Heavy Iron Studios

Family Guy: Back To The Multiverse [Cancelled – 3DS / Wii]

Family Guy: Back To The Multiverse is an action adventure title, which was developed by Heavy Iron Studios. It was released in November 2012 on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360. However, over a year before its release, the company was also working on 3DS and Wii versions of the title.

In May 2011, Activision put Heavy Iron in charge of creating a new game, based on the hit TV series, Family Guy. Given the difference in power between the HD platforms and Nintendo’s 3DS and Wii systems, the developer was initially ordered to make two separate versions of the game. While the 360/PS3/PC game was a third person adventure game with shooter elements, the other took on an isometric perspective; not wholely dissimilar to Family Guy: The Quest For Stuff on iOS.


Family Guy: The Quest For Stuff.

The Wii version of the game was being designed around the Wii remote and nunchuck, although did not make use of any of its unique features, such as the motion sensors or pointer. It was planned to be almost entirely identical to the 3DS version in terms of gameplay.

Whereas the shooting mechanics in the released HD title used a manually controlled reticule, the 3DS and Wii game used what one developer described to us as an “auto targeting system” instead, given the isometric camera view. This automatically locked on to potential targets within the immediate area to fire at with Stewie’s laser gun or Brian’s pistol.

According to one of the programmers on the Multiverse project we spoke to, the 3DS and Wii version were outlined to be otherwise “completely undifferentiated” in terms of story; even featuring the same dialogue and voice acting clips. It would have also included the two main playable characters of Brian and Stewie Griffin from the other version.

Playable prototype builds were created but shortly afterwards, the 3DS and Wii games were cancelled in August 2011, another developer told us.

“We stopped working on them around August. They weren’t that far along but both were up and running just fine. Everyone working on it was transitioned into working on the other version of it after that”

The same former Heavy Iron employee gave us two reasons for the projects’ demise.

“The Wii version was dropped first and then the 3DS one quickly after. I think it was a combination of them wanting us to focus on making one version of the game and growing concerns about how it would perform on those platforms”

Neither of the games ever received an official announcement prior to cancellation. 

Saints Row: The Cooler [Cancelled – Xbox 360, PS3]

Saints Row: The Cooler is a cancelled fighting game, which was in development for the Xbox 360 and PS3. It was being created by Heavy Iron Studios in Los Angeles and was funded by THQ.

“It was a brawler game. Go to a bar, pick a fight, smash a bottle over someone’s head” – Former Heavy Iron Studios artist

Work began on the title in March 2010 at developer, Heavy Iron. In partnership with THQ, the company sought to create the first Saints Row game controlled entirely by motion; a ploy to capitalise on the rising industry trend at the time.

Two versions of the game were planned initially: an Xbox 360 game using Microsoft’s Kinect peripheral and a PS3 port with Playstation Move support. The Xbox 360 was the lead development platform for The Cooler, as the team’s creative focus was very much on Kinect.

A team of around 40 people were put on the project, while the rest of the studio was occupied with another Kinect-centric project for Disney called ‘E-Ticket’.

We were able to get in touch with several people, a mix of both former and current employees at the developer, who shared some details with us on the game’s lifecycle. According to these sources, the title was a brawler set in the Saint’s Row universe and was, in contrast with the rest of the series, not an open world game.

“It was a ton of fun to work on because we got to use the original Saint’s Row locales as concept art, basically, and give them a redesign and a highly upgraded art treatment (since Saint’s Row was open world and our game was not, we could afford to devote more time and engine resources to artwork)”

Saints Row The Cooler

One of the gritty environments of Saints Row: The Cooler

Kinect lap dancing

Despite it ditching the free roaming traditions of the previous games, The Cooler apparently offered a myriad of activities to experience. Its main premise was of motion-controlled fighting in various parts of the Saints Row universe, but players would have also been able to compete in poker tournaments and other miscellaneous mini-games. 

Disney’s E-Ticket [Xbox 360 – Prototype]

E-Ticket was a prototype pitch for a cancelled interactive tour game developed by Los Angeles-based Heavy Iron Studios Inc., which was commissioned by The Walt Disney Company in 2010. The corporation was looking to create a new game using Microsoft’s Kinect peripheral for the Xbox 360 that would allow players to explore a virtual interpretation of Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Although a completed version of this concept would later be developed by Frontier Developments and released under the name of ‘Kinect Disneyland Adventures‘ in late 2011, E-Ticket represents an early, alternative iteration of the project that took different creative liberties with the setting.

E ticket 1

According to three former Heavy Iron Studios employees we spoke with, E-Ticket was conceived when Disney funded the development of a number of prototypes for a Disney World Kinect game at several different studios. Each team was assigned to work on a separate section of the Disney World park. The project, as a whole, was both a technical experiment, as well as a test to see which developer would perform best and be rewarded with a contract to work on the full game.

The original premise was to build a virtual Disneyland that kids could walk through from the comfort of their own living room.


Toy Story [PS3/X360/Wii – Tech Demo]

In 2007, Californian-based developer Heavy Iron Studios was working on a pitch for a new Toy Story game. Planned for PS3, Xbox 360 as well as Wii, the demo did not materialize into a full-fledged game. Instead, Heavy Iron Studios worked on Wall-E which was released in 2008.