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10 Video Games Canceled Before Release

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Maybe the teams behind these video games just didn't gel. Maybe the creative direction of the games lost momentum. Or maybe trends and tastes changed, rendering these games obsolete. For whatever reason, these 10 games never made it to store shelves.

1. Star Fox 2

One of the most popular video games for the Super Nintendo was the original Star Fox, which came out in 1993. Nintendo placed a “Super FX” chip inside of the video game to extend the life and graphics of the SNES, which resulted in accelerated graphics and the use of 3D polygons in a 2D platform. When Nintendo announced Star Fox 2, which was to be released in 1995, fans were eager to play the sequel.

Throughout the development of Star Fox 2, Nintendo released screenshots, narratives, characters, and other details about the game to journalists and publications like Nintendo Power. The company promised that the game would continue the battle against Emperor Andross and would have expanded gameplay with a true 3D shooter.

During the game's development, however, Nintendo Game Director Shigeru Miyamoto decided to make a clean break and save 3D gaming for the upcoming Nintendo 64. Although Star Fox 2 was completed (and released in Japan), its release was canceled in the U.S. partly due to the superior-looking PlayStation and mainly because of the then-impending launch of Nintendo 64. Ultimately, the Nintendo 64 wasn’t released until a year and a half later in 1996. And while Nintendo eventually released Star Fox 64, which was a full 3D shooting game—and the sequel fans wanted—leaked source codes allowed serious gamers to emulate the gameplay.

2. Mega Man Universe 

In 2010, Capcom announced that it would release Mega Man Universe for the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade the following year. The company promised that the new video game would have similar gameplay to Mega Man 2 and would give the player the ability to customize their own levels and stages. But a few months later, Capcom canceled the game and apologized to Mega Man fans who were anticipating the new release.

Capcom didn’t disclose a specific reason why they canceled Mega Man Universe, instead citing “various circumstances,” which might have included the exit of the designer of Mega Man Universe, Keiji Inafune.

If Mega Man Universe had actually been released, it would have been the first time the character would have been called “Mega Man” in his native Japan. Historically, the character was called “Rock Man," but was changed when the video game was imported to the United States.

3. Star Wars 1313 

In May 2012, LucasArts announced a new Star Wars game that would be a more mature and gritty take on “a galaxy far, far away.” Star Wars 1313 promised a third-person action adventure game that would center on the bounty hunter Boba Fett as he rose to power in the seedy underbelly of the urban-planet Coruscant.

But in October 2012, the Walt Disney Corporation acquired Lucasfilm and its subsidiaries, including Industrial Light and Magic, THX, and LucasArts for $4.05 billion. In April 2013, Disney shut down LucasArts and canceled all video games in development, including Star Wars 1313.

4. Super Mario’s Wacky World 

In 1991, Nintendo had a partnership with Philips Electronics to develop a CD-based add-on for the Super Nintendo. The deal included licensing Nintendo characters for the video games Link: The Faces of Evil, Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon, Zelda’s Adventure, and Hotel Mario for the Philips CD-i video game console.

Needing a hit video game to sell more consoles, Philips developed Super Mario’s Wacky Worlds in 1993. The game took place on Earth rather than the Mushroom Kingdom, and promised to be the sequel to the classic video game Super Mario World. But Wacky Worlds was canceled after poor sales of the Philips CD-i.

Nintendo eventually released Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island for the Super Nintendo in 1995.

5. B.C. 

First announced in 2001, B.C. was an action-adventure video game developed by Intrepid Computer Entertainment for Microsoft’s Xbox. The game took place during the prehistoric era and followed a small tribe on the brink of extinction. Players would control the tribe and make it evolve, migrate, and survive against dinosaurs, simians, and other prehistoric beasts to be the most dominate species on the planet.

Although enthusiasm was very high, Microsoft canceled the prehistoric video game in late 2004, several months after B.C.’s first trailer was released. While Microsoft didn't comment about why the game was canceled, video game designer Peter Molyneux told VG 24/7 in 2008 that his studio, Lionhead, had to focus on either B.C. or a video game called Fable.  "We couldn’t do both simultaneously: it was just impossible for us to do that and maintain any quality at all," he said. "So many people ask about it and I find it absolutely fascinating that they do, because in a way some people here and at Microsoft said, ‘You know, we just don’t quite understand what the B.C. game’s all about.’ But everybody seems so enthusiastic about it."

6. Sadness 

In 2006, Polish video game developers Nibris and video game studio Frontline announced that the survival horror game Sadness would be one of the early release titles for the Nintendo Wii (then known as the Nintendo Revolution). The proposed game would have a black-and-white aesthetic instead of full color, play on psychological horror rather than jump scares and gore, and would fully utilize the Nintendo Wii remote.

Nibris parted ways with Frontline in 2007 because of "artistic differences." A script, concept art, soundtrack, and live-action trailer were the only things produced, but the final nail in the video game's coffin came when Nibris shut down completely in 2010. 

7. Kirby Adventure Games

Between 2000 and 2010, Nintendo only released four core traditional platform Kirby games for home consoles—Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards for the Nintendo 64; Kirby Air Ride for the Nintendo GameCube; and, for the Wii, Kirby’s Epic Yarn and Kirby’s Return to Dreamland. The total could have been seven: In that time, HAL Laboratory developed three other Kirby games that were eventually canceled.

With the working title Kirby Adventure, the Nintendo GameCube game would’ve been the first multi-player and single-player Kirby game. It was originally going to be released in 2003, but was ultimately canceled. A Kirby 3D game and Kirby pop-up book game were also developed for the GameCube, but were never finished or released because of Nintendo and HAL Laboratory's high standards and ambition.

Instead, Nintendo released Super Smash Bros. Melee, a fighting game featuring various Nintendo characters, for the GameCube.

8. The California Raisins: The Grape Escape

In the late '80s, the California Raisins were at the center of pop culture. The fictional band of anthropomorphized raisins had an Emmy Award-winning TV special and an animated series, along with hit songs and commercials on behalf of the California Raisin Advisory Board.

In 1990, Capcom developed a single-player side-scrolling video game for the Nintendo Entertainment System. The gameplay was very similar to Disney’s Duck Tales video game, and retailers were ready for a bestseller—but Capcom canceled the game weeks before its release date due to the California Raisins' dwindling popularity. 

9. Dead Phoenix

Dead Phoenix was one of five exclusive titles dubbed the "Capcom Five" that the company developed for Nintendo’s GameCube and announced in late 2002. The 3D shoot ‘em up game centered on a winged man named Phoenix and was set in a fantasyland full of dragons, monsters, and a mythical floating city.

Although Capcom released the other four games in the Capcom Five (P.N.03, Viewtiful Joe, Resident Evil 4, and Killer7), the company canceled Dead Phoenix in 2003 due to development issues and Nintendo’s high standards for excellence.

10. Sonic X-treme

The Sega Saturn, released in 1995, was the first home console from Sega without a Sonic the Hedgehog game attached to it at launch. The fully 3D Sonic X-treme was slated for release for Christmas 1996, but when the game's designers and developers couldn’t hit the target date, Sega eventually canceled the game.

There were only a small handful of Sonic games released during the short life span for the Sega Saturn, including Sonic Jam and Sonic 3D Blast. Sega discontinued the Saturn in 1998, only three years after its initial U.S. release, but fans would finally get the fully 3D Sonic video game they had been waiting for with the release of the Sega DreamCast and Sonic Adventure in 1998.

Can you out-fact the Facts Machine? Go to this post and leave a comment with your own amazing video game fact. If your fact is deemed sufficiently Amazing, you could win the mental_floss t-shirt of your choice.

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15 Confusing Plant and Animal Misnomers
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People have always given names to the plants and animals around us. But as our study of the natural world has developed, we've realized that many of these names are wildly inaccurate. In fact, they often have less to say about nature than about the people who did the naming. Here’s a batch of these befuddling names.

1. COMMON NIGHTHAWK

There are two problems with this bird’s name. First, the common nighthawk doesn’t fly at night—it’s active at dawn and dusk. Second, it’s not a hawk. Native to North and South America, it belongs to a group of birds with an even stranger name: Goatsuckers. People used to think that these birds flew into barns at night and drank from the teats of goats. (In fact, they eat insects.)

2. IRISH MOSS

It’s not a moss—it’s a red alga that lives along the rocky shores of the northern Atlantic Ocean. Irish moss and other red algae give us carrageenan, a cheap food thickener that you may have eaten in gummy candies, soy milk, ice cream, veggie hot dogs, and more.

3. FISHER-CAT

Native to North America, the fisher-cat isn’t a cat at all: It’s a cousin of the weasel. It also doesn’t fish. Nobody’s sure where the fisher cat’s name came from. One possibility is that early naturalists confused it with the sea mink, a similar-looking creature that was an expert fisher. But the fisher-cat prefers to eat land animals. In fact, it’s one of the few creatures that can tackle a porcupine.

4. AMERICAN BLUE-EYED GRASS

American blue-eyed grass doesn’t have eyes (which is good, because that would be super creepy). Its blue “eyes” are flowers that peek up at you from a meadow. It’s also not a grass—it’s a member of the iris family.

5. MUDPUPPY

The mudpuppy isn’t a cute, fluffy puppy that scampered into some mud. It’s a big, mucus-covered salamander that spends all of its life underwater. (It’s still adorable, though.) The mudpuppy isn’t the only aquatic salamander with a weird name—there are many more, including the greater siren, the Alabama waterdog, and the world’s most metal amphibian, the hellbender.

6. WINGED DRAGONFISH

This weird creature has other fantastic and inaccurate names: brick seamoth, long-tailed dragonfish, and more. It’s really just a cool-looking fish. Found in the waters off of Asia, it has wing-like fins, and spends its time on the muddy seafloor.

7. NAVAL SHIPWORM

The naval shipworm is not a worm. It’s something much, much weirder: a kind of clam with a long, wormlike body that doesn’t fit in its tiny shell. It uses this modified shell to dig into wood, which it eats. The naval shipworm, and other shipworms, burrow through all sorts of submerged wood—including wooden ships.

8. WHIP SPIDERS

These leggy creatures are not spiders; they’re in a separate scientific family. They also don’t whip anything. Whip spiders have two long legs that look whip-like, but that are used as sense organs—sort of like an insect’s antennae. Despite their intimidating appearance, whip spiders are harmless to humans.

9. VELVET ANTS

A photograph of a velvet ant
Craig Pemberton, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

There are thousands of species of velvet ants … and all are wasps, not ants. These insects have a fuzzy, velvety look. Don’t pat them, though—velvet ants aren’t aggressive, but the females pack a powerful sting.

10. SLOW WORM

The slow worm is not a worm. It’s a legless reptile that lives in parts of Europe and Asia. Though it looks like a snake, it became legless through a totally separate evolutionary path from the one snakes took. It has many traits in common with lizards, such as eyelids and external ear holes.

11. TRAVELER'S PALM

This beautiful tree from Madagascar has been planted in tropical gardens all around the world. It’s not actually a palm, but belongs to a family that includes the bird of paradise flower. In its native home, the traveler’s palm reproduces with the help of lemurs that guzzle its nectar and spread pollen from tree to tree.

12. VAMPIRE SQUID

Drawing of a vampire squid
Carl Chun, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

This deep-sea critter isn’t a squid. It’s the only surviving member of a scientific order that has characteristics of both octopuses and squids. And don’t let the word “vampire” scare you; it only eats bits of falling marine debris (dead stuff, poop, and so on), and it’s only about 11 inches long.

13. MALE FERN & LADY FERN

Early botanists thought that these two ferns belonged to the same species. They figured that the male fern was the male of the species because of its coarse appearance. The lady fern, on the other hand, has lacy fronds and seemed more ladylike. Gender stereotypes aside, male and lady Ferns belong to entirely separate species, and almost all ferns can make both male and female reproductive cells. If ferns start looking manly or womanly to you, maybe you should take a break from botany.

14. TENNESSEE WARBLER

You will never find a single Tennessee warbler nest in Tennessee. This bird breeds mostly in Canada, and spends the winter in Mexico and more southern places. But early ornithologist Alexander Wilson shot one in 1811 in Tennessee during its migration, and the name stuck.

15. CANADA THISTLE

Though it’s found across much of Canada, this spiky plant comes from Europe and Asia. Early European settlers brought Canada thistle seeds to the New World, possibly as accidental hitchhikers in grain shipments. A tough weed, the plant soon spread across the continent, taking root in fields and pushing aside crops. So why does it have this inaccurate name? Americans may have been looking for someone to blame for this plant—so they blamed Canada.

A version of this story originally ran in 2015.

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18 Tea Infusers to Make Teatime More Exciting
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Make steeping tea more fun with these quirky tea infusers.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

1. SOAKING IT UP; $7.49

man-shaped tea infuser
Amazon

That mug of hot water might eventually be a drink for you, but first it’s a hot bath for your new friend, who has special pants filled with tea.

Buy on Amazon.

2. A FLYING TEA BOX; $25.98

There’s no superlaser on this Death Star, just tea.

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3. SPACE STATION; $9.99

astronaut tea infuser
ThinkGeek

This astronaut's mission? Orbit the rim of your mug until you're ready to pull the space station diffuser out.

Buy on ThinkGeek.

4. BE REFINED; $12.99

This pipe works best with Earl Grey.

Buy on Amazon.

5. A RIBBITING OPTION; $10.93

This frog hangs on to the side of your mug with a retractable tongue. When the tea is ready, you can put him back on his lily pad.

Buy on Amazon.

6. ‘TEA’ ALL LIVE IN A YELLOW SUBMARINE; $5.95

It’s just like the movie, only with tea instead of Beatles.

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7. SHARK ATTACK; $6.99

shark tea infuser
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This fearsome shark patrols the bottom of your mug waiting for prey. For extra fun, use red tea to look like the end of a feeding frenzy.

Buy at Cost Plus World Market.

8. PERFECT FOR A RAINY DAY; $12.40

This umbrella’s handle conveniently hooks to the side of your mug.

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9. AN EGGCELLENT INFUSER; $5.75

cracked egg tea infuser
Amazon

Sometimes infusers are called tea eggs, and this one takes the term to a new, literal level.

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10. FOR SQUIRRELY DRINKERS; $8.95

If you’re all right with a rodent dunking its tail into your drink, this is the infuser for you.

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11. HANGING OUT; $12.85

This pug is happy to hang onto your mug and keep you company while you wait for the tea to be ready.

Buy on Amazon.

12. ANOTHER SHARK OPTION; $5.99

If you thought letting that other shark infuser swim around in the deep water of your glass was too scary, this one perches on the edge, too busy chomping on your mug to worry about humans.

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13. RUBBER DUCKIE, YOU’RE THE ONE; $8.95

Let this rubber duckie peacefully float in your cup and make teatime lots of fun.

Buy on Amazon.

14. DIVING DEEP; $8.25

This old-timey deep-sea diver comes with an oxygen tank that you can use to pull it out.

Buy on Amazon.

15. MAKE SWEET TEA; $10

This lollipop won't actually make your tea any sweeter, but you can always add some sugar after.

Buy on Amazon.

16. A SEASONAL FAVORITE; $7.67

When Santa comes, give him some tea to go with the cookies.

Buy on Amazon.

17. FLORAL TEA; $14.99

Liven up any cup of tea with this charming flower. When you’re done, you can pop it right back into its pot.

Buy on Live Infused.

18. KEEP IT TRADITIONAL; $7.97

If you’re nostalgic for the regular kind of tea bag, you can get reusable silicon ones that look almost the same.

Buy on Amazon.

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