Recently, Duke Nukem Forever was released. As everyone knows, this game was in development for so long, that it was feared to be canceled at one point. With the lukewarm reception the game has received, it might as well have been canceled. However, not all games are fortunate enough to see a release, let alone after this long. The following is a list of releases that never made it off the cutting room floor. BTW, this list does not include ports or translations of games that were canceled, just games that were canceled completely, so you can miss me with the emails about why the Dreamcast version of Shenmue 2 isn’t on here.

1. Thrill Kill (Playstation)

What it was: A four player fighting game from Paradox. As one of several deceased souls which represent a different kind of insanity, you fight in an urbanized version of Hell in order for the right to be reincarnated. Besides being one of the few fighting games to offer four player fighting action, the game also promised gruesome fighting moves that would put Mortal Kombat to shame.
So What Happened?: Would be publisher Virgin Interactive was bought out by Electronic Arts. EA felt that releasing such a product was beneath them, and canceled it. However, a near-finished version is floating around the net as a bootleg.

My Thoughts: Instead of letting the consumer decide for themselves weather a product was appropriate for them or not, EA decides to play big brother and decide for us. If they felt that the product was inappropriate for them, they could have sold it to another publisher, but they wouldn’t even do that. For what it’s worth, Thrill Kill lives on in the world of internet bootleg. In the ‘more-legal’ department, its engine was used in the Playstation Fighter Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style as well as Activision’s X-men mutant academy fighting games.

2. Tiberium (Xbox 360, PC, PS3)
What it Was: This FPS was designed as a spin-off/sequel to Command and Conquer 3. Taking control of a marine, you defend Earth against a repeat invasion of the Scrin, the aliens from C&C 3. EA had intended for Tiberium to be the start of a new C&C based franchise.
So What Happened?: EA felt that the product wasn’t fulfilling their expectations and simply canceled it. C&C 3 was instead of being given a direct sequel in the form of the lackluster Tiberium Twilight.
My Thoughts: Methinks EA caught flashbacks of the fan reaction to C&C Renegade (EA’s last attempt at a Command and Conquer FPS) and got spooked.

3. Starcraft:Ghost (Xbox, Gamecube, PS2)
What it Was: Years before Starcraft 2 was conceived, this third person shooter was a planned spinoff to Blizzard’s Starcraft franchise. Taking control of Nova, a Ghost (you know, those stealth units that could blow up your base if not careful), you battle the Zerg in a storyline taking place four years after the end of Brood War.
So What Happened?: Development was shifted from Nihilistic to Swinging Ape. Then Blizzard was allegedly looking into development for next-generation systems. While the game was never officially announced as canceled, news about the game slowly dried up. Nova was made a character in a Starcraft novel, and appears in Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty.
My Thoughts: Before there was ever news about Starcraft 2, Nova had the potential to become a worthy follow up to one of the most beloved RTS games of all time. However, it had just as much potential to generate a serious backlash from gamers (see C&C Renegade).

4. Fear and Respect (Xbox, PS2)
What it was: Midway, coming off a stellar run was teaming up with developer Edge of Reality, rapper Snoop Dogg, and Film director John Singleton (Boyz in da Hood, Baby Boy) to produce Fear and Respect. Snoop Dogg would play the protagonist, who was a freshly released convict who had business to take care of in his own neighborhood.
So What Happened?: At one point, Midway was considering development for next-gen systems (now where have I heard this before)? However, it ended up being indefinitely shelved. While Midway never gave an exact reason for the cancellation, Midway’s David Zucker stated his distaste in the amount of driving and shooting GTA clones.
My Thoughts: Too bad. If it had been done right, F&R would have been the perfect counterpoint to me-too thugsploitation games such as 25 to life and Beatdown: Fists of Vengeance. At the time of the game’s conception, Midway was coming off an excellent run that included Mortal Kombat Shaolin Monks, The Suffering, and Psi-Ops. John Singleton’s resume includes some of the finest films in African American cinema, and who doesn’t love Snoop Dogg?

5. Fear Effect: Inferno (PS2)
What it was: A planned third installment in Kronos/Eidos’ survival horror franchise. Once again, players would control mercenaries Hana, Rain, Deke, and Royce in another supernatural plot. The game was planned for Playstation 2, so no doubt the game’s cel-shaded graphics would see a serious upgrade.
So What Happened: Kronos and FEI wound up on the chopping block when Eidos was hit with financial difficulties. In 2004, Uwe Boll (*shudder*) gained movie rights to the franchise, thereby giving hope of the franchise being rekindled. Unfortunately (or perhaps thankfully?), this fell through as well, and the game is back in limbo.
My Thoughts: How can a game with LESBIANS in it not be doing Grand Theft Auto/Final Fantasy numbers? Come on Square-enix (Eidos’ new owners btw), get on top of a current-gen sequel!

6. WCW Mayhem 2 (PS2)
What it was: A follow up to EA’s dismally received WCW Backstage Assault, WCW Mayhem 2 would be an Aki-developed title. It would feature a deep story mode, create-a-character, and over 1000 moves among other features.

So What Happened: Something completely beyond EA/Aki’s control – Vince McMahnon’s purchase of WCW. With WCW no longer existing (except as a subsidiary of the WWE), any game contracts they had dried up as well. Thankfully, Mayhem 2’s engine lived on in some part as much of it was worked into Def Jam Vendetta.
My Thoughts: Does Aki (renamed Syn Sophia) have crappy timing or what? On a side note, what are they doing these days? The world needs a new wrestling game made by them. EA? 2K Games? Anybody?

7. Mega Man Universe (PSN, Xbox Live Arcade)
What it was: Mega Man meets Little Big Planet. Players could customize their own Mega Man and build their own levels.

So What Happened? Capcom never gave an exact reason for its cancellation, but the departure of series creator Keiji Inafune may have had something to do with it. An early version generated some negative feedback about its controls, but even then it would have been nothing to fix it.

My Thoughts: Disappointing, but I have no doubt we’ll hear about another Mega Man game before long. Will it be the same without Keiji? That remains to be seen. Still, MMU had a compelling premise behind it.

8. Untitled EA Marvel Fighting game
What it was: While heading the now-defunct EA Chicago, Kudo Tsunoda, the brains behind the awesome Fight Night franchise was tapped to produce a Marvel Fighting game that would serve as a follow-up to the ill-received Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects. Under the direction of Kudo, this new Marvel fighter would be the polar opposite of Marvel Nemesis. As an early teaser of the game showed, the game would feature large and destructible environments which would allow players to step into the shoes of heroes such as Spider-man and the Hulk.

So What happened? After the dismal performance of Def Jam Icon, EA got rid of Kudo who then took his talents over to Microsoft. The Marvel fighting game was then shelved. Sadly, a Cryptic-developed Marvel MMORPG for Xbox 360 also got the axe around the same time.

My Thoughts: Shelving Kudo after Def Jam Icon made as much sense as an NFL team shelling out $500 million to William “The Refrigerator” Perry to have him play quarterback, then trading him after the first game because he wasn’t as good as passing as he was at tackling (and DJI wasn’t even that bad a game IMHO). Speaking of things that don’t make sense, I’m still baffled to this day as to why EA would take Aki off the Def Jam fighters when they did so well with Vendetta and Fight for New York. Speaking of which, the world needs a new Aki/Syn Sophia developed Def Jam game. I know I said that already, but someone needs to listen damnit!

9. True Fantasy Live Online (Xbox)
What it Was: Developed by Level 5 (Professor Layton, Dragon Quest 8, Rogue Galaxy), TFLO would give the Xbox two things Microsoft craved at the time: an MMORPG, and some much needed Japanese developer support. Supporting up to 3000 players, players could create and customize thier own character in a cel-shaded environment.

So What Happened? Microsoft was new at handling Japanese developers at the time, so there was a lot of miscommunication between Microsoft and Level 5. The latter struggled to meet the demands of the former, and the former was getting frustrated with the lack of progress the latter was making. Eventually it would canceled.

My Thoughts: MS desperately needs a console RPG. Sadly this would be the first of many blows in that department, as a Cryptic-developed Marvel Universe MMORPG would be canned, along with console versions of Champions Online and APB. Although former Microsoft Game Studios manager Shane Kim would hint at the possibility of TFLO on Xbox 360, nothing would ever come of it. Level 5 would go on to creating the popular Professor Layton franchise for the Nintendo DS, and with the Japanese market not being as relevant as it was back then, TFLO just isn’t a priority for Microsoft. However, the company could definitely use an MMORPG. Maybe a Halo or Gears of War MMORPG? Or perhaps an Image comics MMORPG to answer Sony’s DC Universe online.

10. NBA Elite 2011(Xbox 360, PS3)
After years of being dominated by NBA 2k, EA Sports went back to the drawing board for the next iteration of it’s basketball franchise. First and foremost, the game would receive a name change. It would feature revamped gameplay all across the board.

So What Happened? EA delayed the game to give it extra time for fine tuning. However, after taking too long, EA decided to cancel the 2011 release, opting instead to give a free roster update to NBA Live 2010. However, NBA Elite may not be ready until the 2012 – 2013 season, so there may not be an NBA Elite 2012 either.

My thoughts: Impending NBA lockout or not, it is disappointing to see this canceled, but it’s better to take one’s time to develop a product rather than rush it. If this is done right, EA could revolutionize the video game basketball genre in the way they did with Lakers vs Celtics.

That’s all for now, but rest assured, we’ll have a follow up in the near future, and we’ll be getting back to your regular $20 GOTW and Lost Classics/Maximum Letdown next week. For now, you can dream about what could have, or should have, been.