The worst games you never played

Cancellation isn't always such a bad thing

Ghouls 'n' Ghosts Online

What could have been: For years, any deviation from the core Ghosts formula was kept separate from the main series, be it an RPG (Demon's Crest) or patchy 3D transition (Maximo). But hold up, some guys who've done one other game want to turn the whole thing into an MMO – slap a “certified canon” sticker on it!

That doesn't sound so bad... Ghouls 'n' Ghosts is tough enough alone. Imagine making it through a level of the original games' difficulty, evading one-hit kills and bottomless pits, only for your partner to screw it all up. Worse, imagine being that partner.


Above: Presumably at some point they'd have added some enemies

What happened? Developers Rava put out a couple of unremarkable demo videos and some fairly terrible character blurbs (“Reaper: That scythe ain’t for no wheat!”). That was in 2003 – nobody's heard a peep since.

The legacy: In November 2010, Capcom announced Seed9's new, Korean-only version of Ghouls 'n' Ghosts online. If that goes international, please send tasty condiments with which for us to eat our earlier words.


Star Fox 2


Above: Not bad per se, but we're still lucky it was canned

What could have been: After Star Fox had proven that the SNES could do 3D graphics (provided you packed them into a cartridge more powerful than Jesus and didn't get your hopes up), everyone was waiting for the next big Super FX revelation. Would it be the underpowered Stunt Race FX? The uncalled-for Winter Gold? Hell, what about just more Star Fox?

That doesn't sound so bad... At the time, it wouldn't have been. The game – which now competes with titty-pics for the title of “most readily available thing on the Internet” – has good ideas and offers more freedom than the original. However...

What happened? Nintendo decided that rather than shoehorn all that hard work into a glorified tech demo for a nigh-obsolete system, the game should be reworked for the imminent N64. SNES owners made do with Argonaut's Vortex – offering everything Star Fox fans could have wanted anyway.

The legacy: Rather than perishing into fondly-remembered obscurity, bits of Star Fox 2 live on not just in Star Fox 64 but in the DS sleeper, Star Fox Command. Like GoldenEye, the okay-at-best SF2 provided a basis for something much better.


Tattoo Assassins

What could have been: Sued by Capcom after Fighter's History (a six-button versus-fighter starring a blond American street brawler, stoic karate-man and rasslin' European) turned out a bit like Street Fighter 2, Data East began a more original title: a digitized fighter with a cast of martial-arts misfits and brutal finishing moves.


Above: To be fair, this is a pretty unique idea for a finishing move

That doesn't sound so bad... No, but we already have Mortal Kombat. To distinguish Tattoo Assassins, Back to the Future screenwriter Bob Gale was enlisted to add a touch of Hollywood class. Blurbs for the game feature the phrases “killer kombo,” “world-class strip club dancer,” and “massive diarrhea.”


Above: SF2: Mike Tyson. MK: Bruce Lee. Tattoo Assassins: Tonya Harding. Just Wikipedia it

What happened? While Gale was concocting a cockamamie backstory about magical tattoo ink, competitors were flooding the market with games like Primal Rage (fighting – in the past!), Killer Instinct (fighting – in the future!) and Art of Fighting (fighting!). When testers greeted Tattoo Assassins with vaguely embarrassed indifference, it was cancelled.


Above: Pretty much every character's backstory goes “the Government framed them, now they're seeking fart-based revenge”

The legacy: Data East went bust in 2003, most of their back catalog bought up by G-Mode. Tattoo Assassins' existence is preserved in a blurb in the latter's catalog that all but reads, “We're so ashamed to own this.”

Thanks to the apocrypha junkies atUnseen 64for their help researching this article. This isn't the first cancelled-games piece in which we've sung their praises. Got any other games you're glad to have missed? Let us know below!

Jan 28, 2011


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