Video games get canceled all the time, often because what seemed like a good idea during the company brainstorming session wound up being complete trash come conception time. But in some cases, perfectly wonderful games get canned for reasons that have nothing to do with quality. In fact, they likely would have lit the gaming world on fire, had they ever been allowed to catch ablaze in the first place. Here are some video games that never saw store shelves, but would’ve been among the best parts of your gaming library if they had.
B.C., once set for release on the Xbox until its unexplained 2004 cancellation, looked like the most realistic way to become a caveman aside from traveling via time machine to 200,000 years ago.
The game tasked you and your tribe with surviving and thriving, battling various beasts (including dinosaurs, since no game’s 100% realistic) en route to becoming the dominant species on Earth. You’d adventure in all parts of the world, build your tribe up with the best and brightest the prehistoric world had to offer, and the AI was said to be so good the enemies would interact with each other without you bothering them at all. Plus, there was a planned food chain where everything could be eaten by something else. You, being a human with weapons and fire, would be top of the chain, though being puny, soft, and meaty would also leave you right at the bottom.
13 Star Wars: 1313
Most Star Wars games focus on the Force, Jedis, and the Sith. Star Wars: 1313, meanwhile, was to focus on the other side of the Galaxy: the gritty, dirty, wretched hives of scum and villainy we only saw glimpses of in the movies.
As Boba Fett, you would travel the underworld of Coruscant, doing your seedy bounty hunter business far from prying Jedi eyes or hungry Sarlaccs. The combat was to have been fierce and realistic, with Force maneuvers replaced by human weaponry and ingenuity. So if you always enjoyed the blasters over lightsabers, or if you always wanted to know more about the sketchy characters hanging around the Cantina, 1313 was definitely for you.
Unfortunately, 1313 found itself canceled when Disney shut down LucasArts in 2013. Hopefully, with the runaway success of the fairly dark The Last Jedi in 2017, the Mouse House won’t be afraid to give the even-darker 1313 another shot.
12 Mega Man Universe
Super Mario Maker was good fun, but did you know there was almost a Mega Man version of the same thing? Called Mega Man Universe, the game would’ve let you customize your own levels, constructing the layout and adding whatever obstacles and enemies you desired. There were new abilities you could give Mega Man if you desired, and you could even change his look beyond the usual color swap. Plus, like Mario Maker, you could share your levels and challenge anyone to complete them. Basically, you would’ve been Dr. Wily, building entire worlds of robot evil that existed primarily for Mega Man to blow up completely.
Sadly, by 2011, Universe was no more, thanks in large part to Mega Man guru Keiji Inafune’s acrimonious departure from Capcom. So much for our dreams of trolling our friends with stages where everything is covered in spikes, and every enemy is the Yellow Devil.
11. Aliens: Crucible
Aside from Isolation, most Alien games have been side-scrolling shooters, Doom clones, or simplistic beat-em-ups. That could’ve changed with Aliens: Crucible, a multiplayer RPG set in the Xenomorph universe that was inexplicably cancelled in 2009 despite apparently being near completion.
You and your party would’ve been stranded inside a space colony infested with aliens, with the goal being to eradicate them, or at least survive until someone else did. Characters were to be completely customizable, and the world would’ve been dark and unforgiving as you’d expect from something set in the Alien universe. You’d have precious few resources, so simply mowing down anything that moves would’ve been a terrible idea. Plus, the permadeath feature meant each failure would result in a fun trip back to the start of the game. If anyone got facehugged, you had the option to kill them or wait until the Chestburster did, like in any good family-friendly game.
10. Gotham By Gaslight
Gotham By Gaslight is a Batman story set in the Victorian Era, where Batman battles Jack the Ripper. The 1989 graphic novel proved popular enough that, in 2009, Day 1 Studios attempted to create a video game version. Sadly, THQ — the developer that owns the rights to making Batman games — had no interest, snuffing all light out of the Gaslight project in the process.
Prototype footage shows how sweet an open-world, steampunk take on Batman could’ve been. The game’s dim-and-foggy tone would’ve been perfect for an old-timey Gotham terrorized by a serial killer (much like modern Gotham, really). Bruce Wayne’s technology likely would’ve been consistent with the times too, though Rich Boy still would have likely had nicer toys than anyone around him.
Perhaps THQ passed because the novel happened so long ago? Whatever the reason, with an animated Gaslight film planned for a 2018 release, perhaps interest will again, like the Dark Knight himself, rise.
9. Damage, Inc.
There’s already Guitar Hero: Metallica but back in the early 2000s, plans for Metallica’s video game debut were a lot more action-packed in nature. Called Damage Inc., the game was a Twisted Metal-style car combat game, set in a post-apocalyptic world more brutal than even Mad Max’s. The Metallica band members would have been the ones driving those cars (minus a bass player, since they were between string-pluckers at the time), though they could exit their vehicles and just start shooting anything in their path. All available footage for the cancelled project is sans music, but it’s a safe bet that Metallica tunes would’ve been blaring all throughout the finished version. With the exception of St. Anger, how could that be a bad thing?
You’ve likely never heard of Damage Inc. even in passing because the studio never officially announced it. Metallica included a brief trailer on their St. Anger CD release, but that’s it. They both announced and canceled the game quietly, even though “quiet” is very unlike Metallica.
Final Fantasy’s been getting into the proper sequel thing lately and at one point, Final Fantasy XII was set to get a follow-up in the form of a nonlinear, Dark Souls-esque action-adventure, set almost entirely within a single fortress.
The game would’ve starred Basch, the disgraced knight-turned-Judge who served as a secondary playable character in the original game, as he helps defend one of Ivalice’s fortresses against the forces of a new threat called the Sea King. Much of the story would unfold inside the fortress, as you fight for it and interact with fellow Judges and knights. You’d also be able to leave the fortress to gather resources, fight battles, and undertake hunts and missions. Unfortunately, Fortress not only got canceled, it didn’t even get officially announced. We did eventually get a new FFXII in the form of a remake of the first game, so there’s that anyway.
7 Fallout 3 (Black Isle version)
Back before Bethesda got hold of the license, Fallout was a series of top-down, turn-based RPGs, with nary a jaunty ’50s jingle to be found. The original developers were Black Isle Studios and around 2003, they started planning Fallout 3 to be along the same lines as previous titles, only 3D.
The story of Fallout 3 (codenamed Van Buren) would’ve cast players as an escaped prisoner (the game would let you decide if you were guilty or not) whose boss is a shady mad scientist who wants to trigger a second nuclear war, one that would cleanse the world and make it safe for humans again. If that doesn’t make sense to you, don’t worry. He’s a mad scientist, their plans are meant to be senseless and dumb.
Due to money issues, Black Isle’s Fallout 3 never went anywhere, which is a crying shame, even though we certainly can’t complain about the Fallout 3 we DID get.
6 Silent Hills
In 2014, a free, playable demo called PT became available on the PlayStation Network. It was short, you couldn’t see your character, there were no enemies, and all you could do was wander a dark, spooky house solving puzzles. But once finished, PT revealed itself as Silent Hills, co-directed by horror guru Guillermo del Toro and starring Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead’s Daryl Dixon). A Silent Hill game directed by an actual spooky guy? How could that be bad?
It likely wouldn’t have been, but we’ll never know because publisher Konami canceled it in 2015. Hideo Kojima, gaming legend and co-director on Silent Hills, had a severe falling out with Konami and the game was shelved indefinitely. Kojima, del Toro, and Reedus have since re-teamed for the upcoming Death Stranding game, but no matter how good that is, we’ll always be wondering what Silent Hills could’ve been.
5 Sonic X-Treme
Sonic X-Treme could have been Sega’s answer to Super Mario 64: a 3D adventure starring the company’s iconic mascot. Instead, it became a textbook example of why Sega ultimately failed itself out of the console market.
For whatever reason, two different teams worked on the game: one focused on the main adventure, which was a 2.5D side-scroller seen through an odd fish-eye lens, and the other team worked on boss battles, which were more free-roaming. Midway through, Sega executives decided they wanted the entire game to be like the boss bottles. But starting a whole new game halfway through the old one, with no extended deadline, proved too difficult. One developer, Chris Coffin, actually moved into his office so he could work up to 20 hours a day. This proved fruitless, as not only did the game miss deadline and get canceled, Coffin contracted severe pneumonia for his troubles.
4 Super Mario Spikers
It’s near-impossible to make a Mario game that isn’t totally weird, but Super Mario Spikers could’ve been the strangest take of all: a volleyball game mixed with pro wrestling, starring a fat Italian with mushroom-based superpowers.
Originally a simple Mario-based volleyball game, Next Level Games eventually cranked up the physicality, turning it into a version of volleyball with elements of pro wrestling. Presumably, you could either punch the ball, or punch your opponent in the jaw. Concept art showed several awesome arenas and rings, including one with electrified ropes because this wasn’t just wrestling — it was hardcore wrestling.
Sadly, in 2007 Nintendo put a big spike in Spikers. For their image’s sake, Nintendo understandably didn’t want the kid-friendly Mario to get too violent, and this was exactly that. So Next Level moved on to develop Wii Punch-Out!! instead. You have to admire the studio’s dedication as no matter what, they were going to guarantee we got to punch some pixels.
3 Daredevil: The Man Without Fear
In 2003, Daredevil wasn’t one of the more well-known superheroes. That said, we were still going to get a minor, possibly-fun game based on him, but that turned into a much bigger deal once Ben Affleck’s Daredevil movie became a reality. Suddenly, Daredevil: The Man Without Fear was a sprawling, 3D open-world epic that, in at least one way, foretold Batman’s Arkham games. Daredevil was to feature a “heightened senses” tool that could let you see via radar vision, much like Batman’s Detective Mode, which sounds way better than how Daredevil usually sees: not at all.
Sadly, clashes between Marvel and Sony regarding the game’s direction, plus possible in-studio drug abuse, killed the game despite it being near completion. Hopefully, with the success of Netflix’s Daredevil series, plus superheroes doing huge box office in general, Daredevil will get another turn at the video game radar sooner rather than later.
2 Pirates of the Caribbean: Armada of the Damned
Franchise-based video games with new characters are always welcome, as they let us live out new stories in familiar worlds. We almost had that with Pirates of the Caribbean: Armada of the Damned, in which we would visit the world of Jack Sparrow, but not have to worry about him drinking all our rum. The game would have cast players as a new character, a pirate named James Sterling who actually died on the job, only to be resurrected as either a Legendary (good) or Dreaded (evil) pirate. Either way, you’d then embark on an open-world, high-seas adventure anyone who ever grew up wanting to be a pirate could appreciate.
Unfortunately, in 2010, Disney embarked on a corporate restructuring adventure, laying off the game’s development team and dooming Armada to cancellation. Years later, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag finally gave us a proper open-world swashbuckling experience, but it still would’ve been nice of Disney to do the same.
1. Open-World Superman Game
More so than Kryptonite, it seems Superman’s real weakness is video gaming. He just can’t catch a break with a good one, though that potentially could’ve changed with Supes’s planned 2008 venture into sandbox adventuring.
Superman open-world game was originally based on the cancelled sequel to Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns. It would’ve followed Superman as he battled the film’s villains, plus any others the studio could squeeze in. Once it became clear there wouldn’t be a Superman Returns 2, the game became an all-purpose Superman adventure, which would’ve been fine since you could still fly all through Metropolis and throw bad guys clean through buildings. If you can’t have fun by chucking Doomsday through an 80th-floor office, you simply can’t have fun.
Sadly, money issues and bad business decisions forced the game’s studio, Brash Entertainment, to close down, taking the game with it. The search for a good Superman game rolls on.