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.

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August 27, 2013 - 11:00am
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