Friday Favorites #9: Canceled Games

This is a different kind of Friday Favorites. Its purpose is to examine some notable canceled games, detail why they got canned, and try to discover if there was any upside for the developers and/or publishers.

Aliens: Crucible

Developer: Obsidian

Publisher: Sega

The Swing: Alien + Obsidian? Hell yeah.

This third-person RPG was announced on December 13, 2006. The game was to come out for PC, PS3, and Xbox 360. The story involved the planet Caldera and a colony that goes dark. A crew is sent to the planet to investigate, but are forced to abandon ship when they descend upon Caldera. The crew is split up, and reuniting them would have been one of the main objectives.

The game would have boasted a few different character classes and a skill tree. Human and alien enemies would have been featured, and some of the Xenomorphs would have featured some of the attributes of the wildlife on Caldera that they gestated in. A similar concept was featured in Alien3. There would have also been a “Red Queen”.

Of course, your teammates would have been vulnerable to the alien threat. Team members could be captured and impregnated, and players would have had a few ways of dealing with them: mercy kill, abandoning them to a horrible death, or putting them into hypersleep. If the player wanted to use the character and their particular skills, they could take them out of hypersleep, but imagine the tension of not knowing when they would succumb to a chestburster. Death? Permanent. There was also a morale system that would affect crew members’ performance. If they reached their psychological breaking point, their aim could be affected, or they may attempt to flee outright.

The Miss: Obsidian had trouble convincing the public that the Alien franchise could successfully be adapted into a high-quality RPG. As development went on, planned features for the game began to be cut. Perhaps Obsidian was a bit too ambitious.

Sadly, Obsidian was kind of gutted by the cancellation of Crucible. The difficult development of their original IP, Alpha Protocol (which bombed, but endures as a cult favorite) and the cancellation of an RPG based on Snow White focusing on the Seven Dwarves (no, really) didn’t help. Ultimately, Obsidian used Kickstarter to fund a new IP, Pillars of Eternity. The campaign raised four million dollars.

Crucible was canceled after the new Aliens vs. Predator game was announced in February 2009.

Is There an Upside?: Obsidian was able to keep the Onyx engine that they developed to make Crucible. They used the engine for their South Park games and Dungeon Siege III.

Coded Arms: Assault

Developer/Publisher: Konami

The Swing: The PS3 sequel to the PSP first-person shooter Coded Arms, CA:A was first revealed at Sony’s E3 2006 conference. The trailer showed graphics and physics that looked pretty good for the time, and there was a cool-looking female character with a big gun.

The Miss: The game was suddenly canceled with no explanation.

Is There an Upside?: There was a sequel to CA for the PSP in 2007, but that was the end of the franchise.

Frame City Killer

Developer/Publisher: Namco

The Swing: An early action game for the Xbox 360. The game would have taken place in the titular Frame City. An agent named Crow is sent to Frame City to kill Kahn, a terrorist that dabbles in the drug trade and has created a drug called Visual Acid. Crow has to start by killing Kahn’s low-level associates in an attempt to work his way up to Kahn. It sounded sort of like Hitman. As Crow trailed his targets, he would have had several options of killing them. A trailer for the game features a moody theme song and Crow saying that he would put the city out of its misery.

The Miss: The game failed to impress in its public showings. There is some speculation that Namco struggled to make the game with Unreal Engine 3.

Is There an Upside?: Uh… no.

At least the planned box art was kinda cool

Mega Man Legends 3

Developer/Publisher: Capcom

The Swing: The long-awaited sequel to Mega Man Legends 2, this game had all of the pieces lined up. The continuation to a cult favorite sub-series. The sequel to a game with a cliffhanger ending. An entry on the Nintendo 3DS, which would soon shake off its growing pains and become a hugely successful system.

The Miss: Or maybe it didn’t have all of the pieces lined up. Apparently, Capcom didn’t have any ideas of their own, because they tried to get inspiration from fans’ suggestions. Uh-oh.

Is There an Upside?: Potentially, but it took a while. Capcom has finally warmed back up to the Blue Bomber. Mega Man 11 is right around the corner. If it does well enough, who knows what could happen?

P.T./Silent Hills

Developer: Kojima Productions

Publisher: Konami

The Swing: A mysterious PS4 demo made its way onto the PlayStation Store. Supposedly, it was developed by a company known as 7780s Studio. The true nature of the demo was swiftly discovered and made the rounds on YouTube. But what was it about? It was about an unnamed, unseen (unless the demo is completed), silent man roaming through a seemingly normal house. As the player explores the house, disturbing things are discovered, such as a ghostly woman named Lisa that stalks you; an inhuman fetus in the sink that cries like a normal human baby, and later talks to you with an adult male’s voice; eyes replacing pictures in the home; and bloody refrigerator with more sounds of a baby crying coming from the inside of it. A creepy and sad story is unveiled as the player completes “loops” through the house, which usually end with the character being attacked by Lisa. The story is that a man killed his son and his pregnant wife. It is implied that the husband’s motivation was doubting the paternity of the unborn baby. Then, the husband hung himself… with an umbilical cord.

Lisa

How do you learn this? From a disembodied voice that speaks once all of the loops have been completed. Oh, and by the way, the voice is the same as the fetus’.

He laments that the husband was unoriginal and repetitive not just in his day-to-day life, but also in how he killed his family and then himself. The voice promises that he will be coming back – and he’ll be “bringing his new toys with [him].”

Cut to a man walking alone on some desolate city streets late at night – it’s the main character, portrayed by Norman Reedus. The title theme from the first Silent Hill game plays, and a simple logo is revealed: Silent Hills.

Yes, we were this close to a Kojima Productions-developed SH game, bringing internal development of the series back for the first time in over a decade. Not only was Reedus attached, but so was future Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro and horror manga maven Junji Ito.

Sounds too good to be true? Well…

The Miss: News on the game soon went silent (no pun intended). This was the result of internal turmoil at Konami. They wanted to restructure their company and focus on “elevating the Konami brand” over the studios that make their games. I’m no businessperson, but that sounds like a BS excuse. If you don’t have good studio talent to make the games, then how will you have a successful brand at all? Is this some sort of PR doublespeak?

There is some dispute over the circumstances of Kojima’s firing from KP. Did he get fed up with how Konami allegedly has working conditions comparable to a sweatshop? Or was he fired because the production time and cost for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain were ballooning? If it was truly the latter, I can understand a little bit, and pampering even your greatest stars can be a recipe for disaster. But the fallout was immediate and didn’t just affect MGSV (resulting in an entire third chapter of the game with more storyline being cut), and the fact remains that the game made its budget back. Konami initially claimed that development on Hills would continue with or without Kojima, but they still canceled it in a move that is probably the death blow for the entire franchise.

The move was not taken well, and Konami has yet to redeem itself in the eyes of fans. Guillermo took it particularly hard; he had already been burned once before when TH*Q’s downfall took his original game inSANE down with it. He swore off direct involvement with game development after this experience.

Konami making a Silent Hill pachinko machine in the aftermath only rubbed salt into the wounds.

Is There an Upside?: There are a few, though not in the form of a full-fledged realization of whatever Kojima Productions’ vision for Hills was. Let’s start with the fanmade stuff and reactions first.

The demo enjoyed a million downloads before it was removed from PSN. However, it is said that there is a way to download it again.

A fan did a “demake” of the demo in a fashion similar to a PS1 game.

A free PC port of the demo was created by a 17-year-old developer known as Qimsar. Konami had it shut down, but offered Qimsar an internship at its development office. People jumped all over this story when it came out.

Despite being a teaser for a game that will never come out, it seems to have influenced some recent horror games, such as Layers of Fear and Allison Road.

A YouTube channel known as Oddest of the Odd released a short film that adapted the feeling and atmosphere of the demo.

Lisa makes a cameo in MGSV, and the fetus’ monologue can be heard on a radio in the mission “Voices”, which is heavily creepy itself (and one of the best missions in the game).

Kojima himself has moved on to Sony Computer Entertainment. In 2016, Death Stranding was revealed at E3. This is Kojima Productions’ first game outside of Konami. DS boasts a main character (Sam) played by Reedus, and another character modeled after del Toro. The game seems to pick up on some of the surreal creepiness of Hills, and is an open world action game… sort of like MGSV. Some theorize that DS is actually Hills, just in a different form. Kojima enjoys the theories that people come up with. In that case, I have a theory that Sam is naked in the reveal trailer because it’s a reference to how clothes are destroyed in the time travel process in Terminator!

Hills had some elements in common with Silent Hill 4: The Room, namely a first-person perspective; taking place in a home; and something disturbing involving an umbilical cord.

Was Reedus’ character the father, forced into a sort of purgatory for his sins, kind of like the characters in Silent Hill 2? Was he the murdered son or baby somehow? The father of the bastard child? Someone completely unrelated to the extremely screwed-up family? It’s SH, anything can go! But we’ll never know now.

The Sadness

Developer: Nibris

The Swing: The Sadness was introduced to the world with a speculative live action trailer. When the Wii was revealed at E3 2006 as the Nintendo Revolution, there were quite a few live action trailers intended to demonstrate how the motion controls would work.

TS had an appropriately moody black and white trailer that was intended to reflect the black and white graphics of the final game. The final game was supposed to boast 10 different endings. However…

The Miss: TS was destroyed by the developers’ arguments over the direction of the game. No tangible information about the game ever came out, and no actual gameplay footage was shown up until the game’s official cancellation in 2010, taking Nibris down with it. But…

Is There an Upside?: Shockingly, yes. At first, the only signs that TS ever received any development time at all was the release of the soundtrack by the game’s composers, Arkadiusz Reikowksi and Lukasz Babieno.

Recently, TS has been reborn as Sadness & Solitude, a 2D RPG set for release later this year on the 3DS, Switch, and even the WiiU.

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