What could have been
You might not notice at first. Youre going along, saving princesses and blowing up mechs in your genre-confused video game of choice, and its a decent experience. Maybe it starts to feel like somethings missing, or maybe you dont pick up on anything at all. But soon enough, whether its through game forums, developer interviews or that one know-it-all friend of yours, you discover the terrible truth: that game used to have an awesome feature that would have been amazing to see for yourself, but it was forsaken and disappeared from the code forever.
Whether its a change that weakens the story, removes intense gameplay sequences, or just cuts something that would have been really super fun (come ooooon), its sad to know that these features will never come to be. I feel your pain, friend, and in honor of that, I bring you 12 awesome features cut from some of the biggest games of the past decade. Which is kind of... the opposite of helpful, but we can always cry together.
Portal 2 lost intense scenes with Cave Johnson and Caroline
The sick and brilliant minds at Valve are masters of dark comedy--they can joke about everything from dementia to burning people alive, and you'll laugh every time (don't lie). But apparently even Valve has its limits, and they hover somewhere around player-assisted suicide and recording a woman being brutalized.
Once upon a time, a sequence existed in Portal 2 where Cave Johnson, mind trapped in a crappy computer in the bowels of Aperture Science, begged Chell to end his no-mouth-must-scream existence, and she had to oblige in order to progress. Another bit of cut dialogue features Caroline begging not to be forced into a robot body, but Johnson's actor J.K. Simmons refused to record his part because of the scenes very unfortunate implications. These events certainly would have added a new dimension for the story and (in the case of computer-Cave) upped the dark humor that Portal is famous for. Its a bummer to see them gone, but then again, if the guy who played a neo-Nazi on Oz says it's bad
Alice: Madness Returns' story in London was once bigger, and the Cheshire Cat used to be summonable
Alice: Madness Returns is a miracle of a game. Shelved following a sequence of project cancellations, it seemed like it would never come to be, but demand stayed strong and Madness hit the shelves 10 years after the release of the original American McGee's Alice. However, the extended development came at a price, and some really cool stuff ended up on the cutting room floor.
The saddest of the bunch were the dismantling of a parallel "real world" story and the decreased role of the Cheshire Cat. Originally Alice was going to fall into Wonderland after killing her alcoholic nurse, and would frequently flash to the real world with a dead body nearby and the police after her. This would have created a greater mystery for the story, and intensified the sense of Alice's madness, but was ultimately cut due to time constraints. The Cheshire Cat was also meant to return as a summonable character, but this was removed for unknown reasons. Instead, the terrifying feline shows up at his discretion, when you least expect him. Lovely.
Assassin's Creed 4's epic sea battle with Mary and Anne was nixed
Assassin's Creed ain't your parents' history. (Well it is, but--nevermind.) Forget date-memorizing or ten-pound tomes, this series skips to the good parts and brings the pasts most pulse-pounding events straight to your screen. Black Flag is no exception, letting players experience the Golden Age of Piracy through awesome seafaring adventures and explosive ship battles with some of the eras greatest historical figures. Only they removed one of the most epic examples of the latter. Boo.
Ubisoft had once planned to have Edward Kenway participate in the high seas battle that led to the arrest of Calico Jack, Mary Read, and Anne Bonny. If your high school history classes skived on the piracy lessons, Ill catch you up: it was the tightest shit ever, with Read and Bonny fending off the British dogpile until they were overrun. Getting to participate in that would have been an adrenaline-pumping pirate extravaganza (plus educational!), but alas, it was shuffled into the background early in development. It's like a knife in the heart... or back, or wherever. Or a plank walk. What else did pirates do?
Banjo Kazooie's Stop N' Swop got dummied out
Rareware was (was, sob) all about quirky British humor in its heyday. The foremost experts of fourth-wall breaking and denizens of double-entendres, Rare was probably one of the most self-aware companies out there. It got to the point that they even started manipulating the shortcomings of the consoles they were developing for. Too bad Nintendo stomped on their most ambitious effort, a little thing from Banjo-Kazooie called Stop N' Swop, by fixing the error that allowed it to work. Jeez, spoilsports.
For those who've never heard of this bizarre feature, it worked like this: because original N64 consoles kept game data active for up to ten seconds after they were shut off, Rare intended to have items hidden throughout Banjo-Kazooie that unlocked bonuses in Banjo-Tooie, and could be transferred between the two as long as the player switched the cartridges fast enough. Sadly, Nintendo updated the 64's hardware to only keep data active for one second, pretty much killing the feature right after Nintendo Power announced it to the world. Er, whoops?
Skyrim's Civil War was bigger and more plot-relevant before
As weird as it sounds, sometimes content gets cut for just being too good. Maybe it's a side quest so engaging it draws attention away from the main story. Maybe it's a feature that blows everything else of the water, and the devs nix it to keep the rest of the game from looking like crap. Whatever the reason, it does happen, and we're guessing that's to blame for a mountain of content cut from Skyrims Civil War plot.
While the Civil War still exists, it was once a lot more dynamic and complex: originally, the player was going to be able to capture territory, gather support for the cause, and experience events like the Battle of Whiterun a lot more often. It would have felt more like a real civil war, and a substantial amount of the work for it was already done by the time it was cut. What drove the decision is a mystery--maybe they thought players would die of amazement and they'd lose most of their market. Yeah, let's go with that one.
Epic Mickey's Oswald used to be the final boss
Oswald the Lucky Rabbit is an anti-hero type--a guy who starts Epic Mickey in hate with the titular mouse for getting the fame and glory he thinks is rightfully his. Over the course of the game he becomes more sympathetic, ultimately teaming up with Mickey to beat the big bad, blah blah rainbows and sunshine and they lived happily ever after. It wasn't always that way though: once upon a time Oswald was actually the final boss, and a nasty piece of work.
Originally, Oswald was going to side with the Phantom Blot to take revenge on Mickey by becoming a globby beast called the Storm Blot. However, the devs apparently got softhearted and shifted Oswald into the role of a hero, leaving the Phantom Blot to its devices. Given how Epic Mickey was supposed to be a darker take on Disney, it would have been cool to see this one played out. How much grittier would it be to slowly develop a friendship with this character, only to have him turn on you at the end? Et tu, Oswald?
Mass Effect's dark energy plot was outright dropped
The best laid plans of mice and men (and humanoid bird people) fall at the feet of development demands, and even Mass Effect isnt immune. Coming off a vibrant and well-loved story, Bioware doled out one of the most contentious endings in recent gaming to wide fan outcry. What makes that worse is the realization that early on, there was another ending waiting in the wings involving dark energy, and it sounded pretty freaking cool.
Dark energy, mentioned by curious Quarians during Tali's loyalty missions, can be used to develop amazing technological advancements, but may also be accelerating the destruction of the universe. In that version of events, the Reapers were actually eliminating advanced civilizations to keep them from learning to use dark energy and hastening the end of existence, creating some real conflict over whos in the right. However, the idea was dropped when lead writer Drew Karpyshyn left the project. Thats a shame, because it seems many fans would have preferred the sudden heat death of the Mass Effect universe to the ending that they got. Maybe that would have been the fourth option?
Final Fantasy 12's Basch was meant to be the main character
Final Fantasy fans sure seem to love their androgynous boy-wonder protagonists, and if that's what they want then Square Enix is happy to give it to them. However, after a while it starts to look like a chicken-or-egg situation: do fans actually want to play as these guys, or are they just gritting their teeth and bearing it? This question should have been asked during development for Final Fantasy XII, which was originally going to star Basch fon Ronsenberg before he was replaced with Vaan.
Basch, a dutiful 30-year-old knight framed for the death of his king, is a fascinating character with a lot going on. However, Square feared he would be as poorly received as the middle-aged protagonist of Vagrant Story, so they cobbled together the half-shirt-wearing teenager Vaan as a replacement. That left little time to actually work Vaan into the story. That explains why, a quarter of the way through FF12, the game forgets what it's doing or who its main character is--all because Square thought its fans couldn't handle an Adam's apple and some facial hair.
Knights of the Old Republic 2's comprehensive ending was removed
Shigeru Miyamoto once said that a delayed game is eventually good, but a bad game is forever bad. Then LucasArts flipped him the bird and dangled a light saber over Obsidian Entertainment's head, screaming "HOLIDAY RELEASE" through a bullhorn. That completely factual happening sums up the development of Knights of the Old Republic 2, which (among other buggy issues) forced the removal of a definitive and thoughtful ending that the game desperately needed.
Pressured to ship before the 2004 holiday season, Obsidian had to remove various locations from the game due to time constraints, as well as bypass fixing some egregious bugs. Then came the ending, which was supposed to wrap up the game's expansive story by showing what happened to everyone the player had travelled with during her journey. While this was supposed to happen gracefully over time, it was cut due to the crunch, and instead Darth Traya goes all story-time-boys-and-girls and exposits the heck out of everyone's fates. Man, the anticlimax is strong with this one.
Saints Row 3 lost its exciting "Freegunning"
Saints Row isnt known for being subtle, restrained or reality-conforming, and thats exactly how we like it. From carsurfing to torpedoing ice cream trucks to using an octopus gun because why not, the series is one big, ridiculous playground where players can get their crazy fun on. However, even Saints Row has to conform to the passage of time (though Im sure theyre working on that), so they cant realize every insane idea that comes to mind. One such scrapped feature was a little thing called Freegunning, which sounds painfully awesome.
Originally set to appear in Saints Row: The Third, the concept is what it says on the tin: you freerun and shoot things at the same time. Its beautiful in its simplicity--imagine your character parkouring through the game environment while firing like a maniac at full sprint with whatever weapon suited their fancy. It would be madness, it would be chaos, and it would be absolutely amazing. It almost makes you sad that we got a purple dildo bat instead.
Pokemon Red and Blue's Professor Oak used to be a real opponent
Most Pokemon rumors should be taken with a grain of salt--it was once widely believed that the legendary progenitor Mew spent all of Red/Blue hiding under a truck. Still, some tales of scrapped Pokemon features seem to hold water, such as the suggestion that Professor Oak was once your ultimate opponent. Now, bear with me here...
Though it may sound like a joke dreamed up in the depths of Cheezburger, data gleaned from Pokemon Red and Blue shows an opponent model for the aged Poke-expert, along with a set of high-level monsters all his own. The line-up is also very similar to that of your rival, suggesting that the Professor might have been a final boss at one point or another. It would have been an epic example of the young defeating the old, but somewhere along the line it was unfortunately dummied out. Now the fight can only be accessed through manipulating glitches, though it might be worth a try--shut him up about that damn bike once and for all!
Bioshock Infinite's Songbird was an actual boss, and Elizabeth's powers were more badass and painful
Sometimes developers get a bit overzealous with their projects. That usually isnt a problem in the original planning stages, but once an awesome feature is announced to the world it can be soul-crushing to see it removed. If Bioshock Infinite doesnt immediately come to mind, you either werent paying attention, or dont care that Elizabeth was almost ten times as badass and Songbird was supposed to be a fightable boss.
The beta gameplay trailers for Infinite released a good two years before the game itself showed a more complex array of powers for Elizabeth, from her traditional tear-opening to creating molten balls of metal and blowing up bridges. However, using the powers hurt her, creating an interesting dilemma about what using her was costing. At the same time, the trailer teased that Songbird was an actual boss rather than a set-piece, which oh my god are you kidding me thats incredible. Sadly, these features were huge and time-consuming, and were ultimately simplified for release. Would you kindly not break our hearts, Irrational?
You can't always get what you want
Its always sad to see these features go, and even when its a cut-or-die scenario theres nothing that quite fills the awesome-thing-sized holes in our hearts. What scrapped feature do you wish you could have experienced? Ever hacked a game in a desperate bid for dummied content? Anything you would sell your firstborn to see in the sequel? Tell us in the comments below, and try not to bleed out that heart-hole.
For more, check out 22 things every gamer kid has heard from their parents and First!!!! moments every gamer remembers.