Songs That Voices Never Shared: The best games that never released or flopped outright.

Posted: June 3, 2013 by ryanlecocq in Features, Off-topic

Over the years, there have been many great ideas for games that have either been cancelled, completely redone or went unnoticed.  Some of these have later resurfaced in some form, but most of them have yet to see the light of day.

Outcast (PC 1999, Dreamcast 2000 cancelled)

Outcast1b

This game did actually release for the PC in 1999, but was only supported by maybe a dozen of the most powerful CPUs at the time.  The reason is that the game engine was designed from scratch to use many effects only seen recently in video games.  Everything from HDR lighting to normal mapping to reflective water is all rendered by the CPU manually.  No GPU shaders involved.  The game itself is an entertaining (while flawed) scifi romp through a world that is half original and half references to popular 90s scifi like Stargate and The X-Files.  The game’s revolutionary emergent AI makes for some very arresting watercooler moments that will have you amazed that such a game was possible so long ago.  Even with all of the visual effects, Outcast looks a bit rough by modern standards.  Still an amazing example of what skilled programmers can do with hardware.  Honestly this game is the best case for why game designers could do such a better job than they do at engine design.  You can pick this one up for next to nothing, fully patched to work on new PCs, at Good Old Games (gog.com).

Demonik (That game from Grandma’s Boy)

4419_medium

Let me just dispel any rumors right off the bat by explaining that Demonik was never a full game, ready to ship.  People saw a rough alpha of Terminal Reality’s proposed tie-in to an also-cancelled Clive Barker movie of the same name.  Since it was actually running on Xbox 360 dev hardware, while appearing to be played on the OXB, it looked amazing compared to games of the time.  The original Xbox had a serious shortage of good 3rd-person action games (Run Like Hell wasn’t exactly memorable), so gamers were way more excited about this game then they would be now.  Really it was just a marketing proposal that ran around the rumor mill a bunch and never became anything.  The Clive Barker movie never happened, Terminal Reality moved on to other, more lucrative licensing deals and the only use for that rough alpha build was to be a plot point in a comedy movie.

Resident Evil 3.5

tumblr_lqtfzeOg1O1qcq2vho1_500

Of all of the games in this article, this is probably the concept that had the most money poured into it before it was totally scrapped.  Resident Evil 4 actually had anywhere between 3 and 5 different concepts during it’s development, depending on who you ask.  While they were mainly just different iterations that led from the first one to what shipped, there is a general idea of the “other RE4” or “Resident Evil 3.5” as fans call it (in reference to RE 1.5, google it).  This game was apparently intended to take a page from 80s horror movies like Evil Dead, Salem’s Lot and The Exorcist series.  Featuring a very whimsical and offbeat plot that was more reminiscent of Stephen King than George Romero, RE 3.5 would have been very different from the RE 4 we saw.  Leon was still rescuing Ashley, but he did so in a castle a lot more like Dracula’s and inhabited by a mad scientist who created a virus to animate inanimate objects.  This virus apparently would have traveled through the air in a black swarm and possessed suits of armor, giant machines and even Leon himself.  At some point the game would move to a giant airship, on which Leon’s virus-driven hallucinations would take the plot in a very surreal direction.  Early concept art of Ashley shows her dressed as some sort of airship aviator, so who knows if she was originally even the President’s daughter.  Many small parts of this game have emerged in later games.  Much of the original castle design was used in Devil May Cry and other parts were used in Haunting Ground.  Strangely another game, Rule of Rose, apparently decided that if Capcom wasn’t going to use the trippy airship, they sure would.  In that game, the very same thing happens.  At one point, you suddenly end up on this giant airship and start having strange hallucinations.  Much of the gameplay style of RE 3.5 reappeared in Leon’s campaign of RE 6.  Since 6 is still on a newer version of the same engine, makes sense to use some of the animations and systems or at least parts of them.

Legend of the Blademasters and Gorkamorka

BMImage76_01_a

Gorkamorka was later released to mild fanfare, but LotB never saw the light of day.  Sad too, because these two were clearly the good games that Ripcord slaved though all those crappy ports to get the funding for.  Gorkamorka was a vehicular combat lark with light strategy elements (sorry for the original wrong description, I confused it with an earlier cancelled game of the same name), set in the Warhammer 40K universe, where you play as a band of marauding Orcs.  It was pretty rad for a licensed game and really hit the fanbone of Orc players of the tabletop.  Legend of the Blademasters was the other game Ripcord was making at the same time.  It was an original isometric RPG in the vein of Balder’s Gate or the like.  While it probably wouldn’t have been the best game ever, they were hoping to release it on consoles as well, which would have been awesome since there was nothing like that besides the much simplified BG: Dark Alliance at the time.  These days most major PC games release on consoles, but back in the early 00’s, there were not a lot of isometric RPGs getting ported to consoles.  Unfortunately Turbine had trouble deciding which consoles to release on and getting a publisher who was willing to wait.  Gorkamorka eventually found it’s way to the PC and PS2 and still has a small community of players and modders.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time DD

64dd zelda ura 1

While we basically got the important parts of the game in the final N64 release, there are many features that were planned for the cancelled DD add-on that would have rocked.  Many people assume to this day that the 64DD content was what later became Majora’s Mask; an add-on campaign that followed the main story.  If you look back at interviews and previews though, this is not the case.  The 64DD version of Zelda 64 was supposed to add extra realism and immersion features that the base console didn’t have the memory for.  Miyamoto was very impressed by the way PC games like Daggerfall or Diablo could store so much information in the memory and factor in so much data while playing.  So he designed the 64DD addon to Zelda to add many of these “PC-game” features into the game.  For example, there was going to be much more complexity to the NPC interactions and sidequests related to time of day and weather.  Things like Link’s footsteps or damage done to the environment would remain for longer or become permanent in more realistic ways.  NPCs would have more complex behavior and more dialogue.  There was supposed to be some extra content too, but the main purpose was to give the game many of the features that were currently unseen in console games.  It would be interesting to see a version of such an amazing game that was actually “bigger, denser and more complex.”

That’s all folks.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s