Ahh, the best laid plans of mice and men. We turn our attention now to the first ghoul on the procession of dismay that is cancelled video games: Scalebound. Let’s try to remain positive as we tread through the bog, since titles like Shenmue III and Star Fox 2 have taught us to never say never. Star Fox 2 also taught us to never release a confusing polygonal 16-bit game in 2017, but that’s another matter altogether.
The Microsoft exclusive Scalebound would have followed the adventures of Drew and his dragon Thuban, who no matter how many times I say it in my head, sounds like I’m referring to the Subban brothers with a lisp. A third-person role-playing game, Drew and Thuban were mortally linked to one another like a modern day Dragonheart. It’s a concept that sounds neat in practice, but considering the AI standard for lumbering beasts set by Trico in The Last Guardian, might not have been quite as much fun to actually experience.
Things looked so tenuous for Scalebound, it was officially cancelled in 2017. In a statement released to Polygon, this made way for Microsoft Studios to deliver ‘an amazing lineup of games to our fans this year, including Halo Wars 2, Crackdown 3, State of Decay 2, Sea of Thieves and other great experiences.’
The hype campaign for this game was so strong, it could have redefined the horror genre. The playable trailer alone was the source of massive interest and speculation. People struggled mightily to work out how to arrive at the hidden ending, and read between the lines for meaning on the myriad of secrets hidden in those eerie hallways.
As a collaborative effort between Hideo Kojima, Guillermo del Toro and Norman Reedus (aka the trinity of creepiness), it had all the makings of a true classic. But Kojima’s messy divorce from Konami obliterated any chances of the game being completed. Konami got the house and the kids – bad luck, Metal Gear – but Kojima at least escaped with his pals, and the spirit of the game will live on in the upcoming project, Death Stranding.
Alas, there’s one spirit we would have loved to have known better, however, and her name is Lisa. If we were so encapsulated, repulsed and mystified by one fragment of Silent Hills’ gameplay, who knows what kind of heights the final product could have reached. As tragically poetic as it is for the game to exist in some kind of non-existent purgatory, much like the content that the playable trailer subjected us to, it feels painful not to get some kind of closure, or better still, vengeance on that freaky broad for mugging us so many times.
Amazon has gradually risen over the years to become a worldwide power, and in 2014 they formed a video game studio to help grow their worldwide popularity. As of the time of writing, Amazon Game Studios have announced three major projects for PC in the pipeline, but they have clearly been having dreadful plumbing issues, as none of them have any launch date in sight.
The most significant of the trio, Breakaway, was to be a team-based, multiplayer brawler, taking cues from League of Legends, Power Stone and Rocket League, with two teams attempting to move a ball into their opponents’ goal. Though many were skeptical of the idea on paper, an early access alpha version garnered reactions of pleasant surprise, as it showed particular potential.
Despite this, and even with its Twitch accessibility and team-based scheme fitting the tentative 2019 release window perfectly, Breakaway was cancelled indefinitely, with the window for a rebirth left slightly ajar. Just don’t let the cold breeze of apathy get you down.
Mega Man Legends 3
Look at those optimistic faces, so filled with hope and determination. Mega Man Legends 3 was to be a game unlike any other in the series – or in gaming as a whole, for the most part – built from the ground up with ideas and feedback from the fans incorporated every step of the way. Want to see an edgy new villain that will test Volnutt and his pals to their very limits? Sounds interesting, maybe it’ll happen! Keen on a retooling of the combat system, or got some plans for some nifty upgrades? We’re all ears, baby! Do you think there should be a mini game where you get to make out with Rush? …Get out. Just get out.
When Legends 3 was given the boot, it was mishandled gloriously on every front. The Capcom UK Twitter account went rogue, accusing fans of not showing enough interest and that they hadn’t been asking for much. This kind of vitriol from a major developer was mind boggling at the time, and the fact that the cancellation came shortly after the level building Mega Man Universe game was also scrapped didn’t help.
Mega Man fans have had a long history of disappointment to contend with, from cancellations to neglect to that hideous PC port from 1990. The fact that the biggest boost of positivity they have received in years came in the form of Mega Man’s appearance in Smash Bros is a true testament to how far the Blue Bomber has fallen. Hopefully someday they’ll mend these fences, but until then, Mega Man is best off holed up in the G-Host House, if you know what I mean.
Skintight bodysuits and stealthy agendas? It’s either the cancelled StarCraft third person shooter, or the inner workings of Cats. Or StarCats, if you’d like to be adventurous.
This Blizzard title, being developed for home consoles, was intended to be a spinoff of the venerable RTS series. Taking the role of Nova, a Ghost agent, players would sneak through hallways, solve puzzles and disarm traps, and just generally espionage all over the place. It was also going to have a multiplayer mode with different gameplay styles, including deathmatch and capture the flag.
Though the game was shelved for an indeterminate (perhaps infinite) period of time, Nova who received her own story expansion in StarCraft 2, has also managed to escape the shackles of her source material, popping up in novella and even as a playable character in Heroes of the Storm.
Streets of Rage 2012
In this case, the ‘highly anticipated’ qualifier applies only to the people who knew that this project even existed at the time of its cancellation, but undoubtedly, this reboot to Sega’s beloved series of side-scrolling beat-em-ups looks like it could have been a lot of fun.
A leaked version of an early gameplay trailer hit the scenes in 2012, featuring a lone enforcer roaming the streets (where a degree of rage was indeed present), moving in all eight directions as he dished out backhands and curb stomps. It would have been a clear departure from everything that the franchise had been known for, but if it had been done correctly, it may have satiated our desires for a multiplayer brawler. Could Adam have finally been playable again? Would gamers accept a boxing kangaroo in the modern era of animal rights? Can Zan be trusted, and should I get into the back of his van?
We’ll never know, short of perverse fan fiction on DeviantArt. Maybe the whole thing got dropped because the arcade machines in the trailer were labeled as Bare Knuckle 2, despite clearly showing footage from the first game. Fanboys would have had a field day with that one.
When you hear ‘MMO from Blizzard Entertainment’, your mind will probably jump straight to World of Warcraft. Back in 2007, when rumors of a new project with that definition were beginning to surface, it seemed incredibly unusual to most. WoW was still experiencing immense levels of success at the time, and the idea of introducing a pseudo-competitor into the mix felt like an odd direction.
What would become known as Titan went through a lengthy development cycle, christened as a shooter where each character would have their own distinct abilities. If this sounds familiar, it darn well should, because after Titan was shut down, many of the assets and concepts were carried over to a different game, the team-based FPS Overwatch. The MMO element was lost in the transition, and sadly, several staff were, too.
The failed Titan project cost Blizzard an estimated $50 million when it was confirmed DOA in 2014. With inflation in mind, that’s nearly $53 million by modern standards, or a little over what Kim Kardashian “earns” in one fiscal year. Considering the heights that Overwatch has gone on to reach, however, we’re sure that Blizzard isn’t losing much sleep over this one.
Just ten years ago, Fable was one of Microsoft’s most ambitious franchises, an exclusive gem that stood proudly alongside the golden boys of Halo and Gears of War. Now, developer Lionhead Studios has been dissolved, and the only new release in the last six years has been Fable Fortune, a free-to-play collectible card game for Windows and Xbox One. As fond as we are of cards, this isn’t exactly the series savior that we had been clamoring for.
Rewind a little to 2016, and we were expecting to be treated to a cooperative multiplayer prequel that played similarly to a digital version of Dungeons & Dragons, pitting four heroes against a dastardly villain player who threw out legions of baddies like a malicious dungeon master. The only thing missing was that one kid begging to ‘make it that didn’t happen’ when their character was eaten by a grue.
Though a live beta was playable for a brief period of time, the demise of Lionhead Studios took Fable Legends down with it, refunding players for any money they had spent on in-game gold, but inevitably unable to refund them the time and emotion they had invested in it.
When you look at the release history of Prey, you will see Prey, and many years later, Prey. But no amount of preying could ever recover the lost child of the franchise, Prey 2. For it fell prey to the curse of development hell, pawned off from one studio to another, before quietly slipping into the night, rendering it completely unpreyable. I swear I’ll stop now… unless you have some kind of preys you would like to bestow upon me.
No? Moving on, then.
Prey 2 was announced in 2006, mere months after the release of the initial title, closely following the lore and characters established in its predecessor. The reasons for its cancellation vary, but the general consensus is that it never really had a clear direction, and the acquisition of the rights to the franchise by ZeniMax Media eventually soured the relationship with developers Human Head Studios.
Bethesda Studios would later bring the franchise back to life with a reboot in 2017, developed by Arkane Studios, but they did so without any of Prey 2’s ideas intact. C’est la vie.
Star Wars 1313
The sheer audacity of naming a game with the unlucky number 13 not once but twice condemned it to its fate right from the get go. From the cumbersome board game 13 Dead End Drive to that deplorable movie Thir13en Ghosts, nothing with 13 in the title is ever likely to succeed. There’s a reason Dan Marino never won a Super Bowl, you know.
In the case of Star Wars 1313, it would follow a young Boba Fett in the seedy underbelly of Coruscant, with a focus on gadgets and weapons better suited to bounty hunters than the lightsaber combat of the Jedi. When LucasFilms was acquired by the Walt Disney Company – marked by a disillusioned George Lucas posing miserably with cartoon mice – the game was put on hiatus.
And that’s where it still resides, as a matter of fact, because 1313 has never, even up to this point, been cancelled. There are occasional rumblings of how much promise it shows, but never anything of substance beyond that. Perhaps someday someone will pluck it from the lost and found, and we can all put this woe behind us.
Hey! It could even have loot crates. Those work well in Star Wars games, right?