The game used pre-rendered sprites for characters and background created with Silicon Graphics, similar to games such as Killer Instinct and Donkey Kong Country, and was mentionned in numerous previews from video game magazines, most of them were less than enthusiastic regarding the quality of the title. For instance, in issue #083 of Gamepro from June 1996, journalist Scary Larry wrote for the Genesis/MegaDrive version this:
As if we needed a reason to bury the Genesis, along comes Lobo, one of the most god-awful fighting games since Time Killers. Unless you’re a fan who has to own every single piece of Lobo merchandise available, steer clear of this game. You choose from six poorly illustrated warriors that fight with jerky, unpredictable special moves. Since Lobo is based on some of the best comic-book art of all time, this is a major disappointment. The sound isn’t bad, but it gets lost in the dismal gameplay. The battles resounds with smacks and groans aplenty but no trademark Lobo wisecracks. This badly executed game doesn’t deserve a place on the shelf with other comic-book games. Rent it, play it, return it. This one’s a LoBlow.
To this day, it was never made clear why Lobo was cancelled. Some could speculate that for a very late release for the now-dying 16-bits era, and with poor review like this one, Ocean deemed it wasn’t worth to release it, and decided to pull the plug. But it also seems that the project went through development hell: as we can read on SNESCentral, John Lomax, former artist at Ocean Software, indicated that the game initially began development in the main office of Ocean, based in Manchester, and not in the american office that was established in San José, California:
I worked on it for about a month before moving projects. It was originally going to be a Street Fighter-style beat ’em up, and I did work on background art for it, but the powers that be decided it would be better to give it to Ocean America to work on, so I don’t know if it ever came out, (…)
Another story, this time from Alexander Ehrath, who was High Performance Games’ sole programmer for the SNES version, explained in January 2022 that the game was initially coded by Park Place Productions before Ocean America took over the project internally as all the money given to Park Place was spent without finishing the game. This anecdote can be found here.
In 2009, a prototype of the Genesis/MegaDrive version was found by the SegaSaturno community and they released it with the help of Hidden Palace. The SNES one was found in 2014 with the source code available since 2016.
Games based on DC Comics‘ franchises seems to have a lot of trouble back in the 90’s. Alongside this title, another SNES game based on Green Lantern was in development at Ocean Software and was cancelled after numerous setbacks by DC higher-ups. We can also mentionned that around 2003, another Lobo game, this time made by Kemco USA for the Playstation 2, Xbox and GameCube systems was planned before being canceled with, to this day, still no information about how far the game went in development.
Fireteam Rogue is a canceled sci-fi action-adventure game published and developed by Accolade Inc.from 1993 to 1995 for the Super NES and the Genesis/Megadrive. The project was very ambitious for its time, as Accolade planned to launch alongside the game a comic book serie, with also discussion for action figure toys and a TV show.
Next information that will follow are from SNESCentral which was one of the first website to share many details as possible about this title. With a budget of 2,000,000 US $, this project was plagued by mismanagement that ultimately led to its cancellation:
Fireteam Rogue’s cancellation is probably due to having too much ambition. The people marketing the game claimed it would have 100 hours of gameplay, and that the characters would be larger than in most other action games. Personality conflicts and poor management due to this goal seem to have taken their toll, as stated by Russell Borogove (Bornschlegel):
“The project had a lot of problems in development. We spent a lot more time developing ridiculous data compression schemes to fit all the levels into the game, when we should have cut a couple of enemies and a handful of levels in order to get it done. There were also some personality conflicts that culminated with the producer of the project quitting when we were at beta. Shortly after that, the head of product development at Accolade asked us if we thought we should continue the project or not. It was unclear to me how much more work it was going to take to finish it and if the game was going to be good enough to compete in the market by the time we actually got it out, and I advised that we should shut it down. I don’t remember what the others said.”
The late Betty Cunningham on her website claims the game was complete. And it may well have been close to being finished. By the sounds of things, as development dragged on, it was increasingly clear it would not have been released. As artist Scott Ruggels recalls:
“Both of the game projects (Fireteam Rogue and the unreleased Genesis game, Cybernauts: The Next Breed) were helmed by John Skeel. I don’t know what happened to him after Accolade, but after the 2 million dollar budget for the game was spent, with about 750,000 spent on promotional materials, including a 6 foot tall roll of plastic with a life sized image of the main character computer generated within, and the prototype, that was, in all honesty, not very much fun to play, the game was cancelled, along with a lot of others soon after the new management took over, (…)”
The media give differing times for the ultimate cancellation. Gamepro, in its April 1995 issue states it was cancelled, coinciding with Warner Music Group buying a share in the company. Nintendo Power kept it in its upcoming releases section until the August 1995issue. Ultimately, a long development cycle can never be good for a game.
Two different prototypes exist and their source codes are both available on the web. The first prototype is apparently in early alpha and might be dated from 1994. It was leaked somewhere around 2006-2007 and is pretty incomplete and glitchy. A much later prototype was acquired in 2010 by Evan G., founder and owner of SNESCentral and is dated from 1995, although it is not clear from which month:
This later prototype of Fireteam Rogue was acquired by me in June 2010. The seller worked at a company called IMN Control. They were looking into publishing games to package with their controllers, and I guess by April 1995 (the letter that came with the prototype was dated April 6, 1995), Accolade was hoping to get another company to publish the game. The seller said that he did not feel the game would be complete in a reasonable amount of time to bother investing.
In addition to the prototype, there were some marketing materials and a three page FAQ. The FAQ explains the different levels, characters and goal of the game. There is a date of December 12, 1994 on the header of the FAQ. The package included a poster/information sheet that probably was used at the 1995 Winter CES. The poster has an expected March 1995 release date. The prototype itself came on four chips, with a date of “1/16” on it, which I assume means January 16, 1995. I guess that despite the fact that the prototype was sent in April 1995, either development had ceased, or they did not feel like burning a newer copy.
This prototype appeared to be more complete and less glitchy with the addition of Mode 7 levels and a password feature.
On his own article, Evan G. concluded:
Fireteam Rogue is definitely a game that had promise. It had an intriguing plot, excellent character artwork and a promising gameplay system. The Shadowblade level in particular shows the scope of what the levels may have entailed. The shooter levels play quite well and compare favourably with many similarly styled shooters for the SNES.
That being said, the two alpha ROM images available show a game that is not close to completion. Though I was told development may have extended all the way to 1996, the evidence seems to indicate that it was leading towards demise in early 1995. In particular, the statement in Gamepro in April 1995 and the fact that they were trying to find another company to publish the game show that its fate was decided by then. If the later alpha that I have is what was shown at the 1995 Winter CES (which I assume, considering the date on the prototype, and the included CES-style advertisement sheet), it would have had an underwhelming response. For instance, despite the impressive size and animation frames of the character sprites, the animation was not smooth, and led to unresponsive controls. The level designs are poor, and lack the key items to proceed through the stages. The graphics themselves don’t look bad, though they have a limited palette. The promised linking of the levels into a single story was not finished in the game.
The lesson of Fireteam Rogue is that focusing on hype and story before the creation of solid level design and gameplay can sink a game. The back-story of Fireteam Rogue rivals most contemporary RPGs, and the initial gameplay ideas could have rivalled Super Metroid. Instead, a development cycle mired by poor management and delays made this just another footnote in the history of the 16-bit era.
In October 1996, Accolade Inc. released a DOS game called Eradicator in which three different characters are playable. Those characters shares many similarities with the 4 main characters of Fireteam Rogue.
Hannibal was a video game in development for PC by Arxel Tribe from 2001 to 2003 (and possibly 2004). Intended as an adaptation of the film of the same name by Ridley Scott (itself an adaptation of the eponymous book by Thomas Harris), Hannibal would put the player in the shoes of FBI agent Clarice Starling as she tracks down the infamous cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal Lecter after his escape from confinement.
Arxel Tribe, which was part of a merging of development and publishing companies known as The Arxel Guild, had been founded in Slovenia sometime in the early 1990’s by architects Matjaž Požlep and Diego Zanco, starting its life as a multimedia company with one studio in their home country and later joined by another in Paris, France. They initially produced software and computer animated graphics for the architecture industry and larger companies such as L’oreal, but their experiences in this field left them with a desire to expand their artistic expression to video games. After attempting to raise funds for this purpose for over a year without success, they were finally given the opportunity to develop Pilgrim: Faith As A Weapon in 1996, an ambitious graphic adventure project which saw them collaborate with Brazilian author Paulo Coelho and French writer/cartoonist Jean Giraud, better known around the world as Moebius.
Described as an “author game”, Pilgrim would come out in 1997 to a fairly positive but somewhat divided critical response, with reviewers praising it as an artistic achievement that dealt with complex themes, while also pointing out several technical and gameplay issues, such as bugs, outdated design and visuals and occasionally bizarre puzzles and writing. However, Arxel Tribe would go on to become well-known in this genre in the following years, releasing several more point-and-click/adventure titles from that point forward that were considered improvements on Pilgrim by critics, including two more based on Coelho’s work and even one under Alfred Hitchcock’s name.
After this string of releases, Arxel Tribe would announce the development of two new ambitious projects that would differ from their typical formula in 2001: Mistmare, a fully 3D RPG based on an alternate reality medieval Europe (seemingly co-developed with a studio named Sinister Systems), and Hannibal: The Game, an adaptation of the movie by Ridley Scott that had been released earlier that year.
Hannibal was a direct sequel to the 1991 film The Silence Of The Lambs, in which FBI cadet Clarice Starling consults with the incarcerated serial killer Hannibal Lecter, a former forensic psychiatrist who cannibalized his victims, in an attempt to understand and catch another murderer, nicknamed “Buffalo Bill”, who has been killing women and taking large pieces of their skin. During this time, Lecter, who has already figured out the identity of the killer, requests conversations with Clarice about her personal life and traumatic memories in exchange for his cryptic help, something that results in a strange relationship of mutual fascination between the two. In Hannibal, ten years have passed. Lecter is on the loose in Italy and Clarice is dragged into the search by a parallel plot to take revenge on him by a wealthy and deranged third party, the billionaire Mason Verger.
According to Arxel Tribe, the opportunity to develop the adaptation presented itself through a good relationship with Universal Studios and a strong love for Thomas Harris’ works among their team. Hannibal would be played from a first-person perspective and would have predominant elements of horror and adventure. Although a licensed game, it does not seem like it would feature the likenesses or voices of Anthony Hopkins, Julianne Moore or any other actor from the film, but all the environments were based on key scenes and environments seen in it, taking place in either the United States or Italy.
The story would be told through flashbacks, represented by six levels. During a particularly infamous scene towards the end of the film and book, Clarice finds herself under the influence of drugs and in a vulnerable position. It is in this state that she starts exploring her memories in order to find out if her life really is, as Lecter claims, parallel to his own.
The game would follow the source material closely, but Hannibal was to go beyond the confines of this chapter of the Hannibal Lecter saga as there were plans to explore both the protagonist’s and antagonist’s past through plot points and locations from the previous books Red Dragon (which would also be adapted into a movie for the second time in 2002, following 1986’s “Manhunter”) and The Silence Of The Lambs. This meant that characters such as Will Graham, the FBI profiler who first uncovered Lecter’s crimes, and killers Francis Dollarhyde and Buffalo Bill would make an appearance, along with many other recognizable names. The game would also attempt to tell the story of Lecter’s early life and explore the events that triggered his disturbing tendencies, something that would only be done by Harris himself in 2006 with the last book in the series, Hannibal Rising.
Arxel Tribe would explain that this was done to avoid a feeling of déjà vu for people already familiar with the story, and they would further expand on the existing narrative by introducing other sub-plots and characters of their own creation. For example, Clarice never goes to Italy in the film, but would do so in the game. Lecter and Verger would also not be the sole antagonists as Clarice would be able to seek out several other criminals wanted by the FBI during her search. She could bring these in as side objectives, and they would range from simple gang members to white-collar criminals, with promotional texts also mentioning the opportunity to solve “pending criminal enigmas”.
Structuring the game in this manner meant that Hannibal would offer both scripted action sequences and detailed investigative mechanics. In order to catch these criminals, Clarice would be able to collect DNA evidence, analyze autopsy results, cross-examine suspects and even interrogate them, in a mixture of gameplay styles that would possibly resemble Condemned: Criminal Origins, a game released by Monolith Productions in 2005 that also mixed First Person action with sequences of forensic analysis. The plot surrounding the pursuit of a serial killer was similar as well, as would be the ability to contact the forensics team.
It seems the connection does not end there, as the LithTech Jupiter engine had been licensed from Monolith Productions for use in Hannibal as well. However, the game would feature several improvements to this framework developed by Arxel Tribe themselves, such as advanced graphical tweaks and other mechanics relating to a stress, or “Anxiety”, system. This system might have worked in a way similar to what was later seen in games such as Amnesia: The Dark Descent or Call Of Cthulhu: Dark Corners Of The Earth, as it would introduce limitations to the player’s vision and other forms of perception as Clarice’s stress grew. According to an interview with the developer:
” (…) The player will have to deal with the Clarice (sic) ‘Anxiety’ by closely watching an Anxiety meter. Her anxiety will increase according to several factors: her level of injury, reprimands from her hierarchy in case of police blunders or by some actions which will get her closer to the Hannibal’s (sic) philosophy, to name only these few examples.”
They would go on to offer more details:
“In game, the anxiety provokes alteration regarding the general environment. Concretely, the player will “feel” what Clarice feels under anxiety: distance distortions in real time like vertigo, faces of non player characters will seem more aggressive, the orchestration of the music will turn frightening and few other features will throw the player deeper and deeper into a state of paranoia. Of course, the higher the level of anxiety will be, the stronger the consequences will be and the more the player will be on the verge of blundering and moral dilemma.”
Judging from this and other pieces of information available, it seems that Clarice would, for example, be free to kill any suspect instead of arresting them (and the game would feature quite the arsenal of weapons for this purpose), but this type of action would contribute to her stress level and would drive her closer to Lecter’s mentality. Although the developer mentions “consequences”, whether or not this choice in morality would have any impact on the direction of the story or the ending the player would receive is unknown. Arxel Tribe would mention, however, that in addition to the anxiety penalties, killing suspects would also cause the player to miss out on important clues, as dead suspects would obviously be immune to interrogation. It was for this reason that one of Clarice’s starting tools was a taser, and she would have the ability to call in backup as well.
Clarice’s FBI badge would also be a usable item, and its use was linked to another system the developer would call “Willpower”. In short, Willpower was a variable statistic used by NPCs which would determine their behaviour when confronted by the player and in what manner. This would add an element of unpredictability to every encounter, as NPCs could react in different ways depending on whether Clarice showed them her badge, approached them while undercover or pulled out her gun.
Health would be another mechanic that would differ from what is usually expected from First Person Shooters. Utilizing a system of localized wounding, Hannibal would require the player to procure and use different types of items and medicine, such as bandages and sedatives, in order for Clarice to give herself proper first aid. Once again, a similar system would only be seen years later in Call Of Cthulhu.
Another part of the game that would be mentioned but with virtually no details to accompany it was a multiplayer mode, as Arxel Tribe claimed that they were still working on the concept. Considering that Hannibal seemed significantly more slower paced and mechanically complex than other shooters of its day, this would certainly have been another highly ambitious feature.
Unfortunately, Hannibal would ultimately never see the light of day. Details are scarce and sometimes conflicting, but according to info from french website NoFrag, the game had been finished before Arxel Tribe’s Paris studio, the one behind its development, faced financial difficulties and went through massive layoffs in the summer of 2003. A former Arxel Tribe developer, who offered some clarifications in the YouTube comments under a video he posted showcasing Hannibal’s level design, claimed that Hannibal was “95% done” but that the “investors went bust”. Again in the website NoFrag, it was also claimed that the reason Hannibal did not come out in its original November 2003 date (which had already been changed from Spring of that year) was because Arxel Tribe were forced to admit that the game was not yet ready for release. All that is known for sure is that the game, for whatever reason, had lost its publisher by this point.
Both Strategy First and Mindscape seem to have been attached to the project as publishers at different points in time, but it’s somewhat unclear when these partnerships began and ended. The remains of Arxel Tribe’s Paris studio would announce the reschedule of the release of Hannibal for the first quarter of 2004, no doubt in a last attempt to try and secure some other way to bring the game to store shelves, but nothing else about the game was heard and it soon became another forgotten title, lost to time and the new generation of gaming technology.
Former CEO Diego Zanco would eventually tell NoFrag in 2005 that the aging game would never be released as they were ultimately unable to find an interested publisher, likely due to the fact that, by that point, it was a movie tie-in that was now three years removed from the release of its source material.
Additionally, Mistmare, Arxel Tribe’s RPG which also used the LithTech engine, would see a release in July 2003 but was met with overwhelmingly negative and mixed reviews due to a large amount of technical and gameplay issues. It was published by Strategy First, which could suggest that they were also going to publish Hannibal, and upon seeing Arxel Tribes’ first foray outside of the graphic adventure genre end in disappointment, decided to cut their losses and not take the same risk with Hannibal. If, instead, Mindscape were the ones in line to publish it, this hesitation could have been the case for them as well. However, this is all speculation.
The Arxel Guild released a couple more games in 2003 and while it appears they still operated in Slovenia as late as 2005, by 2004 their website had disappeared. After the cancellation of Hannibal, it seems that Arxel Tribe either chose or was forced to restructure, leaving the gaming industry entirely and rebranding itself as Art Rebel 9. They returned to their multimedia roots, still led by Matjaž Požlep to this day.
Article by thecursebearer, thanks to Rewak and Daniel Nicaise for the contribution!
A few old beta / pre-release versions of the following games were found by Steve in an old (original) Xbox Development Kit:
Rainbow Six (late 2004)
XIII (dec 2002)
Brothers in Arms (Nov 2004)
Ghost Recon 2 (aug 2004)
The full XDK dump was shared online ad it’s available to be saved. Please, upload it on mirrors if you can, to be sure to preserve all the files. If you find any interesting differences / unused models hidden in the code, feel free to share your finds with the video games preservation community at:
Colliderz is a cancelled sci-fi arcade sport game with hovercraft (think Rocket League but sci-fi hockey), planned to be released for Sega Saturn and Playstation. We had an old entry in our archive, posted in 2008. Recently a prototype of the Sega Saturn version was found and you can now download it from one of these mirrors. It should work with emulators such as Mednafen.
“just drag and drop the cue file into Mednafen and it works, loading the cue in other emulators might work too”
Please download it and share it with your friends: the more copies are around, the better we can preserve it!
Huge thanks to Hidden Palace for their help in making this playable on Emulators!
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