Last year spoke of the games that you were familiar with, but could have taken a different path with levels and cut scenes removed.
This year, it’s about the games that ceased to exist. Some that were long rumoured, while others were barely known to exist. With this feature about my past experiences, its the five that I had heard of during their time and whats been discovered since.
Sonic Xtreme – 1995
When Sonic Adventure was in its early stages and given the working title, ‘Sonic & Knuckles RPG’, Sega wanted a title on the Sega Saturn to rival Super Mario 64. Crash Bandicoot was announced at E3, and was predicted to be a sure fire hit. Sega needed their mascot to have the same impact, and Sonic Xtreme was meant to be the answer, which gave a fisheye view of Sonic, and had the player traverse through stages that were akin to mazes and labyrinths in this unique perspective.
I remember watching it in another E3 preview of 1996 on a channel called ITV, where a demo of this was shown. I only saw it once, and this was even before I had received Sonic & Knuckles, so I was intrigued but it was quickly forgotten of.
Developers still like to give interviews about the game today, and how the project was poorly managed.
“We had artists doing art for levels that hadn’t even been concepted out. We had programmers waiting and waiting and waiting until every minute detail had been concepted out, and we had designers doing whatever the hell they wanted. It was a mess, and because of the internal politics (the art director had trained his art team to hate the designers and programmers), it was even more difficult to get any work done.”
Development was at its worst, with one coder given six months to live due to the immense stress to finish the game for Christmas of 1996. It was shown as a rolling video at E3 of 1996, mainly due to it being in a barely playable state,
The enemies still included Dr Robotnik, and even Metal Sonic as a final boss. The special stages were said to be fully 3D, similar to the ones seen in the Sonic 3D Blast port for Sega Saturn.
Once it was realised that the game was not even close to being finished, development was cancelled, and instead ‘Sonic 3D Blast’ was quickly advertised as the Sonic game to buy. A detailed history of its development can be seen here, of just how challenging the project was, and how it even haunts some developers involved in the game today.
Ever since, there’s been articles of content of levels and characters that were long since forgotten. By summer this year, a disk was discovered that contained a playable half of the game, and efforts are still ongoing to make it more playable, similar to the release of Resident Evil 1.5 a couple of years ago.
Super Mario 64 2 -1997
I remember constantly coming across this fabled game in GamesMaster magazine, where it would publish yet another quote of Shigeru Miyamoto of what he was thinking to implement in this sequel.
Luigi was heavily rumoured to be a secret character in the original, with signs and rumours of collecting all the coins to unlock him.
With the sequel, it was intended to have him playable from the start.
It was going to be released onto the 64DD, a disk system that would have slotted to the Nintendo 64 at the bottom, giving the console the ability to read disks and also connect to the internet to download additional content. F Zero X was an example of this, which was released as an expansion pack.
Every time there was an interview I saw, the question would be asked of the sequel to Mario 64. There’d be speculation, rumours, hopes that it would be announced at the next event of ‘Spaceworld’ or ‘E3’. I’d read it about every month, and then as the next generation of consoles were on the horizon, it would be ‘Mario 128’ instead, based off from a tech demo showing of the Gamecube.
Unfortunately it wasn’t to be, but it has been said that the ideas from Mario 64 2 and 128 were carried over to Mario Sunshine and Mario Galaxy. There’s still hope that the multiplayer demo Minamoto spoke of may still be leaked, but a beta of a Mario game is said to be one of the rarest collections to obtain, so its chances are incredibly slim.
Ura Zelda – 1999
Before Wind Waker, before Majoras Mask, this name was mentioned in any news section after Ocarina of Time was released to critical acclaim. This was to be an expansion of ‘Ocarina of Time’, where previous locations would have exposed areas previously inaccessible, and have given Link more abilities, such as different coloured tunics in yellow and purple, and previously empty slots in the Inventory screen would have been filled with items to access other areas.
A pedestal that had the engraving of the Ocarina for example, was to be used by playing a new song that was to be given to Link across the fields of Hyrule.
Eventually it was to be cancelled due to the failure of the 64 DD, and it was made into two separate projects; Master Quest which was a remixed and harder version of Ocarina of Time, while ‘Zelda Gaiden’ was to eventually become Majoras Mask.
This was a game that I’d read about as much as Mario 64 2, and even now there’s content from a debug mode that showed an early version of the cathedral that was shown at E3 in 1995. But this was a time where Nintendo had to decide which console to back, as it couldn’t afford to keep it going in Japan as they did before with the Virtual Boy. Eventually most of the projects were either cancelled or moved to the N64 or Gamecube in completely different forms.
Crash Bandicoot 4 – 2000
A PC had arrived in the household at the end of 2000, and so I was introduced to the Internet, and all it had to offer at the time, with Geocities and Angelfire showing the best of what people could come up with in their interests. With this, many gaming sites had many rumours of games that were either far from being reality, or a very good prediction. Crash 4 was something that was possible, due to only reading about ‘Project X’, which
The fourth entry was at least in a planning stage in some areas of Sony. The most that nearly came to fruition was Mark Cernys vision, which was going to have crash travel to different worlds in space, now that islands and time periods had been done. Unfortunately, with Naughty Dog wanting to concentrate fully on ‘Project X’, later to be Jak and Daxter, Crash 4 ceased to be, and the rights were transferred to Travellers Tales, where the disappointing ‘Wrath of Cortex’ was released at the end of 2001.
There’s no screenshots or videos of what may have been, but the only piece that was close to when this was in planning, is a video that Travellers Tales had, of a tech demo before Wrath of Cortex was in full production.
Metal Gear Solid 2 ‘Middle East’ -2000
With the teaser at the end of Metal Gear Solid, we were wondering what was going to follow. One rumour I read in GamesMaster was going to have Snake in Iraq, on a boat that Liquid had somehow taken over, and a time limit was present throughout the game, similar to Majoras Mask. With the war in the Middle East rising at the time, Hideo Kojima scrapped this version, and instead focused on the version everyone is familiar with today, with the ‘Tanker’ chapter being a faint glimpse of what could have been.
Even now, there’s sites such as Unseen 64, which do an incredible amount of effort for free, to try and preserve what could have been, or even in some games, what should have been.
But I find it interesting as to what could have happened if the 64 DD was an incredible success for example, and Mario 64 2 and Ura Zelda would be common knowledge in 2014 instead of reading announcements of Majoras Mask 3D and Mario Maker.
We all wonder about what could have been or what should be happening, but the end result is what was meant to occur, regardless of whether it was the best or worst decision. Another game may take its place and redeem its predecessor, or even keep the momentum going of its high calibre.
With 2015 looking to be a promising year for Xbox One and Playstation 4, in the coming years there’ll be stories of what could have been, and they’ll never go away as long as the interest in the games are there.