There are countless video game titles being developed and tinkered with before they are ever mentioned to the general public or media relations. These games sometimes get close to being completely finished before developers felt the need to scrap their work in order to provide gamers with a better overall experience on a new IP. Regardless, it’s sometimes hard erasing the past and from time-to-time, video games that were once worked on for release end up actually launching online years later.
We still find new exciting video game prototypes and builds launched online with collectors to past developers seeking to keep a game alive or the history behind the work that teams of developers spent countless hours on. In this article, we’re going to showcase a few of those video games that ended up online after they were scrapped by the developers originally. Please also note that we didn’t rank this particular list in any order.
#10 Star Fox 2
Okay, okay we know. Star Fox 2 did technically have an official video game launch with the release of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System Classic. However, leading up to that console miniature edition, Star Fox 2 was well-known for being a cancelled video game that ended up finding a release later online. After the successful launch of Star Fox, Nintendo was looking to keep the franchise going with a sequel that would see the group of heroes fighting against Emperor Andross after he sought out to control the Lylat system.
Everything seemed to be a leap forward with the game as developers were bringing out new characters, ships, gameplay elements and of course an upgrade to the game engine itself, Interestingly enough, this game was developed in its entirety but it actually never made it out the doors officially by Nintendo. Ultimately, Nintendo felt that the game should be pulled due to the upcoming console release of the Nintendo 64 which was making a leap into 3D gameplay.
Since the cancellation of the video game, several different leaks of the ROM made its way online which depending on the ROM, took place during different sections of the game development. While gamers could enjoy the game rather seamlessly with few bugs and issues, Nintendo finally opted to give this game a proper launch with the release of the Super Nintendo Entertainment Classic Edition, which the development team cleaned up any bugs and offered gamers the title as it was intended to release.
#9 Resident Evil 1.5
The Resident Evil franchise is definitely well-known around the world as we’ve received countless video game titles, novels, comic books, merchandise, and cinematic film adaptations. However, after the first title became a massive hit, development team Capcom was looking to bring out a sequel. Resident Evil 2 was in the works and it was first slated to launch in 1997 but as the development team worked on the game, they found it to be rather boring. In the coming months of the development process, there have been interviews with the team who spoke of their work and attempting to bring out a new fantastic survival horror installment to the Resident Evil franchise.
Capcom was also trying to hype up the game through various marketing reveals and demos. However, after the team got closer to the end it became apparent that there needed to change and ultimately, the game was killed off allowing the development team to make some narrative changes along with adjustments to the gameplay mechanics. There are some similarities to the original game, which has since been dubbed Resident Evil 1.5, and the official sequel. Players will still follow certain characters such as Leon who was an officer at Raccoon City, but unlike the initial build, Capcom decided to kill off the secondary character.
Originally, Capcom had a female college student who had returned to the city just as it hit its pandemic. Now the character is known as Claire Redfield, the younger sister of Chris Redfield which helped connect the first installment to the sequel. Since its cancellation, hardcore fans became obsessed at playing this lost build especially since it was rumored to be about 70% complete at the time of Capcom scrapping it. Few builds and rumors of builds circulated online though it wouldn’t be until around 2013 that an actual playable build leaked online.
We’re using the term playable a bit loosely here as the game does seem to run into a few problems and its the build that’s quite early into the development. Regardless, you do get a taste as to what could have been Resident Evil 2. There has since been a development team made up of fans that are working to finish up the video game and will be releasing it online for free but it doesn’t have any indication as to when the group will finish their work or if Capcom will put a stop the production before they are able to finish the game completely.
#8 Warcraft Adventures
Warcraft is another widely known franchise that spans across video games, books, and lately a cinematic film. However, back in the late 1990s, Blizzard Entertainment was looking to bring out a new experience for fans to enjoy in the form of an adventure point-and-click game. This IP would be known as Warcraft Adventures where Blizzard Entertainment was working along with Animation Magic, who developed the Zelda titles for Nintendo on the CD-I. The working relationship mainly had Animation Magic deal with the programming side of things while Blizzard tweaked the narrative and oversaw the work dealing with the animation design.
This game followed the Orc character Thrall as he attempted to reunite his race while also dealing with the Alliance. Fortunately, the story was adapted into other areas such as novels, Warcraft III and the live-action cinematic film. As the development team was working on Warcraft Adventures, it became clear to Blizzard Entertainment that they needed to make some changes. Unfortunately, the studio couldn’t find a way to make the adjustments that would improve the game without causing a significant delay.
After a year of being in development, Blizzard Entertainment decided to cancel the game. It was only a few years ago that leaks started to appear online from Russian fans. These leaks allowed gamers to enjoy the game as Blizzard Entertainment originally intended. Of course, when the leaks were spreading online, Blizzard looked to stop the game from being shared around, but it’s far too late with the game quickly spreading online.
#7 Batman: Revenge of the Joker
There are plenty of Batman video game titles in the market so we imagine that there were a few titles and prototypes being considered that never made an official release let alone publically announced. Batman: Revenge of the Joker is one of those games that was talked about over the years online as it was set to be a Super Nintendo Entertainment System release but it ended up being scrapped and it’s really not clear as to why. This wasn’t a brand new video game either but a port of Batman: Return of the Joker that released on the Sega Genesis and Nintendo Entertainment System.
Regardless, there has been a prototype board of the game shown off online so this Sunsoft game does exist and apparently it’s complete. While you can enjoy the game by finding a ROM online, there’s still a mystery as to why Sunsoft opted to scrap the game. Little information seems to have circulated about the development for the title, but perhaps we’ll know the inner workings behind Batman: Revenge of the Joker in due time.
#6 Saints Row Undercover
There were a few different PSP games announced that we would have certainly loved to have played for it to just get cancelled midway into development. One of those games was a title within the Saints Row franchise. Originally developed by Mass Media Games and Savage Entertainment, developers had hoped to bring Saints Row 2 onto the portable handheld. Unfortunately, developers soon found that they were unable to port the full game experience onto the portable handheld system which resulted in crafting up a brand new story.
Scrapping the idea of a port, developers went with a new story is known as Saints Row Undercover, which followed an undercover cop that was tasked with joining The 3rd Street Saints after a large civil war with the group became a problem for Stilwater. Overall, players with tasked with finding out just what the civil war started within the group and put an end to it. Gamers would still get to explore the open world environment but it was sized down along with other limitations for the game to be playable on the PlayStation Portable.
This game was officially scrapped and was never finished but since then a playable version prototype found its way online. The build is apparently pretty buggy and again, it’s not the full game, but if you’re a fan of the Saints Row franchise then it could be fun to jump into the game and see what could have been if THQ and Volition hadn’t killed it. Apparently, the reason behind its cancellation, to begin with, is that the IP owners didn’t feel it met the standards of the series.
#5 Thrill Kill
Another iconic video game title that did not see an official launch that still widely known about and playable is Thrill Kill. Developed Under Paradox Development and published by Virgin Interactive, the game was in developed for a release in 1998 for the PlayStation platform. This game was notorious online for being brutal, much like Mortal Kombat and also featured sexual suggestion materials. This caused the game to receive an AO rating, but despite the rating, development continued.
Overall, the game follows a group of fighters who take on manifestations of their evil inner being. All of the fighters were murdered previously to the game starting and as a result, they are entered into a tournament in hell with the last person standing receiving a chance to be reincarnated. Development went smoothly and at the time of its cancellation, the developers had already finished the game with just weeks away before it was set to ship.
The problem was that their original publisher, Virgin Interactive had the rights to the game and they were bought by Electronic Arts. Electronic Arts found the game to be too senseless and felt that would damage their brand. Not only were they not for publishing the game, but they also wouldn’t give the rights to another publisher to release the game. Developers who had worked on the game ended up leaking it where it’s quite common to find online and even in physical editions.
#4 Quik The Thunder Rabbit SNES
Back in the early 1990s, there was plenty of video games released into the market that brought attitude and fast action platforming. One of the video games hoping to leave their mark during the era was Quik The Thunder Rabbit. Released in 1994 for the Amiga from development studio Stywox with publishing by Titus France, the game released but didn’t have the grand success that the developers had hoped to reach like Sega’s Sonic The Hedgehog.
However, it turns out that there was a chance we could have seen the game release on another popular platform in the early 1990s. A prototype leaked online showcasing Quik The Thunder Rabbit on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System but it’s far from finished. There are bugs and at a certain point within the game, it actually ends up crashing completely. Also, there’s no sound to the game so this build that leaked was likely something the development studio was tinkering around with a port possibly in mind. We’re not sure just why the developers decided to not progress any further but you can at least give the game a try.
#3 Die Hard N64
It doesn’t come to much of a surprise that a beloved and well-received film would receive a video game adaptation. For example, Die Hard was adapted a few times into a video game format but back in the late 1990s, there was a Nintendo 64 video game based off the film franchise. This is a relatively new discovery as there wasn’t any real unveiling to the public or press but in 2017, the N64 version of the game was revealed online. This game was in the works by Bits Studio and slated to launch in 1999. However, it was scrapped, never to see the light of day until an online forum user released footage of the game.
Apparently, this forum user was a developer for Bits Studios back in the day and showcased the gameplay online. It essentially took after the success of GoldenEye with players going through various locations blasting away the enemy. This game wasn’t complete and it was sectioned out across a few different ROMs that featured both fully playable levels along with test areas that developers were tinkering with.
What we know about the cancellation is that the game was too close to the end of the console lifecycle which resulted in scrapping the game and instead focusing on a new version for the Nintendo GameCube. This game did release into the market as Die Hard Vendetta, but it’s certainly neat to see this game’s origin.
#2 Nightmare Busters
Nightmare Busters was developed under Arcade Zone back in 1995 for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System where the goal was to deliver a run-and-gun style title. The game was based around leprechaun brothers who were fighting against a foe that could infiltrate the minds of children and cause nightmare dreams. During the game’s development, the project was forced to close due to financial issues, but the beta eventually found its way to fans.
Interestingly enough, there was such an outcry from fans to see this game actually come to fruition with a complete title releasing despite the SNES being well past its prime. Despite the age of the console, Arcade Zone along with Super Fighter Team managed to print the game for an official launch years later.
#1 Buck Rogers SNES Game
Buck Rogers was a well-known franchise and during the mid-1990s, there was almost a Super Nintendo Entertainment System game. There’s not a ton of information about the game, unfortunately, but what we can tell you is that development team Loriciel had the rights to produce a game which they were working on. However, they ended up losing the rights during development and from what is known, the development studio decided to not scrap the video game entirely.
Instead, the developers opted to replace the character with their own created protagonist, Jim Power. The game was still mainly the same with being a platformer with parallax scrolling along with being packaged with 3D glasses for gamers to wear while playing to get a greater 3D style experience. Despite the original Buck Rogers character slated to be featured in the game and taken out, there were leaks online of early builds for the game, showing the original version of Jim Power: The Lost Dimension in 3-D.