A few LHG writers talk about cancelled games they’d gladly trade some shovelware titles for in return for the rebirth of said canned games.
“RISE FROM YOUR GRAVES!”
One of the many unfortunate staples of the Video Game industry are game cancellations. These happen with low scale games and can even happen at the AAA level with publishers such as Electronic Arts, Square-Enix, and many others. Sure there are legends of cancelled games that will forever live on in the minds and written previews of those who had seen them or even played them such as Star Wars 1313 and Starcraft: Ghost. But there are games that got the axe and people either forgot them or never knew of their existence. Now we will each go over one of our favorite games that was cancelled and perhaps, if we had the ability to rewrite history, reverse the cancellation.
Allan Muir – Managing Editor and Xbox Stalwart
Mercenaries 3: No Limits
Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction was released in January of 2005 for the Original Xbox and PlayStation 2. Developed by Star Wars: Battlefront developer Pandemic Studios it was centered around a trio of playable mercenary fighters and your main goal was to be the part, by doing this you would be able to prevent a nuclear war. The game was rightfully praised for the utter chaos you would be able to cause. I spent many of my time at Blockbuster renting this game over and over and over. You had the ability to steal military vehicles and in turn could use them to destroy opposing vehicles, buildings, etc. I have very vivid memories of going to a friends house (RIP) and taking turns calling in carpet bombs and other tactical strikes to take out enemies. The game was fun and plenty of replayability packed into it but there was something missing, that missing feature would be introduced in the sequel a few years later.
Mercenaries 2: World in Flames would be released in late August of 2008 and was a bit of a mixed bag as there are many problems with the game that were never at least in *my* opinion properly fixed. These include graphical hiccups due to the engine which had been in use for nearly a decade first appearing in Battlezone: II in ’99. So the Zero engine was clearly showing it’s age. Another issue would be with the expected bread and butter of the game which is the destruction element of vehicles, buildings, etc. When you and a friend would be causing chaos and explosions the game would stutter and have the previously mentioned texture pop-in so I initial]y walked away from the game once said friend “died”. Out of loyalty to Pandemic and their legacy I purchased Mercenaries 1 once it was eligible for purchase on Xbox One backwards compatibility.
Now onto the would be third game in the series by Pandemic as we do not speak of Mercs Inc. on this site. During one of EA’s early years of hell following the release of new Intellectual Properties such as Dead Space, Army of Two, and Mirror’s Edge, former EA exec John Riccitielo more or less professed his love for the Mercenaries series and he would have no issues with the series going on for multiple installments. Going all the way to a tenth installment. This didn’t come to pass as Riccitielo would go on to leave Electronic Arts and Mercenaries would stop at 2 with Pandemic’s closure in the year of hell of 09. Based on Unseen64’s post on Mercenaries 3 which you can read here, it is presumed that the game would have been set in Cuba in 2017 and you are playing as, most likely, a placeholder for a character redesign and the gameplay demo includes a cut-scene that is placeholder as well so here it is.
Josh Miller – Staff Writer
X-Women: The Sinister Virus
To this day, I am unwavering about my love for X-Men: The Clone Wars. It is easily one of my favorite games from the Sega Genesis and probably my favorite X-Men game period. What I didn’t realize until many years later was that a sequel had been in the works and that game was X-Women: The Sinister Virus.
Not much is known about the game as a whole. It was shown off at E3 1996 and would eventually find itself mentioned in the December 1996 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly. It would have been one of the last games released for the Sega Genesis (or even potentially released elsewhere), but was inevitably cancelled due to the closure of the team working on it: Clockwork Tortoise. If that studio sounds familiar, it should. They were the developers behind The Adventures of Batman and Robin release on the Sega Genesis.
According to an interview with Sega-16, the Associate Producer at Sega of America goes into detail about the shortcomings of X-Women: The Sinister Virus. To sum it up, art was done but development ran into problems and deadlines were not being met. However, the premise of an all-female cast against (presumably due to the name) Mr. Sinister sounds like it could have been real cool.
You may be asking – “Why now? Why in the year 2019 would you like to see it return?” Fair question. I guess I would love to see that idea revisited. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 is near, but I’m more of an X-Men fan than a general Marvel fan. Bringing back a focus on that team ala X-Men Legends would be right up my alley. Including only female playable characters like Storm, Rogue, Jean Grey, Marrow, X-23, Psylocke, Kitty Pryde and more could easily fill out a robust roster with a wide variety of powers at play.
If someone wants to develop an old side-scroller X-Men game, I will be down. It’ll be a completely different game than originally set out, but it would at least be something X-Men focused. However, it would be even better if it shined a light at a roster under-represented in most games featuring this team and had the X-Women first and foremost.
Graydon Webb – Staff Writer
This is a difficult roundtable, so kudos to Allan for making me think! First I thought about the heavy hitters like Star Wars 1313 or Scalebound, and then I thought about smaller cancellations that deeply affected me like Mega Man Legends 3 or Telltale’s Stranger Things game that will never see the light of day. But then I remembered the day I heard some gaming news that caught me by surprise more than anything had before, or has since: BattleCry was cancelled?
I don’t follow Bethesda religiously, like some. I’m not a huge Elder Scrolls, Fallout, or Doom fan. Dishonored was always a favorite of mine, though, so around 2014/2015 I was following Bethesda news pretty closely for rumors of a sequel (it worked!) Along the way, however, I came across Battlecry, a free-to-play online team-based combat game.
This was around the time Overwatch and Battleborn had also been announced, and nobody quite understood the difference between “MOBA” and “hero shooter.” Basically, the world of online gaming had yet to be flipped on its head. What drew me to BattleCry above all the others was its striking art style, its graphic bloody content, and its unique classes, which seemed to range from knights and futuristic scientists to samurai and redcoats.
Granted, Overwatch‘s roster has expanded to include nearly every kind of character you could think of, but at the time I was rooting for the little guy. Overwatch was going to come out on top – that was clear – and Battleborn, though it failed, had a niche audience for quite a while. But BattleCry quickly fell to the wayside, and eventually became just as forgettable as Dead Island 2 (which I didn’t choose for this list because it is not cancelled!)
A few years after the news officially dropped, I found out that BattleCry had been cancelled only a year after its announcement, following a “substantial” bout of layoffs. While some articles may say the game is simply on hold until further notice, I think it’s safe to say that BattleCry Studios’s rebranding to Bethesda Game Studios Austin in March of last year was the final nail in the coffin. So rest easy, you beautiful hero shooter, struck down far too soon. All we have to remember you by is about 12 minutes of gameplay, which I shall now watch while softly weeping.