10 Canceled PS1 Games We Still Want to Play

canceled PS1 games
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While some of its games have aged over the years, there’s no question that when we talk about the PlayStation 1’s library, we’re looking at a sprawling list of legendary games. From Crash Bandicoot and Final Fantasy VII to Ridge Racer and Resident Evil, it’s a deep library of classics that for many are still a blast to play today.

But what about the games that never made it to stores?

Games can get canceled for any number of reasons. The budget can spiral out of control. Some games are canceled because they spend so much time in development or even fail to get out of the planning stage altogether. The PlayStation had thousands of games announced over its lifespan. There’s always the ones that didn’t make it, and that’s what we’re focusing on today.

Let’s look at some canceled PS1 games and see what we missed out on. Some of these games could have been truly great. Others are at least interesting. But most of them cannot be played in any way, and that’s a crying shame.

 

1. Thrill Kill

Developer: Paradox
Publisher: Virgin Interactive Entertainment

One of the most infamous canceled games of its time, Thrill Kill drew attention early on for two reasons. It was touted as the first four-player fighting game on the PlayStation, and it promised to be violent and gory in a way that would make Mortal Kombat look like Spyro the Dragon by comparison. The plot featured 10 bizarre, edgy-in-that-oh-so-90s way fighters who were trapped in Hell and battling it out for the opportunity at redemption and reincarnation. Not the worst premise for a fighter, but everything about Thrill Kill screamed brutality.

Maybe too much so. The original version of the game was to receive an AO (Adults Only) rating for graphic violence and sexual content, which would have effectively rendered the game unreleasable. A toned-down version was then made, only to be canceled by Electronic Arts after it acquired Virgin Interactive.

This controversial decision occurred just two weeks before Thrill Kill was to be released. Gloomy 90s teens with a bloodlust were devastated, but the developers at Paradox would later release a reskinned Thrill Kill in the form of Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style for the PS1. So, it basically worked out, and if you really want to experience the original title, you can do so easily enough, with a leaked version released several years ago, but maybe you prefer more RZA and a lot less weird latex goblins.

 

2. Beneath

cancelled PS1 games
cancelled PS1 games

Developer: Presto Studios
Publisher: Activision

Promising to be a Tomb Raider killer with taglines like “Deeper than any tomb,” Beneath was an odd project for Presto Studios. A company mostly known for developing point-and-click titles like Myst III: Exile and their Journeyman Project franchise, Beneath would be published by Activision for the PS1 and PC. Players would take control of Jack Wells (who definitely doesn’t look like Ash Williams), searching for his archeologist father by descending into an elaborate series of underground tunnels, leading to a plethora of fantastical worlds.

Taking inspiration from the works of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne, Beneath had ambition to spare. Jack would discover three distinct societies living underground in a fully functioning world to explore. And as players explored this underground universe across 12 levels, they would uncover vast technological achievements and secrets about what really happened to this world.

Sounds good, but Presto Studios just never seemed to get the hang of developing wholly different games from what they had been doing in the past. The game chugged along for a few years, only to be canceled in 2002 after the company went out of business.

 

3. Commando

Developer: Virtual Studios
Publisher: Namco

Commando (which has nothing to do with the Arnie “classic”) would have been a pretty exciting third-person shooter on the PS1, if everything had gone according to plan. The game would have taken players to a variety of locations on Mars, battling enemies and taking on bosses at the end of each stage.

Where Commando really became interesting was in its promise that players would have to hack into enemy weapons to seize control and turn them against your antagonists. It was a more open-ended experience than many first-person shooters of the era, and it would be designed by Stephane de Luca and published by Namco through a deal with Virtual Studios.

What happened? Virtual Studio pulled out when they realized the deal they had seemingly agreed to would have made them only a financial partner. When they pulled the funding, the project fell apart, and today we only have a few scant screenshots and a super short video to prove Commando existed in the first place.

 

4. Onimusha

Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom

Onimusha has the distinction of being the only game we’re covering that was eventually reborn on a different console. In this case, Onimusha was canceled in its PS1 form, only to be reworked and eventually brought to market as the extremely popular PS2 release Onimusha: Warlords. While we’re glad the game was ultimately finished and put out, we’re always going to wonder what could have been if the game had come out on the PS1 first.

It is believed the PS1 version of Onimusha was around 50% completed, before it was canceled. Why the game was canceled, we couldn’t say, but given that the PS2 was on the horizon, it seems probable that PS1 Onimusha, which utilized the Resident Evil 2 engine and whose plot and basic mechanics remained intact from one console to the next, was simply shifted to prioritize the upcoming PlayStation 2. But there’s something about the super low-poly look of Onimusha on PS1 that’s hard to not be charmed by.

This wasn’t the last time Capcom made a bold decision on a major release in mid-stream. Did you know Devil May Cry originally began its life as Resident Evil 4?

 

5. P.I.G.

PIG PS1
PIG PS1

Developer: Team17
Publisher: Unknown

A quick glance at what little information or screenshots we have for P.I.G., alarmingly one of several pig-based games on the PS1, reveals a game we would have loved to have played, if only because some publications somehow compared it to Tomb Raider. While it’s believed this 3D platformer in the vein of Banjo-Kazooie made it through some part of the development process, there is no build of the game that is currently available to play.

What we do know about P.I.G, whose acronym spells out “Private Investigator George”, suggests a relatively standard platformer starring a pig named George. There would have been a range of challenging environments and levels, as well as minigames, NPCs to interact with, and more. It had a lot of promise over its 3-year development period.

Instead, Team17 went in a different direction after the release and massive success of 1995’s Worms. The success of that game led to the team putting most of their energy into its many sequels and spinoffs. There’s dozens of Worms titles available at time of writing, but all we want is the one P.I.G.

Hands off, Nic Cage.

 

6. PowerSlave 2

PowerSlave 2
PowerSlave 2

Developer: Lobotomy Software
Publisher: Playmates Interactive Entertainment

It’s a shame the original PowerSlave for the PS1, Sega Saturn, and MS-DOS has been largely forgotten by time. It’s a fun, visually striking first-person shooter that was set in an ancient Egyptian city near the end of the 20th century. PowerSlave was surprisingly non-linear too, and while it wasn’t exactly an immersive sim, it had a lot more ways of approaching challenges than most of its peers.

The sequel PowerSlave 2 was going to go in a different direction. The game was going to take a third-person perspective, focusing on adventure game elements and exploring the locales that would be set centuries before the events of the first game, meaning it wasn’t even going to be a sequel. Good or bad, it would have been interesting, but nothing ever came of it when Crave Entertainment acquired the company in 1998. It was gone a year later.

It’s not all bad news. In 2022, PowerSlave was re-released as an enhanced port for the PC and various consoles. It’s worth exhuming for sure, especially if you’re a fan of modern boomer shooters.

 

7. Saboteur

Saboteur PS1
Saboteur PS1

Developer: Tigon
Publisher: Eidos Interactive

No, this canceled PS1 game has nothing to do with the forgotten WW2 espionage game from EA that had booby DLC.

Had Saboteur been released in 1999 or even 2000 as developer Tigon had intended, it’s possible that it could have been a serious hit near the end of the PS1’s lifespan. We have some early video and other visuals to show us just how much potential Saboteur had from a graphical and even gameplay standpoint.

Saboteur would have seen players assume the role of a ninja named Shin in Feudal Japan. Stealth would be emphasized in many combat situations, but developers Tigon insisted that the game was not simply going to be a fighting game or an adventure game. It was seemingly their intention to create something that embraced a variety of styles and genres. The game would have provided plenty of action, as screenshots and video suggests, but also perhaps some unique gameplay elements not yet seen on the PS1.

However, in all likelihood, it was precisely the fact that the PS2 was on the horizon. Publisher Eidos and just about everyone else wanted to turn their focus away from the aging PlayStation 1, and games like Saboteur died in obscurity as a result.

 

8. Gen 13

Developer: Gray Matter
Publisher: Electronic Arts

Based on a 90s comic book that either sums up everything good or thoroughly obnoxious about that decade, depending upon your viewpoint, a Gen 13 game made sense when the game first went into production in 1996. The story of a group of superpowered teens on the run from government forces and other baddies was an easy one to create for a video game that would be released for the PS1, Sega Saturn, and PCs.

As is often the case, the game was seemingly a victim of its own goals, which led to a game that stayed in development for far too long, costing too much money, and eventually becoming an easy victim of cutbacks. EA wanted a game that would have the detail and depth of a Mario game, the action and brawling of Street Fighter, and the platforming/shooter dynamics of Earthworm Jim. 25 stages were planned to cover a multitude of gameplay styles, but it was just too much for one game to shoulder, and it’s not a surprise that the game was eventually canned with the IP itself now in deep obscurity in 2024.

At least we have a pretty fascinating, extremely 1990s tech demo to show us what might have been.

 

9. Aeon Flux

Aeon Flux PS1
Aeon Flux PS1

Developer: Cryo Interactive
Publisher: Viacom New Media

“Wait a minute,” you might be saying, “Aeon Flux was released for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox in 2005. It’s not great, but it’s basically fine.” All of that is true, yet the 2005 licensed game based on the pretty terrible Charlize Theron movie is not the only time someone has tried to bring the MTV cult animated series to video games. It’s just the only time it ever (kind of) worked out, and the 1996 effort to bring Aeon Flux to the PS1 is another regrettable example of a game being canceled due to forces beyond its control.

In the case of the unreleased 1996 Aeon Flux, the cancellation came because Viacom New Media merged with Virgin Interactive in the middle of development. The game had already been promoted at E3 and in some advertisements, but every game in the pipeline from Viacom was canceled when the merger went through.

It’s interesting to see the bits of the game that are out there. An action platformer would have suited this universe nicely, and we do know that a significantly altered form of what this game might have been like was eventually developed by Cryo Interactive and released as Pax Corpus. Yes, us neither.

 

10. Titan A.E.

Developer: Blitz Games
Publisher: Fox Interactive

One of the biggest box office bombs of the first decade of the 2000s, the fallout of the financial failure of Titan A.E. reverberated in all sorts of unfortunate ways. One of those was the death of a licensed game that would have come to the PS1, Dreamcast, and PC, offering an action-adventure experience based around the epic plot of the science fiction blockbuster directed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman.

Playing in third-person or from the cockpit of a spaceship, players would battle Drej aliens and search for the titular spaceship. Nothing groundbreaking, but this could have been a solid licensed game on the PS1. There was even a preview at E3 2000, with details on gameplay and the notion that Blitz Games would likely take some liberties with adapting the movie’s story to a video game.

Ultimately, 20th Century Fox saw no reason to release a game for a movie relatively few people went to see, especially so late in the PS1’s life cycle. Today the film is hardly remembered by many people except for a few dedicated fans, and, good or bad, it’s safe to assume the game would have suffered a similar fate. At least we have a demo to show off what could have been.

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