Games That Weren’t

gtw_propellerarena

There are a lot of game projects that just didn’t happen for one reason or another, but to me, it’s most heartbreaking when a game’s completely finished and just doesn’t see the light of day. Propeller Arena, a first-party flight combat game for the Dreamcast, is one of those games. Why didn’t it release? Well, it was a late-2001 game about planes flying around tall buildings, so it suffered the fate that the original Advance Wars avoided by a day: a world that just wasn’t ready to have fun with that setting. READ MORE

gtw_endersgame

Considering how much I’ve read in my life and how much I love science fiction, you might be surprised to hear it took me until my junior year of college to finally read Ender’s Game. Of course, once I did, I was instantly enamored with the fictional world it contained. As an avid gamer, though, I was intensely interested in both the learning, adaptive game Ender played on his desk and the Battle Room. Apparently, Chair Entertainment was as well, because soon after word came that a movie based on Ender’s Game was in the works, it announced plans to release a game based on that very part of the book. READ MORE

gtw_starfox2

The Star Fox series was an iconic one for Nintendo, even at its debut. With the success of the original game, it would only make sense to release a new game that expanded on the already-successful formula. Fans would eventually get that news in the form of Star Fox 2 at the 1995 Winter CES in Las Vegas.

Everything Nintendo premiered at the show was either pegged as second rate or a failure. Most of the games would be canceled. READ MORE

gamesthatwerent_bg3

Baldur’s Gate is a legend when it comes to PC gaming. The first two games were already considered some of the best RPGs on the PC, and the Infinity Engine games were all well known among gamers. It is easy to understand why a sequel in the Baldur’s Gate series would be highly anticipated. BioWare’s Infinity Engine went on to power an entire library of RPGs. Following Interplay’s success with Fallout, several employees left the company and formed Black Isle Studios, which would go on to produce Fallout 2, Planescape: Torment and Icewind Dale, and collaborate with BioWare to develop Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn. READ MORE

gamesthatwerent_sonicxtreme

Many retro game fans like to theorize and fantasize about what might have saved Sega. Many say that it was the Sega CD and 32X that undermined consumer confidence in Sega. Others say that it was the PlayStation 2′s unparalleled dominance of the console market that killed the Dreamcast, and by extension, Sega itself. Others even say that it was its lack of effort in the handheld space to keep up with Nintendo’s Game Boy to help stave off defeat during the lean years. One factor that most agree contributed is that Sega didn’t really carry the genres that were popular on the Genesis into the next generation on the Saturn, causing a huge backlash of disinterest outside of Japan. READ MORE

gtw_steambot2

Japanese developer Irem, the team best known for the R-Type­ series, was one of those studios that was easy to love. While its track record wasn’t exactly spotless, it developed a number of quirky (if problematic) titles that demonstrated their talents in remarkable ways. My personal favorite from them was a unique action-RPG called Steambot Chronicles, a game that was as much about player agency as it was punching things with a giant mech-suit. READ MORE

Right before 3DO’s death, they had a few upcoming releases that showed promise. Back in 2003, the one that stood out to me was The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, an action game set right before the supposed end of the world. In it, you control the archangel Abaddon and team up with a group of three humans known as the “chosen,” to track down and kill the riders of the apocalypse in order to prevent, well… the apocalypse. It attempted to mix heavy action with some light exploration and horror elements to create a game that was not unique, but had some interesting potential. READ MORE

Like every good Nintendo fanboy, I awaited every bit of information about Nintendo’s next console like I’d just been tested after a week in Tijuana. Then one morning it was there: the reveal video for the Nintendo Wii. I loved the GameCube and couldn’t wait to see how Nintendo would fulfill all the promises made in that video. I’m still waiting. READ MORE

Long before StarCraft II was a thing, fans of the RTS hit were ravenous for more games in the rich science fiction universe that Blizzard had created. The decision to make Ghost a first-person shooter was somewhat unusual, but not unprecedented. EA had done something similar with Command & Conquer earlier that year. It didn’t do well, but that was mainly a result of quality concerns, something that Blizzard obviously never worries about thanks to their philosophy of quality over pretty much everything else. READ MORE

At E3 2006, the Wii made its playable-demo debut in anticipation for its launch later that year. A lot of solid titles were previewed in one form or another, including a five-minute demo of a game being developed by Nintendo Software Technology (Metroid Prime: Hunters, Mario vs. Donkey Kong) that looked unlike anything else Nintendo had published to that point.

Instead of any of the established characters that would eventually make up the roster for the then-unfolding Super Smash Bros. Brawl, it starred a hulking cyborg known as M-09 as he made his way through a series of robots armed with only one weapon: a titanic hammer that smashed robots as easily as it smashed everything else. Cars, walls, crates, whatever. READ MORE