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Fanzuforumu / Fansform [Sega Saturn – Cancelled]

Fanzuforumu / Fansform / Funsform (ファンズフォルム) is a cancelled action adventure / 3D platformer that was in development by Nihon MMI Technology around 1996, planned to be published on Sega Saturn. The protagonist was a polar bear with a red scarf, exploring a fantasy world inhabited by fairies, in which players could also enjoy many different mini-games.

The only screenshots available seem to be from a pre-rendered mockup, so we don’t know how it would play or how much of the game was done before its cancellation. We speculate Fanzuforumu could have been similar to other 3D platformers of its time, but unfortunately there are not many details about this lost game, just a short preview published in Saturn Fan magazine (issue 22 – 11/1/1996), translated with Google:

“The main character, Adobe Penchade, is a bear drawn in Polygon. The giller manipulates the cartridge, roaming over the field and adventuring into the world of fairy tales. In addition to the main story, you can also enjoy playing with mini games such as exercises and shooting.”

 

Graffiti World (Magenta Software) [PS3 – Cancelled]

Graffiti World is a cancelled platform game that was in development by Magenta Software around 2010 / 2011, planned to be released on Playstation 3. As far as we know the game was never officially announced by Sony nor the team, but as happened with their other canned game “Broken” some screenshots were shared online by former Magenta Software developers and artists.

In these images the game looks similar to Little Big Planet / Tearaway, with a world made of paper you would have been able to color with graffiti, using the PS3 move controller. Unfortunately we don’t know more about Graffiti World. Screenshots from this lost game are preserved in the gallery below, to remember its existence.

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Teebo & Kai [Xbox, PC – Cancelled Prototype]

Teebo & Kai was to be an online cooperative, Sci-Fi, 3D platformer developed by Escape Factory and commissioned by Valve. Escape Factory is not a studio many have heard of, and for good reason. The company never released any major games on consoles, just a few casual games like Overball and STX for the PC. Founded in 2000 by Ed Allard and James Gwertzman, the company only lasted 3 years before the company was shut down. Throughout their short existence, the company worked on only 2 major projects, Teebo & Kai and a cancelled entry in the Space Quest franchise.

Very little is known about Teebo and Kai, and the information available contradicts one another. A now delisted video by Tyler McVicker claims that the project was in development for the original Xbox and explains his story for how the project came about’:

Microsoft approached Valve Software around the year 2000 in order for Valve to create an exclusive title for the then upcoming Xbox. Quickly following the first couple of meetings and contract signings between Microsoft and Valve, Valve put together a team.”

This claim contradicts various sources such as James Gwertzman’s LinkedIn profile and the Escape Factory website (which was updated multiple times during the early 2000s), the latter of which provides a timeline of the entire company’s life and claims that the studio was in fact an independent developer doing contract work for Valve. Not only do the sources claim that they were independent, these sources claim that Teebo and Kai was in development for the PC and was actually a “cooperative platform game prototype” and not a full game.

Another illusive aspect of Teebo & Kai is the gameplay. It was to be an action platformer with online components running on the GoldSrc engine, but very little is known about the moment-to-moment gameplay beyond that. The project would have taken place on an alien planet, with many strange and unique locals that players can visit. Temples, towns, and strange rocky areas are a small fraction of what the supposed game could have had players visit.

Teebo & Kai also would have featured very unique enemy designs for the time. 3-eyed monsters with mouths on their stomach, giant frog creatures with cameras, and gummy bear-like aliens would have filled out the project’s lush planet. Another piece of concept art for the game features flying machines that seem to be enemies, which could be evident of other enemy types in the project.

Another major deviation between the Tyler McVicker video and other sources is the outcome of the project. The previously stated claim that the project was only a prototype and was worked on for a year is further supported by a Powerpoint presentation given by Gwertzman called What to do When it All Goes to Hell: Escape Factory Post-Mortem which gives a detailed timeline of Escape Factory.

While the timeline states that the project was only worked on for 8 months, and was the project only ended because the demo was completed, the Tyler McVicker video also went on to explain their version nature of the project’s cancelation:

About 2 years in Gabe Newell walked into the office at Valve headquarters that this team was working in, cancelled the project, fired the entire team, and decided that porting Team Fortress to the Xbox was the better option.”

Despite these contradictions, all information on the project confirms that Escape factory then went on to use the tech and progress made on Teebo & Kai to work on a revival of Sierra’s Space Quest franchise. This project was also cancelled later on, after a series of developmental problems.

Article by Alex Cutler

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Timber 64 (Rare) [Nintendo 64 – Cancelled]

Timber 64 is a cancelled 3D platform game that was rumored to be in development by Rare for the Nintendo 64, but it’s existence was kinda unclear even by reading interviews with former rare developers (and some fans consider it an urban legend). When asked about Timber 64 some of them don’t remember such a game ever being in development at the time, but others even describe a Timber 64 prototype demo they created. This contradiction between ex-RareWare employees may have been caused by how the studio was organized during the N64 era. Different Rare teams worked secretly in their own office, without knowing what the other teams were doing at the same time.

As we can read on Nintendo Life:

“Rare was famously secretive,” Steve Mayles recalls, “and that included other games being made in the company. Many people on the team wouldn’t have seen much (if anything) of DK64 and Conker.”

“Rare’s practice of separating teams across its infamous ‘barns’ naturally created some competition. “I’m not really sure we thought about that at the time,” remembers lead environment artist Steven Hurst. “In those days each team worked in relative isolation and competed against each other to develop the ‘best’ games – a healthy rivalry if you like. I do remember actually that we changed BK to be more of a ‘proper’ 3D game (similar to Mario 64) after seeing the work that the Conker team were doing.”

As you probably know Timber the Tiger was later seen in another Rare game: it’s one of the playabler racers in Diddy Kong Racing. Originally Timber was meant to be the main protagonist of the game, when it was not using the Donkey Kong IP.

As we can read from an interview by NotEnoughShaders with Steve Ellis, Martin Wakeley and Lee Musgrave:

NES: There was a rumor that Timber 64 was a game Rare was developing during the N64 days. Basically, the rumor was that Timber from Diddy Kong Racing would get his own game just like Banjo and Conker did. Pipsy and Bumper would co-star in Timber 64. Can you or Lee provide any details on this rumor? It’s interesting because Diddy Kong Racing takes place on Timber Island so it seemed that Rare really liked the Timber character.

Martin Wakeley: I couldn’t say for definite but I have no recollection of that ever being in development. Where the rumour may have started is that an early version of DKR (I think it was called RC Pro Am at the time) had Timber as the lead character. I’m sure I’ve got a badly fitting Nylon polo shirt with the game logo on it somewhere.

Lee Musgrave: There was never a Timber 64 game. Yes, there was Pro-Am64 that had Timber as the main character, but that became Diddy Kong Racing and that was the end of that.”

In february 2021 Kev Bayliss wrote on VGC:

“After finishing work on Diddy Kong Racing in 1998, I started work on a project that was to become a 3D adventure game based in a fantasy style world, similar to that of Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time but in a prehistoric environment.

The main character was originally going to be – believe it or not – Timber, the cute tiger from Diddy Kong Racing. That’s because he was intended to be the star of the previous year’s racing game, when it was originally known as R.C. Pro-Am 64.”

“In Dinosaur Planet, Timber was going to be a ‘time-travelling tiger’ with a rucksack, little fingerless gloves, a baseball cap and a small dinosaur for a sidekick.

Actually, I even tried out Timber in a project prior to DKR, where he walked around on all fours like a real tiger cub. It was an early 3D platforming test and I wanted him to use his claws to scale walls. But this project was abandoned and so he was moved into DKR and that’s as far as his career went!

Now, if only somebody could dig up that really old demo with Timber in his rucksack…”

In the end not only Timber 64 was once a real concept in development at Rare, but it was kinda real for 2 different projects: there was a first Timber 64 3D platformer (then cancelled to create RC Pro Am 64 / DKR) and later a different Timber 64 3D action adventure (which later became Dinosaur Planet / Starfox Adventure).

These two Timber games for Nintendo 64 could have been mentioned to someone in the gaming press, and the rumors started circulating. As written by Bayliss, now we just have to wait for someone to find footage or even a playable version of those Timber 64 demos.