Not every cancelled game is worth remembering, but these Marvel and DC games coulda been a contender, they coulda been something…
The colorful world of comics have been a part of gaming as early as the Atari 2600 version of Superman. Comic book games can be Game of the Year-worthy blockbusters (like Batman’s Arkham series), or they can sell tons of plastic toys, as seen in the Marvel expansions of Disney Infinity. But in a weird form of retail jazz, sometimes it’s the games that don’t get made that make the most impact.
Gaming history is littered with projects that failed to materialize, and given the often-spotty quality of licensed games, sometimes those cancellations are wholly justified. Still, when you see leaked footage of some games that failed to hit the market, your heart can ache a bit at the lost potential. These are the top 7 titles we wished had seen release, if for no other reason than we wouldn’t be left guessing what might have been.
Special thanks to Unseen64 for much of this insider info!
Honorable Mention: Green Lantern (SNES)
Planned for release by Ocean Software in 1994, this Kyle Rayner-starring platforming looks about as mediocre as other action platformers of the day. It’s cancellation is hardly worth mourning, but what is worth celebrating is its unused soundtrack. Eventually uploaded to YouTube, composer Dean Evans made some pretty good tunes, some of which were reused in the horrible Waterworld game. Give the full thing a listen above, and just imagine a better game around it.
7. Daredevil (PS2)
The early 2000s were a bit of a non-starter for Daredevil, despite the hopes that the B-level Marvel character would finally go mainstream around that era. Ben Affleck was playing him in a new movie, Kevin Smith and Brian Michael Bendis reinvigorated his books, and he even had his own console and handheld games planned. However, while the abysmal GBA movie tie-in shipped, the PS2/Xbox release only got as far as a trailer that has been saved for posterity above.
Originally planned for a 2002 release from now-defunct publisher Encore, the game faced a number of delays until it quietly missed its final 2004 release window and wasn’t heard from again. At one point it seemed real enough even receive ads in Marvel comics, though it’s telling that the ads relied heavily on artwork and less on postage stamp-sized screenshots. The gameplay resembled a grittier version of the Spider-Man games of the time, and DD’s Radar Senses would be a fine fit for finding objectives (this was years before we were wowed by Batman’s Detective Vision).
6. Gotham By Gaslight
We live in an age where Rocksteady’s Batman games are GOTY contenders and each sequel arrives with sky high expectations. But in a pre-Arkham Asylum world, a Batman game was seen as having as little potential as any other DC hero, which lead to some strange choices being made. Instead of a straight on Bat-game, you got kiddie titles and things based on lesser-known spin-offs. That was the odd approach of Day 1 Studios Gotham By Gaslight game, which dropped The Dark Knight into the foggiest of locales, Victorian London.
Based on an Elseworld one-off comic of the same name, developer Day 1 dreamed up a scenario for THQ to publish; a steampunk Batman chasing down Jack The Ripper through the ugly streets of Whitechapel. However, after pulling together the test footage above, THQ failed to secure the rights from DC, making this a rather expensive fan game. While I doubt seeing Batman beat up chimney sweeps will ever beat the Arkham games, this extra-gothic take on the vigilante could still be worth doing as a smaller downloadable adventure. At the very least, you’ve gotta give Day 1 props for creating some quality cape physics.