The Gratuitous Rainbow Spectrum

The Games We'll Never Play

The Games We'll Never Play

Kris Randazzo
6 minute read

What Could Have Been...

Kirby Tilt n Tumble is on Nintendo Switch Online and wow, what a wild release that is. This is a Kirby game that’s never been ported to anything else before, and I have to say, I couldn’t be happier with where it landed. If you’ve never played it before, it’s a motion controlled game where you roll Kirby around the screen. The trouble is, it was originally released for Game Boy Color. It had a gyroscope in the actual cartridge, and it was an incredibly clever little thing. But since it was on Game Boy Color, it was hard to see what you were doing. Heck, it was hard enough to see the screen during a regular game, let alone one where you had to move the actual unit around a lot. So now playing it on the Switch is fantastic because not only can I play it handheld and see what I’m doing, but I can play it on TV using the Pro Controller just fine. I love it.

But it got me thinking about a sequel we never got. Way back at E3 2006, Nintendo was all about connectivity between the Game Boy Advance and GameCube, and one of the several games they showed off was a full on sequel to Kirby Tilt n Tumble. It looked super cool and considering how good the original was, I had high hopes. Sadly, for some reason, it never materialized, and I’ve always been pretty sad about that.

What stinks is there are so very many games that this happens to, especially ones that we never hear of. Today though, I wanted to talk about a few of the ones that have stuck with me most over the years because they were announced, and in most cases actually shown off, but never made.

Return of Donkey Kong

This one drives me nuts because as far as I know, nobody outside of Nintendo has ever seen this game before, if it even exists. It was mentioned in both the Nintendo Fun Club Newsletter and the Official Nintendo Player’s Guide.

As you can see from the blurb there, it looks like this game was going to put players in control of Donkey Kong himself way before Rare made Donkey Kong Country. What would this game have been like? I have no idea, but I’ve always wanted to know. A friend of mine had that player's guide when we were kids, and while every other game on that page eventually came out, I’m still waiting on the fabled NES Donkey Kong adventure. My guess is it was never more than a concept, but I like to imagine there’s some sort of weird unfinished build sitting around in Nintendo’s archives somewhere, taunting me.

Kirby’s Air Ride

Yes, I know a game called Kirby Air Ride exists for GameCube, and its development is likely connected to this game in some way, but like Mario’s Tennis and Mario Tennis, Kirby’s Air Ride and Kirby Air Ride are very different games. Back before the Nintendo 64 released, they sent out this VHS tape to people that was full of hype-inducing video footage promising that Nintendo’s next generation platform was going to take over the world, change lives, and basically be the best thing since sliced bread.

There were deep dives into Super Mario 64, Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire, and Pilotwings 64, but at the end there was a massive sizzle reel full of upcoming releases. Some fascinating early outage of games like Golden Eye 007, Body Harvest, Super Mario Kart R (eventually renamed Mario Kart 64), and WaveRace 64 (weirdly without the super impressive water effects) followed, but the first game shown was Kirby’s Air Ride, and it looks nothing like Kirby Air Ride. It was actually previously known as both Kirby Ball 64 and Kirby Bowl 64, and it seems like it was going to be a much more free roaming experience, possibly not even strictly a racing game.

Obviously it was eventually canceled and reworked into Kirby Air Ride for GameCube, which itself is a pretty cool game, but I’ll always wonder what this game could have been.

Project HAMMER

Oh, my beloved Project HAMMER. Back when the Wii was being shown publicly for the first time, one of the games on hand was a gritty action extravaganza called Project HAMMER. It looked so cool. IT WAS SO EDGY! Jokes aside, I thought it looked like a blast. It was a third person action game where you played as this cyborg dude with an enormous hammer, and you’d swing the Wii Remote around to swing the hammer to beat the heck out of your enemies. It just looked like fun!

Apparently it wasn’t though, because it never materialized. There’s actually a really fascinating video on Unseen64 about the game and its troubled development. It’s a wild ride, and I’ll always be sad I never got to play it.

Mega Man Mania

This one bothers me the most because I can’t, for the life of me, figure out why it doesn’t officially exist. Following the success of the Mega An Anniversary Collections for GameCube, Xbox, and PlayStation2, Capcom announced a version for the Game Boy Advance. When they finally showed off a trailer for it, I couldn’t believe my eyes.

They were finally putting all 5 Game Boy Mega Man games in a single pack, and what’s more, at least a few of them were going to be fully remastered in color! I say some because the trailer also showed some of them still in monochrome. I just assumed you’d have the option to play the games in their original format if you wanted to.

I’ve heard that Capcom lost the source code to the Game Boy games or some nonsense like that, but I’m not sure I buy that. That certainly didn’t stop them from putting these games up on the 3DS Virtual Console. But what gets me is, even if that was the case, why hasn’t Capcom just gone ahead and done it from scratch? There are colorized fan projects out there, for crying out loud!

Capcom’s never been shy about re-releasing their old Mega MAn games, well, most of them at least, and considering how good these games are, I have no earthly idea why they haven’t colorized them and put them on modern platforms. I can’t be alone in wanting this to be a thing, and I will forever be mystified by its nonexistence.

Well, those are a few of the canceled game projects that I’d like to play someday, but what about you? What games were announced that never came to fruition keep you up at night? Let me know! 

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