Documenting unreleased, cancelled and prototype video games.
Welcome to Games That Weren't!
We are an unreleased and cancelled video games archive with prototypes, developer history and assets for many computers and consoles of all ages. A non-profit 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.
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.
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.
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.
UPDATE: Steve has recently produced a blog post on the game, which you can check out at https://blog.stevewetherill.com/2022/01/heart-of-yesod-game-that-wasnt.html
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.
Recovered off a 3″ disk, nothing more has been shown or recovered of the games, so its hoped that we can find out more soon about them. Thanks to James Dunn (@namco_) , it seems the Alien VS Predator screen is based on a PD SAM Coupé demo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ok8iUzPS_FQ
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.
Via the comments, the artist himself for the Dragon Ninja and Alien vs. Predator screens – Gordon Wallis got in touch, and who shared the following details:
“I worked with Paul Griffiths on the ZX Spectrum conversion of Mike Berry’s C64 game ‘Reckless Rufus’ (the logos from that would likely be from the Amstrad conversion, which Paul also handled). I’d sent a tape of some of my Spectrum graphics to Alternative Software, who published the game so, either Alternative passed the tape onto him, or I may well have included some of my personal projects on one of the tapes I sent Paul during development.
Material for the Spectrum version of AvP actually predates my SAM Coupé demo, but not by much. I’d imagined it as an Ocean-style, multiload, multi play-style game. When I got the SAM, I reworked and recoloured everything I’d done on the Spectrum (usually by loading the Spectrum SCREEN$ into Flash!, converting to Mode 4, adjusting the palette and filling in colours) but the SAM version is the only one that turns up, since it’s on loads of PD libraries now. That, and several others, are still downloadable from my own website. Wasn’t aware it’d been uploaded to YouTube though!
The Dragon Ninja stuff really only happened because I loved the arcade game and so, being happily unencumbered with any understanding of coding or memory constraints, I couldn’t understand why the Spectrum version was so bad (tiny, monochrome sprites in a small window of the screen). I set about trying to draw everything as close to full (arcade) size as possible, transcribing some of it, as best I could, from screenshots of the arcade game published in magazines. Though I think it all ended up slightly larger, in an attempt to fit things within the 8×8 attribute blocks.
My original version of that SCREEN$ had the two player characters in full colour (one with cyan jeans, the other white) and (I think) a rudimentary cityscape in the background at the top of the screen – probably just differently coloured blocks of PAPER colour. I’ve still got the paper copies of some of it, hand drawn onto Pixel Pads I’d bought at a ZX Microfair, and may have bits and pieces on SAM disks I’ve yet to fully explore, but the original stuff on tape is probably in a box somewhere at my parents’ place.
Neither were in any way official or in development, but graphic and game design was a hobby of mine, growing up. Reckless Rufus on the Spectrum remains the one commercially published game I’ve ever worked on, but I’m trying to remain active on the SAM Coupé scene.”
So there we have it, those two games were at least not proper developments and were done mostly for fun. It’s a shame, as the Dragon Ninja graphics looked brilliant!
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.
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