Acid Rain is a mysterious cancelled Playstation 3 / Xbox 360 game that was being developed by Namco Bandai Games USA just for a few months in early 2009, probably by the same team behind their Afro Samurai game. A few concept arts from this obscure project were leaked online some years ago, and while we tried many times to get in contact with people who worked on the game, unfortunately we were not able to get any more details about it.
By looking at these images we can just speculate that the game would have been some kind of action / horror game, and it looks like it could have been an interesting one.
If you know someone who worked at Namco Bandai USA in 2009 and could remember something about Acid Rain, please let us know! In the meantime we’d like to preserve these concept arts in the gallery below.
Project Carbondale is a cancelled survival horror game that was being development by SEGA in 2003 for Xbox and Playstation 2. While the game was never officially announced, the public found out about its development thanks to a few articles published online by various websites, including The Southern Illinoisan, in which they wrote about Sega employees exploring the city of Carbondale (Illinois) to take inspiration and capture reference for the project.
“CARBONDALE – Aliens have landed in Carbondale and they are killing anything that moves. Your natural instinct is to flee, but a severe mid-winter blizzard has cut off all hopes of escape. Quick! Grab a gun, a sledgehammer, a scythe, any weapon you can get your hands on. Your only hope for survival is to stand your ground and fight – in the mall, the old Carbondale high school, city hall, even the sewer system if you have to. This is a fight to the death and it’s going to be bloody.
The battle isn’t real, though. It’s one of the biggest video game releases of 2004 being developed by Sega. Thousands of people, maybe even millions, will be fighting to save Carbondale from alien beasties next year. “Initially Sega said ‘We want to place this game in a small town,'” said Cord Smith, product manager for Sega of America. “Initially they said an East Coast town, but they just wanted something that wasn’t the West Coast. (The Japanese game designers) are familiar with San Francisco and California culture, but to them, that’s not America. America is what’s between the two coasts.”
Smith is now spending nine days leading a team of eight game designers from Tokyo around key Carbondale locations, including University Mall, the old high school central campus, the police station, city hall, water treatment plant, local homes and apartments, and yes, even the sewer system. “They’re soaking all this in, with the biggest smiles on their faces,” Smith said. “They keep saying this is kind of what they imagined, but they’re blown away that everyone has a yard, everything’s beautiful, everything’s so lush and green.”
The game’s designer, Shinichi Ogasawara, says bringing the design team all the way from Tokyo to see the Midwest for themselves is the best way to create a realistic small-town environment. The team is shooting digital videotape and still photographs that will be used to provide the textures of the games’ three-dimensional environment. Some team members photographed close-ups of anything that could be interactive, such as light switches and the weights used by Carbondale firefighters. Other team members photographed walls, ceilings, floors and artwork hanging on walls.”
At the time, Cord Smith was resigning from SEGA and about to join Ubisoft, but his sister was the acting City Attorney of Carbondale, and – through her many city contacts – he was able to grant unlimited access to many locations that could have been used in the game: the abandoned high school, hospital, shopping mall, fire station, police station (and armory and shooting range), water treatment plant, and even the underground waterways & sewer system. The team met in Illinois and toured together for multiple days at the various sites.
As far as we were able to gather, Carbondale was being developed for Playstation 2 and Xbox, but at that time, many devs were also looking into next-gen tech. We were told that the early prototype of Carbondale seemed to be on the PS2. Unfortunately it appears that this early prototype simply wasn’t of high enough quality to receive the green-light for its next milestone, but there is not enough info available to know exactly what happened to the game, and additional details about its gameplay mechanics are scarce.
It seems that the game was meant to be a traditional survival horror with moments of more “bombastic action”, potentially through the invasion of alien enemies. People who talked with Ogasawara at the time got the sense that they wanted it to be SEGA’s answer to the Resident Evil franchise, featuring a much more realistic Western setting (hence the research), but also SEGA’s leanings towards action and arcade-like fun factor.
We were able to exchange a few emails with Cord, who shared a few memories about this lost game and their Carbondale exploration:
“One of my favorite locations was an abandoned high school. The city had built a new one and left the old in an eerie state, with lots of books, equipment, and other items left behind. We visited it at night, so it was as if a apocalyptic event had occurred and everyone evacuated in a hurry. In other words: perfect video game reference.
The mirrors behind the theater stage still had cosmetics nearby, the cafeteria had trays out on the tables, and textbooks were strewn about the classrooms. We split up into two teams, each with cameras and flashlights, and in one area I found a CPR dummy, which amounted to a dressed male mannequin torso. Without hesitation, I took it and returned to the main stairway near the school’s foyer. I could see the other team’s flashlights scanning the walls along the distant hallway, and faked a scream before sliding the torso along the floor towards them. As the seemingly severed body moved into the beams of their flashlights, the school erupted with the other groups’ terrified screams. And we laughed, and laughed. So much fun!”
We hope to be able to preserve more details and footage from the game in the future.
After finishing Medal of Honor: Vanguard and Medal of Honor: Airborne, in 2007 EA Los Angeles started to work on a new game for Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, titled Gunhero. While keeping a first person view as their previous MoH titles, this new project would have been set in a post zombie-apocalypse world, focused on using melee weapons and close quarter combat, somehow preceding what Techland did 4 years later with Dead Island and one year before the release of Left 4 Dead. The project was still in early development and many features were not decided yet, as the plan for a possible coop multiplayer mode, but unfortunately it was cancelled before to be completed. The game was noticed in 2011 by Siliconera after Gunhero’s Art Director Zach Schlappi published a few concept art online.
The main character in Gunhero was a volunteer SAR pilot whose crew fatally died after their Jayhawk was brought down by a rescued survivor who was hiding the zombie infection. Caught in the middle of the quarantine zone, the pilot had to survive through zombies to rescue scientist who may hold a cure.
Even if their early prototype did garnered a lot of internal praise, Dead Space was also pitched to EA during the same time and they decided to cancel Gunhero as there was not room in their portfolio for two survival horror games. Even if Dead Space became a success for EA, the popularity of open world, first person zombie games in the following years marks the cancellation of Gunhero as a huge missed opportunity for the studio.
In 2010 EA Los Angeles would be re-branded as Danger Close Games, but 3 years later after the commercial failure of Medal of Honor: Warfighter, the studio was dissolved and some employees moved to DICE Los Angeles.
Silent Hill: Cold Heart was a pitch for a new Silent Hill game that eventually became Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. This pitch came to light when the developers Climax Studios held a competition to give away eight copies of the document to fans, who since have uploaded it to the Internet so that other fans can enjoy it. Cold Heart was planned in 2007 by Climax for the Wii and would have been published by Konami.
Cold Heart would have followed Jessica Chambers an athletic but emotionally vulnerable college student. The protagonist would have recently being talking to a psychiatrist after being plagued by horrific nightmares and being unable to sleep. These distressing circumstances lead to Jessica leaving her college town and going on a road trip to go back to visit her parents, on the way back Jessica becomes caught in a blizzard and so follows an ambulance that leads her to the town of Silent Hill. This is where the game would begin with Jessica stranded and needing somewhere to stay the evening: she explores the town, but now her nightmares start to become real.
The game would contain the usual elements of a Silent Hill game but would use features of the Wii such as the Wiimote to control where the player shines the flashlight. The Wiimote was to be used for a large number of controls in the game, in combat the player would swing the remote to enact the actions on the screen, it is also noted that the sound of hitting an enemy would play through the speaker on the remote. The remote would also be used for when puzzles needed to be solved, using push, pull and turning motions. Also for puzzles certain audio cues would be played through the remote that would hint on how to solve them. The remote was also going to be used for interactions with other characters, allowing you to point, nod or shake your head.
The “world’s first real psychological horror” is how Silent Hill: Cold Heart is described in the pitch, this is because of the ways in which the game would tailor itself to the individual, creating unique experiences for different players. These experiences that would change would be story events, dialogue, sound cues, monsters and even camera field of view. Profiling was one of the ways this would be done when certain questions were asked by Jessica’s psychiatrist, the players answer would be logged, also your response to events would also be tracked, thus building up a psychological profile for the player. Climax also wanted each player’s psych profile to be shared and compared to friends over Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection.
Climax also wanted to change the way that the player can use their inventory, rather than being able to collect many items, it would be restricted to what could only be worn or stored on the body of Jessica, or in a small backpack the player could use. This was because Climax wanted to have survival type elements to the game, with the player having to find new clothes to protect themselves from the blizzard that would rage through Silent Hill. The player would also have to eat food and drink water to maintain their health. These items would not just maintain the health of the player though, it would also maintain their body heat and stamina.
There are a few puzzle examples also noted in the pitch document, such as the metal detector, the player would have to slowly move the Wiimote and use the audio cues of beeps from the remote to find hidden objects in the snow. “Sewer Fishing” is also another puzzle noted, this is where the player would have to try and collect a key while using rumble and audio cues to fish it out.
The main technical features that are mentioned in the document are that the game would have dynamic weather, mentioned are updated fog effects from Silent Hill: Origins, these would allow the fog to react to the different shapes of the environment. The variables of the weather would also change so that the player would have different intensity of the blizzard.
Climax also wanted the game to be seamless, to do this they were going to “stream” content ahead of the player by anticipating where the player would guide Jessica, this would mean that there would be little to no loading times in the game. They also wanted to push photo-realistic graphics on the Wii and were confident that they could “redefine” what people could expect from real-time graphics on the WII.
One other feature that was mentioned, pending talks with Nintendo, was the integration of players Mii, their local weather and news. Climax wanted to be able to quote this in the game so that it would “spook” the player. With the Mii integration they wanted to use certain aspects of the user created Mii such as hair colour and project them on to the main characters in the game.
Ultimately, Cold Heart was never realized but a few details were used in Silent Hills: Shattered Memories as the cold and harsh environment, the use of a psychological profile to change some situations and parts of the plot. This pitch is however a really interesting look into how a different version of one of the top rated survival horror games could have looked like. Shattered memories was released for Wii in 2008 which was essentially a reimagining of the very first Silent Hill game, and it reviewed fairly well, it does however leave questions of how well a different story and character would have done.
If you have any more information on this game or any questions, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.
Necroscope is a cancelled psychological survival horror that was in development in 2002 / 2003 by Mobius Entertainment for Xbox and Playstation 2. The studio was mostly know for a series of ports and tie-in for GBA and Nescroscope would have been one of their first projects for home consoles. The game would have let players to investigate the world using extra-sensory perception and supernatural powers, as possessing other characters and monsters. It seems that gameplay would have been a mix between a detective adventure (L.A. Noire), horror sections against monsters (Silent Hill), while using special abilities to interact with the environment and resolve puzzles (Second Sight, Psi-Ops). As wrote by Edge Magazine (issue 117) in Necroscope we would have played as a “unique blend of a Jedi Knight and James Bond“.
“The term necroscope, as defined in the series, describes someone who can communicate with the dead (coined Deadspeak later in the series). Unlike necromancers, who here extract the knowledge they seek by brutal eviscerations of corpses, a necroscope can communicate with them as equals: peacefully and without any physical interference.”
Ross: Talking of canned games, Necroscope,previewed in Edge for PS2 and Xbox, described as a cocktail of jedi mind tricks and sophisticated espionage, this was to be Mobius Entertainment’s 1st crack at a survival horror title. From the 4 screens shown, the game engine looked superb, very much inspired by Silent Hill, but it didn’t appear gameplay was as far along as the visuals at this point (Dec’2002). Game was set for a Q4 2003 release, so again, any insights as to what became of it, would be fantastic.
Dan: Necroscope suffered similar issues to Titanium Angels. You’re correct, the game was to be a survival horror game, set in late 70’s, early 80’s, London. Think Silent Hill mixed with the TV show ‘The Professionals’. I loved the concept and setting. I spent a huge amount of time “researching”, watching boxsets of The Professionals, The Sweeny, and films like ‘Who Dares Wins’ (‘The Final Option’ in the U.S). I’d say that actually the gameplay was further along than Titanium Angels ever was. Unfortunately the same pattern emerged, the play style changed over time. Where at one point there was to be little to no gun play or violence, with the vibe firmly set on exploration and playing detective, it slowing changing into shooting and snapping necks from behind cover. For me that was a real shame, I think it had the potential to be something different. There weren’t many people doing a spin on the horror genre, especially something set in the 70’s-80’s (this was pre Vice City). I still think about what it could have been, and I’m a little bummed to think it never happened. The other issue was that it was being developed without a publisher, so therefore wasn’t bringing in any money. Other games were, so naturally that was the focus. ‘Sound of Thunder’ was one, but the main one was ‘Max Payne’. Mobius was tasked with doing the Gameboy Advance version. As people may know, after that Rockstar bought Mobius Entertainment and renamed it Rockstar Leeds. I had left during the development of Necroscope and before the Rockstar buy out, so I can’t give the precise reason for its cancellation, but it’s clear to me that a small horror game set in 70’s London based on a series of books isn’t part of Rockstar’s bigger plans.