Around 2003 – 2005 Z-Axis (AKA Underground Development) was working on a new Iron Man video game tie-in for Activision, using the Marvel license. The project was planned to be released for Playstation 2 and Xbox, but in the end it was never completed and quietly vanished, forgotten by everyone.
As we can read on IGN, Z-Axis was hiring new devs for Iron Man around November 2003:
“Z-Axis, the hard-working folks who brought gamers Dave Mirra’s BMX Freestyle and Aggressive Inline (and if you go a little farther back, Fox Sports College Hoops and Thrasher: Skate and Destroy), is now officially working on two new games for Activision based on the Iron Man and X-Men Marvel licenses.
Activision has not officially announced either of these two titles, but we have learned that both are definitely action games. The X-Men game is all new, and should not be confused with the Raven-developed X-Men: Legends.”
In the end only Z-Axis’s “X-Men: The Official Game” game was released in 2006. We can assume the team had some issues in developing two Marvel games at the same time and Activision decided to cancel Iron Man. Some screenshots from an early Iron Man prototype are saved below, to remember the existence of this lost game.
Project X is a cancelled third person action game for Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, which was in development around 2005 / 2007 by Z-Axis studio (later known as Underground Development) for Activision. The game was never officially announced by the company and it’s just one of many more unreleased games (such as Call of Duty: Devil’s Brigade) the team was working on, before Activision decided to close them down in 2010.
Only a few screenshots and a short video remain to remember the existence of this lost game. By looking at these, we can assume the game would have been somehow similar to other action games with super-powers like Prototype and Infamous. The main protagonist was able to morph itself into different forms of elemental energy, for example a body of ice or fire. By switching elements it would have been able to easily kill different kinds of enemies of the opposite element.
It seems only an early prototype was developed before Activision cancelled the project, maybe to switch the team to work on the PS3 version of Enemy Territory: Quake Wars.
Thrasher: Skate and Destroy is a skateboarding game developed by Z-Axis and released in 1999 for the PlayStation. Pcloadletter noticed various beta differences in some old screens and videos. Different HUD, some tricks do not register (nollie tricks especially), different start screen with 3 characters only and no multiplayer and many more.
A beta demo of Trasher: Skate and Destroy seems to have been leaked online, its a combination of the early build/hud but with the (almost) final menus. All the character photos are here with one selectable at start. You can see a short bio instead of the stats. Also one of the three levels unlocked.
The coolest part I found is the camera control. Pressing L2 + a direction changes views on the fly; up = overhead, right = regular chase, down = far/wide chase and left = first person. Sometimes switching on the fly will crash the demo but its interesting to play in first person at least. I’m not aware of that in the final game at all.
Its weird because many advanced tricks are available but not some of the default basics. L1 is the control for certain grinds (missing) nollie tricks (missing completely), wall rides (these work), and manuals (incomplete). Manuals do not score points or register and have glitchy animations. If you move it cancels out and will in a short time on its own regardless. So far only the nose manual will work on a downslope or landing in a pipe. L1+x is used to switch stance or revert. A difference is a missing hud logo with only a text indicator of “switch”. Also if you hold R1+L1+x you will do a unique trick where the board switches but you hold position. This was removed from final, its kind of cool even if pointless. […]
In the courthouse level itself many textures are different and the lighting seems darker or maybe its the popup. Some logos are not on ramps and there is a missing trash can from final. If you try to exit the gates (different texture from final) the menu type is weird. […]
There is also a text file on both demo and final called OPTIONS.txt. They look like they related to debug but I don’t really know. The only difference from final is the first option for ztuneDebugPrint set to NO. In final it is set to YES. The dates are 7/27/1999 and 10/20/1999. It was released 10/31/1999. I don’t know if that relates directly to the build of the game but 3 months pre-release would be believable with all the differences I noticed already. […]
Comparing the text visible in hex editor has revealed some minor differences. There is no reference to the passwords, secret character Beesuit Guy, or character stats (but all descriptions are present in final form). The memory card functions are incomplete but 1/3rd present. From some general text there appears to be a test level called “gametest” in a missing map area called “Debugville”.
Call of Duty: Devil’s Brigade is a cancelled FPS that was in development by Underground Development (aka Z-Axis) from 2007 to 2009, for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. Activision closed the studio on February 11th, 2010. It’s possible that Call of Duty: Devil’s Brigade was cancelled to shift resources to Guitar Hero: Van Halen, that could have been a more profitable project for them. This game in the Call of Duty series would have been set in Italy during World War 2. This was meant to be CoD4 before it was cancelled.
Thanks to Hey Hey for the contribution! Some info from Kotaku and for a deeper article on this lost game, check The Verge!