THQ

The Mask [SNES – Beta]

The Mask is a platform game (based on the film with the same name) developed by Black Pearl Software and published in 1995 by THQ for the Super Nintendo. Early in its development, the game was much different from the final version, as noticed by Mister Syd on the Lost Levels Forum:

Health meter is a series of facial expressions, while the health meter is numerical in actual game.

The Mask’s sprite is completely different in shape, color and design, almost as if this build was completely dismissed and recreated from the ground up.

Visually, I find this the most interesting because it looked like it was going to play more like a brawler than the platformer it turned out to be.

All of the screenshots’ backgrounds are not used anywhere in the final version of the game.

Unused abilities; The Mask has no low-kick, or a (strange-looking) gun that fires projectiles in the game and the mallet is a different color (and pose) but the tornado’s design might of been used in the game.

Some of the enemies in the screen shots I think are actually still in the game, but could be edited a bit in the release; the man with the gun by the bank vault is likely not in the final release though.

The Mask was also planned for the Genesis / Mega Drive, but this version was never released.

Thanks to Celine for the contribution! (scan from EGM #61)

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Akira [SNES MegaDrive/Genesis – Cancelled]

Rod_Wod from the Assembler Forum has posted various scans from the cancelled Akira games (based on the manga / anime with the same name) that were meant to be released by THQ for the Genesis / Mega Drive, Super Nintendo, Mega CD and Game Gear. Probably the screens published in the magazines were all from the same version, as the graphic looks almost the same for all the various consoles. Some more screens were found by Celine in Player One #44, Console Plus #44 and #35. Thanks to Sketcz from the Hardcore Gaming 101 blog for the other scans!

From an interview at Hardcore Gaming 101 we can read a lot of interesting info about the development of these unreleased Akira games:

“It was not so much cancelled or scrapped as it fell into neglect. Larry transferred rights to THQ and we couldn’t get clear agreement on the game elements with the project manager. They didn’t understand the limitations of the SNES. The project was then victim to a number of disasters including the lead programmer leaving, and other work being more pressing.”

A short video from the game was recorded at CES in summer 1994, you can see it below (it looks like the game crashes / freeze at some point). Thanks to Brian for the link to the video!

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Akira SNES

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De Blob [Wii – Beta]

De Blob is platform-puzzle game developed by Blue Tongue and published by THQ in 2008. The game was originally developed as a free downloadable game for the Windows PC by students of Game Design & Development and Game and Media Technology at Utrecht University in the Netherlands.

THQ noticed the game and was very impressed with the team’s work, acquired the rights and handed over the project to Blue Tongue Entertainment to develope the Wii version. [Info from Wikipedia]

MrRetroGamer96 found a video of an alpha/ near beta version of De Blob from E3 2007:  the hud is entirely different, and the other heroes besides De Blob are not the same. Billboards all have the same image in this version, wheras in the final game they are diverse in the image that shows up on them.

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The Crucible: Evil Within (The Box) [Cancelled – PS3 Xbox 360]

The Crucible: Evil Within, AKA “The Box” or “The Ritualist” originally was a Silicon Knights-developed (developer of Eternal Darkness and Too Human) open-world horror pitch for PS3 started in 2004, which was accepted for full production by Sega in March 2005.

“Silicon Knights has a rich history of developing great games that push hardware technology, so we expect this relationship will result in a powerful, new, and highly commercial franchise.”
Simon Jeffery, President and COO, SEGA of America

In 2006, Sega revealed some game details in an online survey. Until then, the game was internally known as “The Box”. The survey however led to “The Crucible: Evil Within”. Later, however, it was renamed to “The Ritualist” instead.

“An open free-roaming action horror game where the player undertakes a terrorizing journey of suspense, fear, power and discovery, and where every decision has multiple consequences… Uncover an ancient chest with unimaginable power that seduces you into evil, sin and corruption.”

Court documents from Silicon Knights’ legal battle with Epic Games reveal that The Box was initially planned to be finished by February 27th, 2007. It was later amended to extend the delivery date to November 4th, 2008. In August 2008, Sega decided to cancel various external projects, including Aliens RPG: Crucible, Aliens: Colonial Marines (later restarted), Cipher Complex, and The Box. However, Silicon Knights was able to find a new publisher with THQ, which also dropped the project in early 2009. As a kind of compensation, team members of The Box were asked to help on Vigil Games’/THQ’s Darksiders.

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