Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Best Cancelled Gamecube Games

The launch of a new console is always an exciting event; a whole new era of promise and opportunity awaits for each new competitor in the console wars, with countless titles and accessory hardware announced. It's often easy for some things to get caught up and lost in this chaos. Unfortunately, sometimes this does happen. Certain titles that catch the eye of gamers never see the light of day, and fade into obscurity. For some, it is best that they stay lost, because they never showed much potential in the first place, but for some games, it is a real shame they are never released. These are the games that would have likely been very good additions to the system's library, and that should really be remembered. These are the best cancelled Gamecube games.

Thunder Rally

What Was It?:
Thunder Rally is a car combat game created by Iguana Entertainment [Later bought by Nintendo and renamed Retro Studios], and was one of the earliest planned titles for the Gamecube, all the way back in 1998, when the system was barely a prototype, and was codenamed "Dolphin". On a side note, this game was the initial reason Retro Studios was formed. The gameplay in Thunder Rally consists of a mash-up between Twisted Metal and Battlebots, in which the player can build a car, and drive it through a city, destroying other cars. Sounds simple right? Well, that's correct, but it's not the main draw of the game. TR was designed to include 4-player split screen mode, and have 4-player online play as well, making it possibly the first Gamecube game planned to have online multiplayer! The game also features very sharp graphics, from what is shown in early screenshots.

Why Was It Cancelled?:
Shortly after Retro Studios was established, and began working on games for the Gamecube, Nintendo ordered a massive reorganization of the company, which changed most of the company's staff, resources, and projects. Unfortunately, Thunder Rally, along with about 3 other titles, and Metroid Prime being the only one of these that was ever released. I would have loved to have played this game; as I have said in previous articles, the Gamecube was hurting for online games throughout its entire lifespan, and anything would have helped.

Kirby Adventure


What Was It?:
Kirby fans had to wait until 2005 for Nintendo to finally announce a Kirby platformer for the Gamecube. At E3 of that year, a trailer for "Kirby Adventure" was shown, and it seemed to be everything people expected from the series, but the exception being it taking advantage of the Gamecube's 4 controller ports. Kirby Adventure was supposed to allow 4-player simultaneous Co-Op, building upon the 2-player Co-Op introduced in the SNES Kirby games. The other 3 players controlled enemies Kirby has swallowed and discarded, making them allies. The game was meant to take the best aspects of the SNES and N64 Kirby titles, and update it for the more powerful Gamecube hardware. The graphics would be in full 3D, but gameplay would take place on a 2D plane, like in Kirby 64, and said gameplay seems to leave the formula mostly unchanged, with all the series' common conventions remaining.

Why Was It Cancelled?:
Kirby Adventure was an exciting title for Gamecube owners, and they were anxious to get their hands on it. Then... nothing. Other than delay announcements, Nintendo barely said anything after the game's initial showing at E3 '05, and fans were left in the dark. In the end, with the exception of the Game Boy Color, the Gamecube became the first [and only] major Nintendo console without a Kirby Platformer. No one is really sure why Nintendo cancelled Kirby Adventure, but most speculate that it was because they were focusing their efforts on the upcoming Revolution/Wii, and new games for it. In short, the game came too late in the GC's life to have a chance at being released. Oh, well. At least Kirby: Epic Yarn is coming to the Wii soon, so fans have that to look forward to.

Raven Blade

Raven Blade Picture

What Was It?:
After the N64 era, Nintendo was really starting to feel the hurt caused by the lack of RPGs on their consoles after the departure of Squaresoft to side with Sony's Playstation. Thus, they aimed to remedy this with the Gamecube, although they ultimately failed at achieving this goal. The best example of this was a game called Raven Blade. It was meant to be a Western Action RPG exclusive to the Gamecube, meant to be the first in a series of GC-exclusive games to fill out the console's RPG library. The game looked quite good, even in its beta phase, with impressive graphics and animation. The gameplay was meant to play like the acrobatics of Prince of Persia, combined with the framework of an Action RPG, to make something that made Gamecube owners proud. Too bad it got cancelled.

Why Was It Cancelled?:
Remember how I mentioned how Retro Studios had a huge restructuring and reorganization, and several games were cancelled? This was one of them. So, the same story applies as with Thunder Rally. It's Nintendo's loss, and Gamecube gamers' losses, too. The only good thing that came out this is that Metroid Prime probably became a much better game through Retro Studios focusing on it.

Kameo: Elements of Power

What Was It?:
Kameo was a title announced around the Gamecube's launch, and was predicted to be an early hit title for the 'Cube. Rare actually had many ambitious projects planned for the Gamecube, until they were bought out by Microsoft, and almost of them were scrapped. If you want my opinion, Rare becoming a Microsoft subsidiary company really killed their creativity and their spirit. But enough of that. Kameo was an action game in which you control a girl who can turn into different monsters to solve different puzzles, and defeat enemies. The monster changing system was actually quite interesting, as you could also summon some of these monsters to fight with you in battle. The game continues with Rare's distinctive cartoony art style, and it seemed to fit quite well with the game.

Why Was It Cancelled?:
As I said before, Kameo for the GC was cancelled because Microsoft acquired Rare in 2002, ending or heavily delaying most of their next-generation projects. The only game that Rare was allowed to finish for the Gamecube was Star Fox Adventures, which marked the very last Rareware game made for a Nintendo home console. They were permitted to continue making games for Nintendo's portable systems, but even that may change soon, with Microsoft launching Windows Phone 7. It's hard to believe that a once great developer like Rareware can go from making classics like Banjo-Kazooie and Donkey Kong Country to making crap like Kinect Sports. *Sigh*... Anyway, Kameo was eventually released as an Xbox 360 launch title.

Dead Phoenix


What Was It?:
Dead Phoenix was an unreleased game by Capcom planned as a Gamecube exclusive, along with 4 other exclusive games, collectively known as the Capcom Five. Four of these 5 were eventually released, although 3 of them were eventually ported to the PS2. Dead Phoenix was supposed to be a hack-and-slash action game in which the character can fly around. Think "Dynasty Warriors" with wings. There were also Panzer Dragoon-esque shooting segments to the game, as well, as you can see above. While very little, if any, information was released about the game, it seems to have been shaping up to be a very fun and impressive game, with Gamecube graphics that we can only expect from Capcom.

Why Was It Cancelled?:
I honestly have no idea why Dead Phoenix was cancelled. Capcom never released any reasons for its cancellation, so there's nothing to speculate on. It's not like Capcom lacked the resources to make the game, so that's not a possibility. We'll never really know why Dead Phoenix was cancelled, at least until Capcom says something, which isn't likely to happen. Sorry, but I just don't have anything more to say.


What Was It?:
I saved the best for last. Which, in this context, makes it the most tragic that it was never released. Unity was a psychadelic and wild game, combining aspects from Rez, Defender, and Tempest. Suitably enough, it was created in part by Jeff Minter, who created the latter. However, it was also created by Peter Molyneux, which pretty much doomed the game to a lack of a release since day one. The game had two different gameplay segments; the first of which resembled the classic shooter, Defender, in which the player can move his ship forward and backward across the screen, shooting down enemy ships. That part is pretty basic, and we've all seen it before, but the second part puts the player's ship on a circular tunnel, and they must move around it and shoot enemies as they approach. Switching between these two styles was to keep players constantly on their toes. The presentation is phenomenal, with hundreds of glowing lights and sounds surrounding you at all times, which is highly reminiscent of Sega's classic shooter, Rez. I was seriously having trouble believing this was actually a Gamecube game.

Why Was It Cancelled?:
Two words: Peter Molyneux.

Well, that's it for now. Looking back at all of these games, it is easy to see that the Gamecube was a well of untapped potential. At least we can see that some developers tried at pushing the limits of the little purple lunchbox. Let these games forever live on in our memory as what could have and what should have been. And who knows? Maybe someday a few beta versions of these games may pop up on the internet, and we may be able to experience at least a little bit of them. It's entirely possible, and in these cases shown above, I certainly hope so.

This is Lisalover1, desperately seeking a Radio Allergy beta disc.

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