Making a videogame is a huge undertaking - imagine trying to make a sandwich, except there's a team of 100 people working on the sandwich. There are writers, directors, programmers, designers, and executives, all with their own opinions and agendas on the sandwich (Should it have ham? What kind of bread should it use? Wait, what shape should the sandwich be?!), trying to merge their ideas into a singular, delicious... - okay, the sandwich metaphor isn't working (sorry, I haven't had anything to eat today). What it boils down to is that sometimes potentially great games get canceled because of the complexities involved bringing them from conception to a finished product. Here are 10 of the greatest canceled projects in videogame history.
After the release of Mario 64 for the Nintendo 64, fans were ready for whatever was next for the plucky plumber. After all - all previous Nintendo consoles had had multiple Mario games (not including Virtual Boy, because it would have been very difficult to develop a Mario game for the three weeks that was on the market). All was quiet for a long time - until Shigeru Miyamoto, Nintendo's resident Gabe Newell, showed off something called Super Mario 128.
Super Mario 128 (which is 2× 64, to show you the level of title creativity Nintendo was comfortable with) was alternately described as a full-on sequel to Mario 64, a tech demo, and "a real cool lookin' thing" (by me). The demos Nintendo showed off showed Mario splitting into 128 versions of himself across a rotating sphere. Would the game deal with the moral gray area of cloning? Was it an allegory for overpopulation? Or was Nintendo getting super literal with the whole idea of Mario having multiple lives?
Sadly, we never found out. Regardless of its original intention, Super Mario 128 ended up being relegated as a tech demo - the tech was eventually featured in to Pikmin and Super Mario Galaxy, and the next actual Mario game we got was Super Mario Sunshine. Which was wholly satisfactory for about five minutes, at which point everyone wanted to know more about that 128 clone thing again.
Long before Warcraft became synonymous with "life-sucking MMO", it was a strategy franchise in a world where multiple major companies were releasing large-scale point-and-click adventure games, like Monkey Island (it was a different time, to say the least). What would have been a big, goofy, comedic take on the world of Azeroth ended up being canceled after a year of development, due to worries over a shrinking marketplace and heavy competition.
What a huge waste, right? Especially since all Blizzard ended up doing with the franchise was create what may be the most popular, successful game of all-time. Idiots.
The Battlefront series was one of those simple strokes of genius - "What if we did a Battlefield game...but STAR WARS?" The developer whose inner 8-year-old had been let loose struck gold - the series was fun, well-designed, and popular. After the successful Battlefront II, developer Free Radical Design went to work on a 3rd entry. And somewhere near completion (although reports differ on exactly how complete it was), LucasArts abruptly canceled the game, as if millions of polygons cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.
As to why, reports differ there too - although most from inside Free Radical Design indicate LucasArts was wary about spending a ton of money marketing the game. The real bummer of the whole endeavor, though, is that the big new hook of the game sounded incredibly cool - you could transition from ground to space battles seamlessly. That is to say - you could be fighting on the ground on Hoth, then pop into an X-Wing and fight some TIE Fighters in space around the planet. So, basically, every 8 year-old Star Wars fan's dream come true.
Oh well, back to dreaming about games where you play as Grand Moff Tarkin on the Death Star, blowin' up planets at will.
[Ed. Note: BATTLEFRONT IS BACK! THANKS TO...EA? WE'LL TAKE IT!]