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Making video games is a perilous process that has claimed many a promising title. While countless games get quietly axed when development hits a snag, some games live on in vaporware purgatory, with loyal fans longing for their release.

Why do we care? Because if these games were ever allowed to see the light of day, they would almost certainly kick ass.

10StarCraft Ghost

You know those legions of ant-sized grunts you'd cruelly send marching to their bloody demise in Starcraft? Well it turns out one of those grunts was actually a sexy girl named Nova with a penchant for ass-clinging outfits. Who knew?

OK, deep down, all of us knew. And so did Blizzard, who in 2002 teased us with this awesome-looking tactical action game set in the Starcraft universe normally reserved for Real-Time Strategy geeks.

How much ass would it have kicked?
If Blizzard had devoted even a fraction of the same time and effort to Starcraft Ghost's gameplay that they clearly sunk into lovingly rendering agent Nova's taut, bountiful butt cheeks ...

... then this game may have cured cancer had it ever seen the light of day.

So is there any chance it'll come out?
Early in 2006, Starcraft Ghost was put on "indefinite hold," but like the creepy dude who won't get out of his ex's bushes, Blizzard just seems to be incapable of letting this one go. Hell, supposedly Blizzard has a full-sized statue of the game's protagonist Nova sitting in their lobby.

When a company has erected a towering camel-toe flashing statue of a character near the front door of their headquarters, that can usually be taken as a good sign they may still have plans for them. On the other hand, maybe they ordered the statue back when the project was alive and decided that since they paid for it, they might as well use it, dammit.

If Starcraft Ghost ever happens we'd have to think it'd come out after Blizzard's next monster, a little game called Starcraft II. In other words if you're dead set on masturbating to Starcraft units in the near future you'd better plan on buying Starcraft II and a magnifying glass.

9Star Trek Online

If you're a Star Trek fan and tired of message boards, chatrooms, blogs, wikis and slash fic being the only ways for you to indulge your crippling Star Trek obsession while on your computer, this game was for you. Star Trek Online was to be an online role-playing game, which would feature established Star Trek characters, races and planets.

How much ass would it have kicked?
Between the series and the films and the endless novels, the Star Trek universe is so vast it makes the Starcraft universe look like something scribbled on the back of a napkin. This game could present endless possibilities: Casually stroll the halls of the USS Enterprise, fight a Gorn gladiator to the death, chug Romulan ale with rowdy Klingons, high five commander Riker as you double team alien chicks with strange and exotic foreheads.

If you're a well-adjusted contributing member of society the previous sentence was likely a baffling sequence of gibberish, while if you're a Trekkie you probably just shit your elastic-waist jeans in excitement.

Seriously, though, you don't need to be a Trek fan to get excited about this game. Due to budget constraints most Star Trek episodes consisted entirely of people poking at plywood control panels, spouting techno-babble about tachyon rays or looking pained as they got mind-raped by telepaths (you'd be surprised how often it happened) but a Trek game would be free to shed all that and focus on the kick-ass stuff usually only glimpsed in the TV shows.

So is there any chance it'll come out?
On January 14, 2008, Perpetual Entertainment announced they were no longer working on the game and the entire team who was working on it was let go. That's about as dead as games get.

Apparently the license has been transferred to Cryptic Studios (the people behind the City of Heroes MMORPG) so it's possible they'll eventually do a version of this game at some point in the distant future (they'd presumably be starting from scratch). And here we spent all that time learning how to call someone gay in Klingon.

8Shenmue 3

The Shenmue saga was quite simply one of the most ambitious and groundbreaking video game projects ever envisioned (the original cost an astounding $70 million to make, even now one of the most expensive games ever made). Originally intended as a trilogy, Shenmue landed on the Sega Dreamcast and introduced the world to the kind of sandbox-style action that the Grand Theft Auto series later took and ran to the end zone with.

How much ass would it have kicked?
Opinion on Shenmue is somewhat split these days. Detractors argue the games were slow and clunky by today's standards, while Shenmue fanatics argue that the detractors are a bunch of stupidheads.

What can't be denied is the sheer scope of these games. If nothing else, Shenmue III would be one hell of a spectacle if it were finally unleashed, particularly if the proud tradition of compelling dialog from the first two games is carried on ...

We had hoped Shenmue III would finally let him find that sailor.

So is there any chance it'll come out?
The first two games in the series sold well, but not well enough to make back the absolutely bat-shit insane amount of money spent producing them. It's been said that in order for Shenmue to turn a profit every Dreamcast owner would have had to buy the game ... twice.

Shenmue creator Yu Suzuki has repeatedly shot down rumors that the third game is in development, although if he were to read some of the endings fans have written for the series he might be forced to make Shenmue III out of disgust.

7Dirty Harry

If you ask us, there aren't enough games set in the early '70s, an era when the streets were full of huge cars and pimps, when everybody smoked and cops carried huge revolvers that could kill you from the sound alone.

That's what we were expecting from the Dirty Harry game they were making for the PS3 and XBox 360, in which you got to play as Clint Eastwood's legendary dirty cop, voiced by Eastwood himself.

How much ass would it have kicked?
Let's put it this way: from the trailer it looked like you could interrogate scumbags by squeezing their head in a vice.

Hopefully there'd be an option to unscrew the vice and carry it with you, because you basically can solve every problem that way. Captain on your ass because you're a loose cannon? Put his head in a vice.

On top of that, you have what could have been a truly unique setting, the gritty, funky world of 1972 San Francisco.

So is there any chance it'll come out?
Sadly, the game was never as far along as that trailer makes it look (Warner Bros. just had an animation team cook up the trailer for marketing purposes, none of that was gameplay) and the project never really got off the ground.

As with Star Trek, there is some vague desire to some day make a game out of the franchise, but as to when and how, who knows. If they want Eastwood to do the voice, they need to get on that because the man just turned 136.

6Diablo III

Diablo III is perhaps the most obsessed-over game to never have its existence officially acknowledged. Numerous sites and message boards are dedicated exclusively to a game that's developing into a legend on par with Bigfoot or Richard Gere's poor gerbil.

How much ass would it have kicked?
The Diablo series is what happens when you let red-blooded, meat-eating Americans make a role-playing game. Gone are the androgynous heroes, talking raccoons and quests that revolve around retrieving used panties you find in Japanese RPGs, replaced instead with demon killing. Lots and lots demon killing. Besides Blizzard simply doesn't make bad games, producing literally nothing but genre-defining classics for the past decade plus.

So is there any chance it'll come out?
Unfortunately for Diablo enthusiasts Blizzard North, the division of the company devoted to the Diablo franchise, dissolved a few years back. Several Blizzard North employees subsequently formed their own company and started developing Hellgate: London, a game fans considered a spiritual successor to Diablo II right up until the moment it came out and they realized it was complete crap.

Things aren't all grim though. Blizzard posted job listings on their website back in 2006 calling for people to join the "team behind Diablo I and II" and various Blizzard big wigs have said they would continue work on Diablo in the future. Considering how long it's taking Starcraft II to show up, "the future" seems to mean, "Some time before the sun goes supernova."

5Max Payne 3

For those unfamiliar, the Max Payne games are shooters which feature a dark haired guy who, in between brooding sessions, mows down enough people slow-motion bullet time style to fill a small town. Basically they're The Matrix in video game form except you don't have to put up with incomprehensible navel-gazing storylines or the sight of Keanu Reeve's bare ass.

How much ass would it have kicked?
The first two games in the Max Payne series were very well received (critically at least) and there's no reason to believe the third wouldn't be as well. The formula is hard to screw up.

These games don't feature much in the way of puzzle solving, switch flipping or colored crystal bauble collecting. You pretty much just spend 10 hours killing things in slow motion, and if John Woo's career teaches us anything, it's that killing people in slow motion never really gets old.

So is there any chance it'll come out?
It looked like a sure thing for a while. The end credits of Max Payne 2 teased the possibility of a third entry in the series, but the guy who wrote that isn't the same guy who writes the checks.

Still, in 2004 the game was officially announced by Take-Two. Since then they've found monstrous success with everything but the Max Payne franchise (including Bioshock and a little series called Grand Theft Auto) and the original developers have gone to work on a game called Alan Wake which has quite a Max Payne feel of its own.

When the team goes off to use all their ideas on a new game, it means the original is probably dead for at least the foreseeable future. But hey, at least we'll have the Max Payne movie to look forward to.

4Project H.A.M.M.E.R.

Killer robots are attacking major cities across the planet. World leaders and the military are helpless before the scourge and mankind trembles in their wake, but our would-be robot overlords didn't count on somebody finding their one fatal weakness: being whacked repeatedly with a really big hammer.

How much ass would it have kicked?
Before the Wii was released people had some rather unrealistic expectations of the system's "Wiimote" controller. Millions were disappointed when they realized it was simply a TV-remote shaped controller that can tell which direction you're waving it, not the freakin' Holodeck.

Still, one thing the Wiimote definitely does well is letting you pummel things by swinging the controller like you're trying to chase away a swarm of hornets. So it's actually promising that Project HAMMER's premise, gameplay and storyline could be summed entirely as "swing the controller to smash shit with a giant hammer."

We're pretty sure that not only described the game, but succinctly sums up the entire reason the Wii should exist.

So is there any chance it'll come out?
Rumors started swirling in 2007 that the Project HAMMER team had been put to work on other projects, and finally at E3 2007 Nintendo announced that the game was "on hold."

Nintendo has made some vague mutterings that indicate they could come back to the project in the future, which isn't that encouraging since technically they could say about any game and there is no evidence they have any specific plans to work on the game on any actual day in the future.

We can only guess that something went hopelessly wrong in the development of the game. Though it's beyond us what exactly you can screw up about a game where you smack things with an enormous hammer all day.

3Darkfall

Darkfall was to be an online fantasy role-playing game, first announced back in August 2001. Ironically Darkfall was announced a month before current MMORPG king World of Warcraft, but while WoW has been consuming people's souls and preserving nerd's virginity since 2004, gamers remain in the dark when it comes to Darkfall.

How much ass would it have kicked?
First of all, the world has been badly in need of a World of Warcraft alternative for some time now. Darkfall sounded like the other online role-playing games on the market in a number of ways, but with the addition of unrestricted Player vs. Player (there would be no safe zones from other players in the game), and the ability to build cities (or destroy other people's cities).

In other words, from the sounds of it this game would provide players new and exciting ways to act like total cocks, and isn't that what online role-playing games are all about?

So is there any chance it'll come out?
After countless delays, the developers of the game claim to currently be in "private beta testing." We're not sure why it has to be private, but the situation is starting to call to mind that friend who always claims to have a girlfriend which nobody has ever seen.

After seven years of waiting we're beginning to suspect Darkfall either doesn't exist or if it does, it's a real dog.

2Metroid Dread

In 2005, there were believed to be two Metroid titles in development for the Nintendo DS. The first, Metroid Prime Hunters, was released in 2006. And then there was Metroid Dread, which has remained hidden deep within Nintendo's secret subterranean headquarters.

How much ass would it have kicked?
It's new 2D Metroid, need we say more? Oh, we do? Really? Well, if you insist.


Mock screen by Alchemist Defined

To the uninitiated, Metroid is one of Nintendo's few series for gamers with sack. It rejects the usual Nintendo-brand electric rodents and Italian man-children in favor of a hot blonde chick named Samus who wears a super-powered robotic suit of armor that she uses to battle evil space dragons. If you find any part of that character description less than awesome get yourself to a doctor immediately because there's something wrong with you.

The franchise was reborn as the Metroid Prime series, 3D first-person shooters that were great in their own right, but weren't the same. Metroid Dread would allow the game to go back to its 2D roots, the way New Super Mario Bros. exploded on the DS and made us wonder why that third dimension existed at all.

So is there any chance it'll come out?
The recently-released Metroid Prime 3 contained this hidden message ...

... which could be taken one of two ways. Either Metroid Dread is still in development or Retro Studios (the makers of the Metroid Prime games) simply get their giggles sadistically rubbing salt in the 2D Metroid fans' wounds. Either way, Nintendo representatives have denied the existence of a new 2D Metroid completely.

On one hand you could say Nintendo wouldn't necessarily tell us even if Metroid Dread was coming and if that makes you feel better, go ahead. But even Project HAMMER gets more acknowledgment than that from these people, so we're expecting the worst.

1Duke Nukem Forever

You knew this was coming.

To get an idea of the ridiculous length of time this game has supposedly been in development, just ask your average gamer today if they're looking forward to Duke Nukem Forever. Their response would likely be "what the hell's a 'Duke Nukem' and why were retarded people allowed to name it?"

To answer the question, Duke Nukem is a dude with big muscles, a blond flattop and a pair of shades that totally would have got chicks 15 years ago to drop their acid-wash jeans. When he wasn't ogling partially nude strippers he was shooting non-threatening cartoonish aliens while spouting PG-13 level profanity. Oh fudge yeah, if you were 12-years-old in the early '90s Duke Nukem was your wet dreams made pixely reality.

Sadly ol' Duke hasn't left that era as Duke Nukem Forever has been in development since April of 1997.

How much ass would it have kicked?
Unfortunately for Duke Nukem Forever, its endless delays have rendered it a bit of a laughing stock. Is it a practical joke by the developers? Or are they using the game as a front to launder money for the mob? And most importantly, why do people still care?

The reason is that the makers of Duke Nukem, 3D Realms, have a long and impressive track history. As developers and publishers these guys had a huge hand in creating the entire first-person shooter genre, and their recent games have ranged from good to excellent. If you want a game where you blow some shit up real good, these guys can deliver. And the Duke Nukem games weren't bad in their day.

Also, these days Duke would be free to be the towering monument to juvenile humor in a way that he couldn't 10 years ago. Don't the 12-year-olds of today (or those still 12-years-old at heart) deserve this?

So is there any chance it'll come out?
3D Realms seem to be stuck in some sort of time paradox where the more work they put into the game, the further it gets from being finished. Here's a trailer from 1998 ...

Holy shit! Actual gameplay and plenty of it too! Hell, this game looks near completion and by 1998 standards, pretty damn good. Let's move onto 2001 and another trailer for the game.

While it provided the splattered grey matter and blow-up doll women Duke Nukem connoisseurs demand, this trailer appears to be made up almost entirely of cut scenes with little actual gameplay on display. What happened?

Now let's flash forward six years to a 2007 trailer:

Say goodbye to gameplay or even cutscene footage, say hello to a pre-rendered movie of Duke sitting on his ass amidst a black featureless expanse lifting a dumbbell. A rather girlishly small dumbbell at that.

If 3D Realms doesn't manage to escape this backwards paradox, by next year all they'll have is concept art. By 2010 if someone asks them about Duke Nukem Forever, they'll scratch their heads in bewilderment, then demand to know what a "Duke Nukem" is and why retarded people were allowed to name it.

Nathan Birch also writes the always promptly updated webcomic Zoology.

If you enjoyed that, check out our look back at The 10 Most Irritatingly Impossible Old School Video Games. Then, find out where they came up with all the insane premises for classic games in Video Game Pitch Meeting (1979). Or find out why Mike Swaim is a horrible bet in a rap battle in his post about how the Wii Fit sucks ... turds.

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