The Last Guardian
Developer: Team ICO
In development since: 2007
The Last Guardian's existence, or lack thereof, has officially become a joke. Originally announced at Sony's E3 press conference in 2009, it seemed like Team ICO's third game would take everything it had learned from Ico and Shadow of the Colossus and create something that would only be possible on the (then) power of next-generation consoles.
Instead, all we were treated to was a barrage of confused messaging.
More information was expected from Sony at its E3 event a year later. Instead, it was barely mentioned. Excused as "not being ready to be shown off to the public", everything seemed rosy when it popped up at the Tokyo Game Show in 2010, complete with a 2011 release date. Just to fuel the fires of every Team ICO fan on the planet, HD remakes of its first two games were also announced. And then everything came undone…
While the high-definition versions were released, The Last Guardian stayed in limbo, with countless reports that the game had been cancelled. Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, lead designer Fumito Ueda left Team ICO in 2011. Yes, he (apparently) continues to work on the project on a freelance basis, but that could mean anything. Maybe he goes in at 5.30pm every evening to empty the bins…
It sounded dubious at the time, made even worse when earlier this year Ueda revealed that Sony had given Puppeteer and Knack priority over The Last Guardian and that a smaller team was now responsible for it, presumably on the PS4.
Not the most ringing endorsement, and whether we'll ever see the game is now anyone's guess.
Frame City Killer
In development since: Announced 2005
Back when the current-generation was but a pre-order in every fan's eye, games such as Namco's Frame City Killer had everyone, if nothing else, intrigued. Set in a futuristic East Asia, you were to be put in the role of Crow, an assassin sent to Frame City to kill a terrorist known as Kahn. The idea behind it was to pull off the 'perfect hit', all while fancy visuals and the power of a new console made you happy that you'd dropped hundreds of pounds for the privilege.
And then E3 2006 hit.
It's become common practice that before videogaming's biggest exhibition publishers release details of games – even if it's just a list – that will be on show. Obviously there's always the exception - surprises are held back for the event - but if a title has been announced prior to the that, it'll be there.
So, when Namco sent around its list of games and Frame City Killer was noticeably absent, people started to ask questions. Namely, what the hell was going on. Kindly, the developer then admitted the game had actually been cancelled. It was a blow, given how many times it had already been delayed, made worse that it took the online gaming community to demand answers before the news came to light.
In essence, Namco, presumably, thought no one would notice. Cheers...
In development since: 2006
While everyone was developing cutesy mini-game collections for the Wii, Polish developer Nibris was creating Sadness. A survival horror game set in a pre-WWI Ukraine, it focused on the psychological side of fear and garnered interest thanks to its black-and-white art style and what the developer constantly referred to as gameplay that would change the mould of what we expected.
Most of this would be thanks to the Wiimote, where players would hold it like a torch to navigate dark corridors, and even wave it in front of them in order to scare off rats. It was interesting, to say the least.
And then someone realised the game had never been in a playable state. Ever. For all this talk, not one member of the human race received an invite to actually try it out for themselves, a rarity in the run-up to release. Slowly, it started to transpire that Sadness may've never actually been a proper game and was, more or less, vaporware. Those affiliated with Nibris were quick to counter against such accusations, constantly reiterating that not only was it still in development, but that it would, eventually, see the light of day.
Then the real cracks started to become apparent.
Following an interview with a former Nibris employee in 2009, it emerged that in an entire year of development the team had only managed to finalise the script - nothing that could be described as a game even existed. When people started to notice the developer's website hadn't been updated since 2008, the final nails in the coffin seemed apparent.
Amazingly, though, no official statement was ever made about Sadness' cancellation. Nibris just hoped everyone would forget it even existed. It wasn't until 2010 when one of its composers, Arkadiusz Reikowski, revealed on his blog that the game was dead that we knew its true fate.
If you're of the belief that only a press release confirms a game's demise, Sadness is still in the works. Right…
Developer: Frontier Developments
In development since: 2005
The Outsider must rank as one of the stupidest stories in history where a delayed game is concerned, mostly because creator David Braben admitted that development had been put on hold… but the game hadn't been cancelled. That's the equivalent of having a dinner party, telling your guests their food won't be cooked, but will be served at some point in the future.
Gaining serious momentum at one point in its existence, The Outsider promised "genuine freedom" as you took on the role of a CIA agent shutting down fools in Washington, D.C. Apparently the outcome of the story would've played out in numerous different ways depending on what choices the player made - we assume like Mass Effect - with the added caveat that every person would have an unique experience.
Aside from goals that seem elevated even beyond the state of 'lofty', it was marred by constant delays and a shift in publishers. At one point Codemasters was involved, and later a deal with EA fell through. Throw in that many people were laid off during development, and in hindsight it never really looked like getting into the hands of the public.
Incredibly, no one actually admitted The Outsider had been cancelled, even though the writing was on the wall. After a good year had passed with no info whatsoever on the game, Braben casually admitted that: "It was stopped some time ago. A little over a year I think."
Thanks for telling us, David...
In development since: 2007
We'd love to be able to tell you as much as we know about Rockstar's Agent, but the truth of the matter is, no one really knows anything about it.
First announced for the PS3 way back in 2007, the actual name didn't even come to the public's knowledge until 2009 when Sony dished the dirt during its E3 conference. A press release at the time did enough to whet appetites, saying it took place during the Cold War and that it concerned itself with "the world of counter-intelligence, espionage and political assassinations." Such a premise combined with the might of Rockstar sounded like a guaranteed system seller. Then events took a strange turn…
Aside from no one on the planet apparently being allowed to talk about it, different parties started, seemingly, saying completely different things to one another.
In late 2009, Rockstar announced on its blog that Agent may be released in 2010. Take-Two –
Rockstar's parent company – then came out in early 2010 to say it wasn't sure about such a release date, but that the game was still in development and remained a PS3 exclusive.
Two years later, after very little noise from either party, Take-Two popped up again to reiterate that Agent was still a thing. When quizzed on it at that year's E3, however, SCEA CEO Jack Tretton claimed he had no idea if the game remained a PS3 exclusive or not.
The last we heard about it came earlier this year when Rockstar renewed its trademarks for the title, meaning there's some hope it isn't all doom and gloom. If it does ever find its way onto shop shelves, we'd imagine it'll be available for the Xbox One and PS4. Maybe PS5…