Long before the advent of “let’s play” videos on Youtube, players had to rely on game demos to discover if a game was worth the cost. Developers would use demos to build hype or test features and bugs for their titles. Nowadays, developers and players can expect free trial runs of entire games, use game streaming, or watch countless hours of gameplay content online to decide if a video game is worth their hard-earned money.
In some cases, developers were forced to cancel a game after a demo had already been released. Whether the game was nixed for budgetary reasons or because a current system’s hardware just couldn’t keep up, here are some of the games that had playable demos but were ultimately canceled.
7 Titan A.E.
A video game based on the movie Titan A.E. was developed by Blitz Games for the Playstation 1, Sega Dreamcast, and Nintendo 64. Players would have taken control of salvage worker Cale Tucker as they searched for a Titan and rescued humanity.
A demo disc for the PlayStation 1 was released and featured three levels: two third-person exploration stages and one flight simulator section. However, the game was canceled by the publisher, Fox Interactive, due to the movie’s unsuccessful box office run before it could ever release.
6 Torc: Legend of the Ogre Crown
Torc: Legend of the Ogre Crown, also known as Kill Wheel, was a simple game from a simpler time. Players took control of a giant wooden wheel operated by an ogre and ran over elves to rack up points. Although the premise sounded fun, the game featured nothing else.
It was more akin to a mobile game like Temple Run rather than a game worthy of inclusion on the Playstation’s library. A demo disc was released in 1997 before the game was ultimately canceled. However, the unfinished game is now playable as a downloaded ROM.
5 Thrill Kill
Thrill Kill was a fighting game by Paradox Development for the Playstation 1. What made it stand out at the time was the fact that it allowed up to four players to fight in one room, similar to how the Super Smash Bros. series feel now. What made it stand out a little too much was the sexual and gory violence that earned it one of the very first “AO” Adults Only ESRB ratings.
The game was canceled when, after Electronic Arts acquired publisher Virgin Interactive, concerns were raised about becoming associated with such a violent game. Not only did the publisher refuse to release it, but EA also declined to sell it to another publisher. Paradox did later re-skin the game, however, which led to its release as Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style.
4 Bounty Arms
Bounty Arms was a top-down action game developed for the PS1 in 1995 by Data West. Players would control Rei and Chris, two women with giant mechanical whips that could be used for attacks, blocks, and other actions like grappling and creating a giant fire ring.
However, enemies employed guns, and the characters’ weird and dense decision to wield whips was probably not lost on fans. The game was canceled for unknown reasons, but not before a one-level demo was released on Volume 5 of Sony’s Demo Demo Playstation series in Japan.
3 NBA Elite 11
NBA Elite 11 was going to be the seventeenth installment of EA’s NBA Live series, and the only one with “Elite” in the title. The game was canceled, however, following an extremely bugged demo release.
Struggling to keep up with 2K’s NBA 2K series, EA pulled the plug on the game to focus on overhauling the series. It didn’t work well, as NBA Live 12 was also canceled and EA hasn’t put out an NBA game since 2018.
2 Ashes Cricket 2013
Ashes Cricket 2013 was a cricket sports game developed by Trickstar Games and published by 505 Games. However, following a widespread panning by critics and cricket fans and YouTube videos showing bad gameplay, the game was taken off of Steam only four days after release.
While it stands out from the rest of this list as a game that was technically fully released to the public, the game was so bad that it was retroactively canceled and the PS3, Xbox 360, and WiiU versions were all scrapped.
1 Silent Hills
In 2014, a short playable teaser, aptly titled P.T. was released on the Playstation Network. The short, but critically acclaimed demo served as the official announcement for Silent Hills. The demo featured the player waking up in a haunted house and experiencing supernatural occurrences as they try to escape.
Players quickly fell in love with the short teaser as it showed just what a modern Silent Hill game could be like. Sadly, however, the game was later canceled following a dispute between Director Hideo Kojima and Konami.
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