platform

Pojo the Chicken (Midway) [Playstation 2 – Cancelled]

Pojo the Chicken is a cancelled 3D platformer / action game which was in development in 2000 by Atari / Midway Games West for Playstation 2. Pojo was originally born as an easter egg / secret character to be unlocked in such games as MACE: The Dark Age and Gauntlet and she was mostly an internal joke / team mascot for Midway. At some point in late ‘90s the studio jumped the shark and decided to make Pojo the main protagonist of her own game.

As described for Mace: the Dark Age:

“Pojo: The Fighting Chicken, transformed by Countess Taria into something more than human, a force powerful enough to rend the very cosmos in her powerful beak. Pojo wages a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the feathered way.”

Unfortunately only a few screenshots from an early level remain from this lost game to remember its existence. By looking at its colorful graphic, we can assume Pojo the Chicken would have been a fantasy action platformer, with humorous settings and funny jokes. For example the island you can see in these screens was home for Kung Pao, which we speculate was some kind of kung-fu chicken master which could have teached special moves to Pojo. Kung Pao chicken is also the name of a delicious chinese dish.

We don’t know enough about Pojo the Chicken to say if it could have been a fun game to play, but for sure it seems the team had fun at conceiving something as crazy and amusing as a whole game based around a powerful fighting chicken.

The same team also worked on the cancelled Joust 3D for PS2 and Xbox, before developing Dr. Muto which was finally published in 2002 for PS2, Xbox and Gamecube. In 2009 Midway Games filed for bankruptcy, most of its internal games studios where closed and all of its assets were purchased by other companies such as Warner Bros. Probably we’ll never know what really happened to the mighty chicken Pojo.

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Moeyo Butaman [NES – Cancelled]

Moeyo Butaman (燃えよ ぶたマン!?) is a cancelled NES / Famicom game that was in development in 1992 and it would have been published by Sigma Enterprises. Only a couple of (tiny) scans from old japanese gaming magazines remain to remember the existence of this game.

The main protagonist was going to be some kind of super-hero pig, and as noted by GDRI gameplay could have been similar to Time Zone, another action platformer published by Sigma in 1991.

Characters designer for Moeyo Butaman was Gen Sato  – a designer / animator who also worked on “Suishou no Dragon” with Squaresoft and on many anime – who seems to have a playable cart of Moeyo Butaman in his personal collection.

We can only hope that one day he could dump the game to preserve it from being lost forever.

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Intelligent Games Music + Platform [Prototypes]

Between 2000 and 2002 Intelligent Games developed a few games such as Tweenies: Game Time, LEGO Stunt Rally and 2002 FIFA World Cup for Playstation 2, GameCube and Xbox. Before to close down in December 2002 they were working on “BPM: Ministry of Sound” for PS2, a music-tool to be published under Ministry of Sound brand.

This music-making title was somehow eventually completed many years later by Mix Max as MTV Music Generator 3 and published by Codemasters.

Using the same 3D engine the team also worked for just a few days on an prototype for an action platformer inspired by Jak and Daxter. It was just a way to test their engine to see if it could have been used to create another kind of game other than a music-tool.

In this action-platformer prototype there was a bunny-alike character which could run around the small world and a few NPCs to look at. Not much more was ever done on the prototype and was soon put away before the closure of the company.

Thanks to Dugan for the contribution!

  

Shantae 32 bit [Playstation 1, PC – Cancelled]

After being one of the most forgotten hidden gems for Game Boy Color in 2002, in the last few years Shantae became a cult-series, with 4 main games developed by WayForward Technologies for PC, Wii U, DS, Playstation 4, 3DS, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. While Shantae games are quite popular today, most fans still don’t know that the first, original Shantae project for Playstation 1 and PC was never released.

shantae playstation 1 pc cancelled 32 bit game

Thanks to mpx and Youloute we know that this cancelled 32 bit version of Shantae was in development around 1997 and it was even shown on the official WayForward Technologies website in the late ‘90s:

“It is a time of magic and majesty, where strange beasts roam the land and beautiful creatures wield powerful magic. In this world lives a young girl named Shantae… a troubled genie, born without magic, yet the only individual capable of saving the realm from disaster. Following a century of imprisonment underground, three powerful Jins have broken the seal that restrained them, and now seek to drain the world of the magic it needs to survive. As the magic is stolen, the peaceful creatures that once harbored it are left weak and helpless. Shantae, unaffected by the magic drain, is the only hope for peace. But can she possibly battle the Jins and their legion of monsters relying only on the magic she reclaims along the way? It’s up to you to guide Shantae through perilous traps and dangers beyond your wildest imaginings!”

 

“Shantae is designed for the PC or comparable game system (such as the Sony Playstation). The gameplay is full 3-D, with traditionally (2D) animated characters that move in and out of the rendered backgrounds. With this advantage, players can travel down streets, enter tunnels or battle monsters several times the size of the normal viewing area! Perhaps the best feature of this 3-D system is the totally hands-free camera movement. The view automatically zooms in or out, up or down depending on the proximity of Shantae to other important elements. In addition, the paths Shantae can take often split into different layers of depth, allowing the player to walk on near or far surfaces in order to get around obstructions, crevices, or buildings. Also, enemies can attack from any direction in three-dimensional space in order to hunt Shantae down. It’s the long awaited blend of 2-D’s fluid animation and 3-D’s next generation gameplay rolled into one!”

During an interview with Siliconera, Shantae series director Matt Bozon said:

“We had a polygonal Shantae that could be run around in three distinct gameplay ‘gyms’. […] One was a spline-scroller (like Namco’s Klonoa), one was a free-range 3D like Mario 64, and the last was an isometric 3D platformer. We’ve done a lot of exploration in this area… Shantae was a sprite/3D hybrid for PlayStation and PC, and was free-roaming on the PlayStation 2.”

Shantae’s character design was a bit different in this lost game, compared to her current design:

In 2013 during a live streaming the WayForward team played the cancelled Shantae 2: Risky Revolution for GBA, so we can only hope that one day they could also find a playable version of this cancelled Playstation / PC version to show it to the world. Only a few, small screenshots are currently saved in the gallery below. 

P.I.G. (Team 17) [Playstation, PC – Cancelled]

P.I.G. (Team 17) [Playstation, PC – Cancelled]

P.I.G. is an interesting 3D platform adventure game that was in development by Team 17 for Playstation and PC, with a planned release in spring 1999. The project was started around 1996, following Mario 64 and the 3D platform craze of the late ‘90, but even with some great premises PIG was cancelled after more than 2 years of development. The only proof of existence of this game seems to be its announcement in an old Team 17 special in Total Control magazine issue 1 (November 1998), where the studio shown many of the projects they were working on, along with Phoenix, Stunt Gran Prix, Project WM and Worms Armageddon.

P.I.G.’s gameplay would have followed similar style of popular games in the same genre as Banjo Kazooie, with the main character being a pig named George, working as a private investigator (this explain the title’s acronym: Private Investigator George) hired to solve the mysterious disappearance of a bunch of piglets, kidnapped by the evil Dr. Gotem in the strange and puzzle filled Fun Dazzle Magic Land theme park.

8 main themed areas (as Mars, the Arctic, Fairy Tales, a Volcano, etc.) were planned and each theme was subdivided into 3 or 4 sub-levels, filled with areas to explore, traps and puzzles, giving a total of around 40 different environments to play in. Lots of different minigames were also available to players, as arcade machines featuring PIG-style versions of some classic games and surreal sections where George was swallowed by a giant pumpkin lantern or shrunk to minute size. George would have used different outfits for each area climate, for example by wearing a sweater and wool hat in the snow level, and more than 60 NPCs (between enemies to fight and friends to help) would have moved around the world.

While this kind of gameplay could not be the most interesting one by today’s standard, back in the day when 3D platform-adventures were some of the most loved games, PIG could really have been a hit. After its reveal in Total Control Magazine, the project seems to have been vanished forever and there are no more info available on its features or why it was cancelled. In an interview by MCV with Team 17 Co-Founder & CEO Debbie Bestwick, she remember how in late ‘90 the huge success of Worms made them to lose sight of how to develop other great games, and they lost a lot of money on a series of unreleased projects:

“For around ten of the past 25 years, all of them ironically post-Worms launching, we came so close to losing the business numerous times due to game slippage, less than smart business decisions and publisher traumas. Worms changed everything about the company in 1995. Prior to that we were doing some very cool stuff – similar to what we are doing right now actually – with amazing games talent from around the world and I often wonder what else we would have done had Worms not landed. We should have stayed true to what we had been doing, but overnight nothing mattered but Worms. We really thought we were superstars and everything we touched would turn to gold, but the reality was that a lot of money was wasted on games that were never released. These included Rollcage, Allegiance, Witchwood, P.I.G, and so many more I won’t mention. I’d say, looking back now, that the Worms IP was as much a Godsend as a poison chalice.”

Thanks to Ross Sillifant for the contribution! If you know someone that worked on this game and could help to preserve more screens or videos, please let us know!

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