April 9, 2017

Signals Lost: The Many Games You'll Never Play

Sometimes great games come from small studios, and sometimes... well, sometimes they don't. Even the most promising games may never see the light of day, despite intriguing gameplay, beautiful artwork, and interesting design concepts. Just because an in-development title has a gameplay trailer or a successful Kickstarter campaign does not mean that it will ever be released.

Below are several promising games that seem to have been lost forever, with inactive Twitter accounts, abandoned websites, and cobweb-filled Steam Greenlight pages. There is still some small hope that these games will one day return, but for now, they have dropped off our radar.


Bullet Bros.
The game had an unsuccessful Kickstarter campaign and now has an abandoned Steam Greenlight page. The last sign of life was more than two years ago, and the website is gone. Here's what we said before the game was disowned:

Bullet Bros. (site) is a Contra-style shooter showcasing over-the-top action, a wide array of devastating weaponry, and ground- and air-based vehicles that can be linked together for full-on physics-based nuttiness. In addition to guns and machines, players also have access to grappling hooks for swinging, grabbing their co-op buddies, and latching onto enemies. The game also features parachutes that let players glide around, slow their falls, and deliver a high probability of lead storms to enemies below.



Chroma
Despite the successful release of Titan Souls, developer Mark Foster was unable to get Chroma to market. There has been no activity on the website since 2013, and the developer's last tweet about the game stated: "I tried but I could never make it into a good game." Here are our original colorful comments:

Clawhammer Games presents Chroma, an atmospheric puzzle-platformer centering around the use of light and color. Lately, there have been numerous games that use retro-styled graphics with modern lighting effects. In most games, the lighting is in place merely for show, but in this case the lighting is used for environmental navigation and puzzle solving. You control a white creature that gives off light within an otherwise dark environment, and casts hard shadows as a result. However, you can also split off into a shadow form, leaving your light-emitting self behind. This dark form can walk on the shadows that you create, using them as platforms to reach new areas. You also use light to activate switches, and placing your light form in the correct place is often the key to progressing. The game takes place in a large open world and features non-linear action-adventure play.



Clockefeller
The final message from the developer's Twitter was: "Clockefeller is Greenlit! :) Thanks to all who helped make this happen!" That message was posted more than two years ago... time sure flies when development has stopped. Here's what we originally had to say about the game:

Clockefeller from Mighty Menace Games features gravity shifting gameplay, as players move around a magical clock looking for pieces of broken keys. The clock has broken down, and you must reach an elevator in order to fix it, which you may access by collecting all of the key pieces spread throughout various platforming environments. You are able to jump around corners and rotate the effect of gravity by 90 degrees in order to reach new areas. The game features dozens of levels and a number of boss fights as well, and players may collect coins in each of the levels which allow them to purchase useful items such as bombs and a jetpack.



Flightless
This game originally hit Steam Greenlight in 2013, but development appears to have halted, as stated on the developer's website. Here's what we originally had to say before this game had its wings clipped:

Nitrome is a developer known for its detailed sprite art across a number of freeware releases, although Flightless will be a commercially-released title. Flightless is a puzzle-platformer featuring drop-in drop-out 2P co-op, where players take control of ducks who have been caught stealing and had their wings clipped… thus making the birds flightless. In order to pay restitution, you must travel through a number of dungeons and use your magical ladder to collect gems. In addition to being unable to fly, you also can’t jump, so you must use ladders to reach higher areas, but you can also send them upward to kill enemies and grab gems. Complex puzzles will see you using the ladder on moving platforms, or hitting objects to make the ladder turn at 90 degree angles. In 2P co-op, players can team up and work together, or split up and explore different parts of the environment.



Gunkatana
We're not sure what happened to this one, since it was a recent addition to the radar, but the website no longer exists, and the last update on Twitter was a link to our site when we originally posted about the game. Here's what we said before this game had its neck slit:

Gunkatana, from Torn Page Games (game site), is a fast-paced action game where players are armed with the titular gunkatanas, capable of slashing enemies or firing laser blasts. Players are dropped into an arena and tasked with slaughtering their way through their enemies in single player, local cooperative, and local competitive modes. Arenas are decked out with grind rails, allowing players to grind along at high speeds to travel the environment and get the drop on their opponents. In addition, laser blasts bounce off walls, allowing for some additional strategy as players attack around corners and fake-out foes by bouncing them off of walls as they run away... but the lasers can also kill the player who fired them, and all hits are 1-hit kills.




The Hero Trap
Despite a successful Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight campaigns, the hero was unable to escape from the trap. The developers asked for less money than they needed and were unable to secure additional funding, and have since offered refunds to the game's backers. Here's what we originally had to say:

The Hero Trap, from developer Smashworx, is a top-down action roguelike that allows the player to use the abilities of three different heroes. The player is able to take one physical character into battle, along with the ghosts of two others. Each hero has a different moveset, making some of them better at head-on attacks and others better at avoiding damage. The player is able to swap between heroes a will, but the selected hero will return to its ghostly form if it takes too much damage. Players travel through randomly generated dungeons with more than 20 levels of escalating difficulty, with numerous gameplay-altering items available to purchase and upgrade. The game also supports 3P local co-op.



Mighty Retro Zero
The website still exists (with some broken links), but the Steam Greenlight page is completely gone and the devlog hasn't been updated in two years. Here's what we said before development progress dropped to zero:

Mighty Retro Zero, from developer KronBits, is an incredibly minimalistic action game using only eight colors and a very low resolution. The main character’s design is inspired by Mega Man, only he is represented by a 5x5 sprite. Per genre standards, the player is able to run, jump, and shoot. In addition, he can pick up and carry boxes to reach higher platforms, as well as toss bombs at enemies and use a jetpack. The game has numerous references to other action games, including Arkanoid, Bangai-O: Missile Fury, and Pang!.



Mort The Intern
Mort has... well, he's dead. Yet another grappling hook game has bitten the proverbial dust. The developer's website has also gone the way of Mort. Here's what we said when Mort was a bit more lively:

Polymath Games brings grappling hooks back into fashion (why isn’t everyone doing this!?) with Mort The Intern. Poor Mort is an intern in Hell, and he has found himself working for a company responsible for the delivery of souls. His adventure begins when an unfortunate clerical error causes a number of souls to be diverted into Hell when they should have gone the other way, and Mort must set out to find them in this nonlinear action-adventure title. Being a grapple-focused experience, the game offers smooth grapple mechanics, as well as grapple points that offer temporary enhancements, such as wings that allow Mort to double jump, and some grapple points act as switches. Mort is no platforming slouch either, as he can move quickly, jump, wall jump, and wall slide. Much of the game’s challenge centers on environmental navigation which requires Super Meat Boy-level precision to make jumps, avoid spikes, dodge projectiles, and generally keep yourself from exploding in a pile of bones.



Neon Grey
Neon Grey is now neon static. The game never really got that far along, but it looked pretty promising. The game's Facebook page was silent for a long time before the developer returned with this statement: "Guys, I'll be honest. The last update this page had was in 2015. I continued working on the game after that, but lately it's been on a hold, and will remain so for some time. The truth is I still want to finish Neon Grey, but my focus has shifted to music production." Here's what we said:

Budapest-based developer László Csengő (a.k.a. Tazi) is developing Neon Grey (devlog), an 80’s-style action game set in a dystopian future. The game features straightforward linear progression across eight urban environments, with a pattern-based boss fight at the end of each and cutscenes in between. There are alternate paths and hidden areas within the levels for some added variety on repeated playthroughs. Combat is sword-based, although a number of your enemies carry projectile-based weapons, which means you’ll need to do a bit of bullet-dodging to get up close and deliver your brand of hacky-slashy justice.



Pale Blue
This game has gone pale blue due to oxygen deprivation, apparently. The website is dead, and tumbleweeds are blowing through the Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight pages. Here's what we said when the game still had color in its cheeks:

Pale Blue, from Tinker Games, takes a look at the flipside to the familiar superhero origin, focusing on someone who has chosen to take the dark path. A young girl named Ellen was created as a weapon by the nefarious Cocoon organization, and she spends her days murdering superheroes and eating humans, as do her sisters, Tammy and Frei. Ellen unlocks new forms and abilities that allow her to reach new areas, hack and slash her way through enemies, and lay waste to the environment. New abilities open up along a skill tree as you kill certain people or destroy certain objects, thus enforcing your path to the dark side.



Perennial
It has been a year since anything happened with this... so maybe it was an Annual? Words:

Perennial (site), by Step 1 Games is a fairly straightforward platformer in which you bop enemies on the head and collect doodads for points, with combo bonuses if you are able to collect several of them in quick succession. The game has a very simple visual style, with a lo-fi presentation that runs fast while you, well, run fast. The game is somewhat reminiscent of Cannabalt with a simple color scheme and birds that fly away as you pass them. There’s even a ground slide move that is commonly found in auto running games. However, unlike these auto runners, Perennial offers full control over the character and more complex environments with curved surfaces and angles.



RGB
Reception is cloudy. Here's what we said before the developers switched the channel:

RGB from Big Boom Games is a puzzle platformer featuring a white pixel moving through a world of three colors, namely red, green, and blue. Every time the player jumps, the background colors cycle, and if a platform and the background have the same color, the platform essentially disappears. There are also some black platforms that are permanent, and bits of static that kill you when you touch them. Since you’re playing the game on and old-school CRT television, there are some additional mechanics revolving around the TV’s controls, including adjusting the tint, changing the channel, and using the volume slider. The game features more than 100 levels as well as a level editor.



Specter | PC, with Mac and Linux versions planned | Release Date TBD
The game's website and other website are now ghosts. Here's what we said before the apparition faded:

Specter (site), from Dario Seyb and Blair Ceradsky, is an action game that focuses on combat and precision platforming. You play the part of a nobleman who once ruled over a huge tower where he threw parties regularly, annoying his demonic neighbors. As a result, the demons invaded his tower and took away his abilities. Now, he must defeat these demons as he works his way through the tower, regaining his abilities as he does so. These new abilities will assist you in combat as well as environmental navigation, and include such things as a charged projectile attack and a dash move that allows you close in on enemies quickly and also slide past obstacles and across gaps. The game will feature some environmental puzzle solving as well, and a number of hidden chambers for those who explore thoroughly.



Trestle
The developer's website must have fallen asleep on the tracks, because it is gone, along with any evidence of the game. At one time, it looked neat:

Developer Sets & Settings is working on a game featuring a rather odd amalgamation of Super Crate Box and the battle sequences in Mega Man Battle Network. Essentially, it takes the fast-paced action of Super Crate Box, adds it to 3x3 grid-based combat in Mega Man Battle Network, and removes all of the slow-paced inventory management that comes with the latter. Instead of chip-swapping, weapons now appear directly on the playfield, and the player activates them by moving onto the appropriate grid space. Players must use their knowledge of enemy attack ranges to dodge around the playfield and deliver blasts of fire across the border, and some attacks can cause grid spaces to disappear, offering less room to maneuver.



Special thanks to one of our readers for doing a lot of the legwork to track down cancellation notices and abandoned sites for some of these games.

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