RTS

Goblins (Psygnosis) [PC – Cancelled]

In the mid / late ‘90s Psygnosis was one of the most prolific and loved development teams for the original Playstation, releasing such fan favorite projects as Wipeout, Destruction Derby 2 and Colony Wars. At the same time they also worked on lots of cancelled games that never seen the ligh of day: titles such as Team Buddies 2, Entropy, Blood Bowl, ODT 2, Mutatis and many more remain forgotten even by most of their hardcore fans.

Goblins is another lost Psygnosis project we don’t know much about, that was in development for PC (and possibly Playstation?) around 1997 by their San Francisco office. Some images and 3D animations were published online by former developers, such as Cristopher Gray, Egan Hirvela and Matthew Carlstrom, preserved in the gallery below to remember its existence. 

As far as we gathered it would have been some kind of real time strategy / adventure game, in which giving orders to a group of Goblins.. somehow like a mixe between Pikmin and Lemmings. In the end it was canned when the studio closed in late 1997 / early 1998:

“You’ve heard the rumors for months that Psygnosis’ San Francisco-based internal developer studio was closing its doors. Well, the company is confirming those rumors today as it trims about 20 employees in its latest in a series of belt-tightening measures to achieve cost efficiency and higher profitability. Officially, Psygnosis says that the main reason for the studio closure has to do with location. The company’s US headquarters is located only 15 miles south of the city, and having two locations seemed inefficient.”

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Hanasaki Gassen [GBA – Cancelled]

Hanasaki Gassen (in Japanese, literally translated as “Flower Blooming Competition”) is a cancelled real-time strategy game for GBA that was in development by Blue Planet Software (AKA Bulletproof Software), the same company that created the original Tetris for Game Boy and today act as the exclusive agent for The Tetris Company.

The project was officially announced as one of the first games in development for the GameBoy Advance and it was being funded and published by Nintendo themselves. It would have been one of their major titles to be shown at E3 2001, but that never happened: Hanasaki Gassen vanished and was forgotten forever by most Nintendo fans.

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Unfortunately Nintendo never shown any image nor screenshots from this lost game. We tried to get in contact with former Blue Planet Software developers who worked on the game, but with no luck. The few details remaining to remember the existence of this cancelled project are a few online resumes.

“There were many factors that the AI needed to evaluate, and simulated annealing was used to allow the AI to learn strategies by playing itself overnight, adjusting its internal weights until the best strategy was found. The AI could thus adjust to changing game rules, and even discover new strategies! It was written in C++ with STL for the GBA.”

From this info and its japanese title we can speculate Hanasaki Gassen was going to be a flower-themed strategy game …with different type of flowers and seeds fighting against each other to conquer the garden? Its Artificial Intelligence could have been quite impressive and ambitious for a GBA game, with… enemies learning new strategies overnight while you were asleep? That sounds cool.

We hope one day we could save more details about Hanasaki Gassen and maybe some screenshots too. If you know someone who worked at Blue Planet Software, please let us know!

 

Team Buddies 2 [PC – Cancelled]

Team Buddies was an interesting merge of top-down shooting and real time strategy elements, developed for the original Playstation by Psygnosis Camden Studio (later SIE London Studio) and published in 2000 by Sony Computer Entertainment in Europe and Midway Games in North America.

As we can read on Wikipedia, its gameplay was quite fun and original for its time:

“The game is a mix of Wormshumour and a typical real-time strategy game. Central to the game’s theme is the ability of a team of buddies to stack crates in a 2×2×2 pad located in their starting area. Stacking the crates in different ways make different items when the resulting larger crate is broken; for example, a single crate on a stacking pad produces a light weapon, four crates positioned horizontally makes a heavy weapon, and filling the pad creates a vehicle.”

This was the last game released under their Psygnosis name, before they were completely absorbed by SCEE. The same team was working on a new version of Team Buddies for PC, that was internally treated as a sequel because of how much more freedom they had when not constrained to the PS1 limitations.

Unfortunately Sony did not want to invest money into the PC market and all Psygnosis games in development at the time for Computers were either cancelled, moved to PlayStation consoles, or licensed to different publishers. This “Team Buddies 2” was then canned and the team was moved to other projects, such as Dropship: United Peace Force and World Tour Soccer 2003 for PlayStation 2.

A few years ago a small indie team started working on a fan-remake of Team Buddies and a former Psygnosis Camden developer got in contact with them, sharing a video of this lost sequel. You can watch the footage below:

Thanks to Matthew for the contribution!

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Incursion (Argonaut Games) [PC – Cancelled]

Incursion is a cancelled squad-based action game that was in development by Argonaut Games in late ‘90, possibly planned to be released on PC. While many other lost games by Argonaut were widely known, a few ones such as Kanaan and Incursion remained forgotten for many years. Argonaut is mostly remembered today as the studio behind such classic games as Starglider, Star Fox and Croc, but between the late ‘90s and early ‘00s they fell into obscurity, until their closure in 2004.

Incursion started development after the cancellation of Kanaan, by the same team. As it happened with Kanaan there are not many details about the game, but only a few small, pre-rendered images. Players would have used a squad of robots, to fight against other robots and aliens squads in different missions.

From what we can see from these images it seems Incursion would have been a real-time action / strategy game, in which players would give commands to their robot-allies while playing as one of them in third or first person view. The team attempted a 3D cell-shaded graphic style for their game, that looked quite awesome for its time.

After Incursion was canned, part of the team left Argonaut to form Pompom games. We tried to get in contact with a few developers who worked on Incursion, but with no luck. Only a few images are preserved below, to preserve the existence of this lost Argonaut project.

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Alien Reign (SquareSoft) [Playstation? – Cancelled]

Alien Reign is a cancelled sci-fi real time strategy game in development by SquareSoft USA (Redmond) in late 1995 / early 1996. While the project was still in early concept phase when it was canned and no console was decided yet, by looking at the partnership between Squaresoft and Sony in 1996 we can speculate that if only completed Alien Reign could have been released on the original Playstation (and maybe on PC?).

The team that was working on Alien Reign was the same which worked on Secret of Evermore, released in October 1995 for the Super Nintendo. This would have been their second game, if Squaresoft Japan would have not closed them down in spring 1996.

Alien Rage was conceived while the Squaresoft USA team was waiting to know their fate while their parent company was going to decide what to do with their American branch. Clayton Kauzlaric, Daniel Dociu, Brad Clarkson and a few other Squaresoft developers tossed around ideas for this new RTS inspired by their love for Warcraft 2.

As wrote by Kauzlaric in his blog:

“We were just ramping up on 3D at Squaresoft during the completion of Evermore, and I was interested in finding tools that would be simple and easy for artists to pick up and learn quickly. KPT Bryce seemed like it had possibilities. I also wanted a look that wasn’t obviously made of tiles like most RTS games. I hoped our backgrounds could have larger pieces of nicely rendered terrain.

These pictures from March of 1996 are the result. I did the terrain. The buildings and robot were designed by our art director Daniel Dociu then modeled and rendered by Square’s resident Alias guru Brad Clarkson.”

When Squaresoft USA was closed down, many former developers (including Kauzlaric) were hired by Cavedog Entertainment (a sub-division of Humongous Entertainment). Cavedog was already working on a new, ambitious sci-fi RTS titled “Total Annihilation”, later presented at E3 1997. As wrote by Kauzlaric:

“It’s a small world. I was sitting in Redmond thinking up ways to incorporate 3D art into an RTS game. It turns out there was a guy just a couple miles away working on an engine for an RTS game with 3D height maps. Once those two thing met up, very good things started to happen.”

In the end Alien Reign was never released, but its concept somehow survived into the Total Annihilation project. As we can read on Wikipedia:

“Total Annihilation was a commercial success. It shipped 250,000 units by October 30, 1997. It ultimately sold over 1.5 million copies by 2002. The game was highly praised by critics, and won numerous awards, including GameSpot’s Game of the Year Award for 1997. It won GameSpy’s Top Ten Real-Time Strategy Games of All Time in 2004, leaving StarCraft in second place.”