Game design can be a long, difficult, drawn-out process, even for games that aren't named Duke Nukem Forever. Games can change a lot during that time, sometimes so much that the final product looks nothing like what developers started work on. Here are 6 awesome games that went through big changes to get that way.
6) Conker's Bad Fur Day-
By the late 90's, the Nintendo/Rare love connection had churned out Banjo Kazooie, Diddy Kong Racing, and Donkey Kong 64. And their next game, Twelve Tales: Conker 64, starring a diabetes-inducingly-sweet cartoon squirrel, wasn't going to stray far from the brightly-colored path.
But all wasn't well within Rare's candy-coated empire: Conker's producer, Chris Seavor, noticed some unpleasant rumblings that the market for cutesy platformers was over-saturated, that fans weren't excited about another one, that no one cared about a stupid squirrel who didn't even have an awesome bird living in his backpack.
So he did what any responsible game designer would do: he killed Twelve Tales on the spot and brought it back to shambling unlife as a foul-mouthed parody of the very same cutesy platformers that Rare had made famous. Conker was now a reluctant, selfish hero tasked with fighting hangovers, Teddy Bear Nazis and singing piles of sh!t all in order to makes some quick cash. It was such a balls-out insane shift in direction that most people thought it was a joke until the game actually saw release. Bad Fur Day was fun and funny but sold poorly, mostly thanks to Nintendo's reluctance to advertise the family-unfriendly title.
You can find Okami hanging around the top of every "Great Games No One Played" list online. Frankly, I never understood those lists. All of my friends have played Okami, because if they haven't, they stop being my friends.
Another list this game frequents is the "Prettiest PS2 Game" category, thanks to its gorgeous Sumi-e watercolor graphics. But originally Okami starred a photo-realistic wolf running around a realistic landscape. Which presented two problems: 1) borrrrr-ing and 2) the graphics were a bit much for the PS2 to handle. But then Clover Studio had the bright idea to take this game inspired by Japanese legends and paint the visuals in a more uniquely Japanese style.
Amaterasu the watercolor wolf was born. As an added bonus, it was this change that beget the game's coolest feature: a celestial brush that let you paint magic effects onto the landscape itself. Okami turned out incredibly, and as a reward for their hard work, Clover Studio was dissolved. So
I guess the moral here is that our world is a cruel and random place. All the more reason to spend your time living in Okami's painted wonderland.
4) Team Fortress 2-
Team Fortress 2 will be 4 years old this year and it's still going strong thanks in no small part to its well-balanced gameplay, continued content updates, and (my favorite) its awesome visual style. But that last element wasn't always there.
The original Team Fortress was a Quake mod. TF2 likewise started out life on the same engine, an engine which is good for two things: running Quake, and running other games that looked as awful as Quake. To be fair, Quake looked amazing in 1996, but here in the far-flung future of 2011 we're free to perch on our pampered gamer thrones and mock the blocky graphics of yesteryear, just as our future spider overlords will one day mock ours.
The early TF2 was just so serious. It even had a serious subtitle: Brotherhood in Arms. Everyone was marching around with realistic fatigues and weapons, and no one had a sense of humor about the whole thing. A sense of humor is important whether you're neck-deep in the hell of war or dealing with some asshole 12-year-old online: it keeps you sane. Luckily, this version of TF2 vanished behind Valve's development veil and, an ungodly amount of time later, re-emerged packed with one-eyed, explosophilic Scottsmen; ruthless, sharply-dressed Spies; and shirtless, lion-punching Australians. The more stylized direction is more fun, and nothing's more stylin' than burying your opponents under a waterfall of minigun fire while wearing a jaunty pirate hat.