The recent announcement from Nintendo that their SNES mini system will include Starfox 2, a game which was completed and then binned back in 1995, got me thinking about what else might be worth resurrecting from the video game graveyard. In my relatively short lifetime, I’ve seen a number of promising projects axed for a variety of reasons, some reasonable, some utterly ridiculous. So here’s ten games that we’d love to see get a proper release.
Star Wars 1313
I think it’s reasonable to say that Disney have done some good work since they acquired the Star Wars license. However, I don’t think I’ll ever forgive them for cancelling this game back in 2013. Set on an underground area of Coruscant known as Level 1313 (pronounced thirteen thirteen), it would have followed the adventures of a young Boba Fett. With action-adventure style gameplay in the mould of Uncharted and a focus on gadgets rather than light sabers, Star Wars 1313 looked set to be a solid contender for game of the year. Alas, when Disney acquired LucasArts, they cancelled development on all projects. Now, with every passing year, Star Wars 1313 looks less and less likely to stage a comeback.
Don’t worry, this won’t be an exclusively star-based list. However, while we’re on the subject of luminous interstellar spheres of plasma, I feel compelled to bring up StarCraft: Ghost. Set to be released some time around 2004 for XBOX, GameCube and PS2, it looked destined to be the first decent Starcraft game for consoles. As a ghost unit member named Nova, players would have been able to sneak and shoot their way around the compelling StarCraft universe in a way that the strategy-focused PC games had yet to explore. Alas, Blizzard’s notoriously high standards were not being met and the release date kept getting pushed back. Despite starting development in 2002, StarCraft: Ghost hung on until 2014 when it was officially cancelled. Although presumably the title had been on the shelf for the better part of a decade at that point.
There was once a time when Peter Molyneux could do no wrong. With smash hits like Populous, Theme Park and Black & White in his portfolio, it seemed that everything this man touched turned to video game gold. Cancelled in 2004, B.C. was to be an open-world survival game in a time when that was a totally alien concept. It would have tasked the player with tackling life in a prehistoric world, with everything from dinosaurs to humans to rats having a place in the game’s complex food chain and ecosystem. It genuinely looked as though it would have been a masterpiece. Sadly, all development ceased in order to focus on completing the original Fable game before the Xbox 360 launched. B.C. remains about 75% complete but will never, ever see the light of day. At least we got Fable though.
The late ‘90s was a weird time. Video games were still seen by many as children’s toys, yet titles like Doom and Mortal Kombat had shown that mature themes were popular among gamers. Unfortunately, Virgin Interactive were unwilling to test the waters with Thrill Kill, a game about a bunch of utterly vile, evil people who duke it out to gain their freedom from eternal damnation in hell. With characters that included a dominatrix and a cannibalistic serial killer, performing moves called ‘bitch slap’ and ‘swallow this’, Thrill Kill was just a little too on the nose for its time. Although it was totally complete and ready to be pressed and shipped, Virgin Interactive pulled the plug.
Ok, so this one’s kinda cheating on my part, as it technically has been released. However, that release came on the Japan-only Famicom system back in 1989. For those of you unfamiliar with Sweet Home, it is widely regarded as the game that created the survival-horror genre and would later be quoted as being the inspiration behind the first Resident Evil game, itself another Capcom title. In Sweet Home, the player controls a team of scientists who travel to a decaying mansion to study some classic works of art. Things quickly go awry and they end up in a fight for survival against a malevolent being. To say much more would be to ruin the story. What I will say, however, is that Sweet Home already has a fan translation, which has been made into a playable ROM file for emulators. So if Nintendo are listening, all of the work has already been done for you. Just put this retro horror classic on the virtual console or something.
I love Bethesda, but they have repeatedly shown themselves to be absolute dicks when it comes to arbitrarily protecting their intellectual property. They took on Minecraft creator, Notch, back in 2012 because he made a game called Scrolls. More recently, they forced No Matter Studios to re-title their game Praey For the Gods because it initially had the word 'prey' in it. But arguably the shittiest thing they ever did was wrecking Interplay’s attempt to create a Fallout MMO, especially given they were the guys who started the whole series. The lawsuit between Bethesda and Interplay is long, confusing and ultimately quite boring. All you need to know is that Bethesda fought them every step of the way before announcing that they weren’t allowed to make any references to the Fallout universe. Obviously, when making a sequel, it is somewhat necessary to reference the previous games. So Fallout Online died, despite having bright prospects and being in development in the late ‘00s, during the heyday of MMOs.
The PS2, GameCube and original XBOX were a great trio of systems for fans of first-person shooters. Halo, Call of Duty and Star Wars: Battlefront all got their console debuts on these machines. But unlike the aforementioned long-standing franchises, there’s one quality series that never made it past that generation. Timesplitters, for the uninitiated, was a series of stylish FPS games that had a crazy story-line and even crazier characters. Often compared to Goldeneye 007 and Perfect Dark on the N64, they were great fun in local multiplayer mode and I spent hours of my early adolescence battling it out with my pals. Sadly, there’s no cool story as to why the fourth installment never got made. Some marketing guy simply said it wouldn’t sell and so they didn’t attempt it. In an industry that loves mascots, Timesplitters’ aversion to having a single protagonist made it difficult to publicise. There are a lot of us who would love to see one more title from this series, but it almost certainly isn’t going to happen.
This one’s a little tenuous, given that it has never officially been cancelled, but Agent certainly bares all the hallmarks of a vaporware title. Announced by Rockstar in 2009, very little has been seen of the game aside from a few screenshots, a short gameplay video and a logo. Its trademark expired in 2013 and was later renewed that same year and again in 2016. Beyond that, there’s not much else to report and that in itself does not bode well for the title. It goes without saying that many would have had high hopes for a ‘70s era James Bond-inspired open-world title, especially from the creators of Red Dead Redemption and Grand Theft Auto. But it seems that Rockstar are far too busy with GTA 5 and Red Dead 2 to risk anything on a new IP.
Metallica: The Game
Yes, you read that correctly. Back in 2003, Black Rock Studio were working on a post-apocalyptic driving/combat game in the vein of Mad Max. However, instead of playing as Mel Gibson (or Tom Hardy), you would play as badass, gun-toting versions of the members of the much-loved heavy metal band, Metallica. I don’t think I need to explain why this would have been awesome. Even if it had sucked, it still would have been awesome. In fact, I think I would have enjoyed it more if it had been comically bad. Little else is known about the game, except that it was cancelled. All we have to go on is this somewhat crappy trailer which was included with copies of the band’s St Anger album…..and nothing else matterrrrsss….
Streets of Rage 4
I’m showing my age a little bit here, but one of my all-time favorite games is the original Streets of Rage, released on the Sega Megadrive/Genesis in 1991. Many of us who grew up on 8 and 16 bit consoles consider Streets of Rage 2 to be one of the greatest brawlers of all time. So by the time Sega released their Saturn console in 1994, it seemed obvious that we would get a 3D sequel to one of their most popular franchises. It looked even more promising when Core Design, the guys who created Tomb Raider, were signed up to work on the generation-leaping sequel. Alas, it was not to be. The UK-based studio had a major dispute with Sega because they wanted to port the game to other consoles and so Sega pulled the Streets of Rage name from the project. Core Design would later to go on to release an edited version of it under the name Fighting Force, for the N64 and Sony PlayStation. Fans of Streets of Rage will probably notice that three of the main characters in Fighting Force look suspiciously like three of the main characters from Streets of Rage 2. It’s been 23 years and I’m still waiting for a sequel. Get it sorted Sega!