Throwback Thursday: Awesome E3 Announcements That Never Saw Release (VIDEO)
Each year, the Electronic Entertainment Expo brings forth the biggest games the industry has to offer, with unveilings often showcasing a spectacle only worthy of such a grand event. Of course, it’s reasonable to assume that these reveals are made with the greatest confidence from studios and publishers that the end product will eventually hit store shelves. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case, as a surprising amount of past E3 announcements have been stuck in the bowels of development hell with no hope of ever returning. Below, we’ve compiled some of the most awesome-looking games from E3 that never made an official release.
Twelve Tales: Conker 64
While most gamers know Conker as the lovably alcoholic protagonist in Conker’s Bad Fur Day, the character very nearly had an overly cutesy adventure in the form of Twelve Tales: Conker 64. When the Nintendo 64 game made its original gameplay premiere at E3 1997, developer Rare presented a saccharin romp starring friendly animal critters on a mission to collect scattered presents.
While this more innocent version of the game was more in line with Banjo-Kazooie than the offensive final product, there was still plenty to appreciate. Twelve Tales: Conker 64 featured a colorful, cartoony atmosphere, two-player co-op support, and a much more kid-friendly story, but the game is now lost to only our imaginations.
Duke Nukem Forever 1998
Following an absurd 15-year development cycle, fans of Duke Nukem’s ridiculous macho adventures were treated to possibly the most underwhelming experience possible with 2011’s Duke Nukem Forever. With such an extended time in the oven, nobody expected the result would end up as overcooked as it did. However, there was a time when the game actually showed some promise, and that was its initial showcase at E3 1998.
What appeared at the event was an explosive sight to behold, one that went over extremely well with critics and fans at the time. Set in the appropriate location of Las Vegas, Duke can be seen engaging in fights from the back of a speeding truck, performing gun battles with invading aliens, and crashing jet planes to a satisfying degree. Despite all this excitement, developer 3D Realms made the bold decision to scrap their entire project and restart development under Epic Games’ Unreal engine. It was this move that forever presented gamers with a “what if” scenario about whether or not this version would have been better than the eventual release.
Of the E3 announcements in 2004, one of the more bizarre concepts to make an appearance was Dead Rush, a game centered around a city-wide zombie infestation. What made the Treyarch-developed game stand out from others in the undead genre was its fast-paced focus on customizable vehicle combat, whether it be though players’ own weapons or brutal zombie hit-and-runs.
Dead Rush would have featured a dark, Resident Evil-like atmosphere with a large open world akin to the Grand Theft Auto series. Interestingly, one of the game’s most touted features was its miniscule load times, a very big deal in the more primitive age of the PlayStation 2 and original Xbox. While the game seemingly had much to offer, publisher Activision wasn’t too convinced. Following the closed-door showcase at E3 2004, the project nicknamed “Grand Theft Evil” was officially cancelled.
The City of Metronome
Before turning heads with Little Nightmares, Swedish developer Tarsier Studios had a much prove at E3 2005, as the studio was showcasing their very first project, The City of Metronome. Sporting a steampunk-meets-Tim Burton art style, the game’s quirky world was memorably lively and fantastically surreal, making it a surprise hit with event attendees.
One of the game’s signature features uniquely utilized sound, allowing players to record and playback their own audio to affect the adventure in interesting ways. This mechanic introduced a creative means to interact with characters, manipulate world objects, and even be used as an audible weapon. While the showcase became one of the standouts from E3 that year, further footage would never get a chance to debut. After unsuccessful attempts to land a publisher, development on The City of Metronome was put on an indefinite hold.
The Outsider / The Bourne Redemption
During the same E3, a thrilling story-focused game called The Outsider was also shown off by Frontier Developments, teasing the developer’s most ambitious project prior to 2005. Under the premise of a political conspiracy, players would follow a lone CIA operative who is wrongly accused of heading a terrorist plot. To clear his name, players embark on a dangerous mission across an open-world Washington DC, engaging in combat, driving vehicles, and affecting the narrative through in-game decisions.
If this sounds exactly like the plot of a lost Jason Bourne adventure, there’s a reason for that: it was, kind of. Sometime following its E3 announcement, The Outsider was renamed The Bourne Redemption and went on to adopt elements from the the well-known Robert Ludlum series. The switch was made at the behest of publisher Electronic Arts, hoping to increase the likelihood of a successful release. In a stroke of regrettable irony, the project was soon stopped in its tracks, with little to suggest it would ever resurface.
We all know Clint Eastwood’s signature gun-toting, scowl-wearing character from Dirty Harry, as his hard-boiled delivery of justice and measuring the luckiness of “punks” are forever ingrained in popular movie culture. Something most are likely unaware of is the character’s proposed video game, which would’ve brought back Eastwood himself to once again growl out those iconic lines.
A cinematic showcase of from developers The Collective was featured at E3 2006, giving would-be players a peek at Dirty Harry‘s visual style and intended closeness to the source material. It boasted an explorable 1970s San Francisco with a star-studded story campaign, as well as the bullet-fueled shootouts one might expect. Unfortunately, outside of this sole footage, nothing official would be shown following the big gaming event, as the project was stopped just a few months later.
PlayStation 3 “Boomerang” Controller
Arguably the biggest E3 announcement from 2005 was Sony’s big reveal of the PlayStation 3, an event drawing eyes from all around the industry due to the supreme success of its predecessor, the PS2. The hyped presentation heavily boasted next-generation power and gave the gamer crowd a peek at the console’s sleek form factor. Most memorable of these design deviations was found in the PS3’s unusually-shaped peripheral nicknamed the “Boomerang.”
The controller’s odd look was one that struck fans by it’s banana-like appearance and little-held resemblance to the DualShock 2 before it. However, since the strange mode of control never made it past the prototype stage, this initial showcase was one of the only occasions it was seen paired with the PS3. The Boomerang disappeared from Sony’s hardware lineup a year later in favor of the SIXAXIS controller, but one can only wonder how such a bold design would have held up to regular use.
Sony’s follow-up showcase of the PS3 at E3 2006 may be infamous for its disastrous price reveal, but a few of the system’s games from the proceedings conversely held some pretty strong promise. One of these spectacular unveilings was Eight Days, a cinematic shooter that wowed with its slick visual design and fan-pleasing explosive action, utilizing the incoming hardware generation to an impressive degree.
However, even with such a polished reveal, Sony was none too impressed with the game’s lack of online features, an admittedly strong focus for the then-emerging multiplayer landscape. It also likely did the project no favors that this E3 also premiered footage of Naughty Dog’s first Uncharted, a game bearing similar adventure style and much more refined gameplay. Following a long period of silence from Sony, Eight Days is currently considered to be cancelled.
Final Fantasy Versus XIII
RPG series Final Fantasy was in full swing at E3 2006 as it not only announced a 13th mainline entry, but a secondary side story titled Final Fantasy Versus XIII. The debuting footage presented a thrilling and deadly display from the game’s royal protagonist Noctis, as he decisively takes out an invading group enemy soldiers via his formidable powerset.
Final Fantasy Versus XIII was premised as the middle chapter in a three-part saga that set out to differ greatly from its counterparts, hence the “Versus” title. However, as development progressed, the project’s ambition proved to be too separated from XIII‘s established Lightning-led storyline and eventually morphed into a wholly new experience in Final Fantasy XV. While this title is unique in technically seeing a release, the final product differs enough from the original showcase to warrant a spot on this list.
Grand Theft Auto developer Rockstar Games is known for their willingness to flex ambition during development, with elaborate titles such as Red Dead Redemption and L.A. Noire representing considerable leaps in gameplay capabilities. This reputation for going big was notably on display at E3 2009 with the announcement of a new series-starter titled Agent.
Name-dropping Agent at the event, Rockstar founder Sam Houser detailed a stealthy spy experience in the vein of 1960s James Bond adventures, promising a unique property with endless franchise potential. PlayStation 3 would’ve been the exclusive home to the espionage-themed game, with Houser himself overseeing development alongside his brother Dan. Despite a high-profile duo in its corner and official backing by Sony, Agent was nonetheless victim to unending delays devoid of any discernible progress. As of today, the mysterious undertaking is still lost in development hell over 9 years after its unveiling.
Star Wars 1313
During E3 2012, LucasArts piqued many fans’ interest presenting a peek into the unseen depths of Star Wars‘ darkest corner– 1313 levels below the surface of Coruscant to be exact. Aptly-titled Star Wars 1313, the criminal underground of the galaxy far, far, away was given a bright spotlight of intense blaster shootouts, explosive cinematic atmosphere, and charmingly murky morality, all but confirming a truly daring entry into the Star Wars canon.
Unfortunately, this wretched hive of scum and villainy wouldn’t ever get its due, as 1313 was frozen in carbonite following Disney’s well-publicized acquisition of Star Wars. Despite indefinite cancellation, the game’s exciting showcase seemingly left an impression on subsequent licence-holder Electronic Arts, who greenlit a new swashbuckling space-pirate romp headed by studio Visceral Games. However, fans would be delivered yet another blow when this spiritual successor would also become one with the Force.
Nosgoth / Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun
E3 2014 saw a showcase of Nosgoth, a multiplayer title by Psyonix set in the long-dormant Legacy of Kain universe. While fans had been clamoring for a new game, there weren’t too many invested in this particular online experience as it lacked a significant continuation of the series’ vampyric narrative. As it turned out, this perceived hollowness may have been a tad warranted as Nosgoth was originally supposed to supplement a full-fledged follow-up called Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun.
The subject of a sizable leak, Dead Sun was revealed to have much to offer those those waiting for a successor to Soul Reaver 2. Developer Climax Studios seemingly aimed to retain the gothic atmosphere of previous titles, while also pursuing a standalone story starring an all-new undead protagonist. Dead Sun would at the very least seem interesting, but Square Enix ultimately didn’t share that perspective. The publisher chose to end costly development on the campaign, moving to release the game’s multiplayer mode Nosgoth in its place. Following an extended period in beta, Nosgoth would also be laid to rest before a full release.
And we now reach the most recent E3 reveal to eventually douse our fiery hype: Scalebound. Since having a fire-breathing dragon pal is pretty much everyone’s fantasy, the PlatinumGames title amassed a tsunami of excitement following its unveiling at E3 2014. The Xbox One was tapped to host this gorgeous realm of gargantuan monsters while also exploring a unusual bond between man and beast. All seemed well with development as details regarding Scalebound‘s RPG gameplay and even an extended demo continued to promise nothing less than an epic experience.
However, once Scalebound was significantly delayed from its projected 2016 release, the studio’s ambition to deliver a monumental experience soon indicated a project much too big to reasonably grasp. Gamers’ fears were realized when Microsoft officially cancelled Scalebound, with director Hideki Kamiya later issuing a sorrowful response to the project’s failure. In the wake of this unfortunate end, the game nonetheless continues to be the subject of rumors foretelling a possible resurgence. Despite wishful thinking, nothing official has suggested the unmade title would ever soar again.
What do you think? Were these unreleased games worthy of cancellation? Which of these E3 announcements was your favorite? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to follow Don’t Feed the Gamers on Twitter and Facebook to be informed of the latest gaming and entertainment news 24 hours a day! Also, be on the lookout for the next Throwback Thursday where we’ll highlight yet another piece of trivia from gaming past. For entries from previous weeks, check out these next few news stories:
Eric Hall1712 Posts
Phone-browsing Wikipedia in one hand and clutching his trusty controller in the other, the legendary Eric Hall spreads his wealth of knowledge as a writer for Don't Feed the Gamers. Be sure to catch his weekly "Throwback Thursday" segment for a nostalgic look at trivia from the past.