Opinion; Five Ambitious Fan Projects Cancelled Before they were Done
When it comes to fan works (or just about everything free that can be found on the internet), an often depressing rule seems to be that the good examples are both extremely rare and 99.9% likely to be cancelled before they’re complete, and that the most horrible examples tend to somehow get further along in production or even finished.
And so here’s an article to make you even more angry at the video game fandom. One about five great video game fan projects that were cancelled long before their time.
5. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 HD
What Killed It: Capcom/Square Enix/EA style idiocy by certain team members
First up, we’ve got Sonic the Hedgehog 2 HD.
And the inclusion of a game from this series probably won’t surprise anyone. I mean, the Sonic fanbase are notorious for being one of the worst fan communities of all time, with a level of drama only matched by the Zelda and Final Fantasy fandoms. So to see one of their projects here is kind of to be expected.
What was the project?
Exactly what the title says, a remake of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 in HD with up to date graphics and technical capabilities. So sort of like a super fancy and awesome current gen port of the Mega Drive classic.
Unfortunately, its development put paid to any of that.
The first sign of the end was the ever increasing delays between the last teaser and any sign of progress, which was followed by the whole thing becoming some sort of closed project with strict rules instead of the more open community based one it was initially.
This however was just the start…
Because just a bit later… all the community contributed assets were chucked out in favour of private work.
And then one of the devs tried to implement DRM on the thing. Yeah, DRM on an unlicensed fan remake of a work. Because we all know how much hackers and the fan community love people trying to put ‘copy protection’ on a free ‘community’ project!
Hint: They don’t. Cue backlash.
Followed by a discovery of some terrible coding practice that led to the game accidentally being classed as a keylogger by various virus scanners and drama behind the scenes by the guy responsible, the team ended up booting programmer LOst from the project for good. Which was good, given that he was rejecting changes based purely on personal preferences and trying to encrypt the source code of a fan project.
But not so good in that they ended up without a programmer as a result. No one stepped up, they had no engine as a result and eventually, the project was just formally cancelled to put it out of its misery.
4. Chrono Resurrection
What Killed It: Square Enix’s Laywers sent a cease and desist notice
Ah this project. Billed as a fully 3D remake of Chrono Trigger complete with Gamecube era graphics, it looked like one of the most promising fan games of all time and one that was sure to be a masterpiece if completed. Just look at the trailer:
Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be. Just shortly after the trailer was posted online, Square Enix’s lawyers issued a cease and desist order to the game development team and the project was shelved permanently.
To be honest, I can sort of see why this game ended up with that legal letter. After all, they perhaps went a bit too public with the project a bit early (coverage on major gaming sites like Kotaku and even in print magazines may have tipped the wrong people off). But it’s still a real shame that such a promising project was cut short so soon and with so much longer to go. It’s one of the reasons I’m hoping that one day, copyright/trademark laws can be drastically changed to benefit the average joe instead of large companies.
3. The Hero of Time Movie
What Killed It: Nintendo asked for it to be shut down (see above)
Another project that met it’s end via legal notices was the Hero of Time. A Zelda movie made popular on the now defunct Sacred Realm fan site, it was meant to be a live action film with elements from games like Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask and had a fair amount of work put into it before it was canned.
How much work?
How about an actual release?
Yep, it actually got released to a fairly small crowd before it was shut down by Nintendo. There was even a couple of cinemas booked and everything.
This however is what eventually killed it. Nintendo saw they were taking money for viewings, then shut down the project. On the bright side, despite the cancellation warning coming a few months before the en of the year, they did actually let the team keep showing the movie until the end of December or so. So hey, at least they got a grace period, which is more than can be said about Chrono Resurrection.
2. The URA Zelda Recreation Project
What Killed It: An extremely arrogant and selfish lead developer and team drama
And now we get to this thing. Surprisingly NOT killed by legal action, the URA Zelda project was destroyed by a mix of bad developer attitudes, team disgruntlement and basically a long list of ways not to make a good game.
Let’s start with the obvious stuff. The project was meant to be a recreation of the URA Zelda game that Nintendo was at one time aiming to make for the Nintendo 64 DD. This then turned from a super expansion pack into a standalone game starring some guy from the Satallaview Zelda title and sort of become its own entity, until the project completely collapsed.
You can see a (very old) trailer here:
It was headed up by someone called Zeth64… and that’s where it all went wrong.
And he was a complete and utter jerkass. Indeed, it’s an absolute miracle the guy doesn’t have an Encyclopedia Dramatica page or something by now, given some of the stuff that supposedly went on behind the scenes and his actions.
So what exactly did he do, or more precisely, happened behind the scenes to cause it all to go wrong?
Well for one thing, the concept was apparently started and cancelled at least two or three times before the most well known versions, so the creator had a small habit of trying to start and end ROM hacking projects based around the same concept.
He also stirred up drama behind the series, attacking other staff members for minor disagreements based on perfectly valid concerns, and in a case previously… deleted the entirety of the GCN’s predecessor just because he was annoyed with someone. A whole forum/site completely wiped out because one member of staff had an attitude problem and wanted to ‘leave forever’ in style.
It’s a long and somewhat sordid story, and you can read some good explanations of the behind the scenes chaos that led to this at the Zelda Informer link below. Just look through the comments, get a good drink ready and be prepared for epic tales of woe.
1. Mushroom Kingdom Fusion
What Killed It: Ambition
Yes, you read that correctly. A fan project that wasn’t killed by any form of legal action or drama, but by a simple problem of growing ambitions and ridiculous aspirations.
So what is Mushroom Kingdom Fusion?
A really, really advanced crossover fan game starring the likes of Mario, Link, Sonic and Mega Man and with levels based on hundreds of different video game series. In other words, this was pretty much the number one fan game of all time. The most ambitious work ever created. Just… watch the trailer below, it kind of ‘explains’ everything:
This was massive. 11 worlds, more than ten different playable characters with unique abilities, about 30 powerups across said characters… a level count of over 300, the list goes on and on. It was even so amazing that Cracked covered it in an article!
So what eventually killed this brilliant piece of fan work?
Short answer? Ambition. The level of ambition and the sheer scope of the project just shot up and kept going ever onwards up until its cancellation.
When it began, it was basically just ‘Mario and friends in different universes’. Then other characters were added. Then it just turned into ‘let’s add everything from our favourite video games and reference everything in existence!’ In JudgeSpear’s words:
I was absurdly ambitious and lacked restraint, but I was not the only one then who caused MKF to spiral out of control. Former developer Obreck kept adding so many ridiculous additions, which were implemented via extremely confusing and undocumented coding, that all the way up to MKF’s hiatus, they had caused problems that no other dev could fix. The other devs turned a crossover Mario game in which Mario visits other worlds into an unbalanced mess that served mostly to satisfy the nostalgia filters of gamers who grew up in the 1980’s to the mid 1990’s.
It was killed by what made it great to begin with, ambition and the desire for the ‘perfect’ video game. It’s a tale so familiar of a lot of fan games and hacks, one where a team’s desire to make the best thing ever spirals out of control and causes them to end up with a massive project with more work needed than could ever be completed without losing their sanity. And then it just drags on, up until eventually the whole thing collapses and people drift away. Sort of like what happened to Duke Nukem Forever really.
The cancellation notice was updated to say that any remaining work will still be merged in before its released and the dev source released alongside it. So at least we should get something resembling a finished game in a few months or so, albeit without the ridiculously over the top ideas that were going to be present in the final worlds.
Heck, we might even see a revival if some new team shows interest in using the source to continue where the old guys left off! So at least this ends on an at least hopeful note.
And that ends my list of unfortunately cancelled fan projects. Five great fan ideas, all cut short by a mix of drama, ambition and legal struggles. Makes you kind of depressed doesn’t it?