Top 10 Finished Games That Were Never Released
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Top 10 Finished Games That Were Never Released

VOICE OVER: Ryan Wild WRITTEN BY: Johnny Reynolds
These games were finished but they never saw the light of day! For this list, we'll be looking at completed games that, for whatever reason, were never officially released to the public. Our countdown includes Thrill Kill, True Fantasy Live Online, Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans, Star Wars: Battlefront III and more!
Transcript
Script written by Johnny Reynolds

Top 10 Finished Games That Were Never Released


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Finished Games That Were Never Released.

For this list, we’ll be looking at completed games that, for whatever reason, were never officially released to the public.

Which of these cancellations hurt you the most? Let us know in the comments.

#10: “Colors” (Cancelled)

“Colors” was a gang-based, third-person shooter that would have used GPS tracking to let users play in whatever real-world location they found themselves in. While that sounds like an interesting gimmick, the game was sadly in development for Tiger Telematics’ Gizmondo handheld. Released in March of 2005, the Gizmondo wouldn’t last more than a year before it was discontinued. Bad marketing decisions and alleged criminal dealings of some Tiger executives resulted in fewer than 25,000 units sold. With the handheld’s failure, all games in development were cancelled, including “Colors.” However, leaked versions began circulating online in 2008, showing it was essentially finished before the handheld’s demise.

#9: “Prey 2” (Cancelled)

The original “Prey” was developed by Human Head Studios under contract with 3D Realms. But ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Bethesda, obtained the game’s trademark in 2009. Human Head worked under Bethesda on “Prey 2” for two years. But by 2011, the project had imploded due to legal disputes and quality issues that left both sides at an impasse. Jason Blair, a writer on “Prey 2,” called the process political and petty. Project Director Chris Rhinehart would later say that the game was close to an alpha state with just polishing and editing left by the time it was cancelled. When Human Head’s contract ended, Bethesda brought on Arkane to develop a reboot of the IP.

#8: “Know Your Friends” (Cancelled)

Nintendo and Ubisoft have enjoyed a healthy relationship over the years. But with the Wii U’s less-than-great sales numbers, one game from their partnership never saw the light of day. “Know Your Friends” was a party game with a cute, paper cutout art style that made heavy use of the Wii U’s gamepad. With an emphasis on couch multiplayer, it would have tasked players with answering questions about their friends that ranged from silly to a bit more personal. However, Ubisoft chose to sit on the finished game until the console reached a certain market size. That never happened, so “Know Your Friends” never got a chance.

#7: “Penn & Teller’s Smoke and Mirrors” (Cancelled)

The comedic magicians Penn and Teller have been working for decades across film, television, and yes, video games. “Smoke and Mirrors” was a collection of trick minigames designed to mess with players. It would’ve released in 1995 on PC, the 3DO, and the Sega CD. Unfortunately, publisher Absolute Entertainment went bankrupt right before the game’s release. And the team was unable to find anyone else to sell it to. All that remained were review copies sent to journalists, one of which was acquired in 2005 by Lost Levels, a site devoted to rare or unreleased games. The game earned cult status once uploaded online and one of its minigames has since been used for a charity event that’s lasted over a decade.

#6: “Propeller Arena: Aviation Battle Championship” (Cancelled)

It’s never great to hear of a game’s cancellation. But in the case of “Propeller Arena,” we’d say Sega made the right call. Although it was completely finished, Sega cancelled the flight combat game just over a week before release. It was set to debut on the Dreamcast on September 19th, 2001, mere days after the September 11th attacks. The game’s packaging and design were too similar to the tragic events, especially within the Tower City level. Couple this with the shrinking player base of the Dreamcast, which Sega had discontinued earlier that year, and it just seems it wasn’t meant to be.

#5: “The California Raisins: The Grape Escape” (Cancelled)

A game starring a bunch of musical raisin mascots may sound strange now. But considering McDonald’s and Domino’s released games around the same time, it isn’t that bizarre. Capcom planned to release “The Grape Escape” on the NES in the early 90s. But due to the declining popularity of the group, and a lot of internal troubles within the California Raisins Advisory Board that created them, it never did. However, the game was completely finished. A strategy guide appeared in Vol. 3 of “Game Player’s Encyclopedia of Nintendo Games.” And a prototype cartridge of the game was discovered in 2003, after which it was uploaded online and showed the game in its finished state.

#4: “Thrill Kill” (Cancelled)

This ultra-violent and sexually charged fighter was a heavy source for controversy in the late 90s. And that’s exactly what publisher Virgin Interactive wanted, pushing developers at Paradox to include more violent content. But when EA acquired Virgin Interactive ahead of the game’s release, it chose not to release or sell it to a different publisher due to its extreme content. It wasn’t all a lost cause though. Paradox had developed a new engine designed to allow for up to 4-player fights, a rarity at the time which it then used for 1999’s “Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style.” “Thrill Kill’s” ROM eventually made its way online, where it naturally gained a cult following.

#3: “True Fantasy Live Online” (Cancelled)

Level-5 is a well-respected RPG developer, responsible for the “Ni No Kuni” and “Yo-kai Watch” series. Early on in the company’s life, however, one MMORPG proved too problematic. “True Fantasy Live Online” was in development for the original Xbox and would’ve allowed for up to 3,000 players to create their own characters and play together. Despite the game’s world being complete as well as positive showcases at various events, Level-5’s inexperience with online network coding and voice chat forced delays. Due to these problems and citing the crowded MMO market, Microsoft cancelled the project in mid-2004 right before Summer beta testing and a planned Winter release.

#2: “Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans” (Cancelled)

Blizzard’s beloved “Warcraft” franchise almost received a point-and-click adventure spin-off in the late 90s. “Warcraft Adventures” would have followed Thrall, an orc slave who escapes to reunite his people. It went through 2 years of development and was basically finished by its cancellation in 1998. Blizzard felt its design and gameplay were outdated, especially in comparison to others in the genre, like LucasArts’ future classic “Grim Fandango.” Thus, Blizzard made the tough choice to cancel the game even against a fan petition. Thrall would get his chance to shine in future games, but fans would be able to see what they missed out on when “Warcraft Adventures” leaked online in 2016.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

“Sonic X-Treme” (Cancelled)

The Failed Sega Saturn’s Would-Be Sonic Game

"NBA Live 13” (Cancelled)

Disappointing Entry Cancelled to Focus on the Next Year’s Release

“Dune Generations” (Cancelled)

MMO RTS Cancelled When Publisher Filed for Bankruptcy

#1: “Star Wars: Battlefront III” (Cancelled)

Knowing how EA would eventually treat the series, this one stings a bit more. In the late 2000s, “Battlefront III” was being developed by Free Radical Design, the same studio behind the “TimeSplitters” series. The return of the franchise would have been a welcome one. But sadly, Free Radical Design would lose the license in 2008 after developing for two years. Free Radical’s Co-founder, Steve Ellis, has stated that the game was 99% complete. According to him, a management shake-up at LucasArts and a refusal to spend on marketing are what led to the death of “Battlefront III” and, eventually, Free Radical itself. Footage has leaked over the years, as well as a build of the game in 2016.
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