How many video games have you played during your life? Do you think games are a form of art that should be preserved? What if we told you that there are thousands of interesting games you'll never play, all of which could be lost forever? It's true, there are many cancelled titles that are often lost to video game history. While video games may not be largely considered to be on par with paintings and statues, they are still art on their own, just like books, movies, and music, and like other works of art, video games have their own lost works. Games that were cancelled, never released, and often not even known by the general public. Unfortunately, there is no proper museum dedicated to saving them.
In 2016 45+ writers and editors from the Unseen64 collective published a physical crowdsourced book to educate the gaming world on the history of video games as an ephemeral art form. There's plenty of examples of what gaming history is losing every day. Now we are re-publishing the whole book into short eBooks - divided into chapters - so even more people could be able to read this interesting collection of forgotten stories, interviews, games and concepts. In this Summer Story Bundle you'll learn more about cancelled handheld video games planned for Game Boy, Virtual Boy, Game.com, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS and PSP.
Hopefully, by reading this book, more gamers, developers, youtubers, gaming journalists and historians can look back at what could have been and as a result raise awareness on the preservation of lost games: to see the hidden stories that played a part in leading gaming culture to where it is now.
On-the-go gaming exploded with Nintendo's Game Boy in 1989 and has continued to grow over the past 30 years. Adding to their library of relatively unknown titles across gaming platforms, the crew at Unseen64 has written another insightful guide into some of the best—or at least lesser-known—pocket-sized games overshadowed by Mario and company. – David L. Craddock
In January 2007, Matt Casamassina, one of the original Co-founders of IGN, and lead editor for their Nintendo sections, wrote on his personal blog that he played a Nintendo DS version of Halo. Such a game was never announced before and people were sceptical. Why would Bungie or Microsoft permit their major IP to be released on a competitor's console? Well, first of all, Halo DS was never released. Still, the project existed at some point and was not a fan mod as someone speculated. While the idea of a Microsoft game on a Nintendo console could sound weird for some, we have to remember that it happened before, as with Rare developed titles Banjo-Pilot for GBA, Diddy Kong Racing and Viva Piñata: Pocket Paradise for DS. How much money could have made from one of the most loved multiplayer FPS on one of the most played consoles in the mid 2000? Halo 2 was released in 2004 for the original Xbox and even if heavily cut, it was received with critical acclaim by fans and the press: it sold about 2.4 million copies on the first day, and in its lifetime it reached more than 8 million copies, with a user base of about 24 million Xbox in mid-2006. With the Nintendo DS' user base of about 36 million units worldwide at the end of 2006, it's easy to understand that Halo DS had the potential to be one of the most profitable games ever created, and it would have made millions of gamers very happy to finally play their favourite multiplayer title on the go, everywhere. No more need to organize LAN parties with multiple TVs, pads, Ethernet cables and consoles, kids and adults would have been able to easily play portable HALO multiplayer in class or on lunch break at the office. Sounds epic, doesn't it? Unfortunately, this was not meant to be. The first proof of a working prototype of Halo DS was shown by Casamassina on IGN in October 2007 (just a few weeks after Halo 3 was released on the Xbox 360), with a couple of videos showing him and another IGN editor playing multiplayer in the fan-favourite Zanzibar map from Halo 2 (also known as The Last Resort in Halo 3). What we can see in that footage is exactly what we would expect from a de-make of Halo on a much less powerful console, low polygonal models and textures, but with the same style weapons and vehicles from the home-console version. We can see two Master Chiefs shooting each other near a Warthog, while dual wielding Covenant and Spartan weapons. The control method was similar to the one seen in Metroid Prime Hunter (one of the most popular first person shooters on the DS) with the stylus used to aim precisely on the screen. In the same videos, Matt explained that this Halo demo for DS was an unsolicited pitch that an unnamed AAA publisher proposed to Bungie and Microsoft. The project was then cancelled because the studio was not able to get the rights to use the Halo franchise. As we wrote before, Halo DS could have sold like hotcakes and by seeing video-proof of its existence, there should be no more doubts that a development team tried to get to work on something like this by creating a pitch demo. Still many gamers thought that the Halo DS demo was just an elaborate hoax: they analysed the footage published on IGN and found many similarities between the prototype and another DS first person shooter: Goldeneye: Rogue Agent, developed by N-Space and published by EA in June 2005. This led to a theory according to which Matt - with the help of someone else - would have created a Halo mod for Rogue Agent just to show to the world that he was not lying about this lost game. After all, there were many identical details between Halo DS and Rogue Agent: the same HUD with score numbers, the health on the screen when hit, some of the sounds, the crosshair, and the yellow name of the guns when picked up. Was Halo DS a real game that could have been released if things went different? For us there was no reason why Matt would have lied about Halo DS, and created such a complex hoax, but as we were tired of speculations, we decided to investigate this project, to finally find the truth. It was clear that the similarities with Rogue Agent could not have been a coincidence and EA was a possible name for the unknown AAA publisher that pitched the project. As Rogue Agent was developed by N-Space, we started from there and talked with a few of their former developers that worked on the game, until we found the answer: Halo DS was indeed real, and N-Space made that short multiplayer demo in just under a week, to pitch for a full project. Only the Zanzibar map was available, divided into two halves (the "wheel" and "ocean" sides) by a long tunnel for loading purposes. Even if we don't see it in those IGN videos, the team also created a Ghost model that would have been available along with the Warthog. Everyone involved with the Halo DS pitch demo was super excited about the possibility to work on such an important project, and it was quite the disappointment when the deal fell through. Probably it's not a huge consolation, but people from the team remember how they had fun playing Halo DS in multiplayer during their lunch break, even if it seems that Mario Kart DS was the most played, maxing out the local play option every time. After this undeveloped Halo pitch, N-Space was still able to continue working on a long series of first person shooters for Nintendo DS, with the successful Call of Duty ports published by Activision (CoD: Modern Warfare, World at War, Mobilized, Black Ops and Defiance) and the portable version of the 2010 remake of Goldeneye 007. While DS owners did not have a portable Halo to enjoy, the console still had some of the best multiplayer titles released for handheld and we can only hope that someday the Halo DS demo could leak online for everyone to play.