THQ

Robosaurus (thq) [SNES – Cancelled]

Robosaurus is a cancelled action game that was in development around 1992 by Adrenalin Entertainment and THQ (at the time known as “Toy Headquarters”) for Super Nintendo. Players would take the role of a mechanical T-Rex to destroy cities and fight against aliens, tanks, helicopters and other military enemies. While there are not many more details about this lost game, it was mentioned in Nintendo Power Magazine issue 36, from May 1992:

“Speaking of HQs, thq (Toy Headquarters) has a line-up that  includes Swamp Thing (for all three Nintendo systems). Where’s Waldo?, Family  Dog, Robosaurus, James Bond Jr. and this Pak Watchers favorite moose, Bullwinkle,  all for the Super NES. One-time Power editor and game guru, Howard Phillips, now  directs the creative projects for T.HQ. Will Waldo be wearing a bow tie? NOT!”

As noticed by Nintendo Metro and GDRI on Twitter, a single screenshot from Robosaurus was published in japanese magazine MicomBASIC, in August 1992:

“ROBOSAURUS: 巨大なロボットほがが,巧が軍め戦車  やお關おをけちらしていく巧快なダー  ム。 巧がの動きはノロイ〇”

We can assume the game was based off the real-life Robosaurus, a transforming dinosaur robot created by inventor Doug Malewicki in 1989. As written by SNES Central, the game was possibly shown at the Winter and Summer 1992 CES shows:

“Aliens want to take over the world, and they’re starting with Los Angeles. The one thing they didn’t count on was Robosaur! Use Robo’s giant metal jaws to munch enemies and fry the outposts with Robo’s flame breath.”

 

The Dark Half: Endsville [Playstation, PC – Cancelled]

The Dark Half: Endsville (also known as The Dark Half Interactive) is a cancelled survival horror / adventure game based on the homonymous book by Stephen King. It was officially announced in early 1997, in development by Bits Studios and to be published by THQ and Orion Interactive for Playstation and PC. Unfortunately it seems they never released any screenshot from the game, but details about the project can still be found online in various forms.

In April 1997 IGN wrote:

“T-HQ announced today that it has signed an agreement with Orion Interactive to jointly publish The Dark Half, based on the novel by horror writer Stephen King. The game will be developed by the UK’s Bits Studios.

Also involved in the development of the game will be writers Matt Costello and Paul Wilson, who previously worked on PC titles The Seventh Guest and The Keep, respectively.

Revolving around protagonist Thad Beaumont’s struggle with his evil alter ego, The Dark Half is promised to be a 3D, third-person adventure game, “that will accurately reflect the Stephen King novel,” a T-HQ spokesperson said.”

During their E3 1997 report IGN also wrote:

“A new game for the PC and Playstation will be based on the King novel The Dark Half. The game will be based on Stephen King’s novel about a writer who must struggle with his evil alter-ego. It will be a real time, 3D adventure that contains 28 levels in seven different worlds. The Dark Half: Endsville is forecast for a 1998 release.”

GamePen’s E3.NET published another press release for the game:

“Stephen King, master of disturbing prose, is coming to the PlayStation and the PC next year in fiendish style with “The Dark Half.” The game will be based on King’s eerie tale of writer Thad Beaumont’s struggle with his murderous alter-ego, George Stark. The novel will be transformed into code through the use of two different game engines, one for the pre-rendered world of Beaumont, and one for the rendered-on-the-fly nightmare world of killer George Stark.”

We also know that Jeffery Lieber (mostly known for co-writing the Lost series) would have been the game’s producer, thanks to an old blog post by Paul Wilson:

“I was delighted to see “story by Jeffery Lieber” in the opening credits.  Jeff and I go back to the mid-1990s when Matt Costello and I were scripting the “Dark Half Interactive” project for Orion Interactive; Jeff was acting as producer.  He’s not the least bit squeamish but Matt and I managed to gross him out with our “Birthing Woman” interaction (don’t ask). The project was orphaned and became vaporware when MGM bought Orion.”

More memories about working on the game can also be found in Paul Wilson books “Repairman Jack, and More” and “Aftershock & Others: 16 Oddities”.

If you know someone who worked at Bit Studios in 1997 and could still have some images from this lost game, please let us know!

Thanks to eSpy for the contrbution!

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Devil’s Third [PS3, Xbox 360, PC – Cancelled]

The premiere game of Tomonobu Itagaki‘s Valhalla Game Studio, primarily made of ex-Team Ninja members Devil’s Third was released in 2015 to incredibly divisive reception.  This would come as no surprised as the title was in development on and off for the good hunk of six years.  Starting development as a Microsoft published Xbox 360 title only to move to a multiplatform title under the now defunct THQ, only to soon after transfer to the Korean Publisher Doobic, a partnership that promised mobile and PC releases as well, who too would end up going out of business, finally resting on the Nintendo WiiU as a Nintendo published title.

The game was first formally announced at E3 2010 by THQ,(who later that year would announce the ill fated Insane) after Itagaki met with Danny Bilson, who would stay with the game until the end. Announced as a PS3/360 title the game looked to be an action game with a deep focus on mixing gunplay with melee combat.  While that much is true in the final WiiU release, one big change can be seen right away.  Despite being used for the reveal trailer and title logo, the 3 characters that had been shown would end up replaced by the new protagonist Ivan.  Not much is actually known of the original cast of three, but the male character focused on in the trailer bears a resemblance to a villain in the final game named Big Mouse.  Another change that can be seen is the excursion of wall running in the final release.

The game would not be shown off more until another trailer the following year, this time focusing on the Japanese celebrity Hard Gay (Masaki Tsumitani) going on a tour of Valhalla’s studio. Despite being four years before the eventual release, in this video a boss (Saha Grundla) and many characters from the final game can be seen.

Another drought of information would come, this time for three years until randomly showing up at E32014, this time by Nintendo.  The game had made a drastic change from the last time shown and the lead protagonist was the easiest to see.  This would be the first time the game would be shown off in any real detail including a multiplayer mode, according to Itagaki a main reason for Nintendo picking the title up to begin with.  The title would then release the following year, despite promises of Nintendo polish, the title would be plagued with issues relating to framerate and lower end graphics, which would give off a very last-gen feel.  The contributing factor to polish issues comes from the title shifting through almost as many engines as it did publishers.  Starting from proprietary to the Darksider’s Engine, ending with Unreal 3.

Despite the lukewarm reception of the WiiU title in most regions outside of Japan, Valahalla also released a multiplayer-only PC version in Asian territories and their subsidiary Soleil is developing the upcoming Naruto to Boruto: Shinobi Strike for current consoles.  Valhalla also opened up a headquarters in Vancouver to watch over each of it’s subsidiaries.

Article by Nicolas Dunai

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Project FUUB (Juice Games / THQ) [Xbox 360, PS3, Wii – Cancelled]

Project FUUB was a peripheral device being developed by THQ Digital Warrington (Formerly Juice Games) at some point between 2006 and 2010 for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and Wii consoles. Acting like a set of four individual dice, which were to be bundled together as one purchase, the FUUB was predominantly aimed towards local group play. Each player would interact with one or more of the dice when playing one of the FUUB specific games designed for the device. The devices themselves were fitted with some physical sensors, though it’s not exactly clear what each device was actually able to monitor. We also believe that the FUUBs required a separate, external camera to track the their movement in 3d space, though this cannot be 100% confirmed.

Two games are known to have been designed for the FUUB, to varying degrees of completion. The first, titled “FUUB” was a simple, cartoonish Mario Party style game which you can see concept mockups for below. It’s not clear how far this game got into the development cycle, but it’s possible it never level the early conceptual stages due to the lack of actual gameplay or information available on it. Since it also shared a name with the device itself, it’s likely that the game was meant to come packaged alongside the FUUB device, much like Wii Sports did with the Wii.

A second game – tentatively titled “Quest for the Magic Stones” – was also being developed, which you can see footage of in the video below. A developer described the game as being aimed at “fans of the Harry Potter series” as it shared a mystical narrative theme, and was set in a magical dungeon. Several minigames were already implemented, including logic and physics puzzles, as well as a simplified take on the rhythm-based format of the Guitar Hero/Rock Band games.

Ultimately, the FUUB concept was scrapped as THQ were in the middle of realigning in their priorities, and as a result the studio’s focus was shifted away from physical releases, causing multiple projects to be scrapped. Two other projects – Split Shift Racing & Stormbirds – were also known projects that were also cancelled due to the change in direction.. The studio would go on to make Red Faction: Battlegrounds and Warhammer 40K: Killteam before being closed by THQ in 2011.

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Saints Row: The Cooler [Cancelled – Xbox 360, PS3]

Saints Row: The Cooler is a cancelled fighting game, which was in development for the Xbox 360 and PS3. It was being created by Heavy Iron Studios in Los Angeles and was funded by THQ.

“It was a brawler game. Go to a bar, pick a fight, smash a bottle over someone’s head” – Former Heavy Iron Studios artist

Work began on the title in March 2010 at developer, Heavy Iron. In partnership with THQ, the company sought to create the first Saints Row game controlled entirely by motion; a ploy to capitalise on the rising industry trend at the time.

Two versions of the game were planned initially: an Xbox 360 game using Microsoft’s Kinect peripheral and a PS3 port with Playstation Move support. The Xbox 360 was the lead development platform for The Cooler, as the team’s creative focus was very much on Kinect.

A team of around 40 people were put on the project, while the rest of the studio was occupied with another Kinect-centric project for Disney called ‘E-Ticket’.

We were able to get in touch with several people, a mix of both former and current employees at the developer, who shared some details with us on the game’s lifecycle. According to these sources, the title was a brawler set in the Saint’s Row universe and was, in contrast with the rest of the series, not an open world game.

“It was a ton of fun to work on because we got to use the original Saint’s Row locales as concept art, basically, and give them a redesign and a highly upgraded art treatment (since Saint’s Row was open world and our game was not, we could afford to devote more time and engine resources to artwork)”

Kinect lap dancing

Despite it ditching the free roaming traditions of the previous games, The Cooler apparently offered a myriad of activities to experience. Its main premise was of motion-controlled fighting in various parts of the Saints Row universe, but players would have also been able to compete in poker tournaments and other miscellaneous mini-games.