Feature: 3DS Games You'll Probably Never Play
Posted by Mark Reece
The 3DS has endured some trying times in its short lifespan, among these being a number of cancellations of high-profile games by third-party publishers and developers. We've decided to highlight five of the biggest titles to get the chop in the past year, why they were cancelled and the likelihood of these games being resurrected.
THQ’s trilogy of Saints Row titles available on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 represents a certain kind of off-the-wall, preposterous entertainment. You may consider yourself the sort of gamer who’s above such juvenile pursuits as using the contents of a septic tank to bring down property values, or creating a supermodel with a thoroughly masculine voice, but its accessibility and complete disregard for realism serves as a reminder of the insane fun in older Grand Theft Auto titles, before they became more serious.
Saints Row: Drive-By was originally conceived as a companion game to Saints Row: The Third from the HD consoles, and would have also been made available on Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network. This would have been a prequel of sorts that when purchased would provide players with extra goodies, sharing the same relationship with Saints Row: The Third as Fable II: Pub Games did with Fable II, or THQ’s own Red Faction: Battlegrounds shared with Red Faction: Armageddon. Saints Row: Drive-By was also announced as a standalone title for the 3DS, though what form the game would take is still a mystery to this day, as no screenshots or trailers were ever released. Would it depict urban gangland violence through a bird’s eye viewpoint — like Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars — or would it take the more adventurous and ambitious route of giving players a fully realised 3D city to explore?
THQ failed to provide any official explanation as to why they decided to pull the plug on Saints Row: Drive-By. However, if the poor critical and commercial performance of Red Faction: Battlegrounds is any indication, perhaps THQ was wary of wasting more time and resources on a similar project that wouldn’t have succeeded. It’s also no secret that THQ has been enduring some serious financial issues as of late, struggling to support development projects and facing a potential stock market delisting, so it seems extremely unlikely that Saints Row: Drive-By will ever see the light of day.
Activision is a company that constantly produces yearly updates to its most popular franchises, and with good reason: if a property such as Call of Duty proves itself to be financially successful, it makes perfect sense to give consumers more of what they love. The same could once be said of its Guitar Hero franchise. There was a time when picking up a plastic guitar — in addition to drums or a microphone as the series grew — and pressing different coloured buttons in time to famous rock songs was all the rage, and Activision responded by pumping out more rhythm action games each subsequent year.
The series later expanded to include Band Hero and DJ Hero: the latter saw players partaking in the familiar action of timed button presses, only this time on an extortionately priced controller modelled on a turntable, that also allowed them to mimic scratching and crossfading between songs. When the 3DS was officially revealed at E3 2010, a DJ Hero game was announced in which, predictably, the touch screen would take the place of the turntable controller.
Unfortunately, it transpired that you can have too much of a good thing, to the point that despite the number of Hero instalments released across all formats in both 2009 and 2010 combining to a staggering ten games, enthusiasm and interest in the genre waned. As a result, in February 2011 Activision halted the production of Guitar Hero titles along with all related projects, which included DJ Hero 3D. Of course, it’s possible that once the dust has settled and Activision and its subsidiaries have had the chance to devise a way of revitalising the genre, rhythm action games could make a comeback and DJ Hero 3D may see a release.
Ubisoft should take notice of the situation in which Activision found itself with the Hero franchise. As much as the series has improved and evolved, Assassin’s Creed — with four HD console titles and the same number of handheld and mobile spin-offs under its belt since its debut in 2007 — is also in danger of having its fans become fatigued and lose interest in its open-world period assassinations. Assassin’s Creed: Lost Legacy was announced for the 3DS and would see Ezio Auditore da Firenze — protagonist from three previous titles in the series — travelling to Masayaf, headquarters of the Secret Order of Hashashin and home of Altaïr ibn-La'Ahad in the late 1100’s.
Other than the basic premise, no concrete information on Lost Legacy was ever revealed, so how closely it would resemble its console counterparts is — and will forever remain — unclear. All we know is that the ideas behind Ezio’s journey to the Middle East actually evolved into what would become Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, and in July 2011 Lost Legacy was officially cancelled. Given the circumstances, a game in the series that utilises that particular plotline is quite obviously not going to happen, yet we shouldn’t rule out the possibility of another Assassin’s Creed spin-off appearing on the 3DS in its lifespan.
Encouraging a few friends to gather together and attempt to blow each other to bits, the Bomberman series' penchant for tactical yet cute ferocity has over the years seen it become as synonymous with multiplayer gaming as the likes of Mario Kart. Bomberman 3DS was set to feature an expansive single player campaign alongside the trademark multiplayer, available locally for four players and supporting online play for up to eight. Hudson Soft had revealed that the title was in development for 3DS before it was released in the West, so this was great news for those of us who were planning to splash the cash on the new handheld.
Unfortunately, in March 2011 Bomberman 3DS was one of a few 3DS titles — including Omega Five and Bonk — in development at Hudson Soft to get the axe, with no explanation as to why it was given the chop. Worse still, in January 2012 it was reported that Konami — now Hudson Soft’s majority shareholder — will be absorbing the house that Bomberman built as of 1st March, so it’s unclear what the Hudson team will be developing in future.
We maybe shouldn’t completely rule out the possibility of the explosion obsessed little tyke making his 3DS debut in the future. For now, however, we can only lament the diminishing influence of one of gaming’s most endearing icons.
The cancellation of Mega Man Legends 3 was arguably one of the most disappointing pieces of 3DS news to come to light since the handheld was launched, and the ten-year saga is indeed a lengthy tale. Since the release of Mega Man Legends 2 in 2000, series creator Keiji Inafune was repeatedly asked about the existence and/or whereabouts of a potential sequel to the fan-favourite title. In September 2007 he explicitly expressed his desire to develop the highly anticipated game, although he was — for undisclosed reasons — unable to do so.
Fast forward to October 2010 and not only had Capcom answered our prayers and announced that Mega Man Legends 3 would appear exclusively on 3DS, but it was reported that the Japanese publisher/developer would be looking to its fans for help during the development process, pledging a desire for them to have direct input in finalising character design and other aspects of the game.
However, Mega Man Legends 3 started to go downhill in November 2010, when Inafune left Capcom altogether, despite becoming the company’s Global Head of Production just seven months prior. Undeterred by this setback, the team behind the title assured us that development would continue as planned, and that Capcom also planned to release Mega Man Legends 3: Prototype, which would feature ten missions, act as a prologue to the main game and be available when the eShop launched.
The cancellation of Mega Man Legends 3 was arguably one of the most disappointing pieces of 3DS news to come to light since the handheld was launched.
But the hopes and dreams of Mega Man fans the world over came crashing down in July 2011, when it was officially announced that Mega Man Legends 3 had been cancelled, with a company representative stating, “unfortunately it was not felt that the Mega Man Legends 3 Project met certain required criteria,” and that neither the full game nor the equally anticipated Prototype version would be released.
To add insult to injury, mere days after the announcement of its cancellation, Capcom seemed to be blaming the fans for the demise of the game via its Capcom Europe Twitter feed, seemingly citing “lack of fan interest” as the reason. Capcom very quickly apologised for this poorly worded tweet and reiterated the meaning behind these comments, but it’s clear that passing the buck — or at the very least appearing to do so— to the audience who showed nothing but enthusiasm for the project, was perhaps not the best move.
Inafune was also disappointed in the demise of Mega Man Legends 3, as revealed when he publicly stated that he had even gone as far as attempting to work out a contract between Capcom and his own newly founded studio, Comcept, in a bid to get development back on track: a business proposition that Capcom refused.
With Capcom having no current plans to complete the development, and Inafune’s best efforts to resurrect his beloved project being rejected, it would seem that the fate of Mega Man Legends 3 has lamentably been well and truly sealed. The chances of us playing what would surely have been a high-profile 3DS exclusive may have been given the final nail in the coffin.