Documenting unreleased, cancelled and prototype games.
Covering unreleased and cancelled games and prototypes on both consoles and computers. We are a large archive dedicated to preserving games that were never released to the public. Sharing history and stories from the developers, assets and more before it is too late.
A non-profit digitisation project, aiming to digitally preserve software and history which would otherwise be lost for good. If for any reason there is anything that you do not wish to be on the website, please contact us for removal.
Whilst working and researching on the write up for Virtua Hamster for the Games That Weren’t book, we were loaned a bunch of assets from David A Palmer for the book and later website. Part of the archive was a SEGA product catalogue which advertised Virtua Hamster.
It’s possible that it has already been digitally preserved, but we have scanned it just in case and have made it available here – showing a glimpse of many titles from SEGA for a variety of platforms, including Game Gear, Saturn, 32X and Mega Drive – even Pico too. There are likely a few other unreleased titles listed within the pages too. Enjoy! Continue reading →
As part of the launch and release of The Games That Weren’t book, we are adding assets and content that didn’t make it to print as bonus DLC content to share with you. Images are (c) David A. Palmer and used with permission. With thanks to Eric Quakenbush for the additional scans provided.
Within the book is an in-depth and detailed 16 page story about the unreleased Virtua Hamster by Peakstar/SEGA for the 32X and Saturn platforms. We overall speak to designer Eric Quakenbush, producer David A Palmer, lead developer Nick Kimberley, associate producer/artist Ben Palmer, artist Roddy McMillan and musician Paul Tankard – getting their recollections about the project.
Within the book is an in-depth and detailed 8 page story about the unreleased Spitfire Fury by The Fourth Dimension for the Acorn Archimedes. A title where very little light has been shed until now. We speak to lead developer Andrew Hutchings, polygon creator Mark Ferguson and loading screen artist Stephen Scott. The book contains a number of specially re-pixelled screenshots by Trevor Storey from grainy screens shown in the game’s magazine advert.
Sadly Andrew no longer had anything of the game, so this is a short bonus DLC post – but during our research he provided us with a few photos and scans from that time. We also purchased an Archimedes magazine to make a hi-res scan of the game’s advert and screenshots, which you can find below in our gallery.
It is still hoped that a copy will some day surface from a bizarre source.
A quick entry post for a football management game that was due for release by non other than Team 17 back around 1997/98 time – thanks to Niklas Lindholm for the heads up.
The game was to be released for PC, Mac and Amiga and was to be an an online/play by mail football management game, and was even beta tested by Niklas at the time. It was possibly one of the first online football management games that was developed alongside Soccer Nation that we recently covered.
It just seems to have completely disappeared though and its unsure if it evolved into something else. We’re hoping to get hold of someone from Team 17 to clarify exactly what happened. All that exists at the moment are remnants from the old website, which Wayback machine sadly didn’t capture images from. There are also some news items about the game, where we’ve managed to grab some screens. See below.
Within the book is an in-depth and detailed 16 page story about the unreleased Dick Special by Rainbird for the Commodore Amiga (and briefly Atari ST). However, the story extends beyond the Rainbird title, and covers further developments for Activision and Miracle Games over a 5 year time span. A complex timeline of events which has been untangled and carefully put together. The book includes a number of specially re-pixelled screenshots based on those shown in the magazines of the time.
We speak to original developer and designer Sandy White, designer Angela Sutherland, Atari ST developer James Hutchby and later artist Alastair Hearsum regarding the Rainbird edition, with input from Richard Hewison who worked at TelecomSoft at the time. For the later editions, we speak to developers Patricia Curtis and Graeme Ashton, as well as designer Gordon Leggatt.
Overall, we found that there were a staggering 4 separate developments attempted over the years to feature the Dick Special protagonist (including an Another World style title called Dick Special: Phucton Island … I kid you not), with none of them making it out. During our research, we pulled together a number of screenshots and scans from various magazines, making our own hi-res scans of screenshots from physically brought copies of various magazines. Many of which didn’t make it to print in the book and which you can now find here in the gallery below.
However, the big surprise was when artist Alastair Hearsum dug out a video of the final iteration from him and Sandy White, showing the final engine and graphical style before the title was cancelled by Rainbird for dragging on too long. This is the first time publicly that the game has been seen running from this iteration.
We hope you enjoy the findings, and it is hoped that some day in the future we’ll be able to bring you something of the Miracle Games developments, with Graeme Ashton hopeful that he will manage to find the two developments they had underway. Sandy has hinted over the years that he may try and dig out the game again, hopefully for others to see and check out for themselves.
Within the book is an in-depth and detailed 16 page story about the unreleased Deathwatch by Data Design Interactive for the Atari Jaguar platform. A title where very little light has been shed until now. We speak to second lead developer Ben Whitlock, designer John Court, artist Richard Priest, musician Darren Wood, producer Eamonn Barr and also include input from Dale Johnstone, Stewart Green and Simeon Hankins.
The game originally had a working title of “Bug” and was a multi-directional 2D platformer with beautifully painted and scanned backgrounds – sort of like Rayman, but with inspirations from run and gun titles such as Midnight Resistance and Super Contra. It was a concept from the brains of designer John Court, and which DDI took a real shine too from his sketch book concepts.
As well as the complete timeline of events and quotes from the developers, the book includes a series of specially re-pixelled screens from grainy screenshots and utilizing sprites that were recovered during research into the game. We were fortunate to have been provided with a series of art assets from the game, including concept sketches thanks to the combined efforts of John Court, Richard Priest and Ben Whitlock. Many of which there wasn’t space to include in the book, so here they are for you now and previously unseen.
Although the story of Daffy Duck is well documented on GTW for the Commodore 64, within the book is a detailed 12 page full story that covers all of the planned versions due. We speak to Ashley Routledge, Alan Benson, Ben Walshaw, Craig Wight, David A Palmer, David Saunders, Gary Antcliffe, Nigel Speight, Paul Tankard, Pete Frith and Richard Morton to tell as complete a story that we can about what happened to the game across all formats, not just the C64 edition.
Whilst doing research for the other versions, we were overwhelmed by the recovery of many assets for the Amiga version, thanks to graphic artist Richard Morton. However, it was the video footage of the Amiga version that was a big surprise in the absence of the game itself, recovered from an old VHS tape by David A Palmer:
Within the book is a detailed 6 page full story about the unreleased Heart of Yesod by Eldritch the Cat. We speak to developer Steve Wetherill and artist Colin Grunes about the very brief development. There are also two wonderful mock-up artist impressions of how the game could have looked, thanks to artist Trevor Storey.
Below is the complete original game pitch and details which were provided by Steve during our research, which outline the storyline to the game and other specifics. Part of the details were shown in the book, but these are all the pages. There are also some photos of the Eldritch the Cat team which didn’t quite make it to print, and which were provided with permission from Mark McCubbin.
Sadly the early prototype produced on the Atari ST has yet to be found, and could well be completely lost to time. If Steve/Colin manage to find it – then we will be sure to add it to the site and on this page in the future.
This is a smaller piece intended for inclusion in The Games That Weren’t book that didn’t make the final cut. As a result, please note that it hasn’t been professionally proof read compared to the published pieces in the book. As part of our Bonus material series, here is the full raw article for your enjoyment, as well as new downloads and extras.
The Commodore Vic 20 was a product of inspiration, following when Jack Tramiel first saw Sir Clive Sinclair’s drive and enthusiasm to make home computers more affordable to the general public in the United Kingdom with the release of the ZX80 in 1980. Unimpressed with the lack of colour and a proper keyboard, Jack pushed his team to produce a low cost computer with all of those features, and with the aim of making “computers for the masses, not the classes”.
Even though it came with a limited 5K of RAM (expandable via the cartridge slot), it proved an extremely successful and major hit for Commodore. As with the Spectrum, it gave many the perfect opportunity to get involved with computers, but also in the creation of games. This in particular was the case for a young Mike Taylor in the early 1980’s.
“I started programming on a friend’s TRS-80. On that machine, I played Scott Adams’ Adventureland, and I was instantly in love.” he began. “When I was about thirteen years old, I started doing a milk round to earn the money to buy my own computer. By Christmas 1981, I’d accumulated about £140, and for Christmas my parents gave me the rest of the money that I needed to make it up to the list-price of the VIC-20 — a number engraved forever in my mind, £189.95.”
As with many early home computer adopters, it didn’t take long until Mike was busy writing his own programs. After creating a series of simple games in BASIC, the 3.5K was found to be insufficient for what Mike was ultimately trying to achieve. With a lack of funds available since his new acquirement, a friend of Mike constructed a homebrew memory expansion especially for him, constructed ingeniously inside a cassette case.
So was it an attempt at making a proper game, or a conversion of the demo?
The archives seem to be of developer Paul Griffiths, including an interesting mock up of a Dragon Ninja style game with large characters, and a game called Castle Capers which seems to have been designed by Genesis Software’s David Clarke.
Within the book is a detailed 12 page full story about the various unreleased 8 and 16-bit conversions of The Last Ninja by System 3. We speak to ZX Spectrum developer Phil Churchyard, ZX Spectrum artist Nick Cook, Atari ST developer Marc Rosocha, Tandy Colour Computer 3 developer Rick Adams and get extra input about the aborted ZX Spectrum development from Mevlut Dinc, who was asked to take over the project.
Within the book is a detailed 8 page full story about the unreleased Conquest by Vid Kidz. We speak to developer Larry DeMar about the development, with additional input from Eugene Evans and Sinistar developer Sam Dicker and help from Jeff Vavasour (who took screenshots from the compiled sources). Continue reading →
Within the book is a detailed 10 page full story about the unreleased Dark Tower for the Vectrex. We speak to developer John Hall about the development and what happened, with contributions from senior electronic project engineer Gary Bergmann, Robert Hoffberg, Helmut Müller, Chris Romero, Jim Francis, Mark Indictor, Paul Allen Newell, Sean Kelly and Thomas McDonald. Continue reading →
Platform: Atari ST, Commodore Amiga, PC Engine and Sega Mega Drive
A short entry for an interesting platformer which was originally called Dr Mallet and the Tribbles – thanks to Karl Kuras for the heads up about the game.
Set originally in a factory of cute balls of fluff where you must squash them with a mallet, it changed to where to had to lead them to safety. It was due out in November 1990, but would never happen.
Development was by Tony Colgan with graphics by Gary Timmons and is believed to have only got started on the Commodore Amiga before it was canned. The other versions were only planned and were seemingly never started. Gary was split between work on Cutiepoo and the new and upcoming Lemmings.
Dave brought in another friend of Mikes, Tony Colgan to start a new game called Cutiepoo. Tony and Mike first met at Abertay computer club, and since both were C64 users, both started to swap code and demos.
When Tony started on Cutiepoo, he and Gary sat down and came up with a simple game design. Basically, Cutiepoo (the main character), was trying to save little furry tribbles (as inspired by startrek), from a character called Doc. Mallet. Doc Mallet was the archetypal villain, he just loved being evil. The poor tribbles ( named for the Star Trek pet!) didn’t have a hope on their own!
This was the days of simple games, and true to this mantra, Dr. Mallet ran about trying to kill the tribble by squishing them with a huge mallet. This all took place inside a chocolate factory – for some reason. Cutiepoo’s tribbles were based on the StarTrek tribble, a small, helpless bundle of fur, that was ripe for the picking.
Gary was now trying to get levels together for Cutiepoo, and had drawn the first in a series of test backgrounds. He, Tony and Dave then sat down to decide which style to use. The winner turner out to be the chocolate factory, since they could all see some funny situations cropping up in here.
The game was a showcase of some wonderful animations at the time, but it seems that efforts were focused on Lemmings and Cutiepoo would be temporarily shelved. We’re not sure why it was then eventually cancelled, but it is likely the success of Lemmings would change DMA design’s focus overall. We hope to find out more soon.
A demo of the game was presented at the 1990 CES in London, along with Gore and Walker on the same demo disk. Mike confirms that the disk is now sadly lost. It is hoped that Tony or Gary may have more to share, but here are some magazine screenshot scans and some recovered assets from Mike’s DMA history pages.
With thanks to the following sites for images and scans included in the gallery:
An intriguing football title which was one of the most ambitious football gaming projects of its time. Kicked off originally by UK based developer Crush in 1995, originally under the name of “Live Soccer” / “Live! Sports” and in collaboration with Japan’s SunSoft.
The game would combine arcade, management and online functionality all within one package. It was tested out in Spain with great success and everything seemed to be going well with the development overall, even though there was a lot of work still to go.
Within the book is a detailed 10 page full story about the unreleased Vindicators for the Atari Lynx by Atari Games. We speak to developer David Kurensky about the development and the troubles that occurred, which led up to the cancellation. The book also includes specially re-pixelled Lynx screenshots from grainy magazine scans that you can see below.
Below are a series of images which were collated during research for the game, starting off with a number of test assets that were extracted off an Amiga development kit by Harry Dodgson. GTW also brought a number of magazines and catalogues, so you bring you hi-res scans of various screenshots shown at the time in magazines, including a very early version shown in Zero magazine.
There is also a hi-res scan of the unused box cover art, which was specially produced for the Lynx version. Part of the research was trying to figure out who produced the artwork – there was a signature on the work, but the quality wasn’t quite good enough to make it out. On AtariAge, there was once a post made where a series of Atari artworks were shown in frames and saved, which included the Vindicators artwork seen in various adverts for the Lynx version (see scans).
After a bit of investigational work, we were directed to Ian Baronofsky, who was now the owner of the original framed artwork. Ian kindly confirmed on the artwork that the signature read Mark Wickart. A bit of searching tracked down Mark, who recalled the artwork but couldn’t recall anything else about it.
It was thanks to Scott Stilphen and Ross Sillifant for providing some internal Atari documentation that confirmed the developer credit, and led to us getting in touch with David. We cannot share all of this documentation, due to the nature of the content – but we have added details sent from David to Atari about the game and what was remaining to be completed at the time.
During our research, we found this odd video from 2011, showing what seems to be a prototype of Vindicators which had a small controllable segment, but nothing much else:
When shown to David, he confirmed that this wasn’t his prototype at all. But it did seem to include the same mock-up graphics as found from the Amiga dev machine. It seems that for some reason, a rolling demo was produced (something which Atari was known to do for displays), but not by David. It is possible the Amiga that Harry Dodgson obtained, was what was used to produce the rolling demo.
But for David’s final edition of the game at the point of cancellation, we learnt that all his development kit and source code was kept safe by friend and ex-colleague Chuck Ernst. The systems no longer boot at the moment, but Chuck hopes to get them up and running some day to salvage all the code, in the hope it could be compiled up once more.
A short post on a cancelled Dreamcast adventure game that was in development by Quantic Dream back in 2000, following on from their Omikron development. Below is a magazine article and several screenshots from the game. Thanks to Karl Kuras for the heads up.
Quark was aiming to build upon the failures of Omikron, and go for a more diverse and engaging story, as well as fix other issues. The game itself would be set within two different worlds (the colourful fantasy world Quark, and the dark and gloomy London!), with you controlling a protagonist called Waki in Quark, and his sister in London.
The two protagonists keep in contact throughout the game through their dreams. The magazine article from NextGen magazine described the title as being like Zelda with some Banjo-Kazooie-style action sequences. The interesting twist would be with the puzzle solving between both players and across both their worlds.
Why was it cancelled? We’re unsure at the moment, but as Quantic Dream seem to still be going strong today – we assume it must have been due to the platform dying out. If that was the case, then why the rumoured PS2 edition as well?
Here are the screens and shots below, but you can also find other screenshots over at our friends at Unseen64 and their page on the game.
It was intended to cover at least one Atari Lynx title in detail, and at one point it was looking like Strider 2 (which itself was originally to be a game called TOR) was going to be that title. However, there wasn’t enough detail to warrant doing a full piece on the game from our initial investigations. Here is what we managed to find out though (including the revelation that it was going to be converted to the unreleased Atari Panther console too), with magazine information provided thanks to Ross Sillifant. Continue reading →
Thanks to Ken Knight for bringing it to our attention that the long lost Mega Drive conversion of Mad Stalker: Full Metal Forth has recently been released by independent publisher Columbus Circle, some 26 years after it was intended originally.
The game is a side scrolling beat’em up set over 6 levels and is set in the year 2142, where you take the control of the manned slave gear “Hound Dog”, protecting the city of Artemis and ultimately defeating other slave gears of the enemy. Here you can see the game in action:
Within the book is a detailed 10 page full story about the unreleased Starring Charlie Chaplin for both the Atari ST and Commodore 64 platforms by U.S Gold. The book also includes a specially re-pixelled Atari ST screenshot from a grainy magazine scan.
Produced by Canvas Software in 1987, this was one of the hardest write ups to research, due to a number of key people no longer with us today. We however talk to as many people as we can to piece together what happened to both conversions – including Donald Campbell, Danielle Woodyatt, Dawn Hollywood (nee Drake), Jon Grimshaw, Paul Clansey, Richard Tidsall, Sean Townsend, Stephen Ward and Simon Butler. Giving as complete a picture of what happened exactly as we possibly can. Continue reading →
Within the book is a detailed 10 page full story about the unreleased Rolling Thunder for the Atari Lynx by Atari Games. We speak to developer Chuck Ernst, Joel Seider and artist Robb Mariani about the development and the troubles that occurred over two separate iterations. The book also includes a specially re-pixelled Lynx screenshots from grainy magazine scans.
Here we present a sprite sheet provided from artist Robb that he managed to save. There are also a number of magazine scans, showing some grainy screenshots, and also the adverts where Atari naughtily used NES screenshots to depict Lynx screenshots – which have for years been wrongly attributed as a result.
At the time of writing, Chuck was not able to recover the source code for the final build, but an early prototype has just surfaced in September 2020 from a YouTuber called MacRorie (thanks to Ross Sillifant for the heads up), who has recently acquired a number of prototype ROMs. https://youtu.be/NS1O8KWBARw?t=1310
Within the book is a detailed 10 page full story about the unreleased Attack of the Mutant Camels ’89 (AMC’89 from here on) – talking to Jeff Minter, Jon Dean and Lee Hammerton about the development, the Konix disaster and the amazing attempts that saw an early prototype rescued and got up and running on an actual emulator for a machine that never existed!
What follows are a few quotes from our old GTW write up, some video links from our research, resource links and some hi-res scans made by GTW for the book (and scans provided by Jon Dean) that were unused or were re-pixeled for print.
Just a short post for now to share details of Core Design’s cancelled version of Tomb Raider Anniversary (thanks to Ken Knight for the heads up). This is a GTW that could be close to seeing the light of day in some shape or form, but may need your help…
To summarize, for the 10th anniversary – Core Design were doing a new remake, but was shut down by Crystal Dynamics. More details about the history of the development can be found here:
From the development, a hard-drive was donated with various assets and code to Ash Kaprielov, a huge fan of all things Tomb Raider related and who manages the wonderful site above.
Permission was then sought from Crystal Dynamics by Ash, and a firm “no” was given from their legal department. Ash is now after your help to sign a petition to try and allow for the release of remains of the development to the fans. However, some suggest that the petition may need to be taken to publisher Square Enix instead to have more of an impact.
Back when Lemmings was being converted to every platform under the sun, the poor old Plus/4 was being neglected, having long been abandoned commercially.
That however didn’t stop Tamás Sasvári (code) and Csaba Kémeri (graphics) from having a go at trying to bring the title to their beloved machine back in 1993. Several months were spent putting together a solid unofficial conversion within the limits of the Plus/4, which would take a bitmap based approach compared to the C64 edition (which used sprites for the backgrounds), due to the lack of hardware sprites.
Csaba, still active on the PC and Amiga scene today, used the Multi Botticelli tool to produce all of the graphics, which is the equivalent of Koala on the C64. Continue reading →
This is a smaller piece intended for inclusion in The Games That Weren’t book that didn’t make the final cut. As a result, please note that it hasn’t been professionally proof read compared to the published pieces in the book. As part of our Bonus material series, here is the full raw article for your enjoyment.
Mention Elite Systems, and you may instantly think of Capcom 8-bit home computer conversions such as Commando, Ghosts n Goblins and also the cult classic shooter 1942. If you hadn’t already guessed, 1942 is set during World War 2, controlling an American plane fighting against swarms of Japanese fighter planes across 32 levels – oddly set in a reverse order.
Capcom are a Japanese based development company, and so the theme of the title had caused some controversy back home at the time. Regardless of any political issues, it still became very popular and made for a perfect title to port to all of the home computers of the time. Elite were the company to step up to the plate and grab the rights for the major 8-bit home computer platforms.
Nintendo Life have published a chapter from The Games That Weren’t book, which takes a look at the unreleased Virtual Tank game by Boss Game Studio.
As well as talking to the developers involved in the game, there are screenshots of the game running which have never been seen until now. Bonus materials relating to the game will be coming soon in a separate post.
A long running Atari Jaguar mystery for some years now, and a game starting out on a completely different platform. Originally Green Thang was shortlisted to be covered in The Games That Weren’t book when discussing possible Jaguar titles with David Wightman. This led to an exciting early discovery which we will share with you shortly. In the end it was decided to cover Deathwatch, so now as part of our bonus book content series, we share what we managed to find out during our brief investigations.
Green Thang originally started life with a working title of Frogs, developed by two University students – Michael Pollard (code) and Alan Burns (graphics). It was demoed to Creative Edge around 1994, and CEO/Head programmer David Wightman absolutely loved it. The game (and team) was signed up as a result, with the proper title of “Green Thang” subsequently assigned. Continue reading →
A mysterious 3rd person title which was only in development at Ratloop for just over a year. The game was started in early 1998, and was cancelled after a publisher couldn’t be found.
With nothing much at all known about the game, gaming historian Massimiliano Camassa has meticulously been piecing together details about the history of the development. Giving a detailed insight about what could have been. Only briefly covered in some magazines, Massimiliano describes Hab-12 as not being your standard third person shooter:
“Offering a mix between a classic cinematic jump and run, third person adventure game and a third person shooter, Hab-12 was unlike any game of its time.
The protagonist of this would be adventure game, named Miray, would be forced to fight his way through gigantic habitations inside the research ship called “The Sentient”.
In his adventure, Miray grows from an underachieving every-man to a full blown survivalist after beating the odds over and over again in each habitation he finds himself in.”
Massimiliano (with help of the original developers) managed to get remains up and running on modern hardware to bring you footage. Overall, a very impressive and thorough documentary that is well worth your time:
Within the book is a detailed 10 page full story about the unreleased Attack of the Mutant Zombie Flesh Eating Chickens from Mars (AOTMZFECFM from here on) – talking to Matthew Smith, John Darnell, Keith Ainsworth, Ste Cork and Steve Leyland. There is also a specially created artist impression showing how the game may have looked, based on recollections of Matthew, John and Sinclair User. Continue reading →