Development Hell isn’t just a term coined to describe the pitfall that is film-making purgatory; it’s also something that video games have to endure from time to time.
And with the news that Duke Nukem Forever, a game that's been in development for a gasp-worthy 14 years, has had its release pushed back from this May to this June, we thought we'd share some titles (complete with footage) that were scrapped before they reached our living rooms, in the hope that you feel as miffed as we do.
Call us anti-social, but we’d love nothing more than to go back to the seventies, more specifically the San Francisco Bay Area, equip ourselves with a 44.Magnum and snarky one-liners and chase down serial killers. Obviously (as time travel isn’t yet available), we’re talking about a 21st century videogame. Not that you’d know. Dirty Harry the game was cancelled, but we’re still left with this trailer, complete with a raucous Eastwood unloading on perps, to tease us for an eternity.
Road Rash for the PS3
Punching a police officer while simultaneously balancing a super bike at a nausea-inducing speed – it’s a concept so daft even Charlie Sheen couldn't make it up, yet so playable we lapped it up on the Mega Drive and still rue the fact it never made the step up to the PS3. Yet a concept was designed and after gawking at this incredible test footage we should be ruing twice as hard.
Is it any wonder Sonic’s humble 2D adventures are played more on iPhones than the bigger-budgeted modern day incarnations? The newer, 3D versions jar against what is an immortally retro title that requires a simpler aesthetic. Although this could’ve been so different had the wonderfully inventive Sonic X-treme come out in 1996 and forever bridged the gap between new and old. It might have even saved the ailing fortunes of the Sega Saturn, but it was cancelled after creative differences at Sega.
Grab an eyeful of this violent gaming rampage (below). It’s almost Taxi Driver -esque. It isn’t though, because contractual rights stopped it from ever washing away the scum from our televisions. A shame; considering Robert De Niro's recent film choices, he'd likely have voiced Travis Bickle himself, as well as any other character if the money was right.
Super Mario's Wacky Worlds
Remember the Phillips CD-i (also known as the first CD-based console)? There’s no shame in shaking your head, it was an expensive failure. Fortunes might’ve been different, mind, had Nintendo not yanked its sequel to Super Mario World. Prototypes of the game have been doing the rounds for a while and despite a few glitches, it’s largely seen as the one that got away.
Tabloid headlines and an unswerving need for teens to cough up their pocket money are signs that controversy can be good for a video game. Not for Thrill Kill though; this asylum-based late nineties fighting game, which contained more head-butting in strait-jackets than the front row of a Slipknot concert was banned before it had even been finished. The developers did cheekily leak a copy out anyway, yet the fact that it was rushed means that even playing it illegally is lamentable.
Superman: Man of Steel (the original)
For the final boss of the critically-panned Superman Returns, you were faced with a tornado – no, not a nickname for an intergalactic super villain but an actual spinning gale. If only it was more like the original test footage of Man of Steel, an ultra-DC comic faithful game which packed as much punch in its gameplay as its cut scenes. Alas, this did arrive on consoles but via a different developer and was nowhere near as good as it should have been.
Duke Nukem Forever
Undoubtedly the embodiment of Development Hell - 3D Realms announced a sequel to Duke Nukem 3D in 1997 and it still isn’t finished. Granted, it’s slated for a June release, and all the execs are singing its praises, but the project has slipped between so many teams and varied game engines that we’ve essentially missed a host of sequels. But we’ll leave you with footage of the ‘final’ version so you can guess whether 14 years have been worth the wait or not.