There are some that believe there isn’t a console war at all simply because Nintendo will always be king and it’s easy to see why. They saved the video game industry from the brink of collapse after the crash in 1983 with their astounding first console, the Nintendo Entertainment System. They could experience multiple financial disasters, and have, and they would be able to bounce back due to the fact that they have amassed an empire like no other.
Multiple famous faces from Nintendo, like Shigeru Miyamoto, have always expressed that gameplay reigns supreme when it comes to what makes games successful. Nintendo have released a multitude of games that delight and entrance through amazing gameplay mechanics. And the future of this empire on the back of the Switch looks bright indeed.
But just like any game company, Nintendo has still unfortunately had to cancel a few select games. Whether it be the decision of a third party developer or due to poor system sales, there are some games that provide tantalizing “what if” scenarios. Several of them feature some of the most famous figures of the medium while others would have had fans intrigued simply because of the talent behind them. Yes, it’s a shame that many of these games were never released but even more unfortunate that these others were. Here are 20 canceled Nintendo projects we never got to see and 10 that never should have been made.
30 Canceled: Ura Zelda
When Nintendo released the N64, they opted to stick with cartridges instead of transitioning to discs like the PlayStation. They would then try to rectify this mistake with a disc-playing add-on known as the 64DD, or the 64 Disc Drive.
It was only released in Japan as it sold abysmally, and that meant Nintendo had to cancel one of the most interesting projects they had in development. Ura Zelda, which translates to “another Zelda,” would have been an expansion for Ocarina of Time. It would have featured new enemies, side quests, dungeons, and mechanics. Sadly, it wasn’t meant to be.
29 Canceled: Super Mario 64-2
Another casualty of the 64DD failure was a sequel to one of Nintendo’s most cherished games. Super Mario 64 was a monumental achievement for 3D gaming so, naturally, Nintendo would want a sequel to this.
Also known as Super Mario 128, Super Mario 64-2 wouldn’t be cancelled outright like Ura Zelda. After a tech demo shown off at Space World 2000, Nintendo would confirm development throughout the GameCube’s life cycle. But after the launch of the Wii, its cancellation would be revealed and that many concepts were moved over to the Galaxy and Pikmin series.
28 Should Have Been Canceled: Mario Is Missing!
Mario has seen his fair share of educational games, but the definite worst is one that didn’t even star him. Mario is Missing! followed Luigi after Mario was taken away by Bowser. The villain’s plan was to steal valuable monuments from around the world, selling them so he could purchase a ton of hair dryers and melt Antarctica. Yes, really.
Luigi would travel to various cities, steal the monuments back from Koopas, and then have to answer questions about each one upon returning them to tourist information centers. Boring, repetitive, nonsensical, and not what anyone would want from a Mario game.
27 Canceled: Mega Man Legends 3
Cancellation of a game can hurt for a variety of reasons. But arguably the most crushing blow can come from a story continuation that will never be.
This is what happened with fans eagerly awaiting Mega Man Legends 3 when it was supposed to be released on the Nintendo 3DS. It would have picked up right where the second game left off, but was scrapped in 2011. Fans were outraged with Capcom, creating the Facebook group “100,000 Strong For Bringing Back Mega Man Legends 3,” which even led to a documentary about the game’s production.
26 Canceled: Super Mario Spikers
Next Level Games are responsible for several well-received Mario spin-offs, such as Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon and Super Mario Strikers. But they had another Mario sports entry planned that would never see the light of day.
Super Mario Spikers would have been a volleyball-wrestling hybrid title for the Wii and would have also implemented elements of a TV game show. But when the studio showed off what they had, it was deemed a bit too violent. Nintendo thought it was too realistically violent for Mario characters to star in, unlike Super Smash Bros., so they canceled the title.
25 Should Have Been Canceled: Hey You, Pikachu!
As a pet simulator game, Hey You, Pikachu! followed a boy befriending a wild Pikachu and completing various activities with it. And it is somehow both boring and infuriating.
The game came packaged with a microphone so you could speak to Pikachu and the device is where the troubles start. It could only pick up high-pitched voices, like a child’s, and there was no guarantee that Pikachu would even listen to your commands. The monotonous gameplay included fishing, collecting food, and playing a Pokémon matching game. There are several beloved Pokémon spin-offs, but this surely isn’t one of them.
24 Canceled: The Avengers
THQ’s canceled Avengers game may not have been a project solely for Nintendo consoles as it was also planned to launch on every other platform. But having the Wii U version launch simultaneously and not as a lesser afterthought is something that wouldn’t happen too often in the console’s troubled life cycle. And it also came with an intriguing gameplay premise.
Players could have controlled one of the four core members in a first-person view. But after THQ’s financial problems led to them shutting down the studios developing it, the rights were sold to Ubisoft who released a different game.
23 Canceled: Donkey Kong Racing
Rare’s Diddy Kong Racing is a fantastic kart racer, though it’s often overshadowed by Nintendo’s own Mario Kart 64. Rare actually intended to make a follow-up for the GameCube and it’s a real shame we never got to see it.
Where Diddy Kong Racing had characters operating vehicles, Donkey Kong Racing would have players riding atop different sized animals. Bigger animals could crush through obstacles while smaller ones were easier to maneuver. Unfortunately, Nintendo didn’t repurchase the studio when they had the chance and Rare would become part of the Microsoft family in 2002, which led to the game’s cancellation.
22 Should Have Been Canceled: Donkey Kong Barrel Blast
Donkey Kong would still get to star in his own racing game, but it was far from what Rare envisioned. Originally developed for the GameCube in usage with those special bongo controllers, Donkey Kong Barrel Blast had production switch over to the Wii. But it should have just been canceled.
The game kept its last gen visuals and was criticized for it. It’s not as if the Wii was known for its graphics, but what it was known for actually hurt the gameplay. The Wii meant players had to waggle the Wii remotes continuously to play and that just wasn’t fun.
21 Canceled: Project Dream
Through their partnership with Nintendo, Rare was behind some of the best platformers of the '90s. But one of them, Banjo-Kazooie, rose from the ashes of an entirely different type of game.
Codenamed Project Dream, this RPG’s development originally began on the SNES before moving over to the N64. It followed a boy named Edison and his two animal companions as they went up against a group of pirates with flying ships. It went through several changes, one of which replaced Edison with Banjo the bear, before the majority of it was scrapped in favor of the now adored platformer.
20 Canceled: Chrono Resurrection
Chrono Trigger is understandably decreed as one of the best RPGs of all time. It only received one true sequel and many have always wanted to see the series return. The thing is, it could have.
Chrono Resurrection was a fan made remake being developed for the N64 before it was discontinued in 2000 due to the programmer losing most of his data. It would be revisited, however, for the GameCube and Xbox and even had a planned release window of Christmas 2004. Sadly, Square Enix issued a cease-and-desist letter to the developers, dashing any hopes of seeing it return.
19 Should Have Been Canceled: Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival
When releasing a spin-off in a beloved series, developers run the risk of upsetting passionate fans. This is exactly what happened with Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival on the Wii U, though it didn’t help that the game was absolutely no fun to play.
Many saw it for what it was: a shameless cash grab that required the use of Amiibo to play. It was set up similarly to Mario Party. Only instead of playing mini-games, landing on spaces led to players earning or losing money through Animal Crossing-esque events without you actually doing them. Yawn.
18 Canceled: The Legend of Zelda: Mystical Seed Of Courage
Many canceled games are cause for fans to feel disappointed, though it’s hard to be upset by this one. Nintendo allowed Capcom to develop two entries in The Legend of Zelda for the Game Boy Color: Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons. But Capcom initially pitched them on three different titles.
If you’ve played them, you know these games can link together after completing both stories. Linking three, however, proved too difficult at the time. The third title was scrapped before the Oracle names were even decided upon, as this was known as Mystical Seed of Courage.
17 Canceled: Assassin's Creed: Lost Legacy
At E3 2010, it was announced that a brand new game in the Assassin’s Creed series would be coming to Nintendo’s cherished 3DS. It would follow protagonist Ezio as he learned the origins of the Assassin Order.
It was quietly canceled for unknown reasons, but fans of the series didn’t seem too upset. It also helped that the main concept would still go on to be used in Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, though this wouldn’t release on a Nintendo platform. It probably would have been too big a story to tell on a handheld anyway.
16 Should Have Been Canceled: Wii Music
Despite having been revealed at E3 over a decade ago, I can still see the ridiculous unveiling at the end of Nintendo’s conference vividly in my mind. And when players actually did get to try out the latest motion-heavy gimmick from Nintendo, they were understandably and thoroughly unimpressed.
True, you could play all manner of classic Nintendo themes. But unlike other music games like Rock Band or Guitar Hero, there was essentially no skill required to do well here. Gameplay consisted of waving the controllers around at the same time as the notes, making it exceedingly dull.
15 Canceled: Grand Theft Auto For N64
Other than a few handheld releases, the increasingly violent Grand Theft Auto series has never graced one of Nintendo’s family friendly consoles. However, the original was supposed to appear on the Nintendo 64.
It wasn’t because of Nintendo that this version was canceled. The first Grand Theft Auto had a very troubled development cycle due to many overseeing the team’s work trying to halt their progress. They didn’t meet any of their release milestones, which is likely why the Nintendo 64 version was canceled along with the Sega Saturn release. Funnily enough, it did appear on the Game Boy Color.
14 Canceled: The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse
Another game planned to release on multiple consoles and one that also sounded like it could have been pretty interesting. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse focused on several characters roaming Earth after Rapture and was in development during the GameCube era.
It was being worked on by 3DO, the studio behind the Army Men games, but it was the sheer amount of talent behind it that was most exciting. Stan Winston, who did creature effects work for Jurassic Park and Aliens, was attached as producer and Tim Curry would voice Satan. Sadly, it was canceled when 3DO went bankrupt.
13 Should Have Been Canceled: Devil's Third
In comparison to the Switch, the Wii U didn’t have nearly as many games. So it’s a shame that some of its console exclusives weren’t too great. Devil’s Third was an action adventure shooter set in a war-filled world after all satellites in orbit were destroyed.
While some enjoyed the gameplay regardless of it being repetitive, awkward controls ultimately made that aspect unfun. Poor graphics, violence simply for the sake of violence, and pay-to-win multiplayer through loot boxes didn’t help matters, but did lead to the title selling terribly.
12 Canceled: Die Hard 64
While many understandably groan at the thought of a movie tie-in game, there are a few that are seen as classics. GoldenEye for the N64 is one of them and it’s likely the reasoning behind why Fox Interactive wanted to turn Die Hard into an FPS series.
Even the few screenshots you can find today of the game look pretty similar to the James Bond title. Not much else was ever shown and the studio probably canceled it due to the poor sales of their other N64 title, Fox Sports College Hoops ’99, as well as the N64 in general.
11 Canceled: Final Fantasy VII
There was a time when this revered fantasy RPG series could only be found on Nintendo consoles. And it most likely would have stayed that way if Nintendo hadn’t decided to stick with cartridges for the N64. But the 64DD was even seen as inferior to Sony’s PlayStation, as Square can attest to.
The team created a tech demo of Final Fantasy VII for the 64DD, but it reportedly would have taken around 30 discs to hold the entire game. And as cartridges definitely couldn’t have held it, and they were more expensive anyway, Square took their business elsewhere.
10 Should Have Been Canceled: Superman 64
The legacy behind this dumbfoundingly awful game is infamous by now. But for those of you unaware, Superman 64 is an action adventure game that revolves around Superman trying to rescue his friends from a virtual Metropolis designed by Lex Luthor.
It’s now considered one of the worst games of all time thanks to repetitive gameplay, terrible controls, poor graphics, and a whole mess of bugs throughout. Some of the game’s faults came from the meddling of Warner Bros. and DC, while others were attributed to the power, or lack thereof, of the N64.
9 Canceled: Sword Of Legendia
Nintendo’s consoles are known for housing some truly remarkable RPGs like Fire Emblem and Xenoblade Chronicles, but that obviously doesn’t mean they all make it past the development period. Through a partnership with Namco Bandai, Sword of Legendia was originally planned for release on the Wii.
While it did feature similarities to the popular Tales series, it was stressed that this would have been a completely different adventure. Some of the people working on it were Makoto Yoshizumi, producer of Tales of Symphonia, and Tsutomu Gouda, producer of Tales of Vesperia. But it was confirmed to be canceled in 2011.
8 Canceled: Too Human
Too Human retold Norse Mythology in a sci-fi world and received lukewarm reviews when it was released for the Xbox 360 in 2008. But it could have had an entirely different life as a Nintendo title.
Developer Silicon Knights initially planned it as a PlayStation title in 1999 before they began an exclusive deal with Nintendo. It then would have been a GameCube release, but the studio chose to focus on Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem and Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes instead. Their partnership with Microsoft led to it being a 360 exclusive.
7 Should Have Been Canceled: Chibi-Robo! Photo Finder
There’s nothing that ages a game quite like a heavy focus on a console’s gimmick. The 3DS featured augmented reality capabilities and came with little cards that, when viewed through the camera, would cause certain things to happen that showed off the 3D. It’s mildly entertaining for a few moments, but not when it’s the sole focus of an entire game.
In comes Chibi-Robo! Photo Finder, the fourth entry in the otherwise well-received platforming series. Gameplay consisted of finding objects around you that matched the shadows seen in the game and directing Chibi-Robo to them. Very boring and very tedious.
6 Canceled: The California Raisins: The Grape Escape
The early 90s saw a slew of mascots and brands release their own games such as McDonalds’ M.C. Kids and 7 Up’s Cool Spot. It was a wonderfully weird time. But one that was never released was a side-scrolling platformer on the NES starring the California Raisins.
It was developed by Capcom in 1990 and was essentially finished as a review and tips for the game appeared in Game Player’s Encyclopedia of Nintendo Games Vol. 3. But with the steady decline of the group’s popularity as well as general raisin sales, they chose not to sell it.
5 Canceled: Joust 3D
Joust deserves to be remembered as an arcade classic that helped popularize co-op multiplayer. It was so successful that it was ported to many home consoles, including the Atari 2600 and NES.
As with the case of many earlier games, the premise of Joust was rather strange. Players controlled knights that rode on flying ostriches in arenas, knocking their enemies off of their bird steeds. In 2000, Midway Games began work on a 3D revival for the GameCube era, but issues of quality led to its cancellation. As a 3D game, it would have utilized split-screen.
4 Should Have Been Canceled: Pokémon Channel
It may seem like no Pokémon project can get canceled. With the property being as popular as it is, Nintendo likely believes anything with the IP will sell. And to be fair, that’s accurate.
Beginning with Hey You, Pikachu!, Ambrella have made a name for themselves by developing many Pokémon spin-off titles, though none of them have been well-received. Their next title was a spiritual successor and just as monotonously bad as their first. Instead of getting your Pikachu to perform certain activities, you watched Pokémon-centric television with it. It was extremely low on interactivity and very high on mindlessness.
3 Canceled: Ghosts 'N Goblins 64
Capcom’s Ghost ‘N Goblins series is home to some of the most brutally tough platformers in gaming history and is synonymous with the unforgiving difficulty seen in many classic games. When the Nintendo 64 was released, Capcom planned to keep the series going strong.
They invited certain members of the press to an event showing off their upcoming games and Ghouls ‘N Ghosts 64 was among them. Some described it as being heavily influenced by Super Mario 64. But as we know by now, the N64 didn’t sell too well which is likely why this was canceled.
2 Canceled: Project H.A.M.M.E.R.
From developer Nintendo Software Technology, the same team behind Metroid Prime Hunters and Wave Race: Blue Storm, Project H.A.M.M.E.R. was a beat ‘em up being developed for the Wii. It was planned to be much grittier than other Nintendo titles before things went bad.
The game went through several revisions, including changing it into the much cuter Wii Crush. Many members of the development team were unhappy with these changes, but more so with their mistreatment at the hands of the studio leads. Nintendo of America eventually had to conduct an internal review before canceling the game.
1 Should Have Been Canceled: Virtual Boy
The Virtual Boy was a table-top console released by Nintendo in 1995 that had players look through an eye piece to experience stereoscopic 3D graphics. It is also one of the biggest financial and critical bombs Nintendo has ever experienced.
It was criticized heavily for the graphics and color schemes of every game released, which were only red and black, as they caused serious discomfort to the eyes of players. Even beyond that, many of the games released for it were considered low quality. The technology simply wasn’t there and Nintendo would have been better off not releasing it.