Believe it or not, there have been many games that have never made it to the store shelves that were near completion. Sometimes there is no resolution unto why a game, so near the end of its development cycle, inexplicably gets cancelled. The fact is that many people were involved in the productions of these games, and that all of their hard work will probably never be seen by the public. For that reason, we take notice of the games that we will never play and the people who helped make them. These are the ‘Vacated Videogames’.
There was a time when Bandai and Namco were once two separate companies. Bandai had a strong business in anime with Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon while creating games around the NES era. Namco was one of the biggest videogame manufacturers in Japan with their most notable games being Pac-Man, Galaga, and even Tekken. In 2005, it was announced that the two companies would merge into what we now know as, Bandai Namco Entertainment.
Around this time is also when the public were getting their first looks into what the next generation of game consoles were going to look like. The first to be introduced was the Xbox 360, and its various launch titles, and launch window games that consisted of Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Kameo, Gun, Perfect Dark, Call of Duty 2, and Condemned to name a few, as well as a Namco action game venture named, Frame City Killer.
Frame City Killer was going to be a third person action game set in the year 2047. Set in East Asia, an assassin known as Crow is tasked to going to Frame City to eliminate a terrorist known as Khan. Using a pair of stylish glasses, with a yellow strip above the lenses, it allowed Crow to find information about others that come into view. Tracking the targets from location to location, starting with the lower level associates, you choose how to dispose of the targets with the time of day being a factor. Using your fists, guns, and even running them over with a car, were choices. The hand to hand combat projected a Matrix/Max Payne like style, with it use of slow motion when fighting multiple enemies at once.
On the outside, Frame City Killer appeared to resemble a Yakuza game in many ways, like traversing the map and character animation, all using the Unreal 3 engine, in which Frame City was the first Japanese produced game to use it. With a Hitman like approach mixed with a GTA like setting that would have incorporated a gritty story line and car chases, Frame City Killer could have been a modest hit with new Xbox 360 owners. Unfortunately, after many delays, Frame City was cancelled in 2006.
Most sites tell us that the cancellation of the game is that when presented on many trade show floors, the game failed to gain a connection with reviewers and gamers alike. Some will argue that the game may have not looked “next-gen” enough at the time, especially compared to other games that were coming out or already released that looked better in terms of character models and environment. See the video below and form your own opinion.
Another reason, and one that ties into the first, is that Namco and Bandai would have come to their agreement around the time of the Xbox 360 release. Because of that, it is feasible that the company, then known as Namco Bandai, decided that pouring any more assets into a game that was not impressing anyone in the media, or with consumers, was a lost cause. This is not unusual, of course, but with a newly merged company, it was probably a wise decision to try and gain a profit by the end of the fiscal year, instead of wasting it on something that may not have panned out.
Frame City Killer was an interesting concept at the very least. Going by the gameplay footage and the overviews, it may have just been too slow of a game for some gamers in its action and traversing the world, or perhaps the Unreal Engine was not being used to its potential and the city environment may have been too bland. Regardless, we will never find out how we could have taken out our targets, or how the antagonist, Khan, was inevitably taken down. Maybe the real crime is that we will never know if it would have been worth it or not.
What games were you looking forward to that were cancelled? Let us know in the comments below and maybe we will use that for the next ‘Vacated Videogames’ article!