Game development is a fickle thing. Once a publisher and studio gets the rights to an idea or property, it’s a mad rush to get it done on time, on budget and make sure it’s a killer game. Whether it’s a new idea or a sequel, you can be sure that there are tons of half completed, or finalized games sitting on hard drives all over the gaming world, just waiting for release.
And yet, despite our best hopes, some awesome games get canned, and we, as players, will never get to enjoy them in their entirety. But that’s not to say that you can’t try. In fact, if you’re savvy enough with Google, you can find playable files and ROMs of these cancelled games for your amusement. Some are pretty robust, while others will take up 2-3 min of your time.
Good luck on the hunt.
Saint’s Row Undercover – PSP This game for the PSP was a spin-off that was pretty much done and ready to deliver, when the studio closed and Sony announced that they were abandoning the PSP.
So, instead of hiding it away, THQ released the game as a free download. It’s not complete, but it’s still a fun game.
The Elder Scrolls Travels: Oblivion – PSP Another potential PSP game, this was a either a port of the phone game, or a brand new one. There’s a few demos out there that you can find, and they’re a nice little snackable game to play for a bit.
Still, to have an Elder Scrolls game on a decent handheld would have been nice. At least we can now play Skyrim on Switch.
Diablo – GBC/GBA This would have been a sick game to play on the long car rides of my childhood. There’s a ROM out there that puts a warrior in the middle of a dungeon-type room. You can swing a sword, but you can’t hit anything. You can also walk through walls. but that’s all the demo does.
This short game was meant to just test out the mechanics of this prequel game, and it looked promising. But Blizzard decided that a Game Boy Color/Advance version would be too expensive to develop, they cancelled production.
An untitled Batman game – SNES Believe it or not, there was a time when a Batman game wasn’t a sure success. This demo allows you to play as Batman, and punch/kick generic enemies. At the end, you fight the Joker, who’s pretty much a redress of the generic baddies.
Beat him and you start the second level, that lasts 30 sec before he demo ends. But it sure is a fun 15 min of side-scrolling beat-em-up action.
Rayman – SNES There was a prototype of this PS1 game, developed for the SNES, but it’s just odd. You start off in a weird purple lab, playing a Rayman that’s fatter than the original. Also, there’s nothing to interact with in the game. This one is sorely unfinished, but fun if you just want to walk him around for a while.
Resident Evil – GBC While you can find Resident Evil on most platforms throughout it’s development history, it never quite made it to the Game Boy. This cancelled game has a playable ROM that’s pretty robust. You can save, play as Jill or Chris, and things seem to work.
But it’s taking on your hardware, incredibly pixelated and it just doesn’t play as smoothly as it could.
Prime – SNES This game, based off of a Malibu comic book, looked to be pretty awesome. You basically play as a nerdy kid who gets the power to become an over-muscled adult, and kick some ass.
This beat-em-up was almost finished, before it was randomly cancelled. There is, however, a 5 level, playable ROM out there for you to find.
Riedel Software Productions
Steven Seagal Is: The Final Option – Various In the 80’s and 90’s, Seagal was a legend on par with Schwarzenegger, Stallone and Van Damme. So, it stands to reason that someone would make a game about him.
It’s not an adaptation of any particular film, but a promotion of the man himself, using the same motion capture tech from Mortal Kombat. It’s ridiculously stupid and fun at the same time.
Universal Solider – SNES While there was already a Game Boy and Sega Genesis version of this game, the SNES port was scrapped. You can still find it somewhere, but the odd part is, that the game was a conversion of an older Genesis game called “Turrican.” All they had to do was rework the sprites to get the game to tie into the film.
Sonic Crackers – Sega Back in the 90’s, people were bonkers for Sonic. This franchise practically kept Sega afloat, from the core games, to the spin-offs. One popular one was “Knuckles’ Chaotix.” Before it was called that, however, it was known as “Sonic Crackers” and had Sonic and Tails team up, rather than Knuckes and his buds.
The prototype is similar to the final game, albeit a bit more unfinished.
Sunman – NES While “Prime” was an attempt to mix the concepts of Shazam and Superman into a game, this game was supposed to be a Superman game. The developer, Sunsoft, had made a decent Batman game for the system, so they were tasked with doing one for Super. They took too long, lost the rights, and had to retool the game to be their own hero. Then it was cancelled regardless.
There’s actually a hacked version out there, from 2014, where someone turned Sunman into Superman, and frankly, it’s the best Superman game we’ve gotten thus far.
Time Diver: Eon Man – NES I’ve never heard of this game prior to this post, but it’s apparently a lost treasure. Despite being a cancelled game, it’s 95% finished. Sure, it’s missing a few powers at the end, and the sound effects are splotchy, but it’s finished for all intents and purposes.
Yoshi’s Story – GBA There’s some lack of clarity around this gone. Most sources say this was just at tech demo for the GBA – meaning that it was just a test to see if the system could handle a port. As far as I can tell, there never were plans to make a sequel to the N64 game on the GBA.
That said, it’s pretty blurry, but also an impressive play for a handheld. Sadly though, you won’t be able to fire your eggs.
Resident Evil 1.5 – Various This was the code name given to the alpha build of “Resident Evil 2.” While there’s not a lot to play in the demo, there’s enough to get you excited. In it, you can play as Elza Walker, in an alternate police station, and explore your surroundings.
Donald Duck’s Speedboat – Atari Yep, it’s Donald Duck in a speedboat. All you get to do is zoom around in a boat, on water, and avoid obstacles
Not sure if this was a part of a bigger game, or if this was the game itself.
Battletoads – GBA There aren’t a lot of details regarding this game for the Game Boy Advance, but there is a cancelled demo that will take you 3 min to complete. It’s pretty rough, but it’s playable.
Silent Hills – Playstation This is one of the most infamous cancelled games in history. Initially announced as “P.T,” it had an interactive demo that was released free. Upon “solving” it, you got a trailer to the real game, directed by the legendary Guillermo Del Toro, Hideo Kojima and starring Norman Reedus.
But then there was a bad breakup between Konami and Kojima, and the game was cancelled and delisted on PSN. Now, you can’t even get your hands on it.
‘Tis a shame.