system was closely aligned with Oblivion, and was planned to include:

  • 18 unique skills
  • Player had to choose 7 skills as ‘major’ while the rest became ‘minor’
  • Increasing abilities in major skills was the only way to level up
  • Major skills to start with 25 attribute points
  • Minor skills to start with 5 attribute points

The team developed a few playable levels using Renderware Studio and most of the core gameplay systems was already working or planned, as the combat mechanics (which allowed the player to sub-select parts of an enemy when targeting them, due to only having one analogue stick on the PSP), inventory system, TES character statistics system using Oblivion’s own attributes / skills formula and the conversation system.

the elder scroll oblivion psp

Unfortunately we’ll never be able to play a final version of this unique version of Oblivion. A playable prototype was leaked online in June 2016, you can search the ISO on Google.. check the videos in this page for more info! Although the PSP game was announced for release in spring 2007 and the team had already created some great content, The Elder Scrolls Travels was soon cancelled and it vanished forever without any official comment from Climax or Bethesda.

Eventually, with the changes in game engine and technical challenges faced, each environment was reduced from being fully unique levels – the scope of the game was reduced to meet project milestones. This meant that the game changed to use a modular approach to level design instead of fully unique regions and the scope was reduced to reuse Oblivion plain levels. Each level ‘module’ was then used like jigsaw puzzle pieces to create the levels – artists would then take these piecemeal levels and complete a pass to make them correctly lit and integrated stylistically. The leaked tech demo mainly includes the standalone levels (I.E. those that were not created in a modular fashion).

The original deal was signed with too little time and too little money to actually make it. In early development Climax were going to use their own internal 3D engine for PSP, but when that didn’t move quick enough they switched over to using Renderware Studio (which was already been used on other games) for an easier and faster development. Sadly this was too late to save the project and Oblivion PSP was cancelled.

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Silent Hill Origins [PSP – Beta]

Silent Hill: Origins was first announced at E3 2006: the game would not be produced by Konami’s Team Silent, who had developed all previous Silent Hill games, but by Climax Studios instead. The first previews of the game featured a radical departure from the original game style with the inclusion of a Resident Evil 4 style camera angle, although Oertel stressed that the game would not be a first-person shooter.

Travis would have access to six weapons, three of which were melee weapons and three of which were firearms, including a pistol, a revolver and a shotgun. There were also plans to introduce a laser-sight for Travis’s pistol and a new “Barricade” system which would allow the player to block access to areas from monsters with improvised objects.

In October 2006, Climax’s US based team working on Origins was sacked, with rumors circulating that the game production was becoming a disaster through mismanagement and “unrealistic deadlines”, and that the final version of the game was expected to have only “three to four hours of gameplay”. Production of the game was subsequently moved to the United Kingdom.

Later previews of the game showed that the game had changed significantly, and contained gameplay more in line with that found in the previous titles in the series, scrapping the Resident Evil 4 camera angle and some of the enemies seen in the original trailers [Infos from Wikipedia]

Thanks to Celine for the contribution!

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