The video game industry can be a cutthroat business. Since its infancy in the late 1970s, profit has often been prioritized over artistic expression and even the interest of gamers themselves.
As a result of this mindset, countless projects have gotten the ax before they having a chance to hit store shelves or, in contemporary cases, digital marketplaces.
Sometimes game are canceled for other reasons, such as missed deadlines, poor quality, or financial struggles of a studio.
However, these typical cases of cancellations do not make as interesting a story as the ones that were put to rest under bizarre circumstances. Games often take several years to complete, during which any number of strange happenings can spell doom for a project.
This list will take a gander throughout gaming’s distant and recent past to showcase these works that never saw the light of day.
The exact reasons for their cancellations vary. Some of them boiled down to an irrational decision by a publisher, others were ended by someone’s ignorance, and some were swept into oblivion by unforeseen events.
Still stranger, a couple of the games were canned because of malicious acts.
Whatever the reason, it is usually unfortunate that these projects were given the boot.
Some of them looked incredible, even revolutionary with the potential to have changed the gaming landscape. In some instances, however, it is probably for the best that work was discontinued.
Looking at what could have been is always interesting, but occasionally it can be a little painful.
So without further ado, here are the 20 Video Games That Were Canceled For Crazy Reasons.
20 Star Fox 2
A nearly completed game shelved for being too good is an almost unbelievable story, yet this is basically what transpired with Star Fox 2.
During development of what was to be Fox McCloud’s second outing, the medium was readying itself for the switch to 3D.
Consoles like the Sega Saturn, Play Station, and Nintendo 64 were set to blow the old two dimensional graphics away.
Star Fox 2 was a 3D adventure on the SNES and was locked away as a result.
Reports indicate that Nintendo wanted a clear defining line between the two graphics, and having Star Fox 2 on a current generation console would have muddied that line.
Thankfully the public eventually got its hands on the unreleased game when the SNES Classic was released in 2017.
19 Mega Man Legends 3
The Mega Man Legends games are a huge departure from the series’ typical side scrolling game play.
They also incorporated numerous mechanics that were way ahead of their time.
The second entry in the franchise concludes with a shocking, still unresolved cliffhanger. Fans were close to being treated to a third game before the project was unceremoniously canned in 2011.
Mega Man Legends 3 was to have a prototype released before the final product, allowing fans to give their input on how to improve the blue bomber’s adventure.
Unfortunately, the prototype was never put out despite being in a near finished state and the Legends series remains dormant.
Lack of fan enthusiasm is often sited as the reason for cancellation, but why throw away all that time and money invested when the demo was so close to completion?
18 Silent Hills
Hideo Kojima is a master game designer who has changed the way people think about video games and story telling several times.
By all accounts he was going to do that again with Silent Hills. Unfortunately, Konami’s shifting focus away from triple A titles prevented the game from being made.
Silent Hills was going to be a collaboration with Guillermo Del Toro, with The Walking Dead‘s Norman Reedus in the starring role.
What makes this cancellation particularly devastating is the small taste that players had with P.T., a surprise demo that ended up announcing the project.
If there is any silver lining to this story, it is the upcoming Death Stranding, developed by Kojima, starring Reedus, and even featuring Del Toro.
17 Streets of Rage 4
Some people enter the industry because of their love for gaming. Others enter it because they see potential for big money. The latter is the reason why stories like the cancellation of Streets of Rage 4 happen.
The fourth entry of the legendary beat-em-up series was already deep in the middle of production for the Dreamcast when it was taken to a farm upstate.
The legend goes that Sega of America’s management was completely oblivious to the franchise’s past titles and popularity.
As a result, development was halted and no true sequel to Streets of Rage has been set into motion yet.
Beat-em-ups aren’t as popular as they once were, but a true current geniteration of the property would surely pique many gamers’ interest.
16 Super Mario RPG 2
Anybody who owned an SNES probably also owned Super Mario RPG. The unlikely pairing of the genre and Mario led to an irresistibly charming adventure game that was filled with unique characters.
Squaresoft helped develop the title, and also held claim to some of the new characters.
The relationship between Square and Nintendo hit a snag when Square was unhappy with the N64 still using cartridges, and they gave their loyalty to Sony.
Super Mario RPG 2 was in its planning stages, but had to be heavily reworked into an entirely different title.
Paper Mario is still an RPG, but lacks all of the prior games new characters.
Now that the relationship seems bandaged, maybe Mallow, Geno, and Mario will team up once again soon.
15 Parasol Stars
There was a time when a single person could reasonably port an existing game to a different system.
Hiring a private contractor for such a task was commonplace. The Commodore 64 version of Parasol Stars was being brought to fruition by one man until an act of malice brought a swift end to the game.
The man working on the project was going through marital problems, specifically regarding his then-wife’s alcoholism.
One day, in a fit of rage, she destroyed all of his work, including any back ups.
The publisher did not extend the contractor’s deadline, as they were phasing out of Commodore 64 development and the world lost a version of Parasol Stars.
14 Timesplitters 4
Free Radical, consisting of former Rare employees, made three of the finest first person shooters with the Timesplitters trilogy, which came hot off the heels of Goldeneye and Perfect Dark.
Unfortunately, their streak hit an end with the mediocre PS3 title Haze. The developer was on the brink of ruin before it was saved by Crytek.
Work was then started on a fourth entry in the series before coming to a halt because Crytek thought there were no marketable characters.
This thought is crazy for two reasons. Firstly, Timesplitters: Future Perfect had Sgt. Cortez in the leading role.
Secondly, the series features an ensemble of literally over a hundred iconic and recognizable characters.
THQ Nordic recently acquired the Timesplitters property so here’s hoping the zany time traveling shooter sees new life.
13 Six Days In Fallujah
Games are not often taken seriously as an art form. They rarely tackle serious subjects and when they do, they are rarely recognized as telling an important story.
This is the principle reason why the plug was pulled on Six Days In Fallujah.
The war shooter was to accurately depict a real modern day battle. Once it was announced, controversy awakened, with many questioning the medium’s ability to respectfully depict real soldiers and real battles.
As a result of the controversy, Konami stated they would not publish the game.
Six Days In Fallujah has not been officially declared cancelled by its developer, but no publisher is willing to put it on store shelves.
12 Motorstorm Apocalypse
Obviously, Motorstorm Apocalypse is alive and well in many territories. However, the off road arcade racer has never seen a release in Japan.
No one in particular is at fault for this, as the third Motorstorm entry simply fell victim to bad timing.
In March, 2011 Japan was devastated by an earthquake and Tsunami with casualties numbering over fifteen thousand.
Apocalypse’s initial March release was pushed back internationally because the game involves racing through a recently ruined city.
While the rest of the world saw the game a few months later, it was decided that it would never be brought to Japan.
In the wake of such a calamity, it is understandable to delay the game because of its content, and cancelling altogether can hardly be considered irrational either.
11 Fez 2
Fez was an indie hit that had puzzles that probably caused many gamers to pull out their hair in frustration. Perhaps some players even had a breakdown because of the extreme difficulty.
If they did, it may have looked a little something like the time Phil Fish abruptly canceled Fez 2 on Twitter.
When Marcus Beer, a host of a Gametrailers show, called out Phil on his response to the way Microsoft treats indie titles, the developer took to to social media in order to vent.
The game designer cursed out the host and announced that Fez 2 was axed, exiting the industry altogether.
Whatever stressors caused Phil to blow up, we hope he is in a better place now.
10 Ms. Pacman: Maze Madness 2
Pacman‘s game play and charm never gets old. Even people who know nothing about gaming can recall the legendary circular hero.
His spouse’s gaming outings are also renowned. Sadly, one of Ms. Pacman’s adventures bit the dust in the mid 2000s.
Ms. Pacman: Maze Madness 2 was to be the sequel to the successful Ms. Pacman: Maze Madness.
Development was underway when Namco merged with Bandai, creating Namcobandai.
Bandai is reported to have been the impetus for the cancelation, citing an oversaturated market.
Right, because there are so many games out there about running through mazes and eating ghosts. There is always room for Pacman and his partner, no matter what time of year or state of the market.
9 Star Wars 1313
Star Wars’ recent gaming history has proved controversial, with EA being accused of shady business tactics for Battlefront II’s multiplayer.
The previous developer for the franchise, LucasArts, may have truly had something special with Star Wars 1313, but Disney’s acquisition of the developer proved the final nail in the coffin for the project.
The game was shaping to be an Uncharted-like foray into the underbelly of Coruscant, starring a young Boba Fett.
Disney ultimately disbanded the studio working on the game, dashing any hope of it being completed.
The future of Star Wars games is uncertain, but we hope it stays away from its recent foray into loot boxes, a practice that has been rightfully compared to gambling.
8 Disaster Report 4
It’s not a developer’s fault when a game hits too close to home, as was the case with Disaster Report 4. The game would have seen players struggling to stay alive after a cataclysmic event wrecks a city.
Coincidentally, the game was being worked on when the 2011 earthquake and tsunami hit Japan.
Some considered releasing the game around the time of a enormous real world natural disaster would be tasteless, so the whole thing was put on hold.
As the saying goes, time heals all wounds and development eventually restarted on the title.
Originally slated for the PS3, it is now getting ready for a release in October 2018 for the PS4. Waiting for a while after the disaster was ultimately the respectful thing to do.
7 Thrill Kill
Extreme violence in video games is commonplace these days, with people barely blinking an eye at the graphic images displayed in hit franchises like Call of Duty and Battlefield.
Back in the 1990s, however, violence tended to stir up a little more controversy. Fear of such controversy sent Thrill Kill up to the great gig in the sky.
The game was a 3D fighter, supporting up to four players at one time, with copious amounts of blood and gore.
EA, the game’s publisher, reportedly grew nervous about the game’s content and had the game put on ice.
The engine used to run Thrill Kill was eventually used on the Wu-Tang Clan fighter, Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style.
6 Eye Of The Beholder
Eye of the Beholder was an early ’90s RPG that, for its time, flew off shelves like hot cakes.
It came out on several home computers, the SNES, and the Sega CD. There was even to be a version for the Atari Lynx, but an infamous businessman had something to say about that.
Jack Tramiel, a legendary business man who some considered too aggressive in his tactics, was the head of Atari when the game was about to be released.
The legend goes that Tramiel felt it would be too expensive to manufacture the cartridges and thus the RPG was iced.
The game looked great on the handheld and was a proven hit, so surely the sales would have turned a profit.
The infamous Superman 64 was actually intended to come out on the Playstation too.
When the abysmal reviews poured in on the superhero game, it was decided to extend development in order to fix all of the problems that plagued the N64 version.
They took their sweet time on the project. In fact, it took so long that the rights for them to use the Man of Steel expired and had been swooped up by someone else.
After this, they were left with no choice but to lock away a nearly finish product.
Maybe the PS1 iteration would have been just as bad, but they did deserve a chance to redeem themselves for Superman 64.
4 Super Mario Spikers
Mario likes his sports, and the plumber partakes in a large variety of them. He even engaged in a wild mix of wrestling and volleyball, but players will never have a chance to see that in their living room.
Super Mario Spikers was being developed by Next Level Games, which had previously success with Super Mario Strikers.
Spikers was in the early stages of production when a Nintendo pitch meeting ended all development.
During the pitch, Nintendo rejected their game because it “clashed with the company’s code of honour.“
No deeper details were given, but it is highly unlikely that the unique concept will ever be brought back to life.
Still, there are enough Mario spin off titles to fill up a whole lifetime of gaming.
3 Aliens: Crucible
Making a game based on a movie is a risky enough concept. Mixing the property with a genre that doesn’t seem to fit is an even bigger gamble.
Aliens: Crucible was set to take just this risk, but the publisher was not willing to role the dice.
Crucible was being developed by Obsidian, notable for Fallout: New Vegas and the recent South Park RPGs.
It was also set to be an RPG about surviving against the titular monsters while managing scarce resources. All of this was also paired with allies that would not respawn when taken out, and could even be infected by facehuggers.
Sci-fi RPGs are nothing new, but adding the most renowned horror franchise into the mix proved too risky for the publishers.
2 Liquid Kids
Liquid Kids is a popular arcade game that saw itself brought to several home consoles. One console that never saw is was the Amiga, despite there being a nearly completed port recently unearthed by internet sleuths.
The company working on the port, Ocean Software, decided to start development before acquiring the rights.
Ten months and one fully completed game later, and the rights were still not theirs. For one reason or another, they ultimately failed to obtain them, making it illegal for them to release.
The game was shelved, only being rediscovered about twelve years ago.
To go completed and never see the light of day is almost worse than never being completed in the first place.
1 High Voltage’s Unnamed IP
High Voltage has the distinct honor of making two relatively well received Wii-exclusive first person shooters, the two Conduit games.
As a result of this, Nintendo commissioned the developer to create a new IP for the publisher.
The game never received a name, but all accounts point to a kid friendly shooter involving robots that used water instead of bullets.
Unfortunately, an internal leak within High Voltage caused friction between the two companies.
Nintendo was willing to continue the game if the leaker was found, but no one came forward and High Voltage refused to scapegoat anyone.
As a result, Nintendo ended their relationship with the developer and the project was put down.
Do you know of any other video games that were canned for crazy reasons? Let us know in the comments!