After all the awesome tech demos, stage presentations and dancing “muppets” (damn it Nintendo) of E3, one thing in particular has gamers locked in at the edge of their seats: the overwhelming hype and unnerving suspense from the announcement of new games. From the joy fillers to the rage inducers. The over the top extravaganzas to the brain numbing flops. Regardless of the final product, the initial unveiling is what gamers live for. That proverbial “pulling back of the curtain” by developers, showing the result of rigorous man power and tireless resolve. Nothing gives us more joy!
Unfortunately, that joy can be tarnished in an instant by one word: “cancellation!” It’s an inevitability in the gaming industry as a plan can go left faster than any could expect. Typically these occurrences make plenty of sense. However, there are moments during these master resets where all isn’t what it seems to be and the reasons given just might shock you. Today we take a look at 20 games that were cancelled for shocking reasons.
20 Six Days In Fallujah
As war based shooters have grown increasingly popular over the years, the inspiration of real-world stories became a big focus for developers. This was especially brought to the forefront with titles such as Medal of Honor and Call of Duty. So it’s odd that one would be singled out and deemed as 'too real'.
The controversy started when British war vets said that Six Days “glorified the lives lost during the Iraqi War.” Many members involved in the game's development stated that the game centered on the story of the marines themselves rather then the politics surrounding the time. Regardless, the controversy surrounding it made Konami decided not to sell the game.
19 Fez 2
Sometimes pressure can get the best of us, but, in this case, it got the worst. In an episode of unrelenting Twitter rage, the weight of which would put Kanye West to shame, Phil Fish, creator of the rather adorable adventure game Fez, gave the gaming community just five words that would cement his would-be-known uneventful legacy.
“I’m done. Fez 2 is canceled” was all the developer had to say after GameTrailers Host, Marcus Beer, indirectly called out the developer during a GameTrailers podcast. The result of this came in the form of a Twitter tirade from the developer, taking shots at Beer for damaging his character and telling the commentator to “kill himself.” He also took aim at the community, blaming them for his mental breakdown. In the end, Fish decided to take his ball and go home ending whatever hope of a second adventure from our favorite little guy.
18 Faith And A .45
Faith and a 45 has to be one of the biggest "what a shame" entries on this list. I mean a tale of “outlaw lovers,” in third person, balls to the wall mayhem, set deep in the great depression, sounds like a pretty awesome game to us. Unfortunately, it also takes its place in the annals of “what could have been.” As the company backing the game fell on hard times and succumbed to bankruptcy during the middle of its production, it ultimately cancelling the title. It’s a shocking end, considering the hype surrounding the game and its push as a top tier title. An ill-fated end to what could have been an epic telling of a revamped Bonnie and Clyde chronicle.
Like No Man's Sky, B.C. was a very well-thought concept when first announced. As far as execution, however, it fell flat. It was supposed to be an MMO world, filled with prehistoric creatures and possessing a map that was scaled larger than one could ever venture alone. Hmm, that sounds familiar.
It was incredibly ambitious, but that ambition turned out to be its downfall, as the company backing the game felt they couldn’t measure up to expectations. It’s shocking that the company would go to such great lengths to push the game forward, only to then dash it soon after, realizing the dream was bigger than the reality. However, good on them for seeing the forest for the trees and stopping while they were behind. As we all have witnessed what could happen when a developer under-delivers with their promises; that one’s for you No Man’s Sky.
16 Star Wars 1313
One of the most disappointing losses in the Star Wars series was Star Wars 1313, which was supposed to be a grittier, edgier entry than past games in the series. Star Wars 1313 was slated to allow gamers to experience being a bounty hunter. Rather than rocking the traditional lightsaber and powers of the force, players would get a chance to focus on weapon customization and tech reminiscent of Mass Effect.
A trailer for the game was revealed at E3 2012, which had gamers glaring at the calendar, counting down the months until they could finally get their hands on this one. Disney, however, had other plans. During the buyout of LucasArts, Disney ceased all internal operations within the studio as well as the development of Star Wars 1313 (insert crying Jordan face).
We could only watch helplessly as one of the most anticipated titles was lost in the wind through a company shake up.
15 Star Wars Battlefront III
This was another victim of the dreaded LucasArts purge, further killing the young Star Wars fan in all of us.
After rave reviews for its predecessors, Star Wars Battlefront III was a title that would've been on every gamer's Christmas list. Even with the expectations being exceedingly high, Disney still went through with its termination when they bought the company.
Luckily, Dice has breathed new life into the series, though their first attempt with the reboot of Star Wars Battlefront was lackluster With Star Wars Battlefront II releasing this November, we will have to be patient in seeing if it will be able to live up to expectations. Regardless, even in its best efforts, it has a steep hill to climb if it ever hopes to compete with the original blockbuster series.
14 Streets Of Rage 4
Streets of Rage, in its heyday, was one of the marquee games on Sega's roster, with sequels being well received by both critics and gamers alike. That being said, it’s sad to hear just how the game and the series in general has come to a halt.
Streets of Rage 4 was an entry into the series set for the Xbox 360 and PS3. While keeping true to its traditional beat-em-up roots, the game also added a few newer mechanics to its 3D revamping. With destructible environments, gangs and an assortment of combat maneuvers similar to the grungy aesthetic of The Warriors. Sounds like an awesome game, right? Oddly enough, it never became reality. New management in Sega of America never heard of the series at all and cancelled any further production due to oversight. It’s shocking and just highlights the inconsistencies that that lead Sega to its fall from grace.
13 Dirty Harry
“You've got to ask yourself one question. Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?’
Led by The Collective, Dirty Harry followed the events of the 1971 Clint Eastwood movie, diving deeper into Harry as a rugged crime inspector. It's goal was to give the full untold story of the character in third person action.
Though backed heavily by Clint Eastwood himself and green lit by Warner Brothers, everything seemed to go wrong in its development. From creative misdirection to deadline pitfalls – which saw the title place in purgatory for a number of years – the pieces never fell into place. According to ex-employees of The Collective, another big issue was the lead designer’s dismissal of all ideas outside of the design team, limiting creativity and causing Warner Brothers to bring down the ax.
12 Thrill Kill
Thrill Kill was a title that was genuinely “unique.” The game featured BDSM modeled characters clashing inside some grotesque environments that made hell look like Disney land. Given how “out there” the title was, EA felt it best to pull the plug on the game as to avoid controversial backlash due to its lewd content.
It could be argued that the biggest setback for Thill Kill is that it was before its time and may have fared better if it was released today. Especially with games like Grand Theft Auto and Saints Row IV pushing the “unconventional” envelope. However, considering how EA tends to handle its games, this may have been a blessing in disguise.
Now before you start wincing at the image above in confusion, no this is not a Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Colors was a third person shooter some would say was “inspired” by our favorite open-world game. Exclusive to the Gizmondo (if you don’t know what this is, no one blames you), it was pegged to be the world’s first game centered around GPS, allowing the player to be present in game wherever they were in real life. Due to the Gizmondo failing to impress the masses, and going down as one of the worst in handheld consoles, Colors suffered from the collateral damage. There have been rumors of its potential return on mobile, however it looks unlikely, as talk surrounding the title has almost completely gone cold.
10 Project Milo
Project Milo – a game based around the interactions of a virtual boy in his everyday life – was cancelled due to concerns that it could encourage and entice pedophiles, given that the boy reacted to happenings caused directly or indirectly from the player. Whether it be opening a window or accidentally pushing a over glass, many felt that the mechanics could be taken advantage of if placed in the wrong hands.
Some countered with arguments against said claims, stating that the game could be therapeutic for children with bed ridden illnesses.
Though debates continued, the company itself remained silent on the matter. In the end, they stated that the decision for cancellation was made due to several factors, including it not being well equipped to stand up against other games on the market.
9 Parasol Stars (Commodore 64)
The death of Parasol Stars is a testament to why domestic issues, alcohol and video games make for a chaotic combination.
As the 8-bit gaming generation neared the end of its life cycle, British gaming publisher Ocean pushed for one last hurrah in the form of Parasol Stars. However, to save costs during development, Ocean outsourced the project to a freelancer, one who they believed could push the game out in no time freeing up their team for other assignments. What they didn’t know was that the freelancer was having trouble with his girlfriend.
In a fit of drunken rage, the woman destroyed months of work. Though the developer did submit a plea to Ocean for an extension, the publisher decided to cut its losses instead and cancel the title outright.
8 Liquid Kids
This is one of the more rare titles on this list, as many who aren’t PC gamers may not have even heard of it. Liquid Kids is a 90s-platformer developed by Taito, centered around the adventures of an estranged platypus name “hippopo,” as he battles enemies on a quest to find his missing girlfriend. Now I wonder what Nintendo franchise I’ve heard that one before?
Due to licensing issues, British publisher Ocean took control of the title and immediately began development and publishing. But there was one small detail that was over-looked. Apparently, the rights to the title were never established so the game went bottoms up instantly.
It’s shocking how a major company like Ocean could let such an oversight occur, but hey life is about lessons right? Unfortunately, Ocean had to learn their lesson the hard way, as the game was cancelled and the French subsidy of Ocean, folded! Well I didn’t say they were good lessons.
7 Time Splitters 4
If you are a fan of Lauryn Hill, you would probably be familiar with the quote, “miscommunication leads to complications.” And what better way to describe the mess that is Free Radical and their failed launch of Time Splitters 4.
The Sony exclusive was a mainstay for fans of shooters during the PS2 era and was set to make its way over to the next generation of consoles. With a ton of fan support and a project essentially finished, Free Radical, along with then parent company Crytek, were lost on how to market the game. Yeah, you heard that right. Puzzled by the message and which character would grace the cover, they instead decided to put the game and the series on the shelf. Closing the door on yet another title that suffered from a top down managerial oversight.
6 Super Mario Spikers
A wrestling meets volleyball mash up, Super Mario Spikers could have raised a few eyebrows in the gaming community if given a fighting chance and the proper backing. It was a unique idea that Nintendo could have used to break its rather monotonous cycle of similar sports game featuring everyone’s favorite plumber.
Developed by Next Level Games, the game was set to release for the Wii before being canned by Nintendo as it was “against the company’s code of honor.” Though there isn’t much detail surrounding what exactly this code of honor is, it’s shocking that Nintendo would turn down a concept that seems to be right up their alley.
In what some would call a Deus Ex meets cyberpunk dream realized, Black9 was a title that looked to be a must-grab for gamers. However, thanks to a sneaky publisher, all would be lost for the potential break out release.
In an effort to save what little remained following financial deconstruction within the company, Psychonauts publisher Majesco, took part in some “shady” practices. According to Erin Hoffman, lead game designer at Taldren, the company abused the development team with overwhelming deadlines and abysmal budgeting. However, that was just the tip of the iceberg. As speculated by Hoffman, Majsco then planted several new employees among the team to steal the source code of the game despite it being “near completion.” This was done as a way to whittle out Taldren’s involvement and to pass the torch to another developer. In the end, it was cancelled anyway.
4 Star Fox 2
For any 90s kid out there, the Nintendo 64 was a godsend of a console blessing us with some of the best moments in gaming. It stood as a key figure in the gaming revolution, filling our living rooms with hours of joy and stood as the ultimate battle ground (the amount of friendships ended by Super Smash Bros. is still unmatched). Though the Nintendo 64 gave rise to several memorable titles, shockingly, it was also responsible for a huge cancellation.
Though nearly finished with fans and developers alike excited for its grand unveil, Star Fox 2 was cancelled, never seeing its day in the sun. As Nintendo evolved from the NES to the Nintendo 64, Nintendo executives felt the game wouldn’t be able to stand up to its competition in the PlayStation and Sega Saturn.
Though some elements from the game did make their way into future star fox titles, we can only sit and wonder what could have been if Nintendo gave the green light.
3 Fallout Online
Fallout is one of the most innovative games to release in recent memory. A vast, post-apocalyptic sandbox - where survival is your only objective - leaves plenty of freedom for gamers to venture out on their own journey.
With its most recent release in the series, Fallout 4, focused heavily on weapon customization and base building, it's hard to fathom what more could've been added. It's even harder to fathom that there were plans for just THAT, in the form of an MMO. Sadly, it was shut down for dumb reasons.
During the development of Fallout Online, Bethesda sued then developer Interplay, stating that the later had the right to use the Fallout name, but not the Fallout universe for the game. That's like having a Spider-Man game, but Spidey can’t appear.
This was done by Bethesda as a way to rescind the Fallout license from Interplay, which resulted in a chaotic legal battle. Greatness ruined by pettiness.
2 Aliens: Crucible
The Alien video game series has been something of a “roller coaster” in terms of success, from the highs of Alien: Isolation to the lows of Aliens: Colonel Marines. The series, though reputable in its cinematic ventures, has always draped the fence in the eyes of gamers. One title’s announcement, however, brought us some hope. But alas, it never came to be.
Aliens: Crucible, a third person RPG title, was set to be a key player in the series. Mixing a Dead Space like world, with the survival and fort building mechanics of Fallout 4, it was shelved by Sega as a way to “trim the fat” and not overexpose the series. It’s an eye rolling occurrence and naïve oversight looking back. Way to go Sega.
1 Silent Hills
The cancellation of Silent Hills has to be one of if not the saddest moment in gaming history. After the release of the unexpected demo P.T., the hype surrounding the life like horror title was at an all-time high. It goes without saying this title was a heavy hitter and a much needed revival for a dampening horror genre.
Unfortunately those dreams were unceremoniously dashed as tensions between Hideo Kojima, and publisher Konami reached a point of no return. Amid a bitter yearlong feud, in an effort to “shift production structure,” Konami ceased affiliation with Kojimi, slowly removing his branding from production credits. This was most notable in the removal of his famous “A Hideo Kojimi Game” banner on Metal Gear Solid games.
It’s a shame that a petty power struggle saw us lose this game. Now only memories of a shadowed hallway and a fetus in a sink are all we have left.