In the games industry, a promising project that never quite gets off the ground is described as being in development hell, and they really do mean hell. Anything can go wrong during the creation of a game, and sometimes even the mightiest titan can slip on the smallest metaphorical banana peel.
If you’re a seasoned video game nerd (ahem, enthusiast), you can probably reel off a few titles that this fate has befallen: the highly anticipated Final Fantasy XV, at last set for release later this year, was announced back in 2006. And it even looks like Shenmue III is finally on the cards some fifteen years after its predecessor first hit the shelves. Talk about the slow burn hype train, sheesh.
But what about those games which never see the light of day, their only remnants some fuzzy screen-caps destined to be posted up on niche internet forums as a tantalising reminder of what could have been? Here are our top five games never made:
5) Fallout Online
The grim Fallout universe has been the setting of some of the best video games in recent memory, but fans have been made to wait for the addition of a multiplayer mode to accompany its unrivaled campaign. The closest we came was Fallout Online, an MMORPG wherein players from around the globe would compete on over 60,000 square miles of sprawling wasteland. In the end, a protracted legal dispute between publishers put the brakes on its development – and, to date, there are no plans to revive it.
4) Dead Space 4
For all its critical acclaim, third-person shooter Dead Space was one of those series that had the unfortunate habit of failing to court mainstream commercial success. This means that a fourth outing for Isaac Clarke and co is unlikely to materialise – at least without a radical re-branding exercise that would likely see it parted from all its bone-chilling charm. As one of the few horror games with challenging game-play, a compelling story and genuine scares, Dead Space will be sorely missed by fans of the genre.
3) Silent Hills
Director Guillermo del Toro’s brief and ill-fated foray into video games was predictably given the blockbuster treatment. A teaser trailer on IGN‘s YouTube channel – which now functions as a sort-of memorial site for brokenhearted fans mourning the death of their dreams – depicts artful establishing shots and a brooding hero modeled on and voiced by everyone’s favorite zombie slayer Norman Reedus. At one point it appeared del Toro would finally see his ambition to make “the Citizen Kane of games” become a reality, but internal conflicts eventually brought the project to an abrupt (and tragic) end. The decision to kill the project before its time sent tremors through the industry, culminating in PS4’s still holding the demo selling for thousands of dollars online. The rumors were true, Konami hates money.
2) The Lord of the Rings: The White Council
Great movies do not always make great video games; for every GoldenEye, there are a dozen failed Superman projects. But J. R. R. Tolkien’s creation had made a promising start to life in the virtual world, the exhilarating 2002 release The Two Towers having been one of the year’s outstanding games. Conceived as an MMORPG, The White Council‘s eventual cancellation in 2007 must rank among the more questionable decisions EA have made – particularly in light of the World of Warcraft craze that exploded right around the same time.
1) Project H.A.M.M.E.R.
There has always been a lingering sense that the full potential of Nintendo‘s motion sensor technology has been left unexplored. Project H.A.M.M.ER – a game that would give players the opportunity to take control of a hammer-wielding cyborg (and in the process, look a bit daft as they frantically swing the Wiimote around in their living room) – was to be one of the Wii‘s flagship games. Unfortunately, developers struggled to make it work, and the company decided to play safe with established fan favorites instead.