A few weeks ago, a potential classic, Silent Hills, was cancelled, and all trace of it was removed from the Playstation Network Store. What would have been a potential game changer for both the franchise and the survival horror genre in general is yet another case of what could have been. Although no definite reason was given for it, if you’ve kept up with the drama over the past few weeks, it’s evident that business politics, internal conflict, and the pending departure of Hideo Kojima all played into the cancellation. Sadly, Silent Hills isn’t the first high profile cancellation, nor will it be the last. Gaming’s history is rife with games that could have been classics being canceled due to a variety of reasons. I’ve done 5 previous installments on this subject alone.
1. inSANE (Xbox 360)
What It Was: Yet another game planned by horror writer Guillermo Del Toro (Pacific Rim, Pan’s Labyrinth). Not a whole lot was revealed about the game, except that it was originally planned as a trilogy, Volitron (Saint’s Row, Red Faction) would have been the developer and it would have been a survival horror game.
What Happened: THQ went out of business in late 2012. While Del Toro retained the IP rights, he was unable to find another publisher to partner with.
My Thoughts: I can only imagine with both this AND Silent Hills being canceled, Del Toro just doesn’t have the heart to work on any more video games. Now that I think about it, movie directors in general don’t have much luck when it comes to the gaming industry (See Peter Jackson’s Halo Chronicles in Volume 2, Steven Spielberg’s LMNO in Volume 5, and John Singleton’s Fear and Respect in Volume 1). You’d think that if a big name director wants to jump into video gaming, a company would be behind them 100%. If companies are willing to take big-name licenses, they should jump at the chance to release a game written by a big name director.
2. Justice League (Xbox 360)
What it Was: An arena-based fighter developed by Double Helix (Killer Instinct 2013, Strider 2014). Players would take control of several Dc characters including Batman, Superman, Bizzaro, Bane, and Lady Shiva in an arena-based battle that looks similar to Power Stone or EA’s cancelled Marvel fighter.
What Happened: No one knows. The only information we have on the game is a set of youtube videos showing an early release version, one of which being shown above.
My Thoughts: While it looks pretty interesting and I would be interested in knowing more about it, it’s not a huge loss, as its cancellation paved the way for 2013’s Injustice, which is the definitive DC fighter.
3. Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun (Xbox 360, PS3)
What it Was: The first Legacy of Kain title since 2003’s Defiance. The game, developed by Climax Studios (Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, Bloodforge), would have cast players in the role of Gein, a vampire and Asher, a human whose soul has become trapped in Gein’s body. The game would have involved a conspiracy involving an Elder God, and would have contained a multiplayer component, developed separately by Psyonix (ARC Squadron, Monster Madness: Grave Danger).
What happened: The franchise had been under review since Eidos cancelled Legacy of Kain: Dark Prophecy, a planned sequel to Defiance which was being developed during 2004. Dark Sun itself was cancelled in 2012 after 3 years of development without much being known to the public. Square-Enix Eupore, the game’s would be publisher, salvaged the multiplayer component and parlayed it into the Free-to_Play multiplayer game, Nosgoth which as of this writing is currently in open beta. A NeoGAF member, Mama Robotnik made much of this info public as well as info about other cancelled Legacy of Kain games.
My Thoughts: What a huge letdown. If the above gameplay trailer was any indication, Dark Sun could have been a worthy, and much needed revival for the series. Even now, fans clamor for the release of a new single-player LOK game.
4. Prey 2 (PC, Xbox 360, PS3)
What it Was: A sequel to 2006’s trippy FPS, Prey 2 puts players in the shoes of U.S Marshal Killian Samuels, who was on a passenger flight that crashed onto the Sphere from the original Prey (in fact, the crash was shown in the previous game). Several years later he becomes a bounty hunter on the alien world of Exodus while attempting to recover his memory of the events before the crash.
What Happened: Prey 2 was announced shortly after the release of the original, and in 2011, Human Head studios (Rune, Blair Witch Volume II: Legend of Coffin Rock, Prey) announced that it was developing the game. Information on the game went dark for the next few years. It was reported in 2012 that Zenimax Media, the parent companny of Bethesda Softworks had canceled the game. There were rumors that Arkane Studios (Dishonored, Dark Messiah of Might and Magic) was rebooting the title with a projected release of 2016. While Bethesda’s Pete Hines denied these rumors, emails were later leaked showing that the game was in development at Arkane. If you read the last installment of this article, Arkane had another title that ended up canceled. At PAX 2014, Hines confirmed that the game was officially canceled, giving the classic ‘It just wasn’t up to our standards response’.
My Thoughts: Prey had a lot of good ideas, but it was a title that you either loved or hated. Regardless it’s a shame the sequel was cancelled. If nothing else, it had an interesting premise, and I’m sure fans would have loved to seen the concepts from the original game expanded upon and even improved.
5. Aliens: Crucible (Xbox 360, PS3, Windows)
What it Was: Developed by Obsidian Entertainment (Alpha Protocol, Knights of the Old Republic 2, South Park: The Stick of Truth), Aliens Crucible was an RPG that was set in the Alien universe. As shown in the concept video above, the game would have featured squad-based RPG action akin to Mass Effect.
What Happened: Who knows? As usual, there’s a lot of speculation, and according to a video from youtube channel TheGebs24, 20% of Sega’s staff was laid off around the same time the game was cancelled. Regardless of what may have been going on, the end effect was that this game was shelved, and instead we wound up with Gearbox’s (Borderlands, Duke Nukem Forever) widely successful masterpiece, Colonel Marines (and I say this without a hint of sarcasm).
My Thoughts: Decision like this are why Sega is struggling as a third party developer when two decades ago they were the number 2 console developer. The world deserves a good Alien game. Jury is still out on whether the recently released Alien Isolation is that game.
6. WWE Brawl (PS3, Xbox 360, Wii)
What it Was: A Saturday morning cartoon inspired brawler featuring superhero-like versions of WWE Superstars. The game would tie in with a proposed toy line and animated series. A semi-sequel to WWE All Stars, the game would feature cartoonish versions of current and past WWE superstars.
What Happened: No reason was given, but seeing as how THQ was struggling financially at the time, it isn’t too much of a stretch to imagine that played a part. Artist Rich Lyons posted content art to his webpage.
My Thoughts: It would have been interesting to see what THQ was working on. At the least, the concept art looked pretty badass. It appears this game’s concept lives on in part with the Android/IOS app WWE Immortals from Netherrealm Studios (which I hope they make a console game based upon).
7. Rockman (Mega Man) Online (PC)
What it Was: Jointly developed by Capcom and Neowiz Games, Rockman Online was a Korean MMORPG which would have players take control of Reploids imbued with teh powers of Mega Man, Mega Man X, and other heroes as they stops a Maverick outbreak.
What Happened: No reason given, but with series creator Keji Inafume having left and Capcom having all but killed off the franchise (4 other planned Mega Man games, including Mega Man Legends 3 were canceled, see previous installments for more info), this cancellation, though disappointing, is not surprising.
My Thoughts: Although Mega Man Online would likely not have made it across to these shores, the cancellation of this game is yet another nail in the coffin for this once great franchise.
8. Bob Ross: The Joy of Painting (Wii, PC, Nintendo DS)
What it was: A video game based upon the popular PBS program which is hosted by the late painter, former Air Force Master Sergeant, and coolest white guy to rock a fro, Bob Ross.
What Happened: When a Bob Ross game was announced on April 1 of 2006, many people figured that it was an April Fool’s joke. Happily (at least for the time being), Developer AGFRAG Entertainment Group confirmed that this was not the case. The company had indeed made a deal with Bob Ross Inc to create a game based on the late painter. However, since the announcement, information on the game went dark, and in December of 2006, it was revealed that Bob Ross Inc abandoned AGFRAG and was in search of another publisher. Nothing has been heard about the game since.
My Thoughts: Probably the most crippling lost on this entire list! It would have been an excellent fit on both the Wii and Nintendo DS too.
9. Road To Sunday (PS2)
What it Was: Developed by 989 Sports (Gameday), Road to Sunday was one of the many football video games that attempted to provide players with non-NFL action in the wake of EA’s NFL exclusivity with Madden. This game would have more of a plot: Playing as Blake Doogan, you inherit a football team after his father’s death in a boat explosion while in Jamacia. Learing that his father was deep into debt, Doogan must put together a football team that can win enough games to earn enough money to pay back his father’s debtors. Not only would the game feature tweaks to the on-field gameplay, but the game would also feature an underground component featuring gambling and illegal fighting which could affect on-field performance.
What Happened: 989 sports decided to cancel the game in July of 2005.
My Thoughts: Honestly, the NFL Gameday series had been declining in popularity for years (the last game in the series was released on the ORIGINAL PLAYSTATION for crying out loud), and without an official NFL licence, an NCAA license, or really, any license at all, 989 might as well not even have bothered. While All Pro and Blitz: The League at least had player endorsements, Road To Sunday didn’t have that.
10. A bunch of Oddworld games (Various Systems)
What it Was: A Whole lot of Oddworld games that got canceled.
What Happened: Lets go one by one:
- Sligstorm (Playstation) would cast players in the role of a Slig, one of the enemies from Abe’s Oddysee. This particular Slig is a mutated albino, which made him an outcast among his people. It was canceled when GT Interactive, Oddworld Inhabitants’ publisher at the time, felt that the main character would be too ugly to appeal to gamers (as if guys like Abe and Munch were lookers themselves). Some of the elements of SligStorm were intended to be carried over into Munch’s Exodus, another title which also just so happened to be canceled.
- Hand of Odd (Playstation 2) was intended to be a simulation style game based on the lives of Oddworld’s many Inhabitants. An open world game with online components, the game would allow players to have control over the people and environments, almost like an RTS or a city builder. Development on the game started alongside Munch’s Oddysee, and was stalled when the game was shifted over to Xbox as information on the game suddenly went dark. In 2004, the game was confirmed as being halted, rather than outright canceled.
- Munch’s Exodus (Unknown) would have been the sequel to the Xbox exclusive, Munch’s Oddysee, and would task the hero Munch to take the can of fertilized grabbit eggs to Ma Spa so the gabbitwogs can be born and raised in peace. Not much info was given about the game, and it was most likely abandoned after the lukewarm reaction to Munch’s Oddysee.
- The Brutal Ballas of Fangus Klot (Xbox? Xbox 360?) would have been the darkest entry in the franchise. Playing as a former sheep-herder-turned-pit-fighter named Fangus Klot, the game would task players to seek revenge against his captors and liberate the land before he succumbs to a virus. The game had originally been announced in a 2005 issue of Game Informer…that had shipped just after teh studio had been shut down. Disagreements with would be publishers EA and Majesco caused the game to be canceled. Read more about it here.
My Thoughts: The Oddworld games were always rich in history, personality, and gameplay, and it’s a shame that talented studios like Oddworld Studios have to deal with industry politics to an extent where they can make the games they wish to make. There is a bright spot. A few years ago, the studio formed a partnership with developer Just Add Water (Gravity Crash) to re-release several older Oddworld games. Stranger’s Wrath and Munch’s Oddysee have been given HD ports on Playstation 3, PS Vita, and Windows, while last year saw a release of Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty, a remake of Abe’s Oddysee for PS3, 4, Vita, Wii U, Windows, OS X, Linux, and Xbox One, so there is hope that a few of these games may see the light of day after all.