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The worst games you never played

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 at Unseen 64 for 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

12 games you might never play
Are they dead? Our gaming triage separates the development deaths from the minor colds

 

The game developers who've NEVER made a bad game
Unbelievable but true: some studios CAN score a flawless victory

 


The saddest game cancellations of this generation 
This is the way the budget is cut, not with a bang but with a whimper

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43 comments

  • mlounsbury - February 1, 2011 3:58 p.m.

    According to the Wikipedia entry for Tattoo Assassins, the skater was based on Nancy Kerrigan, not Tonya Harding.
  • shyfonzie - February 1, 2011 4:49 a.m.

    Can I please have the words "That scythe ain't for no wheat!!" be the caption for all images containing my likeness?
  • Crimmy - January 31, 2011 6:59 a.m.

    Wasn't SF 2 released in Japan? I'm pretty sure it was, but the port was too close to the release of the N64.
  • RaptorRider - January 31, 2011 4:32 a.m.

    I actually think it would have been great if these game HAD been published, if for no reason other than to stand as a testament to how not to do it.
  • willyfoureyes - January 30, 2011 11:40 p.m.

    Hey! Sonic Spinball wasn't THAT bad...
  • FauxFurry - January 30, 2011 9:36 p.m.

    It looks as if Campfire would be the playable epilogue of just about every open world game ever expanded into an entire game. That's kind of missing the point and primary appeal of those games entirely. That kind of dominance has to be earned for players to be able to enjoy it to its fullest. Maybe if it ramped up the 'Camp' aspect and downplayed the 'Fire' element a bit,it might have been the videogame equivalent of Scary Movie. Then again,if one's opinion of the Scary Movie series is particularly negative, that might make it the most horrifying videogame of all time. I'm surprised that Sonic 16 wasn't just called Metal Sonic or Sonic Gear and didn't feature Sonic with a headband, a spiny mullet and a several-pack-a-day candy cigarette habit. Who would have needed Solid Snake in Super Smash Brothers Brawl had Sonic developed along those lines? The cancellation of B.C. is a real shame,though. Molyneux could have played the role of a prophet/shaman who makes grand pronouncements and prophecies promising paradise then have to deal with the complaints of the angry mobs feeling cheated who will be more likely to resort to using sticks and stones to make their grievances felt instead of trying to hurt his feelings or reputation with words...maybe by siccing his pet dinos on them or promising something even greater which will only be delivered if they defer their punishment.
  • Smeggs - January 30, 2011 7:05 p.m.

    Seriously, BC and Campfire sound like they would've been good, had BC had more time or tech and Campfire's stalkerish serial-killeriness been done correctly.
  • GorditaSlim - January 30, 2011 6:07 a.m.

    I think B.C. had a lot of potential, and aside from gross muscular cavewomen, it looked like a lot of fun. That's a project I certainly wouldn't mind seeing revived in the future. I would DEFINITELY play a game featuring a digitized Steven Seagal, especially if there's a level with goddamn lava. Maybe we'll get a sweet 16-bit XBLA titled based upon Seagal's adventures in the world of policing. I think Thrill Kill gets shit on a lot, probably because of it's ridiculous history and the mass amounts of hype. I played the leaked game online, and it was moderately fun. I think it could benefit today from being a cool, super-bloody (a la Splatterhouse) "Power Stone" type fighter. I'm just a sucker for cancelled games, and I love reading about them, so this article was right up my alley.
  • razorwiretensho - January 30, 2011 2:23 a.m.

    @ Letter11 Don't worry, you're not the only one. I loved Sonic Spinball too... I was so proud of myself when I beat it, that game was bastard hard >.<
  • philipshaw - January 29, 2011 4:10 p.m.

    I do remember reading about these games back in the day, good to hear what actually happened to them
  • AngryScotsman - January 29, 2011 3:48 p.m.

    THAT SCYTHE AIN'T FOR NO WHEAT
  • hanktherapper - January 29, 2011 3:40 p.m.

    I remember B.C. Despite all the articles about the game, I could never figure out what the gameplay was about. I figured it must have been bad because the last article I read before it was canceled stated the game was done, they were just refining the code. Six months later B.C. was canned.
  • thedonut - January 29, 2011 12:35 p.m.

    That Sonic game didn't look that bad. I think it should've starred a different character though.
  • RiksK - January 29, 2011 11:09 a.m.

    Hey, but in the first picture there was Starcraft Ghost, I remembr I was so looking torwards that one, I think it would have come out great, it totally sucked they canned it!
  • Spybreak8 - January 29, 2011 8:52 a.m.

    Holy shit TA looks hilariously bad. At least you might get a few laughs while you tried to enjoy the game right.
  • jmcgrotty - January 29, 2011 8:20 a.m.

    Tattoo Assassin wasn't as bad as this article says it was. It's just a boring run-of-the-mill fighter, yeah, but no worse than the other 1,000 that were released. And it had at least one decent mechanic where you could choose a different specific tattoo to take advantage of each time. Again, I'm not saying it's a world-class game, but there were a shitload of other fighters that were made that were worse and that were actually released. And as someone else said, Thrill Kill has been way too distributed to be on this list.
  • Defguru7777 - January 29, 2011 7:53 a.m.

    Man, that Sonic 16 game looked really bad. The only game I'd heard of in this article was Star Fox 2. Interesting how much they got done before they canceled it. One game I was kind of looking forward to was the Kirby game for the Gamecube. I remember being really into Kirby then, and the prospect of a console Kirby (other than that Star racing game for the Gamecube) had me really excited. Then its development got pushed back from the Gamecube to the Wii. Then it just disappeared. It never even got a real name. All the Nintendo Power coverage just called it Kirby.
  • Darkhawk - January 29, 2011 7:25 a.m.

    Great article, but I'm taken aback by your comment on Maximo. Those games were great! They took the heart of the GnG series, and converted it into an excellent 3D pair (with a cancelled third game, by the way) on par with the best of the PS2. PSM (your pseudo-progenitor) gave both games a 9/10.
  • kicking222 - January 29, 2011 4:54 a.m.

    My god, a "Johnny Whatever" reference! When that game was first announced (keep in mind, this was 2005, and it was supposed to also be on the PS2), it looked so ridiculously cool. I mean, hell, the trailer had the White Stripes! I was really excited about that one for... a few minutes, at least.
  • 8bitBaby - January 29, 2011 4:31 a.m.

    HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLEEE CRAP! what fantastic rubbish!

Showing 1-20 of 43 comments

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