In our final instalment, we’re looking at some of the more obscure, lesser known and forgotten titles that never got the chance to show off what made them so special. While many mourn the loss of blockbuster games, there are often great video games from smaller studios that slip under the radar and are never heard from again. In the case of the following titles, these cancellations meant that the world never got to experience a plethora of unique and varied concepts. Here are a few of our favourite forgotten games.
Earth No More
While technically still ‘in development’, nobody has heard from this title in a long time. Developed by Recoil Games around 2007, Earth No More took place in a quarantined town in New England, where some form of virus had killed most of its inhabitants and polluted the Earth. This post-apocalyptic tale would have followed protagonist Will Foster, a federal agent tasked with combating the biological threat and destroying the source of the red vines that had taken over the Earth. Working together with a band of survivors, Foster would have uncovered a government conspiracy and the presence of a deadly force lying in the Earth’s core. This title may draw easy parallels to The Last of Us, but concept art shows off a wonderfully different world overrun by beautiful and deadly nature. Unfortunately, financial concerns saw the halting of production on the game, leaving only a handful of gorgeously rendered pieces of concept art, and the vague hope that the title may yet return.
Dreamers is a title that’s flown very much under the radar, and has likely been cancelled under similar circumstances. Despite Dreamgazer Interactive’s President and Creative Director George Georgeadis claiming the title is still in active development, Dreamers looks dead in the water as of 2017. In development since 2004, the title looked to be quite beautiful and experimental in nature, following a young man named Jorge through his battle with narcolepsy, a rare sleep disorder. As the player, you would be able to explore Jorge’s dreams and nightmares in order to discover his past and identity. Concept art produced for the title shows off a wonderful and delightfully surreal world, with locations ranging from the deep ocean, to outer space and a graveyard filled with statues. While the game’s website is still very much online, it gives away little about the development of the title, and the blog of the developer has not been updated since 2007. It’s a shame that we might never get to explore the wonders of Dreamers, as it’s a title that showed great promise and imagination.
Space Jelly was a 3D platform title developed for the Nintendo 64 by now defunct studio Software Creations, which would have seen protagonist Johnny Forbbiden exploring the far reaches of space and rescuing the Earth from interstellar pirates. According to initial reports, the game was a beautiful and well designed platformer taking place on a highly futuristic space station, with a neat fighting system and a whole lot of promise. Very few screenshots of the game remain, but the concept in itself sounded fantastic, and somewhat reminiscent of the much-loved Earthworm Jim, but fully realised on a 3D plane. Not much else is known about the game, as it seems that it didn’t survive much further than the initial pitching and concept art stage. Software Creations was unable to juggle all of their working titles, which included five other ambitious games, and it was Space Jelly that ended up on the chopping block. Software Creations went on to create Carmageddon and FIFA 99 in its stead.
Image Credit: IGN
Good pirate-themed games really are few and far between in the games industry, but a title that may have changed the landscape somewhat was 2002’s Voodoo Islands, which had gotten quite far into development before its cancellation. Taking the role of a pirate captain, the player would set off across the seas, fighting against island cannibals, other pirates and deadly Conquistadors. The game would allow you to conquer the Caribbean Sea with your loyal crew, collecting mysterious magical artefacts and avoiding dangerous Voodoo spells along the way. An online gameplay mode was also conceived, where presumably, you would battle your friends to become the greatest pirate of all. Initial footage was promising, featuring the player character adventuring through a vast swampland and confronting a variety of enemies including wolves and zombie pirates. The story and tone is quite similar to Pirates of the Caribbean, though the game development pre-dates this release by a single year. Voodoo Islands could have been one of the definitive pirate games, but alas, it was not to be. Startlingly enough, one of the pirates found in key concept art bears a great resemblance to Pirates’ own Jack Sparrow. Make of that what you will.
Monster Knight may have a higher profile than some of the games on this list, but unfortunately it didn’t stop this promising title from meeting the same fate as the others. Described as Zelda meets Pokémon, Monster Knight would have seen players exploring a beautiful, open world and collecting a variety of creatures in their travels. Each creature had an assigned growth pattern and unique abilities that could be utilised by the player character, Madi. Monsters could be captured by a variety of means including negotiation or pursuit, with each presenting a new challenge. The title was in development around 1999 at Insomniac Games, with plans for it to be their first Playstation 2 title.
Given Insomniac’s successful history with platform games such as Spyro the Dragon and Ratchet & Clank, one can only have assumed that they would have imbued Monster Knight with a similar brilliance. Designed as a third person action/adventure title, Monster Knight was focused on a neat combat system, as well as emotive characters and strong narrative. Catching, growing and utilising a variety of monsters would have allowed the player to conquer even greater challenges, growing their own abilities alongside their monsters. The game didn’t get much further than planning and pitching, with several pages of beautiful concept art produced, but never used.
Eight Days was first shown at E3 in 2006, with the trailer showing off a rich, desert landscape and a dangerous car chase taking place across it. Featuring neat gunplay and an interactive story environment, Eight Days stirred up quite a bit of excitement. The game would have been based around buddy gameplay, a co-op experience where you could trade weapons and ammunition with friends, and work together through a variety of dangerous situations. Eight Days would have been set over a period of eight days, and feature a variety of locations across eight different states. It was said to have the largest map of its time and utilised an internal clock to function in real time, a scope that was unprecedented and most likely unachievable for its time.
Players would be able to choose to play as a detective searching for a mob syndicated who had kidnapped his son, or one that attempted to get revenge on that same syndicate. The specifics of the story were not delved into, and little is known about the direction the game would have taken. Eight Days was eventually cancelled by Sony, who released a statement indicating that the game was not a viable project, and that its resources would be allocation to other Playstation exclusive titles. In 2009, however, reports surfaced that the game was merely delayed, so there is still slim hope of Eight Days making a triumphant return.
These were just a few of our favourite cancelled games. From smaller indie games to AAA franchises, it seems that no game is safe from the wrath of cancellation. What are some of the games that you think we missed out on? Tell us on Twitter or Facebook!