Criterion

Skate or Die Reboot [Xbox, PS2 – Cancelled]

In 2002 Electronic Arts commissioned Criterion Games (the team mostly known for their Burnout series) to develop a 3D reboot of Skate or Die, the popular skateboarding game published by EA in 1988 for many home computers and the NES. Unfortunately this Skate or Die sequel for Xbox and Playstation 2 was cancelled after just 1 year of development.

Skate or Die “reboot” was in development by the same team that also worked on TrickStyle and AirBlade, two games very similar to the Tony Hawk’s videogames, but with hoverboards. Thanks to an article dedicated to Criterion Games published in Games TM Magazine (issue 100, September 2010) we can read that:

“Criterion started talking to EA in 2002 and they asked if we’d be interested in doing a remake of the old C64 and NES game, Skate Or Die. These guys wanted to make a skateboarding game, so we did it.”

It seems that after Acclaim filed for bankruptcy, Criterion approached EA as a possible new publisher for Burnout and in the end they also pitched a new racing game titled “Need for Speed: Split Second”, that EA greenlighted along with the new Skate or Die project.

“[After Burnout 2: Point of Impact in 2002], we were talking to EA Canada about doing a Need For Speed game, so we put together a pitch to do a stunt racing game called Need For Speed: Split Second.“

Criterion had an interesting concept for Skate or Die, to let players to freely move around the levels on foot, choosing the best spot to start doing tricks on the skateboard, entering into shops to buy new boards and interacting with NPCs. In 2002 this was quite a new way to conceive a skateboarding game, when most Tony Hawks games still had the same gameplay mechanics as the first one.

“In Tony Hawk you were always on the board and it was all about tricks and high scores, but I wanted to explore what it was like to just go out for a skate and have that feeling of just doing whatever you want, […] I wanted to be able to get off the board”

skate or die cancelled sequel

Unfortunately EA had even more ambitious plans for Skate or Die (it seems they also proposed to make it a tie-in for Jackass or Dogtown and Z-Boys), not only they wanted to enter in competition with Tony Hawks, but even against such as massive game as GTA 3:

“But the project was apparently subject to all kinds of pushing and pulling at the behest of the publisher. We were told ‘you can’t just make a Tony Hawk game – it’s got to be like Grand Theft Auto,’ and that was the first time we were like, ‘Really?’ ‘It’s got to be open world.’ Well, what does that mean? Nobody really knew.”

The team at Criterion knew that it would have been impossible to meet EA’s demands, so they decided to quit the project before it would became a development hell:

“We watch as the game changes direction before our very eyes, from classic skating game to GTA-inspired open-world ideas through to an ingenious skating evolution concept but the simplicity with which the various videos flow onto the screen belies the confusion and trauma the team went through in trying to score when the goalposts were moving so quickly and so frequently. Sullivan tells us of a number of serious illnesses he went through as a result of the constant stress, and he wasn’t alone – the team was in turmoil.”

“We called a meeting with the EA guys, told them we were walking away [from the Skate or Die sequel] and they went mad, threatening to sue us, put us out of business… there was a lot of anger and frustration, […] then we got a call from the Need For Speed guys and they said ‘we can’t work with you guys any more; you just walked away and there’s a shame on your company, so we can’t talk to you. […] I remember coming back to my desk and there was a folder on my desktop called EA and I just clicked delete. We learned a lot about how a game should be made, and we learned a lot about working with an external publisher – how we had to get our shit together earlier but also how we had to stand our ground.“

In the end Criterion and EA signed a new agreement and they started working together on Burnout 3: Takedown, released in September 2004 for PS2 and Xbox. In august of the same year Electronic Arts acquired Criterion and they became one of their internal development team that later create such titles as Black, Need for Speed and new games in the Burnout series.

If you own issue 100 of Games TM, let us know if there are more screenshots from the cancelled Skate or Die sequel in the magazine!

skate or die cancelled sequel 

Black 2 [Xbox 360, PS3 – Cancelled]

Black 2 [Xbox 360, PS3 – Cancelled]

Black 2 is the cancelled sequel to Criterion Games‘ 2006 shooter, Black, which was being worked on by the same developer for publisher and IP holder, Electronic Arts. It was planned to be a co-op shooter for the Xbox 360 and PS3 with a release in late 2007/early 2008.

Black 2 Logo

Concept art for Black 2’s logo.

The Original Idea For Black 2

Despite recurring rumours of Black 2 rumbling for several years after the release of the original game, its development was, in actuality, rather short-lived and it never was able to leave pre-production. As it turns out, EA and Criterion had plans to expand Black into a franchise for some time before the first game was even released. Preliminary work on the sequel commenced as early as April 2005, a whole 10 months before Black was finished.

Artists were contracted externally to produce conceptual documents for the game, including drawings of the protagonist, Jack Kellar. According to one of the artists who spent a short period of time on the project, there was some debate over the direction the follow-up would take. One possible path, for example, would have continued the story of the first game, as Kellar continues his hunt for Lennox at the behest of the US government. 

Burnout [Beta – PS2, XBOX, GameCube]

Burnout (working title Shiny Red Car) is a racing game developed by Criterion Games and published by Acclaim on the PlayStation 2, Nintendo GameCube and Xbox in 2001. 11 years later, information regarding Burnout beta cars has been revealed. It wasn’t exactly hidden, but neither was it put out there to the public. Firstly, the vehicles have names tied to them. A slight hint to this is the fact that the Saloon GT has the bolded words “TENRAI” on the back. Nobody understood what this meant (other than it’s just a manufacturer name), but this latest discovery puts all of the theories to rest and finally puts a meaning to all of this.

On top of this, there was officially one cut vehicle from the game. This would be the Fire Engine, most likely to be assumed a Fire truck. No files for this vehicle remain in the game, only references to its name.

To start, here is the list of vehicle names taken directly from the inner-workings of Burnout on the PS2:

  • Frente GL
  • Venom SX
  • Sabre
  • Thunderbolt GT
  • Longbow EXC 300
  • Tenrai VII
  • Grizzly
  • Hudson 418
  • UT500 Jackhammer
  • Fire Engine

One will have to assume which vehicle name is tied to what, but a good way to figure that out is to try and associate each name with each car based on what it is. For example, the UT500 Jackhammer sounds like the Tow Truck, and the Sabre could be the Muscle (which resembles a Dodge Viper).

There were also many cut traffic cars. In the final game, only 8 traffic cars appear in each city, but the full list of traffic cars may come as a surprise to some…here they are!

  • Europe Bus
  • Oriental Bus
  • USA Bus
  • Long cab
  • Cab over
  • Compact
  • Old compact
  • Container
  • Flatbed
  • Minibus
  • Payload
  • Europe police
  • Oriental police
  • USA police
  • Sedan
  • Tanker
  • Europe taxi
  • Oriental taxi
  • USA taxi
  • Van
  • Europe truck
  • Oriental truck
  • USA truck
  • Europe van

You may be thinking:

COP CARS!

It would seem that cop cars were originally planned, but later cut! What a shame!

The above names were actual string names assigned to each model in-game, but the following names are the names used for each model. This could provide an insight into what kind of cars were planned for the game. Since these are model names, they are all capitals, and most likely, abbreviated as much as possible. About 80% of the traffic cars would be cut from the game!

  • MOTORBIKE
  • SCOOTER
  • MODCOMPACT
  • OLDCOMPACT
  • SEDAN
  • EUROTAXI
  • USTAXI
  • ORIENTTAXI
  • EUROPOLICE
  • USPOLICE
  • ORIENTPOLICE
  • BASICPICKUP
  • JACKEDPICKUP
  • THAIPICKUP
  • FARMTRUCK
  • VAN
  • MINIBUS
  • LUTON1
  • LUTON2
  • PEOPLECARRIER
  • USBUS
  • EUROBUS
  • ORIENTBUS
  • WINNEBAGO
  • USNON
  • EURONON
  • ORIENTNON
  • LONGNOSE
  • CABOVER
  • FLATBEDTARP
  • FLATBEDPAYLOAD
  • CONTAINER
  • TANKER

You may be thinking:

MOTORBIKES AND A SCOOTER!

Yes, a motorbike and a scooter. It was going to happen. You heard it here first on Unseen64!

All of the information seen here was found inside of the SLUS_203.07 file that can be found inside of the Burnout [PS2] disc. The information provided above has not be altered in any way, shape, or form, and is guaranteed to be 100% correct based upon the developer.

And to think, it only took 11 years to find this out. It was worth it!

Article by Red 

Stunt Squad (Airblade) [PS2 – Beta]

Stunt Squad was the original title for AirBlade, a futuristic extreme sports game developed by Criterion Games and published in november 2001 by Namco for the Playstation 2, as a spiritual successor to the Dreamcast game Trickstyle.  Pcloadletter found some beta images from the game in Edge 86 (July 2000), in whic Stunt Squad / Airblade looked a lot different from the final version.

Airblade Beta:


Airblade Final:


Thanks to pcloadletter for the contribution!

Images:

 

Black [PS2/XBOX – Beta]

Black is a FPS developed by Criterion Games and published in 2006 by Electronic Arts for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. Thanks to a playable demo released before the game was completed, DCodes7 noticed various beta differences, listed in the gallery below. Also, as wrote by Satrialeson the NeoGaf Forum, originally Black had a “challenge mode” where you would run around the levels shooting targets within a set time, but this was removed in the final version.

Images:

Video:

 

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