What’s in a name? Only EVERYTHING! That band you and your friends started probably could’ve been the next Three Doors Down, if only you hadn’t creatively imploded during the early stages of the naming process. Games are no different.
Above: Any Quarry Men fans out there?
We flogged the memory of every dinosaur working at GR to come up with some of the most notable examples of original, working, embarrassing and ultimately axed game titles. And just to help the history lesson go down like a spoon full ‘o sugar, we had our art team whip up a “What might’ve been” box for each entry.
Valve HQ is filled with wannabes who got to be. If Valve sees what you’re doing and digs it, odds are they’ll clear a corner for you somewhere in the office. Such is the case with Portal and the DigiPen students who created its spiritual precursor, Narbacular Drop.
Above: Not the Portal you remember
Released in 2005, the game starred leap-deprived Princess No-Knees who, with the help of a sentient dungeon named Wally, created holes in order to thwart the demon who imprisoned them both… obviously a lot more than the title was subject to change. But hey, at least Valve hired on the entire original team to do it! Click here to see their handiwork.
Grand Theft Auto
Seriously, can you imagine Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto series becoming one of the best selling franchises in all of history with a name like that? Well, it almost happened, and by all accounts, the only reason it didn’t was due to a dispute with the Matchbox toy company and an ancient set of electric go-mobiles.
Above: Preordained fun for up to two cousins!
This was well before Rockstar became the powerhouse that it is today - a time in between GTA III went 3D and Uniracers - but that’s no excuse for giving the original top-down GTA a name more befitting a dusty arcade cabinet in a roach infested pizza parlor.
Above: Best worst case scenario
There’s a reason the manufacturers of PC guts wet their pants in excitement every time Crytek starts working on a game. The famed Crysis developer makes it a point to drive hardware with every new title by offering unprecedented visuals and vast environments that practically require a new computer’s worth of processing power to display. However, there was one thing that was still too big to cram into the original Far Cry: Dinosaurs!
Above: Life couldn’t find a way
Development on a tech demo known as “X-Isle: Dinosaur Island” began four years before Far Cry ever saw the light of day. Initial screenshots showed off dinos aplenty, and turn-of-the-century previews teased plots involving alien conspiracies. Of course, all that and the name X-Isle were rendered extinct by the time Ubisoft snatched it up and unleashed it upon the masses. It’s a good thing too, for no other reason than Far Cry 2 takes place in Africa, and it’d be almost insensitive to have a title that alludes to an entire continent as an uninhabited island.
This one technically doesn’t belong on our list, since 2K Games alleges it was never intended as a title. Well, then maybe you should’ve corrected every videogame site in the universe that spent months referring to one of the most eagerly anticipated sequels of all time as “BioShock 2: Sea of Dreams.”
Above: Some of the gaming press read too much into words
"We name most of our trailers at 2K and the name of the teaser trailer we released last October for BioShock 2 is called 'Sea of Dreams,’” clarified a 2K spokesman to IGN. Really? Funny how the problem never arose with BioShock 1, nor have we ever accidentally referred to your last baseball game as “MLB 2K10 Hernandez vs. Morales.” Just admit it, 2K: You wanted to call the game Sea of Dreams! And we’re gonna go ahead and recklessly speculate that the only reason you didn’t is because you went up against the fat cats at “Big New Age Ambiance” and lost big time!
Above: Pure Moods can turn into Pure Litigation in the blink of an eye
Long before Portal, Team Fortress and Left 4 Dead, a little Washington developer was working on a little project called Quiver. The original title was a reference to the Arrowhead military base in Stephen King’s novella The Mist, as it too dealt with the theme of deadly creatures wreaking havoc from a parallel dimension. That all changed once Newell and Co. discovered a Greek letter that happened to stand for the rate of exponential decay in a scientific equation you might be familiar with: Half-Life.
Head to the next page to see how LittleBigPlanet and God of War started.