As most video games are often in development for years and years, there tends to be an awful lot of content that gets left on the cutting room floor. This can be anything from a simple unused weapon to an entire subplot or character, remnants of what a game once was and what it could have been in a different lifetime.
It's not unusual to hear about entire concepts being scrapped, such as the 9/11 tragedy putting Rockstar in a situation where they're forced to change what might be seen as insensitive content in Grand Theft Auto 3. This can affect any game for good or bad, often leaving fans with a sense of yearning for these unseen pieces of lore.
There's something exciting about cut content, about the sense of the unknown that, with the exception of some sort of director's cut, this is something we'll never get to experience. There's an entire community devoted to this area of gaming, with some fans going as far as modding certain titles to put the content back into the game.
Removed content has been everything from thrilling to uneventful, so let's take a look at eight concepts that were removed from famous games and see what could have been.
8. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords - You Once Visited A Planet of Droids Known as M4-78
After the original Knights of the Old Republic game granted Star Wars fans the chance to experience the galaxy far, far away in the most exciting way possible, development of the sequel shifted to Obsidian Entertainment. One of the most interesting elements of Obsidian's game was the introduction of a droid planet, known as M4-78.
But as work on the sequel progressed, LucasArts was pressuring Obsidian to get it out in time for Christmas, forcing the team to cut M4-78 from the final game. While some sections were moved to other planets, the most interesting aspect of it never saw the light of day; only droid party members could explore the planet, leaving the most clever element of Obsidian's work on the chopping block.
7. BioShock - Rapture Originally Had A Zoo
There's a lot of fascinating places to see in Ken Levine's Ayn Rand-inspired opus, but would you believe that the underwater utopia of Rapture featured in BioShock once had a zoo that you could visit? And we're not just talking about a little side area where you could pet a few animals, we're looking at a full-blown safari.
Rapture's zoo was something that was removed late into development, much to the chagrin of the developers, who found it disheartening to cut from the game. And although there isn't much to be seen outside of the image above, the developers have spoken quite a bit about it and confirmed that it would have housed an elephant. We'll take that lighthouse door that leads us to a copy of BioShock with the zoo intact, please.
6. Doom - Four Characters Fought Off The Demon Horde
During the development of the classic 1993 shooter Doom, writer Tom Hall developed an extensive document known as the Doom Bible. Hall's intention for the game was the creation of an elaborate and detailed storyline, which included the concept of four playable characters and a universe rich with lore.
Unfortunately, lead developer John Carmack saw things differently and the document was largely ignored. This creative disagreement lead to Hall leaving Id Software, at which point Doom continued down a the path it was already forging of a no-nonsense action game.
And although Hall would later re-purpose parts of the Doom Bible for another shooter named Rise of the Triad, it's certainly interesting to think about how different an experience Doom could have been.
5. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker - Link Was Supposed To Age Gradually
When Nintendo finally showed what direction the Legend of Zelda franchise was heading in a post-Ocarina of Time world, it's something of an understatement to say they were disappointed. In the wake of the Spaceworld 2000 demo that showed a realistic take on the series, fans were shocked to see The Wind Waker emerge with its cel-shaded, Disney-esque take on the Hylian hero.
But perhaps one thing that could have changed the perception of what fans saw as a childish take on Link could have been avoided, as the Hyrule Historia book shows an elder version of the Wind Waker's incarnation of the hero.
This version of Link was intended to age, at a much more deliberate pace than Ocarina of Time's hero, but this feature was deemed to difficult for the GameCube's hardware, and was ultimately removed.
4. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty - Arsenal Crashed Into Manhattan
It's safe to say that the tragedy that took place on September 11th, 2001 changed everything, and video games were not immune. Grand Theft Auto 3 and Syphon Filter 3 were forced to alter certain parts of their marketing and in-game content, a ripple effect that found its way to Hideo Kojima's stealth masterpiece; Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty.
Late in the game, the weapon known as Arsenal Gear was locked into a collision course with New York City. The original script called for Arsenal to crash into Manhattan, leveling parts of the city and coming to a rest in front of the World Trade Center.
Although pieces of this scene can be found on the Document of Metal Gear Solid 2, including a news report that takes place in the aftermath, much of the game's climax was re-written to avoid controversy.
3. Half-Life - Gordon Freeman Was A Space Biker Named Ivan
Before Valve was set to reinvent video game storytelling as we know it with 1998's Half-Life, the lead character Gordon Freeman was not the intriguing everyman he would become. Instead, Gordon was a wildly fantastic character named Ivan. And Ivan's profession? Well, he was a space biker, of course.
While it's likely that Valve never intended for this to be Gordon Freeman's final appearance, it's interesting to see the minds of Valve at work. Ivan the Space Biker is a far too specific character for the Valve we know, as he seems to have an internal history and defined features.
Thankfully, they moved on from Ivan, but one can't help but wonder if Half-Life would have been the introverted masterpiece that it is today if he had stuck around.
2. Resident Evil 2 - Claire Was A Motorcycle Racer Named Elza Walker
The first Resident Evil was a tremendous hit, selling 2.51 million units in its initial run on the PlayStation. So assured of their new franchise, Capcom began development of the sequel only a month after the first game was completed. But trouble began brewing as the team was unhappy with the result, culminating in most of it being scrapped.
The trashed version, known among fans as Resident Evil 1.5, included a different character in place of series heroine Claire; Elza Walker, a motorcycle racer who was ultimately reworked into Claire, as well as recycling the character of John into Robert Kendo, the gun-shop owner encountered at the beginning of the game.
Not only did the original version feature what looks to be a more interesting atmosphere than the final game, but featured more varied zombie types. Developers even limited the amount of polygons on screen, allowing for more shambling corpses to appear at once.
The prototype known as 1.5 eventually found its way onto the internet, but fans will be forever haunted by the wonderfully curious case of the Resident Evil sequel that wasn't to be.
1. Final Fantasy VII - Sephiroth and Aeris Were Once Brother and Sister
Among the many intriguing concepts left behind for Final Fantasy VII, including Cloud being a detective named Joe who was actually chasing our lead characters, one that sticks out is the character path of Aeris. The flower girl from the slums was one of the first character created for the game by designer Tetsuya Nomura, attempting to create a character that like a sharp contrast to Tifa.
As the story progressed, Aeris' role continued to change and evolve. Early in development, Aeris' connection to series' villain Sephiroth began with them being siblings, a subtle reference to their rather similar hairstyles. For unknown reasons, this was altered to make them romantic interests, an event that would have seen Cloud try to shield Aeris from the dark truth about Sephiroth's intentions.
This certainly would have made for an interesting dynamic, perhaps putting Aeris in a position where she was between the two rivals at some point. Any number of exciting scenarios could have been drafted from this concept, but it wasn't meant to be, as Aeris' history was again re-written.
The character of Zack, Cloud's friend from SOLDIER, was created late and it was decided to tie Aeris to him. And even though fans likely wouldn't have Aeris any other way, it's fun to think about the potential story that could have been told.
But now it's your turn, so let us know what unused video game concepts intrigued you the most in the comments. Did we miss one? Want to talk more about one on the list? Get crackin' in those comments!