They could have been contenders... but fate had other plans. Xbox World excavates the greatest games that never were.
The games industry doesn't handle economic mess. A well-oiled PR machine, the industry is designed solely to pat itself on the back. Big sales! Big games! Big us! But what happens when things go wrong? A cancelled game is a monument to failure, the result of poor creative judgement or upper management mishaps.
What do you do when there's a stinking corpse in your house and blood on your hands? You bury it under the patio. Until, that is, a disgruntled employee or enthusiastic hacker digs up the body. Read on for more...
N64 classic GoldenEye on a 360. It was real. The powers that be might deny it, but we've seen it with our very own eyes. In fact, long-time readers will have it seen it with their very own eyes too, when Xbox World 360 mag printed the only images ever released back in April 2008. Imagine Rare's Bondtacular in glorious HD. Reworked textures and character models stink of new, but it moves like the game you know and love. Scientists can be painted red with blood. And yes, a DD44 Dostovei to the balls still results in a comically slow crumple. And if your eyes don't fancy rose-tinted spectacles? A click of the right bumper switches the world back to classic GoldenEye, warts and all.
Factor in four-player Live play (split-screen, naturally) and online time trial leaderboards (for skimming those precious milliseconds off Facility) and you have the greatest XBLA game never to see the light of day. Why not? Boot the game up and a message appears: "Do you expect me to remove this Nintendo logo screen?" "No, Mr Bond. I expect you to die." Therein lies the rub: Nintendo. Rare sweetened Nintendo of America with a promise to port the game to Wii and release their Nintendo back catalogue on Wii's Virtual Console. But when the suits in Japan refused to work with Microsoft, Activison (holders of the Bond licence) got spooked and put the kibosh on Rare's plans.
Perfect Dark HD goes some way to easing the pain, but Joanna Dark can't replace digi-Brosnan in our hearts. GoldenEye sits, finished, in Rare's vault. For their eyes only. You know who to blame.
2. INDIANNA JONES AND THE STAFF OF KINGS
Here's a rarity on our list - the kind of historical artefact Jones would go nuts for. Announced in 2005, Staff of Kings appeared briefly to dazzle with its incredi-fighting: fisticuffs livened up with Euphoria physics. As LucasArts' internal development shifted to The Force Unleashed, Indy's resources were yanked out like Mola Ram going to work on a sacrificial maiden. Here's where the story should end, with a few details and a couple of screens of Indy swinging his fists atop a San Franciscan tram. But thanks to continued work on the Wii port we can sort of see how it would have played out.
Wii's Staff of Kings is not a great game, but it's a great Indy experience. Take the opening San Francisco segment. A quick bar brawl develops into a rooftop shootout before sprinting through an explosive fireworks factory setpiece, descending to a subterranean pirate ship for some tomb raiding and emerging for a tram car chase. Packed into 15 minutes of play, the pace is breathless and truly worthy of Spielberg's throwaway fun. But it never plays as more than blueprint for a shinier 360 game. Combat is clunky, lacking that Euphoria fluidity and visual rough edges detract.