Warfare Afghanistan is a cancelled third person team based tactical shooter that was in development by Pivotal Games in 2007 / 2008 for Xbox 360 and PS3. The project was meant to be a reboot of the Conflict series of which the last chapter was Conflict: Denied Ops, published in 2008 by Eidos Interactive. Conflict: Desert Storm 1 & 2 were loved by many fans for their fun coop multiplayer, in which each mission has to be played with a bit of strategy, using the special skills of each character to be able to survive and to complete the most complex objectives.
Unfortunately the last games in the series lost the charm of the originals and Denied Ops was mostly a linear, single player experience: it was clear for the team that they had to reboot their saga, to earn again the love of their fans. Planned to have a full coop campaign up to 4 players offline (split-screen) and online, Warfare Afghanistan would have returned to Conflict’s roots, to create a compelling gameplay, with strategy and collaboration between players at its core.
The game’s story and setting were also meant to be something deeper than the usual shooter. The team wanted to create something like Spec Ops: The Line in terms of realism and players’ experience, by hiring a military consultant and slowing down the pace of the game, following a plot that handled the Afghanistan conflict, with all its moral dilemmas.
Unfortunately Warfare Afghanistan was still in early development when Pivotal Games’ parent company Sales Curve Interactive / Eidos (now Square Enix Europe) decide to disband the studio in August 2008, probably because of internal restructure and low sales of their last game. Only a pitch prototype was done before the cancellation, with basic cover, animations and melee mechanics: by looking at the footage available we can only imagine what could have been and it’s sad to know that the team did not have a chance to win back again the heart of their fans.
Aquanox is a series of action / shooter / simulation games set in a distant future in which humans mostly live underwater and use futuristic submarines to explore the ocean. It all started in 1996 when Massive Development released Archimedean Dynasty / Schleichfahrt (considered as the first chapter in the saga) then in 2001 the same team published AquaNox and a couple of years later they delivered AquaNox 2: Revelation. All the games were published for PC only and even if there are some basic differences between the 3 titles, they always had a mix of “flight” simulation, shooting and RPG gameplay: players were able to fight their way in 360° underwater combats, shoot down other submarines, conquer enemy bases, talking with NPC characters, explore the sea to find hidden treasures, complete different mission objectives to gain more money and upgrade their vehicles.
A new chapter in the Aquanox series was planned for Playstation 2 but unfortunately it was cancelled when it was almost completed. As always the project was in development by Massive soon after the release of AquaNox 2, when JoWooD (their parent company at the time) wanted to enter the console market and deemed Aquanox as the perfect game to start. Initially Aquanox 2 was ported to PS2 but it did not fit the new hardware and controller, being not that much fun to play. To secure a great console debut, Massive Development took the next 2 years to create a completely new game, as a third chapter in the series, that would have been titled Aquanox: The Angels’ Tears, with new missions, features and storyline.
As we can read in the official press-release for the game:
AquaNox: The Angel’s Tears is the story of an action packed treasure hunt, presented as a playable under-water road-movie. The game is a fast-paced 3rd person shooter, where the player steers his vessel through the depth of the oceans 3000 meters under the sea, 650 years into the future, 300 bars of pressure. The sun is a fading legend of former centuries. Nobody has ever seen it. Man now calls this world: ‘Aqua’. Eight humans crammed into a freighter. Eight mercenaries, shrouded in mystery, hunting for a legendary treasure. Eight hunters dreaming of the Angel’s Tears. This dream will change them – and history. The greatest love story of their time!
Angel’s Tears would have featured fast paced underwater shooting along with a mature storyline divided in 32 main missions set in the deep seas of Aqua, an advanced score and experience system, 4 submarine ships with different stats and tactical uses, fully upgradable weapons and other equipment to improve player’s chance to survive to the hardest missions that were planned.
Massive Development wanted to make Angel’s Tears the best Aquanox game ever, but unfortunately in 2005 JoWooD was on the edge of going bankrupt: they had to cut a lot of their cost and decided to close down Massive Development as the new AquaNox was already 99,9% done. At this time the Aquanox: The Angel’s Tears was submission-ready to be accepted by Sony and to be officially published on PS2, but the devs wanted to polish it up more before to release it as their last game, so they introduced a few easy bugs to make it fail the first submission. When AquaNox PS2 failed the Sony submission the situation at Massive Development got even more sour as JoWooD refused to pay all their outstanding wages. Because of this the project wasnt handed over properly at closure of the studio and nobody was able to finish it although it was really 99,9% done. AquaNox: The Angel’s Tears was forgotten for many years, hidden away in some directory, until Nordic Games ended up with the rights to Aquanox and all its assets after the insolvency of JoWooD in 2011.
Nordic Games got in contact with Unseen64 to share some of the documents they found about Angel’s Tears and we are now able to preserve more screens and videos from this lost game. People that were interested in Angel’s Tears will be happy to know that this is not the end of Aquanox as Nordic Games though the series deserved another chance and conceived a new project: Aquanox Deep Descent, a complete reboot of the Aqua saga taking into account the scientific advances made since the first game.
As a love letter to fans of games that will never be, Deep Descent will not only revive the AquaNox experience after the lost Angel’s Tears, adding 4 players coop mode and an even bigger ocean to explore, it will also integrate assets and research from another cancelled THQ underwater action game known as Deep Six, originally planned for PS3.
We are happy to see a team like Nordic Games to understand the importance of preserving lost videogames and huge props to them for the help in saving more documents from the cancelled AquaNox: The Angel’s Tears! We can’t wait to see what they will be able to do with Aquanox Deep Descent, a project that could take the series to a new level and will became a memento to remember two interesting cancelled games. Aquanox Deep Descent was fully funded a few days ago thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign but you still have a week to support the project with your pledges and be able to play this game as soon as it will be released!
Super thanks to Nordic Games for the contribution! Also thanks to Manuel Hansen for additional support
Hotline Miami is a 2D top-down action video game developed by Dennaton Games, a team composed of Jonatan Söderström and Dennis Wedin. The game was published by Devolver Digital and released on October 23, 2012 for Windows PCs. Hotline Miami is the final product of a development process starting back in 2004, when Swedish developer Jonatan Söderström (better known as cactus) began working on one of his many videogame projects called Super Carnage.
Cactus stated, in an interview with PC Gamer UK (Issue 247):
What was the original idea for Hotline, why did you want to make it? JS: My original idea, when I made the first prototype called Super Carnage, was just to make the goriest game I possibly could, with as many weapons as possible. I was only 18 at the time so it was a pretty silly and incomplete idea.
Cactus was inspired by different games for this prototype, especially by a number of games from Japanese developer Ikiki, another prolific mass-producer of indie games like him. Hakaimanin particular, with its top-down style and gore grapichs, was one of the main influences (even for the enemies’ patterns and AI).
Cactus also stated that he really liked the game Nikujin (also made by Ikiki), featuring a naked ninja, because he gave him the feelings of possessing all the abilities from the beginning of the game, not acquiring them through the game but trying to master them from the start, as he said in the same interview with PC Gamer UK:
I really wanted to capture that feeling of always being outnumbered and having to master the controls and plan your actions to beat a level.
The title entered pre-production in May 2008, shortly after Stranglehold’s release in September 2007. It was planned to continue the ongoing story of Hard Boiled and Stranglehold. Chow Yun-fat was down to reprise the lead role of the gung-ho Inspector “Tequila”, lending again both his likeness and voice to the character.
A New Identity
Gun Runner was proposed as the start of a campaign to rebrand Stranglehold, in order to increase its mass appeal. Despite taking place after the first game, its story was going to be completely self-contained, one developer told us.
A key aspect of this new direction for the series was the introduction of Vin Diesel. The actor would have voiced another character, alongside Tequila. A former member of the team we got in touch with described Midway’s idea for the two as “a buddy cop story“. Full multiplayer co-operative support was planned for the story mode, wherein players would have each controlled of one of them.
Contra Spirits 64 is a cancelled shooter / action game in the contra series that was in development by Konami Computer Entertainment Osaka for the Nintendo 64. There are just a few info about this unreleased project as Konami never shown any official screenshot or concept art, but the title was in many list of games to be released for the N64 and the hopes went up for many Nintendo gamers that wanted a new and fun game for their 64bit console. Unfortunatly it seems that as the Nintendo 64 sold poorly in Japan, Konami decided to stop the development of the project and disbanded its team.
Contra was planned, but the original team was disbanded and all team members now work on different projects,” said a company spokesperson. [Contra] has pretty much been shelved. […] There is concern over the poor N64 console sales in Japan […]
Contra 64 would have been a sidescrolling 3D game, with some sessions in which the camera would have switched angles or move behind the characters, possible for boss battles. There are some rumors that say that the Contra Spirits 64 concept was resurrected and became Contra: Shattered Soldier for PS2, but as Contra N64 was in development in 1998 and Contra PS2 was announced and released in 2002, it’s hard to say if the 2 project have anything in common.
Below you can see some scans from old magazines that wrote about Contra Spirits 64 (if you have Next Generation Issue 29, Volume 3 May 1997 and can make a bigger scan of their N64 article, please let us know!).
Thanks to Celine and Contrapedia for the contributions!