Around 2002 Namco wanted to reboot their Xevious series of shoot ‘em up, by creating a new 3D Xevious for Playstation 2. The team hired for this mission was Project Aces, the same people behind Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies and the following Ace Combat games. You can imagine this would have been the perfect team to develop a new Xevious, thanks to their great 3D engine and experience with Ace Combat.
Unfortunately it seems Namco considered this Xevious remake to be less profitable than a new Ace Combat. After creating an early prototype using Ace Combat 4 engine and a few Xevious 3D models, Project Aces was moved to develop Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
“I’m looking forward to the forthcoming book about Iwata-san. I met both Iwata-san and Itoi-san at the same time – it was back in 2003 when there were talks between Namco and Nintendo about a GameCube version of Mother. I was happy to come up with a visual concept, and when I went to Aoyama Iwata-san was also present. Itoi-san didn’t seem very interested; he felt it was a little strange, and yet we continued talks. Itoi-san said, ‘I wonder if Iwata-kun has any ideas?’ He seemed flabbergasted, he had an aura of something akin to ‘Aw jeez.’ In the end nothing came of it, but Itoi-san enjoyed the felt-like recreations of 1980’s America that I had come up with. Here are some images that I didn’t think I’d show off more than once. Ah, memories of the summer of 2003.”
By knowing what Monolith Soft were able to achieve with their RPG series, we can only imagine how much we lost with the cancellation of this “Earthbound GameCube” project. The Baten Kaitos team also had a third Baten Kaitos in development that was later canned, but they successfully released other beloved games such as Soma Bringer, Disaster: Day of Crisis and the Xenoblade Chronicles series.
The original “Dancing Eyes” was a quirky puzzle game developed by Namco for Arcades in 1996. You move a small monkey on a grid around 3D girls to cut out their clothes piece by piece while avoiding enemies, somehow similar to the concept behind cult classic QiX.
“Namco announced three “models” for Dancing Eyes on the official site – Crisitia Saietta, Francoise Mystere, and Musaki Kikka who appears to be tied to Japanese voice actress who played Alicia in Valkyria Chronicles.”
It seems this Dancing Eyes HD would have been a PS3 exclusive (with PS Move support) but in the end the project was canned for unknown reasons.
Stephane with the help of a few more developers such as Pavlos Germidis worked at Virtual Studio from october 1997 to september 1998. In just 3 months they developed a short prototype for Commando, used to show off its 3D engine and main mechanics. Stephane worked on the game’s 3D engine, its tools and game programming while Pavlos worked on the artwork design, the story pitch and the CGI movie which would introduce the game.
Commando would have been an interesting take on the 3D action genre. The game was divided into different missions, each set in a different area on Mars full of enemies and huge final-bosses. You could steal and control enemy mechsand bikes, there would have been different ways to resolve a problem such as killing an enemy or avoid it with by flying away using a jetpack. It was a bit more open-ended than similar third person shooters of its time.
The deal for Commando was that Stephane would create the game and handle everything directly with Namco. Only the financial aspect would go thru Virtual Studio, which would get 30% of the price for being a financial go-between. Many trips to Japan were required in order to find an agreement on the game design, technical features and financials terms. The contract was finally signed by Stephane in Tokyo at the Namco building.
Unfortunately it seems that Virtual Studio misunderstand its part in the whole deal. When Stephane directly signed the game with Namco, Virtual Studio were surprised to be limited to a financial partner and quickly changed their mind about the deal. In the end the game had to be cancelled.
Only a few, tiny screenshots from the Commando prototype are preserved below, to remember its existence.
In 2005 the Katamari series was on a roll (pun intended), and speculations about the series hitting Nintendo consoles started to emerge. In March 2005Nintendo Power listed the game as in development for the DS. On the same month that year IGN approached Namco to ask about the possible title to which they simply replied “At this point we haven’t made any announcement for the future development of this franchise.”.
Unfortunately that was the last note regarding the title before disappearing.
Some say that this game ended up being dropped in favor of the PSP Katamari gameMe & My Katamari which was released on December 2005. Sadly, Nintendo consoles still haven’t managed to get a Katamari game of their own aside from the DSiWare spinoff Korogashi Puzzle Katamari Damacy.
In 2016 the franchise came back from it’s 5 years hiatus with Tap My Katamari for iOS and Android so maybe the future might hold something for Nintendo platforms after all.