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  • The early character concepts for many members of the Ace Attorney cast were very, very different:
    • Phoenix had bright green hair and Franziska's sense of fashion
    • Edgeworth looked like a young Manfred von Karma and had a pointy Beard of Evil
    • Mia was a big, hulking man, whose design was retooled for the Judge
    • Maya had blue hair and a more urban fashion sense
    • Gumshoe would have been an aloof female detective
    • Kristoph's early designs included a kimono getup that made him look he'd fit right in with the Gotei 13.
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    • Additionally, Ace Attorney Investigations was originally conceived as starring Ema Skye rather than Edgeworth.
    • Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney was originally intended to have a vastly different plot, more deeply rooted with Apollo's past and no appearances of Phoenix-Arc characters whatsoever, including Phoenix himself. However, a mandate from Capcom required Phoenix to remain a main character which lead to the game's overarching story involving Phoenix getting disbarred and him attempting to rework the law system causing less focus to be given to Apollo.
    • One of the early ideas for Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice involved Phoenix partaking in underground criminal trials for the mafia where Phoenix would have to defend people accused of breaking the criminal underworld's own code of law.
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    • Phoenix in the first game had a sprite showing him with hearts in his eyes, making it likely that he was smitten by April May. The sprite is still in the game, but is unused.
  • The collector's edition of Age of Empires III came with a hardcover artbook. The last page of the book shows Roman numerals extending from I to V, with I through III underneath images from the boxart of the respectively-numbered games in the series. The IV is underneath a picture of a Vietnam-era American soldier, and the V is underneath some variety of Space Marine. Whether IV and V were concept boxart for future games or just wishful thinking remains to be seen.
  • Ace Combat:
    • In May 1996, Namco announced PC ports of three of their arcade titles, including Air Combat 22. Save for the concurrent Rave Racer port making the rounds at some industry trade shows and getting a preview in EDGE's July issue of that year, nothing came of this.
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    • Project Aces was working around 2003 on using the Ace Combat 04 engine for a remake of Xevious for that game's 20th anniversary, though little progress was made beyond a tech demo of, basically, putting the Solvalou into Ace Combat 04 before the project was quickly shelved in favor of the team working on Ace Combat 5.
    • A 2007 issue of Famitsu had an article centered on a trio of cancelled games, developed jointly by Project Aces and Cellius (a company owned by both Namco and Sony), which would have been set in the Ace Combat universe: Brave Arms, Second Season 01, and Chain Limit. Little is known about any of them, other than that Brave Arms was to be a 3D beat-em-up set in the Kingdom of Sapin in 2025.
  • Alien
    • Aliens Interactive was going to be an interactive comic book game for the CD-i featuring a story by Dark Horse Comics, developed around 1991-1993, with a Predator followup planned.
    • The Alien vs. Predator arcade game was planned to have a 1995 port for the Sega 32X.
    • Alien vs Predator was going to be a 1994 FPS for the Atari Lynx, and was canceled in favor of publishing an Alien vs Predator game on the Jaguar.
    • Aliens Online was a 1998 multiplayer FPS that never left beta when the servers were shut down by EA.
    • Aliens vs. Predator was going to be a 2004 Game Boy Advance game published by Ubisoft, based on the 2004 movie.
    • Aliens: Colonial Marines was going to be a 2002 game for the PlayStation 2, unrelated to the game released in 2013.
    • Aliens: Crucible was an Alien RPG developed by Obsidian Entertainment. The game was cancelled in 2010 when the publisher, Sega, preferred the release of Aliens: Colonial Marines.
  • Alone in the Dark: Capcom was supposed to release AITD 3 for the Japanese market, but decided not to go with it.
  • Alter Ego: A planned sequel, focusing on child raising, was eventually cancelled.
  • Originally, Anachronox was going to be an utterly huge, vast RPG spanning numerous worlds and dimensions, featuring epic Japanese RPG-style combat with Western storytelling and characterisation. The concept was so vast that it was decided to split the game into two installments, with the first ending on a gargantuan cliffhanger of epic proportions. Unfortunately, despite rating high on the scale of awesome, the game did not pre-order very well and the development team was canned mere weeks before the game's release date. This angered the devs so much that one went on record encouraging people to pirate the game, while others ended up developing some unofficial patches (such as adding a taxi service to the titular planet, saving on travel time)
  • Over the years, there have been a major number of Anime-related games that attempted to cross over to the US, but failed.
    • There were plans to release games based on AKIRA and it was advertised in the 1990s release of the anime. It would have been for all systems and each one would have gone a different route (Genesis would have been multi-genre, the Super NES would have just been sidescrolling, Game Boy would have been just a Dolled-Up Installment), but THQ bought the company making it, Black Pearl, and killed it.
    • There were two attempts to make a Kimba the White Lion game, one for the NES and another for the Nintendo 64. Both were oddly cancelled.
    • Macross VF-X2: The cancelled PlayStation North American localization was to include English voice acting and an exclusive mecha.
    • There was supposed to have been a game based on Trigun for the PlayStation 2 by Sega. Not much was said about it beyond a simple ad.
    • Tecmo created an MMORPG based on Bastard!!. It got as far as the beta stage before it got cancelled.
    • Toho planned to release the fighting game Ranma ½ II: Anything Goes Martial Arts for the SNES, the cancelled localization of Ranma ½: Chougi Rambuhen.
    • In 2005, Bandai planned to release Cowboy Bebop: Serenade of Remembrance to the States after releasing it in Japan. In 2006, everything was dropped about it and a Bandai rep admitted it thought it would be a waste of time. Fun fact: the image on the Cowboy BeBop at His Computer trope page came from that game.
  • Ant Simulator was an ant simulation game in development that ended up being cancelled. The lead programmer resigned after claiming the game's Kickstarter funds were being mismanaged.
  • In American McGee's Alice, early screenshots show the Cheshire cat fighting alongside Alice.
    • The sequel, Alice: Madness Returns, had a lot of content planned that was cut, either due to time or technical difficulty, all of which is revealed within The Art Of Alice: Madness Returns. For example, there was going to be a world revolving around the works of M. C. Escher, where the stage bent and shifted and Alice would walk on the walls. Another world was set on the moon.
    • The first game's soundtrack was actually the second soundtrack composed for it. The first one was done by future band-mate and longtime friend of Chris Verena (the composer of the soundtrack) Marilyn Manson. Manson was also considered to play the Mad Hatter, the Hatter's design was inspired by him, and the massive use of alchemical symbolism in the game was a result of Manson's influence. In 2000, the symbol of Mercury was being used as a major part of Manson's iconography, which was incorporated into the Hatter.
  • Animal Wars was a game developed by Factor 5, created for Sony. It was part of a deal where Factor 5 would develop games for the publisher that started with Lair. The game was Star Fox meets Valkyria Chronicles, featuring a version of World War I with anthropomorphic animals. Sam, a dog in an aviator suit, would have been the central character, with a stage where the player controls a mouse through a field with enemies large in perspective. Vehicles would have features resembling the animal associated with them. However, Sony decided to cancel Animal Wars to ensure Lair would be finished in time. Because of Lair's disappointing sales and reviews, the deal with Sony was dissolved and Animal Wars was never worked on again.
  • Another Century's Episode R was originally planned to include Macross 7, but the producers couldn't figure out how to make it work (since the protagonist is a pacifist who "fights" by using music to inspire his allies and drive off their Emotion Eater enemies). Eventually they scrapped that and decided to include Macross Frontier instead, which meant the game had to be delayed for a year. Likewise, Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam's cast was going to consist of Kamille Bidan's Zeta Gundam, Quattro Bajeena's Hyaku-Shiki, and Four Murasame's Psyco Gundam, but they couldn't figure out how to make the latter into a decent playable unit, so Four was cut and replaced with Amuro Ray in his Dijeh.
  • A beta version of Ardy Lightfoot has Catry, the vulpine boss of the fourth level, sporting a ninja costume (and a slightly more pronounced bustline). On the flip side, her final fate in the bowels of the next level's giant worm is as a half-digested corpse (as opposed to a skeleton in the final Japanese version and just lying prone on the ground in the U.S. version).
  • Army of Two was initially much more ambitious, featuring more complex co-op maneuvers such as throwing ammo to your partner and flipping objects for cover, and an emotive AI partner who'd do things like pissing and listening to music in real time. However, constant delays and difficulties during development lead to EA Montréal severely scaling down these features. While the final game is not an Obvious Beta, it does show signs of a jumpy development with its short length and rushed ending.
  • Assassin's Creed II introduces a worthy future love interest for Ezio; a thief named Rosa that he rescues during his Venezia campaign, and would later go on to teach Ezio how to long jump up walls. Throughout the game, you witness plenty of Ship Tease between the two, and Rosa quickly becomes an Ensemble Dark Horse amongst the fanbase as the girl who Ezio should most likely end up with. Only…she disappears off the face of the Earth in future installments of the Assassin's Creed series and fans find themselves disappointed that Rosa never appears again. Tragically, the reason is because her voice actress, Lita Tresierra, died from fatal injuries brought upon by a car crash she was involved in. Ubisoft chose to retire the character rather than find a new voice actress for her. In the end, Rosa ends up simply becoming an early fling for Ezio, and nowadays, it makes you wonder what could of happened between Ezio and Rosa had Tresierra not lost her life.
  • Asura's Wrath already has a few examples of this.
    • In one interview, it was stated that there originally wasn't going to be a Dodge button at all (Something that just about all action games use) because the developers felt that it wouldn't make sense, as Asura is hell bent on revenge, so trying to dodge everything wouldn't help him much. A Dodge button was put in in newer builds for the sake of gameplay, however.
    • It's shown in earlier trailers that the game was more than likely going to be much Bloodier and Gorier than the final product to compliment how the story is similar to God of War. However, this was when Keiji Inafune was executive producer for the game before he left Capcom, and he had also tried to westernize the game this way. When a game is based on Asian Mythology to begin with. The trailers also showed the game as a God Hand-esque beat 'em up with some QT Es for power-ups and special moves, being able to pick up things like giant stone pillars for weapons, and actual blood spurts.
    • Asura and Yasha's designs underwent some significant changes according to the Preorder Bonus artbook. In fact, one of Asura's older designs was actually used in the final product - as Augus!
    • The main development team for this game is the same team that did the boss fights for Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2, thus why many of the boss fights in this game and the overall system of progress for each level seems so similar to the same game, and is also the reason why Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations doesn't have the big boss fights that the previous installment had.
  • The Avengers by THQ Studio Australia ended up cancelled when the studio was closed down and the rights went over to Ubisoft. A first-person brawler in the style of Left 4 Dead, players would take control of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and Incredible Hulk (with Black Widow, Hawkeye, War Machine and Ms. Marvel planned as unlockable characters) to fight off hordes of superpowered aliens, including Super-Skrulls. There were also tentative plans for an independent side plot that would have featured Ant-Man, The Vision, and Ultron, but it is unknown if it would have made it into the final game. The game was going to have an original storyline written by Brian Bendis, which would have been a loose adaptation of Secret Invasion mixed with the visual style of the Avengers live-action movie. Though the game was cancelled, one of the Skrulls designed for it was featured in the movie's toyline.
  • Axiom Verge was originally going to have a small oceanic area, alluded to in one of the notes. However, "it was a lot of assets for something that didn't add very much" so it never saw the light of day.
  • Marky Dubois from Backyard Sports was originally going to be named Marky Ramone, a fan of his namesake band. Then they changed him into the farmboy he is today.
  • The prototype of the NES Batman game had a number of cutscene changes that changed the entire story of the game. Where the main game was pretty much a rehash of the 1989 movie itself, the prototype told a different story. Its ending was also different, where the finished product ended the same way the movie did, the prototype just ended with Batman smashing the Joker's face in. There was also a prototype for Batman: Return of the Joker for the SNES (the final game was released for the NES, Game Boy and Sega Genesis), but the prototype used was so badly done, it's easy to see why it was abandoned.
  • Baldur's Gate.
    • Imoen did not exist in the original concept Baldur's Gate. Her character was a late addition to fill a non-psychotic-thief gap in the early levels. There was no recording budget left, so her lines were assemblied together from voice-over left from a scrapped demo. That's why she has no standalone confrontations / interactions with other party members. A trace is in the game files, showing that actually two characters representing Imoen are used before and after leaving Candlekeep. Imoen(1) was a filler whose only purpose was to inform the main character to look for Gorion, her skills being random and her class being a mage. Imoen 2 is used after the main character leaves Candlekeep, as a fully joinable thief companion built from scratch. She was added because testers complained that there were only evil or crazy thieves during early chapters. Developers thought that good alignement parties would have faced difficulties. The original idea for the first hour companion was instead of a guard named Pique. After Imoen was added in, Pique was thrown out, but some of his lost dialogues were found and reconnected by mods.
    • Similarly, Baldur's Gate II didn't initially plan to continue her role in the saga. Very early concepts actually considered to have her recruitable for the whole time, but after adding Irenicus and the plot of her link to Bhaalspawns, she was staged to be kidnapped and imprisoned after chapter 1. However, plans assumed she would die in the process, with the main character coming in time only to be imprisoned again and watch Irenicus kill Imoen to trigger Charname's rage and essence of murder. Yoshimo was added as an early companion to cover her absent thieving skills, while Nalia was designed as a role clone for her new class (female mage/thief as is Imoen in Shadows of Amn). Developers changed idea noticing that Imoen had become very popular among the fanbase and a scripted death would have been received badly by the community. Testers complained about playing half the game to free her only to have their efforts result in a failure. This was again implemented in the final stages of development, and a trace of this late minute change is in that she has almost no banters in the final chapters. Yoshimo instead has a few unused ones, reverted when roles changed.
  • Baldur's Gate II had many sidequests of the PC's companions that were cut either for time, constraints, bugs or other reasons. Here's a very brief list:
    • Minsc: his pet hamster Boo gets kidnapped and Minsc's fighting abilities are affected by this. You have to find Boo or you can lie to him and get him another hamster.
    • Viconia: she's been infected by lycanthropy and will turn into a werewolf unless you find a cure. Also, once you reach the Underdark, she betrays you to the Drow, but later reconsiders.
    • Aerie: she finds a magic scroll that will turn her into a bird. She considers using it rather than live forever without her wings. You can convince her otherwise or she'll leave forever.
    • Haer'Dalis: he and the party gets repeatedly summoned by a unknown mage to fight monsters. Eventually, Haer'Dalis gets pissed and wants to find the summoner.
    • There were pie-in-the-sky ideas to have Yoshimo (who, in the final game, betrays you in Spellhold to Irenicus, or otherwise disappears from the game entirely if you don't bring him to Brynnlaw) return in some fashion in Throne of Bhaal. Lead designer David Gaider spoke in interviews about having him get resurrected via the Pocket Plane, and have to deal with the fact that he betrayed the party against his will. There's even some dialogue at the beginning of Bhaal that hints you can do this (along with a global override variable hardcoded into the game that allows you to keep him through the entirety of Amn and Bhaal, albeit as a ghost in the latter), but nothing really came of it.
    • Throne of Bhaal was originally supposed to act as the third full game in the series, but was later turned into an Expansion Pack. It is unknown whether the game would have sold better if it was a full game or not, but various interviews by the game's designers have indicated that there were a number of elements that were never implemented in the game, including bounty hunters following and attacking the player's party throughout the storyline, Melissan possibly turning the player's party members against them, Saemon disguising the party as monks to get into Balthazar's chambers, and more. David Gaider's Ascension mod was an attempt to put some of the unused elements back into the game, including extended epilogues that make clear that the protagonist and their love interest would have Spinoff Babies.
    • Baldur's Gate III: The Black Hound was originally intended to be a Divorced Installment from the "Bhaalspawn Saga", developed by Black Isle. It would have been set in Faerun, and would have revolved around the player hunting an evil cleric and witnessing visions from a "black hound" who died in their lap. The game was quietly canceled in 2003, and a planned adaptation of the plot as a module for Neverwinter Nights 2 (written by Josh Sawyer) was canned due to a lack of time to complete it.
  • The story of the making of Banjo-Kazooie is littered with tons of this trope, originally the game (“Project Dream” before being renamed for legal reasons) starred a human boy named Edison who fought with a wooden sword against a group of pirates led by Captain Blackeye, it was planned for the SNES originally but had to be moved to the N64 as the SNES was in its last days, the character of Edison was changed to a rabbit when Rare felt he was too generic a character, then a dog, and finally Banjo the bear. The story for the game originally was about a giant who kidnapped Banjo's girlfriend Piccolo at a concert the two were watching; the plot to the game originally also had a part where Banjo and Kazooie first met, also Wumba was originally supposed to be the original role for Mumbo. There were also sixteen worlds planned for Banjo-Kazooie such as Fungus Forest, Mount Fire Eyes, Witchy World, and Glitter Gulch Mine but were put off or redone for other games due to time constraints, also the in ending when you defeated Gruntilda the last spell she threw at Banjo and Kazooie was originally planned to hit them and turn the two into frogs and you were supposed to play as Tooty to turn them back to normal by collecting enough Mumbo Tokens (which explains why there are more Mumbo Tokens in the game than you need).
    • Fungus Forest later ended up in Donkey Kong 64, as "Fungi Forest".
    • Also Stop 'N' Swop is the most famous example out of Banjo-Kazooie despite the fact no one knows what its story was but do know that it was canned.
      • Stop 'N' Swop is an interesting example because it was scrapped not because of the limitations of the engine or time constraints. Instead, Stop 'N' Swop was canned because of the hardware. The original plan involved exploiting an eccentricity of the N64's memory where information was held in it for up to four minutes after a cartridge was removed. Accounts of how exactly it would work vary, but the general idea was to literally swap out a Banjo-Tooie cartridge for a Banjo-Kazooie one when prompted. Unfortunately, the year after Banjo-Kazooie was released Nintendo put out a new model of N64 that cleared its RAM too fast for cartridges to be swapped. Rare briefly considered making Tooie into a follow-through cartridge like Sonic & Knuckles, but ultimately decided to just drop the idea entirely.
      • And the Bottles' Revenge feature in Banjo-Tooie, which seems to be fully functional but just needs hacking to start up.
    • Likewise, the third game in the series was conceived as a platformer before becoming the vehicle building game it is today. It would have been a semi-remake of the first game in the series, but with unexpected twists, such as the mountain in the first level erupting as a volcano. Unfortunately for Rare, most fans would have greatly preferred that kind of game and it probably would have sold much better.
      • The reason they ended up making vehicles is because the levels designs were huge, so much so that you'd need vehicles to move around them in any reasonable time.
    • Banjo-Threeie was also going to be a GameCube game.
    • Banjo Pilot on the Game Boy Advance was originally conceived as Diddy Kong Pilot, a flying race game featuring Diddy Kong and a spiritual successor to Diddy Kong Racing featuring pseudo 3D graphics. When Rare was bought out by Microsoft, the project was canned due to their loss of rights to the Donkey Kong characters and was re-tooled as Banjo Pilot.
  • The Bard's Tale IV: Before being developed by inXile Entertainment, original designer Rebecca Heineman worked on three versions of The Bard's Tale IV, which were not released due to cancellation by Electronic Arts. In 1989, a game planned to be The Bard's Tale IV was released as Dragon Wars. A 1992 The Bard's Tale IV was going to be released in two parts, but was cancelled. Contraband Entertainment developed a 3D The Bard's Tale IV in 1998, which was cancelled around 2000. A 2003 The Bard's Tale IV project became the fan game Bard’s Legacy: Devil Whiskey.
  • Battlecruiser 3000AD:
    • Battlecruiser Commander was an intended sequel that was planned to have two add-on packs: Battlecruiser 3000AD: Skirmish Pak, which would have had multiplayer, and Battlecruiser 3000AD: Strike Pak, which would feature a first person ship perspective, boarding ships, and player targeted ships.
    • Battlecruiser 3020AD was another eventually-vaporware sequel that would have had a first person ship perspective and persistent online multiplayer.
    • Universal Combat started as the Battlecruiser 3000AD first person ship perspective add-on, Battlecruiser Tactical Engagement, replaced by "Project ABC" or "After Battlecruiser", intended for a 2001 Xbox and PC release, developed in 2001 as Battlecruiser Generations before becoming Universal Combat.
    • Battlecruiser Generations/Universal Combat was intended to have a persistent world MMO version, Battlecruiser Online.
    • Galactic Command was initially a series of action games based on the Universal Combat engine, Universal Combat: Hostile Intent/Hostile Intent: Planetfall, Universal Combat: Hold the Line, and Universal Combat: Edge to Edge.
  • Bayonetta has a few examples of this:
    • The unlockable art gallery has several conceptual versions of Bayonetta, as well as a design proposal where Bayonetta's costume would subtly change depending on which weapon she had equipped, instead implemented as perfumes you could equip that would do the subtle changes for a few weapons.
    • Rodin was also originally called Mephisto at one point.
    • There was to be a teenage version of Bayonetta in addition to her child self. This idea did not progress very far.
    • The Shuraba weapon had an animation in which, once the weapon was fully charged, it would reveal the pulsating heart inside. The animation was completed, but the devs forgot to add it in. It can be found within the game's files, however.
    • Bayonetta 2 began as an Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 game just like its predecessor, but Sega did not have enough budget to fund the game, so it was quietly cancelled. Platinum pitched the sequel to many companies, but the only one interested was Nintendo, who agreed to publish it when agreeing to publish The Wonderful 101 as well, thus the game ended up being on the Wii U instead. The fans' reactions when they heard that it would be exclusive to a "baby console" is truly a spectacle to behold.
  • B.C. by Peter Molyneux would have been a game about running a cave man settlement. The game was cancelled in 2004.
  • Beast's Fury was a furry-themed fighting game by Ryhan Stevens and Evil Dog Productions that was being crowdfunded in 2014 but ended up being cancelled in 2016.
  • beatmania:
    • beatmania IIDX 18 Resort Anthem had a copyright screen for North and South America in the data. This may have been a hint towards a localization, but unfortunately...
    • beatmania IIDX 20 tricoro had nearly full data for masquerade from Popn Music, but the song never made it into the game or any subsequent beatmania games. This probably has to do Naoki Maeda and Junko Karashima, the two who worked on the song, leaving Konami in 2013.
    • beatmania IIDX 21 SPADA had a lot go unused with its unlock system. Qprogue, the main unlock event, was slated to have four phases; the third never happened and the fourth became Qprogue DX, a revamp of the existing event that added a handful of new songs. There was also a second event that got scrapped entirely, although some residual data remains in the game's files. Additionally, there was supposed to be an eighth Spada Leggendaria song called Broken Sword, which appeared on the subsequent game.
    • beatmania IIDX 22 PENDUAL had two phases, Present and Future, that switched every few days. Developer commentary on the songs implies that there was to be more emphasis on having songs be phase exclusive, when in the end there were only two exclusive songs per phase.
  • Michel Ancel has stated before that the game that eventually ended up being released as Beyond Good & Evil is, in fact, Beyond Good and Evil 2 due to the sheer volume of things that were cut and/or changed. Protagonist Jade was originally named Sally, and was much younger-looking—her name changed due to "Sally" sounding too old lady-ish, and her looks changed because she did look too young for a serious woman in her early 20's. The game was supposed to span multiple planets in an intergalactic chase, and the duel partner mechanic (used only at the very end of the game) was supposed to see a lot more use. The sequel, trapped in Development Hell, already seems to be seeing this—after two incredibly realistic-looking trailers, interviews with Ancel suggest it's going back to something closer to its original look, and will be done by a small team as opposed to the big-budget production the first two trailers suggested.
    • A released original game story draft revealed a boatload of missing or altered content. The Governor of Hillys' role was originally a military man named Colonel Garis. The animal-picture-taking sidequest was originally much shorter, and only important for one part of the game. Rufus and Seven (a pair of racers found in the Akuda Bar) had plot significance. The DomZ were a sympathetic alien race, with the truly evil ones being called the Nazh. Most notably, Jade had a third gameplay partner, whose name was Toy'l, and who enabled her to use a psychic shield attack. There were also a number of things that got cut outright, such as Jade having to attend a fancy party to meet Col. Garis, Double H having in-game backstory, an airborne dungeon, and citizens attacking Jade for being a traitor.
  • BioForge was going to have a sequel, BioForge II. It was eventually cancelled to be reworked as an add-on to the first game, but the add-on was also cancelled.
  • BIONICLE: Legend Of Mata Nui would have been a 3rd person exploration/platform game for PC, based on the popular LEGO brand. Players would have had the opportunity to play as each of the six original Toa characters, meet the islanders personally, and fight their way to confront Makuta himself. And the entire thing would have been canon, standing as the most complete and most official telling of the 2001 storyline. Nearing completion, with loads of promo material having been released, the game was scrapped, and is now seen as a Holy Grail for BIONICLE. Beta copies do exist, which reveal several flaws that might have caused its cancellation. The motion controls are clunky — there is no transition between standing still and jutting forward with great speed. The fights are either boring (you can defeat bigger foes without having to near them) or annoying (as it's hard to aim at smaller enemies). The environments, while vast and pretty, barely have any challenges or minigames to offer, as the developers were notoriously inexperienced at making these. At the very end of the first level, there is an impassable glitch. And the story presentation was so cheesy, the Story Team would have de-canonized great chunks of it. These factors and the tight deadline are what probably lead to the game never getting finished. LEGO simply states it wasn't up to their standard of quality, but it's also said that the game could only run on a particular type of graphics card. Thankfully, fans got to play a truly great on-line game for compensation, which was originally intended to be a mere side-note to the PC game.
    • Their second attempt at a BIONICLE console game was more successful, if only in the sense that it was released — but still not exactly finished. There were plans to release it onto PlayStation, and the game would have had levels featuring the six Toa in both their original Mata and updated Nuva forms, adding up to a total of 13 levels. A lot of these had to be scrapped due to the rushed development, even though the canceled levels were still heavily advertised in promotions. The released game only had 8 levels, and Tahu's the only one playable in both of his forms.
    • BIONICLE 2: City of Legends, the never-finished 2004 sequel to the aforementioned game. Before the release of the linked video in late 2012, no one even knew it had been in development.
  • The original BioShock underwent many, many changes from the time it was pitched to the final product. The original pitch still had the Zeerust idea; they wanted it to take place on land, in a series of interconnected controlled environment chambers created by 1940's Germany. The laboratories would be full of mysteriously dead human bodies, being overrun by strange, insectoid life forms called Gatherers, who collected genetic material and body parts, the Protectors for the Gatherers, and predatory Aggressors. These eventually developed into, respectively, the Little Sisters, Big Daddies and Splicers when the developers decided they wanted a more "human" angle. The concept art book for BioShock shows off some of these life-forms; particularly striking is one insectoid being half-fused into a human body using its arms and legs to walk and fire a pistol. Among other things promised was the ability to alter the controlled environment, such as raising the temperature in an area and giving yourself a plasmid that protected you from heat exhaustion. One of the insectoids nearly made it to the sequel - the concept art shows Splicers turning into things that made G-Virus mutants look cute.
    • The original game had Jack mutate more and more with plasmid use, and would make players decide if they wanted to become a hideous freak like the splicers to survive, or refuse.
    • Irrational released their original pitch for BioShock, which turns out to have been a completely different game. In the original pitch, you play as Carlos Cuello, a “deprogrammer” assigned to infiltrate a mysterious cult based on a remote island and “rescue” a wealthy heiress being held there. The game would also include a much more in-depth weapon creation system, based on the superpower creation system in Freedom Force. Some of the weapons you could make included a triple-barreled automatic shotgun, a silenced railgun, magnetic grenades, a sniper rifle that shoots acid-coated bullets, and a chain lightning taser pistol.
    • Even the first BioShock gameplay demo had a bunch of features that were drastically altered in the final game: ADAM was supposed to be the only currency in the game and could be looted off cash registers, there was a plasmid that allowed you to sprint in Bullet Time, what would eventually become the Fort Frolic level would have you at one point luring Sander Cohen out of hiding by playing the records of his hated rival Anna Culpepper and the weapon mods looked cobbled together out of duct tape and household items, to emphasize how Rapture was originally a weapons-free society (apropos of the last point, Levine claimed the weapons looked "dorky", hence his decision to make the weapons "still look modded but by someone who knows what they're doing").
    • BioShock 2 went through several huge shifts in storyline and themes during development. Originally, the Big Sister was intended as a single Big Bad or The Dragon, a former Little Sister incapable of adapting to life on the surface who had returned to Rapture to try and rebuild the city of her childhood. She kidnapped girls to do so, and Tennenbaum returned to try and clean up the mess. This entire plot was more or less scrapped in exchange for a Perspective Flip with a religious collectivist villain in contrast to the first game's atheist Objectivist Big Bad.
      • At one point, the sequel was to have Soviet Russia invade Rapture, with the Soviet troops replacing splicers. It was even in some demos shown to reviewers.
    • BioShock Infinite made a habit of cutting levels during development. In fact, nearly nothing seen in any of the early gameplay trailers made it into the games. Many of the floating islands seen in the background of the final game are actually cut levels that have been repurposed as scenery.
      • Before creating Columbia, the developers considered reusing the setting of Rapture or setting the game in the Renaissance period.
      • Conceptually Columbia was going to be a much darker place and would have been decorated anachronistically in art nouveau, but this looked "too much like Rapture in the clouds". The main enemies would have been vigor junkies as opposed to splicers, but this idea was again dropped. The whole game was going to look much like the level in Comstock house, fitting the mold of Rapture very well indeed.
      • Songbird was going to be a reoccurring mini boss who hounded the player at every turn - which, in itself, was an unused concept from BioShock 2, where a solitary Big Sister served as a reoccurring boss.
      • Elizabeth was going to be much more powerful - calling in thunder strikes to stun enemies and other debuff attacks to help DeWitt slay his targets. In addition, opening tears would harm her more and more, and the player had to account this into his actions. Like the Harvest/Saving of Little Sisters, it would affect the ending and gameplay, and also was in itself a modification of an unused BioShock concept, where Jack had to decide if he would splice himself to the point of inhumanity, or keep himself human, at the cost of safety.
      • The Vigors were originally going to work much differently: instead of drawing from a pool of Salts, they would work much like the guns, having limited "ammo" which would force the player into constantly changing his strategy. Instead of Gear, there were originally "Nostrums", passive bonus granting Vigors much like the Tonics from the original BioShock with "unstable" (grants a random bonus out of three) and "stable" (grants a specific bonus but are rarer/more expensive).
      • Comstock originally looked more like a stern politician instead of the white bearded prophet he eventually became. Similarly, Elizabeth started out much older and conservatively dressed (complete with prim-and-proper hair bun). She was also originally explicitly mute.
      • BioShock Vita, a cancelled game on the PlayStation Vita, was going to be a turn based strategy game similar to Final Fantasy Tactics, set in pre-fall Rapture.
  • Blinx: The series' main character was meant to be Microsoft's answer to Sonic and Mario. The underperforming sequel and the Halo series being a smash hit caused Microsoft to cease the series and abandon the trademark years later.
  • Bonk: Brink of Extinction was meant to be a new game in a long-abandoned franchise, with a plot involving Bonk attempting to save his world from the threat of an incoming meteor. Then the Fukushima disaster happened, and the game was almost immediately cancelled, with its developer (still reeling from being let go by their previous publisher after working on the Misbegotten Multiplayer Mode of the 2009 Wolfenstein) closing shop before the month was out.
  • Borderlands was originally going to be a straight-laced first person shooter with a fleshed out story and realistic-looking graphics. Roland's original concept art shows him as a white, middle aged soldier with greying hair. This concept would eventually be used to create Dr. Zed. Early on in the game's production. It was also going to have randomly generated vehicles that could be collected like guns, as well as a way to hijack a vehicle from a bandit. The dungeons would also have random elements as well (a cave where a blank wall was previously, for example). However, most of this got scrapped when they decided to change the whole game's art style. Aside from changing from realistic to cel-shaded graphics, the developers realized that there are already way too many Call of Duty's and Halo: Combat Evolved's out there, so they chopped up and recreated the story to add in the elements of humor that the series has become known for.
  • As part of a late-game sidequest in Borderlands 2, the player would have had to inform Tiny Tina of Roland's death, which would emotionally devastate her. This is likely because, unlike the other NPCs involved with the quest, Tina lives out in the Tundra rather than at Sanctuary, meaning that players would have to trudge through an area filled with low-level enemies simply for a bit of dialog.
    • This decision influenced Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragonkeep, the 4th major DLC for the game. If they'd gone with the original plan, how would this have turned out?
  • The Broken Hourglass was going to be an isometric party-based RPG in a Byzantine-like setting, inspired by Baldur's Gate II. The game was in development from 2005 and was cancelled in 2011.
  • Brütal Legend was rushed, leaving the campaign only half as long as it was meant to be. Supposedly there was even a fourth faction, but that never saw the light of day.
    • The part where you escape Lionwhyte's palace was going to be set to Run to the Hills, but since the developers couldn't get the licenses for that song, they had to settle on Through the Fire and the Flames.
    • According to an interview, the campaign was just supposed to be a tutorial for the multiplayer.
  • Capcom Fighting All-Stars was going to be a 3D fighting game featuring several classic Capcom characters such as Ryu, Charlie, Chun-Li, Batsu, Akira, Strider Hiryu, Poison, and Mike Haggar, and original characters such as Ingrid, Rook and D.D. The game wasn't received well with beta testers, and the game was cancelled and turned into the less-than-stellar Capcom Fighting Evolution.
    • The original 1987 Street Fighter was the only 2D Street Fighter game not to be represented in Evolution, but originally, that was not going to be the case. Sagat (who would've lacked his chest scar), Eagle (who would've used his Capcom vs. SNK 2 sprite) and Retsu (in what would have been his first appearance since 1987) were all planned for the game, but had to be omitted because of time constraints.
  • Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker was originally conceived as a Legend of Zelda spinoff. When Miyamoto pushed the idea to Nintendo, they did not think Link was a good fit for the style of game, and they instead decided on Captain Toad, a character who had first appeared in Super Mario Galaxy. They gave Captain Toad a few levels with that style of gameplay in Super Mario 3D World and after the success of that game, they pushed Miyamoto to make a full spinoff game featuring only Captain Toad levels.
  • Developer "Dejawolfs" was working on a fan remake of Castlevania in Unreal Engine. Development stopped due to a cease and desist, though the developer is attempting to acquire a license from Konami.
  • CatDog was going to get a Licensed Game for the PlayStation called CatDog: Saving Mean Bob, but the game was never released.
  • Cave Story was originally a very different game, and some weird fragments of this ended up in the finished game.
    • Pixel originally planned for all the guns to have limited ammo until the endgame, making conservation of ammo a major part of the strategy. Then he playtested the infinite-ammo portions, decided they were simply more fun, and implemented that for the whole game.
    • Balrog was originally named Puu, and in addition to being a Recurring Boss, he was also initially the Final Boss. He wasn't a unique creature, but a larger version of a common level enemy. (Apparently Puu Black, a Giant Space Flea from Nowhere in the final game, is a leftover from this period.)
    • The character Curly Brace was nowhere to be seen—instead, Curly Brace was the name of the player character. This led to a bit of ascended fanon: In the finished game, it's mentioned that the protagonist has something written on his hat, but we never find out what. Artwork from the beta game showed that his name—Curly Brace—was written on his hat, so fanon insisted that, in spite of the name change, his hat still said "Curly Brace" in the finished game. When asked about this, Pixel's response was “Sure Why Not.”
  • Cel Damage was going to have a sequel. The sequel would offer new character designs (such as Violet and Dominique having new hairstyles and more cleavage, Sinder being made cute, and Fowl Mouth becoming colorized), on-foot combat in addition to vehicle combat, many of the changes and improvements from Cel Damage Overdrive, and new level themes, such as islands and underwater levels. Sadly, EA pulled the plug on the game before it could even progress past the early prototype stage, just so they could make room for more sports games and Harry Potter movie tie-ins. Years after its cancellation, former Psuedo Interactive employees posted the concept art and a 15-second montage of clips from the early prototype to the Internet.
  • Champions, by Hero Games, was going to be a 1992 computer RPG adaptation of the Champions RPG.
  • Chaos Chronicles, by Coreplay, was going to be a D&D 3.5E isometric, party-based, tactical turn-based RPG on a hex grid.
  • Chrono Trigger: An unofficial installment, Chrono Trigger: Crimson Echoes, would have had 35 hours of gameplay and eleven endings. A 3D remake of Chrono Trigger, initially developed on the N64 as CT64, ended up being on Windows as Chrono Resurrection, with ports planned for Xbox and GameCube. Both fan projects ended up being abandoned due to a cease and desist.
  • The Chrono Cross artbook The Missing Piece has pages upon pages of dropped character designs, most of which much more eclectic or fantastic than the ones that made it to the final game (including some alternative designs for those that did.) Most frustrating of all: explicit mention of how Guile (Alf in the Japanese version) really was supposed to be Magus/Magil, but his backstory was cut out in favor of the 40+ characters and therefore he was reduced to a random traveling sorcerer… giving rise to a million and one Epileptic Trees as to his identity.
  • City of Heroes was still under active development when its shutdown was announced and the entire development team fired, with the highly anticipated Issue 24 update in beta-testing and only a few weeks away from release (which was itself just a preamble to a story that had been building since the game opened, the "Coming Storm", which was to start in Issue 25). Data-mining the beta client revealed six half-completed powersets that were being worked on, and even revealed an entirely new (albeit unfinished) zone, Kallisti Wharf, intended for release with Issue 25. Even a long-awaited moon base map was scheduled to be added in Issue 28. Perhaps the saddest part of all was that the update in beta-testing when the game was closed was called "Resurgence".
  • Clayfighter 63 1/3 was planned to be ported to the PlayStation under the title of Clayfighter X-treme with all of the characters from Sculptor's Cut, the gameplay from the original 63 1/3 and one of the characters that was removed from the N64 games, a homeless parody of Robocop called, of course, Hobocop. The N64 Clayfighters themselves were a reworking of a canceled Clayfighter 3 for the SNES and M2 console. An installment for the Nintendo DS and Wii, titled Clayfighter: Call of Putty, may have been planned as an Updated Re-release of 63 1/3.
  • Clive Barker's Undying: A lot of things were dropped during development.
    • The game was supposed to have a multiplayer mode.
    • Eight different spells were cut out. The game was even supposed to have three selection wheels: one for weapons, another for offensive spells, and another for defensive spells.
      • Mindshatter: disorients (it's the spell used by the Sil Lith in Oneiros).
      • Powerword: scribes a rune on the air and damages anyone on sight (used by the Veragos in Oneiros).
      • Ward: organic mines (used by Bethany).
      • Firefly: makes enemies glow, allows spells to seek enemies.
      • Shala's Vortex: originally supposed to protect from magical damage, before it was merged with the shield spell (which was initially supposed to protect only from physical damage).
      • Phoenix: initially a spell, not a weapon (used by Keisinger). Dynamite was supposed to be the missing weapon.
      • Phase: invisibility (used by the Drinen in Eternal Autumn).
      • Incantation of Silence: mutes sound.
    • At early stages of the development, the game was supposed to be called "Strange Aeons" (a H. P. Lovecraft reference) or "Siog" (a Celtic word for "Spirit World").
    • A cut level would have featured an Irish village overrun by Trsanti.
    • The gameplay would have been much less linear, and have more freeroam.
    • A dropped Scrye event was supposed to show Bethany coming back after being killed by Keisinger and banishing Keisinger to Oneiros.
    • Some items were also dropped. The wizard eye, for example, was like a surveillance camera that could put anywhere, but was dropped along with the multiplayer mode (being pretty much useless in single player). One can still be found in the Debug Room, though.
  • The original concept for Comix Zone, Joe Pencil trapped in the Comix Zone, is completely different from the final product apart from having the same basic concept.
  • Command & Conquer:
    • The first game was originally conceived as a medieval fantasy RTS. However, Operation Desert Storm was all over the news at the time, so Westwood eventually settled for a more contemporary modern-day setting (with a sci-fi element).
    • Command & Conquer: Tiberian Incursion, known as Tiberian Twilight by fans, was to be the third game in the Tiberian continuity. Prior to its buyout by EA, Westwood's version of Tiberian Twilight, which would have been in place of Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars, would have continued the post-apocalyptic plot set by Tiberian Sun. Not much is known about what was intended, but it would have led into Red Alert 2 due to another time travel act and conclude the Tiberian series. Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 would have been the bridge between the original Red Alert and Tiberian Dawn, showing how the Brotherhood of Nod would have risen from the ashes of the Soviet Union. This would later all be nixed by EA, possibly because of the confusing plot lines involving time travel.
    • Command & Conquer: Renegade:
      • The game would have originally starred Logan Sheppard, the son of the Brigadier General you receive your orders from in the original game, with more missions geared towards stealth. In the released game, he just runs the replacement player character Nick Parker through the obstacle course. And, in another case of this, said obstacle course was supposed to have Nick constantly making fun of Logan for the above family link; in the actual game, Nick doesn't say a word to him.
      • There's an almost saddening amount of lines recorded that are never actually heard in the game, as evidenced by an Unreal Tournament 2004 voicepack created out of their sound files.
      Patch: I have to know, do you write those down ahead of time, or is this all improv?
      Deadeye: If they'd issue me enough equipment, I wouldn't have to scavenge!
      • The models for most of the weapons were apparently changed very late in development, as about half of the pre-rendered cutscenes feature completely different versions of them - among others, the pistol resembles an MP7, Nod soldiers carry M16s with grenade launchers as they did in the original game, and the sniper rifle is even more boxy and has a larger scope and a longer barrel.
      • Gideon Raveshaw and Mendoza had different models and appearances; Raveshaw actually had Mendoza's final model (explaining why Mendoza's outfit so highly resembles that of Seth from the original game) while Mendoza had a completely different design that never made it into production. This would have made Raveshaw a hell of a lot more badass (at least prior to his Tiberium infusion) since he would look like a grizzled veteran instead of a tiny Napoleon-esque general.
    • Command & Conquer: Renegade 2. One version was going to tie in to Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2, another version was to be set after Yuri's Revenge.
    • Tiberium was going to be a tactical FPS using Unreal Engine 3.
    • Command & Conquer: Continuum was to be a Command & Conquer MMORPG.
    • The 2013 Command & Conquer, a free to play game by Victory Games that was cancelled in 2013, which was at least at some point meant to be a sequel to Command & Conquer: Generals.
  • Conker's Bad Fur Day:
    • The game was originally designed to be a cute, Banjo-Kazooie type platformer named "Conker's Quest", just like Conker's Pocket Tales for Game Boy Color. They then revamped the game, and changed it to "Twelve Tales: Conker 64", in which it was more of a Spyro the Dragon-type platformer. In the end, Rare got aggravated about the complaints of Twelve Tales: Conker 64 looking childish and too similar to Banjo-Kazooie, and ended up changing the story completely, such as timeskipping Conker from a child to an alcoholic adult and avoiding the E rating altogether. Thus, making the Conker's Bad Fur Day we know today.
    • In the sequel, Conker's Other Bad Day or Conker: Gettin' Medieval, it was planned that Conker did so horribly as king (he squandered the treasury's worth of moolah for parties, beer and hookers to a point of bankruptcy) that he was thrown in the dungeon and had to escape, ball and chain in tow, back to his throne. The sequel was cancelled by Microsoft in favor of Kinect Sports. Also, another draft of the sequel was going to have Conker killed as early as the first scene in friendly fire.
  • Contact was Carl Sagan's idea for a non-violent video game that would teach astronomy by starting on the Earth and finding a location in the Milky Way galaxy, or finding the Earth from another point in the galaxy. It was envisioned either as one game with two modes, or two separate games, Contact 1 and Contact 2.
  • Coolsville was being developed by Music Pen for the fall of 1994 release, but it was later cancelled after the publisher closed down. It was going to be a jazz-themed PC adventure game aimed at a children audience.
  • Crash Bandicoot:
    • The original Crash Bandicoot was going to have an intro and ending animated in the style of a 90s Saturday morning cartoon which ultimately didn't make it into the game. Both cutscenes surfaced online nearly 19 years after the game's release and can be found here. The intro also notably includes Tiny Tiger and the Komodo Bros. among Cortex's henchmen, meaning that they might have originally been intended to appear in the first game but were ultimately pushed back to their appearance in Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back.
    • Ripper Roo was originally going to speak intelligibly in Crash Team Racing, but the developers thought it would fit his personality better to simply be The Unintelligible. The unused audio can still be found on the game disc.
    • Crash Nitro Kart was planned to have updated versions of Crash Team Racing tracks. In a fit of irony, Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled includes updated versions of tracks from Nitro Kart.
    • Collecting yellow gems in Crash Twinsanity unlocks 'unseen extras' which apparently feature ideas and concepts that never made it into the final product. The trope is lampshaded by Cortex once:
    "We were going to visit two dimensions, but… we ran out of time."
    • The following things were thrown around at various points in Twinsanity's development:
      • The other two islands from the first Crash Bandicoot game where you would explore the temples and race on a track run by the Komodo Bros.
      • Crash originally had a dashing flame punch attack that could be used after spinning, and it would have been able to open metal crates and crush doors and whatnot - but, the move was deemed "too powerful" for the game - quite literally, since it was stated that the punch could mess up the game physics.
      • Another Doc Amok level set on the sea floor of a dry ocean that would have also possibly led you to N. Gin's sunken battleship.
      • Coco Bandicoot as a playable character, where her levels would consist of her running around in a Matrix/Tron parody in order to hack open the way for herself and her allies.
      • An encounter with an Evil Coco, stripperiffic outfit and all, and Good Cortex in the tenth dimension.
      • A fight with a blue monkey wearing a bowler hat would occur when you entered Crash's garden. The fight would consist of the monkey leaping on you and wrestling you to the ground, during which a gameplay mechanic similar to Rollerbrawl would take place where you had to pin the monkey to the ground long enough for you to escape.
      • You would enter Cortex and Coco's minds using the Psychetron. In the former, you would explore Cortex's mind as Crash fighting manifested freakish copies of Cortex while the music of the stage consisted of Cortex singing a song about himself and his history with Crash. In the latter, you would play as Cortex while fighting pastel horrors.
      • The game was going to have a GameCube port. Supposedly, it was canceled due to poor sales of previous Crash games on the system, despite Crash Tag Team Racing later being available on it.
    • There's a good handful of Crash games that were either never released or became something else:
      • There was a game developed by Tom Ruegger, best known as the creator of Tiny Toon Adventures and Animaniacs, but it was ultimately canceled.
      • Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped was going to have a follow-up game on the PS2 by Mark Cerny, featuring free-roaming gameplay and interplanetary travel, to be published by Konami. Some game elements were worked into Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex.
      • Crash Bandicoot: Evolution was going to be a game on the GameCube, featuring the character Foofie, a planet known as Gaudi, a floating city, and a fish world. Some elements of the game were worked into Crash Twinsanity on the PS2 and Xbox, and some game mechanics and ideas ended up in Sonic Boom, made by former Naughty Dog developers.
      • Crash Twinsanity was going to have a sequel, Crash Twinsanity 2, taking place in a Trapped in TV Land setting with over 25 levels.
      • Cortex Chaos was planned to be a followup to Crash Twinsanity, on the GameCube, PS2 and Xbox.
      • Crush Bandicoot, by Magenta Software, was going to be a Villain Protagonist game starring Crash's evil twin Crush, on the GameCube, PS2 and Xbox in 2004.
      • Crash Clash Racing was going to be a racing game on the GameCube, PS2 and Xbox. The game was reworked into Crash Tag Team Racing.
      • Crash Tag Team Racing was going to have a port on the Nintendo DS in 2005.
      • Bandicoot Brats was going to be a Crash Bandicoot game by Krome Studios, but was cancelled to focus on The Legend of Spyro.
      • Crash Online was mentioned on a Sierra website from 2006-2007. No details are known, but it may have ended up as the interactive Crash Village on the Activision website.
      • Crash Landed, by Radical Entertainment, was going to be a Crash Bandicoot reboot on Nintendo DS, PlayStation 3, Wii, and Xbox 360, developed around 2010-2013 before development shifted to the ill-fated [PROTOTYPE 2].
      • Crash Team Racing, by High Impact Games, was going to be a racing game and spinoff to Crash Landed, being developed around 2010. The game was cancelled, and elements were worked into the game DreamWorks Super Star Kartz.
      • A PlayStation 4 Crash Bandicoot game was being developed by Cerny Games. After being cancelled, elements of the game were reworked into the game Knack.
  • Crusader: Crusader: No Survivors was to be the multiplayer add-on for Crusader: No Regret. The third game would have been Crusader II, Crusader: No Mercy, or Crusader 3: No Escape.
  • Cytus was going to get an arcade version named Cytus Omega, which was announced in 2015. However, it was cancelled in 2018 due to the expiration of the contract between Capcom and Rayark, with Rayark feeling that the game was still not at the level that they wanted it to be at.
  • Daikatana
    • A PlayStation version was cancelled during development.
    • A Daikatana sequel was being developed by Human Head Studios on the Unreal Engine. When the project was cancelled, the developers began working on Rune.
  • In 1995, a first-person sandbox PC game called Damocles was supposed to come out. Its goal would have been to explore a solar system in order to save a planet from a collision with a comet. The solar system would have been completely explorable; the players would have had the freedom to fly in space, land and move freely on any planet, enter any building, explore any room, pick up any object, blow up any building and even destroy any planet they wanted. Psygnosis canceled the game when it was practically complete.
  • Daredevil was set to have a game made in early 2002, set to be released in 2003. The game would have had the Man Without Fear battle a number of familiar foes such as The Kingpin, Silvermane, Hammerhead and the Rose, have appearances by Elektra and Echo and have unlockable costumes such as his original red and yellow suit. Daredevil would have traversed through Hell's Kitchen either by swinging on his billyclub or by grinding (something Sony requested and Marvel was very wary of adding because Daredevil doesn't grind). There was also a precursor of the Detective Mode from Batman: Arkham Asylum based on Daredevil's Radar Sense. The game would have been based on Frank Miller's Elektra Lives Again and had Daredevil trying to stop a crime war when it seems the Kingpin was murdered. However, the game was shelved when Marvel, very unhappy with the fact that the studio making it, 5000 Ft., opted to side with Sony a little too much, refused to let it be approved. This wasn't counting the fact that there was an internal war between the old members of the team and new ones hired.
  • In the unlockable bonus content for The Exiled Prince, the second installment of the Dark Parables, there are two movies depicting alternate possible opening sequences for the game. One of them has Ireland as the setting, with the Prime Minister's daughter as the person who must be rescued. (In the final game, it's the daughter of the Chancellor of Germany, and the story takes place in the Black Forest.)
  • darkSector was initially announced in 2001 as a massively multiplayer Spiritual Successor to Unreal Tournament. No words were spoken on this game until in 2004, when the game turned into a stealth-oriented action series in space. Then in 2006 it was overhauled into biologically themed Gears of War's sister game with a glaive that isn't actually a glaive that finally hit the consoles in 2008. The stealth-action space game later evolved into Warframe.
  • In Dark Souls, there was originally going to be a sidequest expanding throughout the entire game involving Oscar of Astora, the guy who gives you the Estus Flask at the very beginning of the game, according to some dummied out dialogue. The quest apparently involved him helping you fight past the enemy NPC's inside of Darkroot Garden, and ended with a duel in the Kiln of the First Flame, the dialog suggesting that he sides with whichever primordial serpent that you didn't side with. Considering that he also shares the same armor with the promotional artwork of the Chosen Undead, he was probably originally meant to be the PC's evil counterpart.
    • Crossbreed Priscilla was originally supposed to be an important character to the story, similar to The Maiden in Black of Demon's Souls but she was cut to just being a minor character.
    • In the original script for the game, Andre the Blacksmith was supposed to be Gwyn's Firstborn, that is why Andre is so absurdly tough if you try to fight him.
  • Darkstalkers:
    • The Night Warriors was originally conceived as a licensed fighting game featuring the Universal Monsters. This original concept can still be seen in the finalized game, as a great number of the characters are transparent Expies of Universal horror icons (Demitri is Dracula, Rikuo is the Creature from the Black Lagoon, Jon Talbain is The Wolf Man, ect).
    • During the initial design stage, Morrigan was supposed to be a cute and clumsy vampire girl while Felicia was supposed to be a hot, aggressive, and seductive catwoman. A few character redesigns later, Morrigan was turned into the hot succubus that everyone knows and loves, so Felicia was severely toned down to fill the "cute" character spot. Traces of this can still be seen in the first game, with Morrigan sporting a much less slutty artwork without her habitual seductive lips, while Felicia had much more visible lips instead of her habitual fanged halfmoon smile, and her aspect in general was much more mature and way less of her ditzy bubblehead self in later games. This can also be seen in their stage backgrounds: Morrigan's is a pastel-colored castle with fireworks going off in the background (rather unfitting of the Strongest Demon in the Underworld, but it might work for a little girl...), while Felicia's basically implied that she was a Vegas showgirl.
    • Lilith is roughly what Morrigan was originally meant to be. Also, she was going to be her half-angel sister. Lilith's design also was rumored to perhaps at one point be male or a hermaphrodite before she became said half-angel sister. During her incarnation as an angel, she looked exactly like Morrigan except possibly more "pure", and she was the older sister of the two who was mercilessly teased by Morrigan. Her design as an angel was retooled into the different succubus we know and love, because at the time there were too many angelic characters in other fighting games (such as Angel in Tekken 2 and Uranus in Battle Arena Toshinden 2).
    • Although it is common knowledge that Arc System Works was formed of ex-Darkstalkers staffers who jumped ship from Capcom after the release of Vampire Savior, it is less known that many of Guilty Gear's characters are ripped directly from aborted ideas for Darkstalker characters: Concept arts for Victor show a character highly reminiscent of Potemkin, and early plot treatments for Lord Raptor (in which he was a dead soldier with Arm Blades, and later a Zombie Pirate with a giant hook in his chest that shot tentacles at opponents) created three characters: Chipp, May, and Zato-1. Pyron at one point was going to be an extraterrestrial Mad Scientist; the concept design is literally Faust with a giant plume of flame emanating from his head.
  • Dawngate was a cancelled MOBA by Waystone Games.
  • The art book for Dead Rising 2 and some early previews show that the game would've taken place in one large, Western-themed casino with a steamboat in the side (source)(or perhaps that was one of the several casino/hotels, along with a different, Luxor-like Yucatan, seen in some pictures provided), that Fortune City would be an actual city with a large entertainment-like area similar to the final game's Fortune City and near a Phenotrans (then called Biotrans) facility (source) , overall more ambitious and large scale concepts for the area and casinos (source) (source) (source), and a different design for the entrance to the bar in the Yucatan.
  • Demonik, the game featured in Grandma's Boy, was going to be a game by Majesco Entertainment for the Xbox 360.
  • Originally, Devil May Cry was a set of combat mechanics for Resident Evil 4, which were canned because they were too action-oriented. But then it spun off into its own series, and even that had its changes, such as Dante being armed with a submachine gun, not wearing a longcoat, fighting Griffon in place of Phantom for the first battle, and Devil Triggering into Alastor in the cutscene right before said battle. The Devil Trigger scene was moved to the end and used for the Sparda form instead.
  • Diablo: The Map of the Stars and Rune of the Stars would let the player know when the stars and planets would come into alignment, when Diablo would be nigh invincible unless a special quest was completed in time, significantly changing how the game was played. Shown in a hidden movie on the Diablo CD.
    • At least seven monsters cut from the game: Bone Demon, Devil Kin Brute, Incinerator, Invisible Lord, Lord Sayter, The Arch-Litch Malignus and the Unraveller.
    • A six page spell book was to include the spells Invisibility, Blood Boil, Blood Ritual, Doom Serpents, Etherealize, and Sentinel.
    • The Warcraft II Diablo preview suggests the hero was to discover who killed their family, have a skill tree system similar to Diablo II, and have only one class branching off into three skill trees for Warrior, Mage or Rogue.
    • A cut quest involved talking to Tremain the Priest about retrieving the sword Shadowfang from the demon Fleshdoom to receive the Lightforge mace. A quest from Gillian the barmaid involved hunting down the fallen angel Izual to receive the Azurewrath sword. Another quest involved hunting down the demon queen Andariel, later used in Diablo II.
    • The Diablo: Hellfire expansion was to have a more developed story and voice files for the Bard and Barbarian classes.
  • Diablo III: Condor/Blizzard North's 2005 version would have retained the Diablo II look and feel instead of the more criticized "World of Warcraft" graphics of the retail release.
    • The animation of the Siegebreaker Assault Beast eating the player was seen in the preview but not implemented in the final release.
    • The Forgotten Tombs dungeon, ladders and climbing, requiring a jumping or teleporting class ability to bypass terrain, and more features not included or severely watered down in the final release.
  • Disney Infinity, a game with a wide amount of content as it is, has lots of cut characters and content:
    • Disney Infinity 1.0:
      • Ferb and Dr. Doofenschmirtz. Both have models in the game's files. Ferb is an interesting case he was seen in some gameplay videos pre-release where he was clearly playable. However, he was cut as there was only enough room for two Phineas and Ferb characters, and Perry the Platypus/Agent P was chosen over him. In Doof's case, it's not known whether or not he was intended to be a playable character or an NPC. It's rumored that he was to be a boss in an unmade Phineas and Ferb Play Set. Both of them (along with Candace) are still highly requested.
      • Victor Frankenstien. Victor appears in promotional art, and was reported to be receiving a Play Set. The movie's unpopularity with audiences put the kibosh on any of those plans.
      • Figment from the Journey To Imagination ride at EPCOT. Scrapped as the developers felt he was too niche of a character.
      • Kermit, Mrs. Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo, Animal, and Beaker. All these Muppet characters have concept art of them as figures. Unfortunately, nothing has come out of this thus far.
    • Disney Infinity 2.0:
      • The Star Wars characters were originally considered to be included in this version, but (likely due to the large amount of characters and content planned) they were saved for the next version.
      • Darkwing Duck nearly made it into both this version and 3.0. He's a widely requested character because of this.
      • Stitch was to get a Costume Disc that put him in the Elvis outfit he wore in his home movie. However, the Elvis Presley estate asked for too much money to implement this.
    • Disney Infinity 3.0:
      • Bing Bong was reportedly in development as a playable character according to a tweet by lead developer John Vignocchi, but was apparently cut later in development.
      • Star Wars: Rogue One and Moana were to get Play Sets, but currently have failed to see retail release after the series was cancelled. While it's currently not known how far the Rogue One Play Set got into production, the Moana Play Set was far enough into development to have in-game screen shots, packaging and a Play Set Piece, and even physical Moana and Maui figures. It also appears that water mechanics would have been added to the game with the Play Set's release, if the screencap depicting the water moving away from Moana as she walks around is any indication. Maui would have been able to grab and move entire blocks and set pieces with his hook.
      • Twelve inch tall figures of some of the series's most popular characters (which would have behaved differently in the game) were in the works, and due to be released by fall 2016. Again, this didn't happen due to the series's cancellation. The characters known to have gotten this treatment do have final figure designs, however, and include the Hulk, Jack Skellington, Hulkbuster, Darth Vader, and Elsa. (Premium Elsa's design (and possibly her move-set as well) appears to be based on Frozen Fever.) Buzz Lightyear is another character who is known to have gotten a premium figure, which can be seen here. A video depicting Hulk, Vader, Hulkbuster, and Jack has been released, and it's definitely clear that Jack's move-set would have been significantly upgraded from that of his 1.0 figure. Yoda and Lightning McQueen were also reportedly getting premium figures as well, but only the design of the Lightning McQueen Premium figure is known to exist.
    • The cancelled Disney Infinity 4.0:
      • Information about the scrapped installment was leaked by alleged Avalanche Software employees days after Disney shut down the series. According to the leaks, it would have featured characters and content from places such as Cars 3, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Coco, The Last Jedi, Thor: Ragnarok and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, presumably meaning characters like Valkyrie and Mantis would have been playable.
      • A catch-all Play Set or Story Mode in the Toy Box would have been featured that would have enabled use of all characters without restriction, meaning that the oft-requested ability to have Elsa and Perry the Platypus fight Stormtroopers on Alderaan or having Stitch, Woody, and Captain America sail a pirate ship after Kylo Ren on the Caribbean Sea would have finally been possible. Test footage from a cinematic that likely would have been part of this mode can be found here.
      • Disney Interactive would have enlisted the help of Hasbro to help out with the figures, expanding on the toy company's success with the newly-acquired Disney Princess license.
      • Jiminy Cricket would have been an NPC as both a new guide character and in a brand new opening sequence reminiscent of Storybook Opening sequences in classic Disney movies. Concept art of the book in question.
      • Belle and the Beast were planned to get figures to tie into the 2017 live-action remake of the 1992 movie, according to this podcast. However, they were to be based on their remake designs rather than their 1992 animated designs. The same podcast also reveals some details about the new Pirates of the Caribbean and Cars Play Sets that would have come to 4.0. Capt. Jack would have received a revamped figure (along with figures of two unknown Pirates characters), and possibly Lightning McQueen would have gotten one as well. (As well as figures based on new characters from Cars 3.
  • Divine Divinity developer Larian Studios planned to make an RPG, Ragnarok Unless, later titled The Lady, the Mage & the Knight or LMK. The game was planned to have 8-bit graphics, was remade with 16-bit graphics as a game in the The Dark Eye universe, and had gameplay similar to Diablo II and Ultima VII. The game was cancelled and the engine and game assets were used to make Divine Divinity.
  • Donkey Kong Country Returns: The game was intended to have underwater levels, but they were cut out for being too slow and hard to control in. Also, the bonus pictures reveal, among other things, a giant eel battle on one of the lighthouses only seen in the background in the actual game, a return of Tree Top Town, and LOTS of different designs for 9-1.
  • Donkey Kong Country:
    • During development of the first game, Diddy Kong was originally Rare's updated version of Donkey Kong Jr. However the people at Nintendo felt he looked too different from the character so they were told to have the character be someone entirely new.
    • A developer of the original game revealed that it was going to feature more animal helpers, including Hooter the Owl and Miney the Mole. It was going to have a magician Kremling named Kloak (the name being recycled for a ghost Kremling enemy in Donkey Kong Country 2), a robot Kremling named Krocbot, and a Statue Kremling named Krumble. The animals were originally going to be found in cages and the player would have to collect keys to open the cage. Additionally there was one scrapped factory level which was full of bouncing springs, another allusion to the original Donkey Kong (specifically, the 75m stage).
  • At one point, the Game Boy Advance port of Donkey Kong Country 3 would have had a downscaled version of the original game's soundtrack, like the two ports before it. Eventually, time and/or cartridge space limitations forced the developers to turn to David Wise, who collaborated with Eveline Fischer for the original game, for a completely new soundtrack. As the new soundtrack is somewhat incomplete in some places (Cranky Kong is the only friendly character with his own theme music, there is no death theme, the file select uses the dock stage music instead of having its own, the final boss fight uses the generic boss battle music, etc.), this was evidently a late change.
  • There was going to be a GameCube sequel to Diddy Kong Racing entitled Donkey Kong Racing. It was going to include the entire Kong family instead of only Diddy, and instead of racing in karts, planes, and hovercrafts, players would race on elephants, birds, and other jungle animals. The project was canned once Rareware left Nintendo for Microsoft.
    • It's worth noting that the game wasn't immediately canned after that; Rare still had the source code, and they attempted to retool it into a Sabre Wulf game called Sabreman Stampede. Even in this form, however, the game suffered some development troubles, and after the commercial failure of Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, the game got axed for good.
  • Doom:
    • The original concept was very different. Gameplay would be more story and puzzle based, more like a first person Adventure Game. Screenshots and scripts still exist of these early versions (including such inventory items as “Commander's Hand” and “Ham Sandwich”). Early alpha versions, released on the Internet, show remnants from the original, slower and less action-packed design, with an assault rifle and bayonet, office chairs, the automap build-in to the HUD rather than being a separate overlay, and space marines playing cards in a lounge area. Some have argued when ID Software rebooted the storyline of the original game in Doom 3, they were in fact just presenting a game that was closer to this original conception.
    • The story was to start with four space marine player characters with differently colored outfits, playing cards in an office environment, interrupted by an attack in the base. One character, Buddy Dacote, would die at the end of the first episode (hence the name "Dacote", being an acronym for "dies at conclusion of this episode"); this ended up in the final version, with the first episode "Knee-Deep in the Dead" ending with the player being ambushed and killed, waking up in Hell for the second episode.
    • The Imp and Demon were going to be called Demon Trooper and Demon Sergeant, making them essentially more demonic equivalents of the zombieman and zombie sergeant. The Unmaker, a weapon made of demon bones, was planned to be included, and showed up later in Doom 64. There were ideas for interactive computer consoles and rail transport, showing up in Doom 3.
    • The first and third episodes were originally supposed to take place on "Tei Tenga", a tidally locked planet/moon (the design docs are inconsistent on this), with the bases the player explored focused on mining a substance called "Fire Dust" rather than researching teleportation. Additionally, there were a pair of "anomalies" at each of Tei Tenga's poles, which were to be where said Fire Dust was first found and excavated from. In the end, all that remains of this are the names - a few monitors in the first episode refer to "UAC BASE TEI TENGA", and the end of the first episode and beginning of the second, the link between Phobos in normal reality and Deimos in Hell, are called respectively "Phobos Anomaly" and "Deimos Anomaly".
    • After John Carmack designed the engine, ID Software wanted to use it to adapt the movie Alien. They decided against this rather quickly, fearing Executive Meddling in their creative process - interestingly enough, the very first total-conversion Game Mod to be released for Doom was Aliens TC. They also considered using it to make a sequel for Commander Keen; at best, the only hints towards this in the finished game are the fact that the second secret level of Doom II ends with the player having to kill four hanging Keens to open up the switch to end the level.
    • Around the release of the game Rage, a game known as Doom 4 was in development, nicknamed by fans as Call of Doom for its resemblance to the Call of Duty franchise. The game went unreleased, and ended up being replaced by a more properly Doom- like game that came out in 2016.
    • The Spider Mastermind was planned to have a secondary attack beyond its mounted chaingun, going as far as making sprites showing it waving its stubby arms around to use some form of magic against the player. These sprites went unused because the team was unable to decide on what, exactly, that magic attack was supposed to actually do.
  • Double Dragon:
    • The original game was conceived as a sequel to the original Nekketsu Koha Kunio-kun (aka Renegade). It was retooled as a stand-alone game when the developers felt that they didn't want to work on a separate version of the same game for the overseas market like they did with Renegade.
    • The arcade version of Double Dragon II: The Revenge was originally planned as an upgrade kit for the original game that would've changed the graphics for the enemy characters and backgrounds. However, the developers wanted to add even more new features such as new moves, boss characters and more music, which wouldn't had been possible to add had the game been released as an upgrade kit, which required the game to be remade on a different hardware. This is why Double Dragon II reuses assets from the first game, since it was supposed to be an upgraded version to begin with.
    • Super Double Dragon was supposed to have an actual plot. The Big Bad Duke would've been revealed to be Billy and Jimmy's childhood friend, and the True Final Boss would've been a fight with Duke's shadow.
  • Dragon Age: Origins:
    • The game was originally intended that you were able to recruit Jowan the Blood Mage after finishing the Redcliffe chain of quests by invoking the Right of Conscription upon him, though time constraints led to this being scrapped. His fate in the game is either execution, being sent back to the Circle and into the hands of the Templars, or you let him escape early on.
    • Plans to amend a few cases of Gameplay and Story Segregation were scrapped: Lyrium addiction (prominent among Templar and mage characters) was supposed to be implemented as a gameplay mechanic, manifesting itself in diminishing returns of Lyrium Potions; the Darkspawn taint (said to affect all living beings who contact the Darkspawn, including your party who fight them all the time) would have forced you to make your entire party Gray Wardens by the endgame. The Joining was only implemented in Awakening and even there, it was optional.
    • The game was also going to include Human Commoner and Human Barbarian origins, in addition the Human Noble that made it into the final game. The Commoner origin was written out but cut due to being too boring (you basically had to repel an army of Darkspawn encroaching on your family farm), while the Barbarian origin was abandoned because it required a whole new set of level assets for the Avvar (local "barbarian" tribe) culture, which couldn't be produced on time. Avvar culture would no be featured in a game until Inquisition.
  • In Dragon Age II, the qunari mage Ketojan was originally planned as a party member.
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition:
    • The Gray Warden who assists the Inquisition during the "Here Lies The Abyss" questline was originally planned to be none other than the Player Character from Dragon Age: Origins. Unfortunately it was decided that unlike Hawke, the Warden-Commander was too much of a Featureless Protagonist to be implemented in a satisfactory manner, so they were replaced with Stroud, a minor character from the second game (or Alistair/Loghain with the right Old Save Bonus).
    • The Champions of the Just quest was originally going to be a lot more involved, with dire consequences should The Inquisitor fall for the Lotus-Eater Machine. When the idea was discussed the reaction was a healthy dose of Squick and the whole expansion of the idea was scrapped.
    • The Iron Bull's romance was originally intended to be restricted to certain races because of animation issues (with the in-story justification that the Bull won't sleep with anyone he fears that he'll "break"), but the animators were able to solve the problem in time for the Bull to be available to Inquisitors of all races.
    • Early in development, Focus Abilities were at the bottom of the standard skill trees rather than early in the specializations. Three were either removed or repurposed into a normal ability.
    • Originally, the player would have been able to walk around the Conclave and talk to attendees pre-Breach. The devs concluded that it really dragged down the pacing, however, and went for a more explosive opening.
    • Datamining the PC files revealed Cullen was intended as a bisexual romance, having male Inquisitor voice files for Cullen's romance and Dorian and Cassandra (both male exclusive romances) having reactions to the Inquisitor flirting with them in addition to Cullen.
      • Similarly there are data mined audio files that indicate that Solas was also intended as a bisexual romance.
    • At one point in development, it was discussed what would happen if the Inquisitor got enough influence to name him/herself Divine. On its own it was considered a bit far-fetched, but it got even more insane when talks of letting a male Qunarinote  Inquisitor declare himself Divine, at which point, the team backed away from the idea when they considered how badly such an action would be a "game and lore breaking act of heresy."
    • Concept art exists of a bearded and disheveled Anders, who would presumably have been encountered if spared in Dragon Age II.
    • Solas, who is bald, was initially designed with hair.
    • The three Dales regions (the Exalted Plains, the Emerald Graves, and Emprise du Lion), were originally going to be a single massive region.
    • The demo shown at PAX Prime in September 2013 was markedly different from the final released version, and it appears a lot of the mechanics and levels had to be cut in the intervening 14 months.
    • Unused dialogue seems to imply it was possible at one time to spar with Cassandra and that your companions would have their own horses to ride when you mounted up (instead of simply disappearing as they do now.) Even more unused dialogue implies it was possible to allow Cole to kill the Templar that killed the real Cole
    • Iron Bull was a woman in the very early development stages.
    • Vivienne was originally a lot more cold-hearted and murderous. Bastien's death was originally a result of her poisoning him.
      • Vivienne was also originally going to be an adviser. When she was changed to a companion, she was almost cut from the game entirely.
    • Hawke was originally going to be the Inquisitor, becoming the main character of two Dragon Age games not unlike how Commander Shepard was the protagonist of the original Mass Effect trilogy. The negative fan reception to Hawke and Dragon Age II as a whole led to this plan being scrapped, and the Inquisitor was re-imagined as a new character entirely.
    • Group concept artwork of the companions and advisers shows Dorian using a Spirit Blade, suggesting that he was at one point intended to be the Knight Enchanter companion, but switched with Vivienne.
    • The developers seriously considered making Viddasala and her followers rogues so as to not have to kill a Qun-loyal Iron Bull, but decided against it because it "lacked teeth".
    • Krem's backstory was originally going to be much darker, but was changed after trans consultants let the writers know of the Unfortunate Implications. In addition, Krem was originally supposed to be voiced by Gwendoline Christie.
  • Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3 had intended to include another character: Bulma. A "Making Of" featurette showed Bulma's then-current English voice actress shouting out various lines in the studio and, through hacking, was able to place Bulma's skin onto Videl's character. However, it's unknown if Bulma was meant to be an alternate skin for Videl with new voices or an entirely new character.
  • Dragon's Heaven, developed by Face, was a 2D fighter for Neo Geo that ended up not being released.
  • Before Square Enix decided to localize Dragon Quest VII on the Nintendo 3DS, a fan translation was underway that was canceled due to a cease and desist.
  • The original Duke Nukem was going to be called "Metal Force", and may or may not have had Duke as part of a team working to take down Dr. Proton.
  • Duke Nukem Forever:
    • The game was going to be a sidescroller called Duke 4Ever, with Dr. Proton as the main antagonist. The plot would've involved Duke trying to stop Proton from cutting the state of California off from the rest of the country, battling Protonite cyborgs and other enemies on his way to a final clash with Proton himself. The graphics engine eventually got reused for Alien Rampage, originally called Ravager, and the Forever title was recycled.
    • Dr. Proton was going to be the main baddie of the DNF seen in the E3 2001 trailer; that version of DNF would've had Proton trying to take over the world by using technology stolen from Area 51. Though that version of the game was scrapped, the story elements were reused in the DNF DLC "The Doctor Who Cloned Me", along with another aborted subplot about evil Duke clones.
    • Bombshell, Duke's female sidekick; in most iterations of the game before its 2011 release, she was set to be an integral part of the story. When Gearbox Software got their hands on DNF, Bombshell was off-limits (3D Realms still owned her at the time — their intent was to put her in a spin-off game after DNF's release), necessitating the use of Captain Dylan as Duke's wingman. Turns out, however, Bombshell got her own game after all.
    • Duke Nukem Forever could have been released on Duke Nukem 3D's Build engine, the original Quake engine, the Quake II engine, or even the Doom 3 engine. It was eventually released on a heavily-modified Unreal Engine 1. Due to features being added or removed, and differences between engines, these would have been very different games.
  • In the mid-2000s, Disney was looking to create a spinoff franchise based around the dwarfs of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (simply titled "Dwarfs'') taking a darker fantasy-epic tone (with a goal of drafting out thousands of years of Dwarf history). As a companion to a movie about how the dwarfs met and the origins of the Evil Queen and Magic Mirror, Disney hired Obsidian Entertainment to create a Darker and Edgier distant prequel set generations beforehand focusing around a young prince traveling with the ancestors of the Seven Dwarfs. Said game opened with the prince fighting a monster only to be revealed that he was put under some hallucination spell and that he actually killed his mother the queen, setting into motion a journey to redeem himself.
  • Dungeon Keeper was previewed as a dungeon design game in a generic fantasy setting, and was completely overhauled into its more humorous design.
  • Dungeon Keeper 3: War for the Overworld, cancelled in 2000, would have featured an improved economy, a new playable race, new playable heroes, and multiplayer.
  • Eight Days by SCE London Studio was a PlayStation 3 action game that was indefinitely put on hold in 2009.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Arena was originally to be, about, well, arenas and gladiators. Then the developers put it into their home-brew Dungeons & Dragons setting and fell in love with the Wide Open Sandbox gameplay. The result was the epic role-playing series The Elder Scrolls. Promotional materials had already been made using the "Arena" name, so it was kept and Retconned to refer to the setting as a whole, in a metaphysical "arena of the gods" fashion.
    • Daggerfall was originally going to have a lot more content, including more guilds. Such as a necromancer guild, prostitute guild, and a guild called "Order of the Lamp"note . The wilderness was going to have more detail, such as roads and objects, NPCs as "Rival Heroes", furnishable houses (which could be robbed) and twice as many spells. And Bethesda planned on setting The Elder Scrolls II in the province of Morrowind. When this proved unfeasible, the setting was shifted to the High Rock and Hammerfell regions. However, Morrowind was eventually used for the third game.
    • In the earliest stages, An Elder Scrolls Legend: Battlespire was conceived as an expansion to Daggerfall, although it quickly became its own game spinning off from the main series.
    • A sequel to the spin-off game The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard entitled The Eye of Argonia was in early production. However low sales of Redguard and a desire by the developers to produce a true sequel to Daggerfall put an end to that game.
    • Morrowind:
      • The blight was to originally be an expanding threat, and Dagoth Ur was originally to be joinable. Technical limitations axed the former, and time limitations axed the latter.
      • In very early planning, the game was almost called Tribunal and would have taken place in the Summerset Isles, homeland of the Altmer. Some preliminary artwork including cover art were produced in 1996 after Daggerfalls/s completion.
      • Original plans for the game had it taking place within the entire province of Morrowind, rather than just the island of Vvardenfell. This would idea would be scrapped in the early development phase.
    • Oblivion:
      • Originally, there was going to be an arena in every city instead of just the one in the Imperial City. Most of the writing and scripting for this had already been done when the developers realised they instead needed to focus on a single arena and make that one better. As a result, 800 lines of dialogue were cut.
      • The amount of dialogue that had been written for the game was 60,000 to 70,000 lines. However, due to shipping on the Xbox 360 and thus having to fit the game onto a single DVD, this was cut down to 40,000 to 50,000 lines.
      • The original plan was to have one voice actor per race and gender. But again due to disc space limitations, the lines for some races had to be merged.
      • Oblivion is known for the awkwardness of its conversations. Some of this may be explained by the fact that – due to technical limitations with Bethesda's systems – the lines of dialogue in the scripts handed to the voice actors were sorted alphabetically instead of on a per-quest basis.
    • The civil war quest line in Skyrim was originally intended to be far more dynamic and extensive, with several more city sieges, the possibility of losing holds and having to recapture them, quests to recruit giants to your side, etc. Some of these features were Dummied Out rather than cut, and modders have attempted to put them back in, but fair warning, the results are buggy.
  • Elemental Gimmick Gear was originally in development for the Sega Saturn, but due to the decline of that system wound up on the Sega Dreamcast. This explains why the cutscenes and 3D battles have higher resolution graphics than the basic gameplay mode.
  • The main characters of Elite Beat Agents were originally going to be based off the Village people and were originally called the Disco Rangers. Derek also wasn't the same person until much later. There's also some What Could Have Been in Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan, its Japanese predecessor. There was originally one level planned in this prototype where you have to save a puppy from an incoming train, but it was scrapped when they didn't think about how the scenario would end if you failed. The song was later recycled into Sachiko's level.
  • Elveon, a third person fantasy game by 10Tacle Studios, was to be released on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 on Unreal Engine 3. Development may have moved to Unreal Engine 4, or the project may be cancelled.
  • The setting for Epic Mickey is an In-Universe example of might-have-beens. As for meta examples:
    • First, the strategy to defeat the Clock Tower using paint was different; rather than simply painting his face in, it would swing open after the arms brought you to its face, revealing a record player that was playing the tune "It's a Small World" over and over; smashing it would end the music and restore the Clock Tower's sanity. This would also explain the "Stop the Music" pin.
    • Second, the Mad Doctor was originally wearing his black cloak from the short of the same name during the opening cinematic. However, developers realized that fans would confuse him for the original Phantom Blot, and the cloak was discarded.
    • The biggest instance of all is the fact that originally, the Karma Meter for the game would alter Mickey's appearance as you used Paint or Thinner more, or balanced both. This was changed as Scrapper Mickey (who looked more ratlike and with a nasty grin), who was the result of using Thinner a lot more, was too drastic-looking for fans of Mickey Mouse.
    • A level based on Alice's Curious Labyrinth (from Disneyland Paris) was scrapped due to the Tim Burton film, Alice in Wonderland (2010), coming out at the time.
    • Originally, the final boss of the game was The Storm Blot. This was basically Oswald as the Shadow Blot after Oswald sided with the Blot to get revenge on Mickey Mouse. This results in a rather twisted and crazier take on the Lucky Rabbit, especially when pictures show that he seems to be using other Disney characters as sources of power, including the Genie, Dopey, Clarabelle Cow, and Horace Horsecollar. Another picture shows that the Storm Blot spawns Spatters, similar to the Shadow Blot. This suggests that during the game's development, the team decided to make Oswald more of a good guy than a villain, thus having the Shadow Blot take his place.
    • A spin-off title called Disney Epic Racers was planned. Serving as Disney's equivalent of Mario Kart, racers featured included Mickey and Oswald sharing a car, Cruella De Vil in her own car and Scrooge McDuck and his nephews in motorcycle with sidecar. Like the below Donald Duck game, it met its end with Junction Point.
  • Junction Point's demise after the failure of Epic Mickey 2 lead to the cancellation of a companion game called "Epic Donald", focused on the works of Carl Barks that would have also dived into Donald in Mathmagic Land, DuckTales, The Three Caballeros, and The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck.
  • Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem was originally planned to be a Nintendo 64 game, but promoted to the GameCube, which allowed it to go from pre-rendered backdrops to real-time ones while not sacrificing any detail. Also, a few characters who were planned to be playable were relegated to NPC roles in other characters' stories, notably the temple guard in Ellia's and the templar knight in the cutscene before Roberto's. After Silicon Knights' buyout by Microsoft, they were going to make a sequel to Eternal Darkness for the Xbox 360 sometime after the release of Too Human 2, but the sequel was cancelled when SK went under due to a lawsuit with Epic Games and use of the Unreal Engine. A Spiritual Successor, Shadow of the Eternals, did not reach its crowdfunding goals, and may not be released.
  • Evolve has quite a bit of the technical variety, most of which can be found in a thread on the forums. There was going to be another monster early on called The Host, which could spawn various parasites for combat, but was scrapped because the devs felt the player shouldn't have to rely on the AI of their minions to win. There were also going to be maps the incorporated lava, but those were cut because they couldn't find a way to utilize lava with any degree of balance. Besides that, there were several kinds of wildlife that never made it into the final game due to technical difficulties or because they seemed too similar to existing creatures. On a happier note, the developers have said that they may eventually remedy at least some of these.
  • The EyeToy games EyeToy: Fight and EyeToy: Tales ultimately went unreleased.
  • Faith and a .45 was going to be an Xbox 360 and PS3 action game set during the Great Depression, with the player able to switch between two characters who were in love. The game was cancelled in 2012.
  • Fallout:
    • In Junktown of Fallout, the player can make the good choice of siding with the mayor Killian Darkwater against the greedy casino-owner Gizmo. If the player sides with the former, the town becomes a bastion of law and order. If he sides with the latter, it becomes a Wretched Hive. Originally, this was the other way around: The mayor runs the place into the ground with tyrannical laws and hanging half the population. The casino owner turns the place into a slightly seedy, but otherwise safe and pleasant place to live. The publishers objected to this and the endings got semi-switched.
    • Supposedly, the person first considered for the role of Fallout 3's President John Henry Eden was none other than Bill Clinton. An early version of the character was also meant to be the consciousness of President Richardson from Fallout 2 uploaded into a computer.
    • The first Fallout 3, aka Fallout: Van Buren, could have lived even after Black Isle died. Had they not been outbid by Bethesda, Fallout 3 would have been made by none other than Black Isle alumni developers Troika Games, creators of Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura and Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines. Several ideas from Van Buren would eventually be implemented in Fallout: New Vegas, though with changes to reflect the later time period. One of the most notable is Joshua Graham, the Burned Man - in Van Buren he was to be the "Hanged Man" instead, the first and statistically strongest companion available to the player, but also an extremely angry individual who was likely to piss off anyone and everyone else you came across. A group of fans hope to recreate Van Buren as it was originally envisioned.
    • A Fallout top-down shooter was being developed for the PlayStation by Interplay, along with a PlayStation port of Baldur's Gate.
    • Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel was to be followed by Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel 2.
    • Fallout Tactics was to have two sequels, Fallout Tactics 2 and Fallout Extreme.
    • Fallout Online was to be developed by Interplay. The rights were transferred to Bethesda, and it was eventually cancelled in 2012, though through crowdfunding it may be turned into a strategy RPG.
    • Prior to the iOS/Android Fallout Shelter, John Carmack proposed a Fallout game for the iPhone.
    • The entire series may have ran on the GURPS system. Fortunately, that What Could Have Been can be experienced if you have a good GM who's willing to let you play Fallout with GURPS.
    • Fallout: New Vegas originally allowed you to continue playing after the main quest, with some new sidequests and dialogue even being opened up. This was unfortunately ditched for the final product, as the wide variation in potential endings, coupled with the limited development time, made it an unrealistic proposition for Obsidian.
    • Fallout 4 had a myriad of content cut. Most of these were sidequests that Bethesda likely ran out of time or patience to develop. Judging by leftover assets, one mission was going to send the player to the bottom of the sea in a diving suit to fight a sea monster. Another major piece of cut content was the Combat Zone. It shares a similar story to the Windhelm Pit from Skyrim: It was to be an arena where the player could bet on NPC fights or join the fights themselves. This was scrapped late in development and the Combat Zone was re-purposed into just another raider dungeon, but enough of the assets were leftover (including some scripts and all of the dialogue) to enable modders to restore it.
  • A game based on The Fast and the Furious was announced in 2003 around the release of 2 Fast 2 Furious. It would have been developed by Genki (developers of the Tokyo Xtreme Racer series) and published by Vivendi Games. It was due for release in November of 2003, but was cancelled. Three years later, another Fast and the Furious game was released in connection with Tokyo Drift. (Developed by Eutechnyx and published by Namco.) But it would have been interesting to see the first one. Some information.
  • Fear Effect Inferno by Kronos Digital Entertainment, was going to be a PlayStation 2 sequel based on the first game's best ending.
  • Fez was going to have a sequel, though it was infamously canceled after developer Phil Fish's public breakdown.
  • Final Fight
    • Final Fight Streetwise was originally intended to have Sodom and Poison appear. They were abandoned later in development.
    • The original Final Fight was originally meant to be a sequel to the first Street Fighter game entitled Street Fighter '89, but reactions from consumers when the game was demonstrated at a trade show led to the game to be a standalone game. Supposedly, the fact that the game had really nothing to do with Street Fighter was the reason behind the change; the intended shared universe remained, however, and from Street Fighter Alpha on the series has featured Final Fight characters.
  • Shouzou Kaga's original plans for Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War. Among them were the possibility of all the female characters surviving or being revived by the power of Forsety, the game being split into three parts (part 3 would be the children reuniting with their parents), and Yurius surviving and being returned to his original self by The Power of Love.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's:
    • The first game:
      • Freddy Fazbear was originally going to be named "Freddybear", and the name of "Freddy" and the other animatronics (Bonnie, Chica and Foxy) were meant to be placeholders until Scott Cawthon could come up with proper names. Ultimately, they grew on him and became the final names.
      • The game was going to have a lives system in place, as shown in a gameplay video, but was ultimately removed.
      • Freddy was originally never able to move around the pizzaria with the rest of the animatronics, and would only kill the player if they ran out of power. Late in development, though, Freddy was made just as dangerous as (if not moreso) the others.
      • The map design looked different, with the cameras being shown as cones depicting their field of vision as opposed to labeled squares.
      • Scott Cawthon claimed that more animatronics were planned, but were cut. Although he never mentioned if they were Balloon Boy, the Puppet, or something else, he did say they would be brought back in the sequel.
    • Five Nights at Freddy's 2:
      • The lives system cut from the first game would appear to have been brought back at first, as indicated by unused graphics, but was scrapped again.
      • Unused graphics for a toxicity meter are present, suggesting the player may have originally been unable to wear the Freddy head for long.
    • Five Nights at Freddy's 3:
      • Unused graphics show that sealing vents was originally done by a separate button, as opposed to double clicking a vent.
    • Five Nights at Freddy's World:
      • The first trailer showcased a 3D overworld, which the final game lacked in favor of an 8-bit version. However, once the Steam release was pulled, the 3D overworld was reinstated for the GameJolt rerelease.
  • There were plans for a The Flash game made by BottleRocket and Brash Entertainment. The game was, sadly, cancelled in 2008 when Brash went belly up. With a story written by Marv Wolfman, it would have starred the Barry Allen Flash and had him deal with his famed Rogue's Gallery. In-game footage from the alpha had very obvious nods to Sonic (beyond the running part, there were dash pads and grinding) and the Spider-Man games. It was also highly possible to play as other speedsters from the Flash Family.
    • According to this video, the game initially started out with the idea of having the Flash help out other legendary DC city locations, like Metropolis and Gotham City, but curtailed it back to just Central and Keystone City. Instead, it would focus on the Wally West Flash during the first twelve months of his superheroic carrer, justifying the need for tutorials and such as Wally would be getting the hang of being the Flash. The Flash would deal with his Rogues Gallery before facing down the ultimate villains of the game, Gorilla Grodd and Professor Zoom. There would also be an online multiplayer mode that would allow players to race against other speedsters with the possibility of even bringing in Superman.
  • Fracture: The protagonist was going to be named Mason Briggs, then B.J. Dart, before settling on Jet Brody.
  • Frag Ops, an Unreal Tournament 2004 mod, had a standalone version being developed that was cancelled when the developer was bought out by Epic.
  • Freedom Fighters. Despite a clear ending with a sequel clearly brought up, and even an announcement of a sequel, developer Io never really gained any ground.
  • Freedom Force originally was planned as a series where each game would be a different decade of comics history, leading up to the present. Instead they made a time-traveling second game with a few golden age heroes and one later-styled character with death powers, and then they hit it big with BioShock, with no indication they'd ever go back to the IP before closing down.
  • Freedom Planet
    • The game actually started life as a Sonic the Hedgehog fangame before changing into an original IP. In fact, Lilac started life as a Sonic-type hedgehog before evolving into the water dragon she ended up as. This video from SAGE 2012 shows the Sonic roots a lot more.
    • Milla was originally going to be legitimately Killed Off for Real after her boss battle instead of just falling unconscious (though the other characters still think she's dead at first). This was changed when the developers essentially realized they didn't have the heart to kill off such a loveable character.
  • Freespace had a couple of cutscenes dropped from the final product, whose storyboards can still be found in the developers' notes, including a truly epic depiction of the Lucifer's attack on Tombaugh Station, which would have included Shivans leaping out of their ships (without spacesuits) to board it. One fan actually went ahead and animated another cutscene himself, that being the devastation of Vasuda Prime. Planet-size spaceships were also mentioned as being an idea for the unmade third game.
  • FUSE was initially developed as a game with a different art style and tone, called Overstrike.
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