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Top 10 Games That Escaped Development Hell

VO: JG WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
Script written by Nathan Sharp Better late than never! It’s time to take a look at all the games that we thought were never coming out, only to be proven wrong by their eventual release! Welcome to and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Games That Escaped Development Hell. Special thanks to our user “William Watson” for suggesting this topic using our interactive suggestion tool at http://WatchMojo.comsuggest

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Top 10 Video Games That Escaped Development Hell

We thought these would never see the light of day. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top ten video games that escaped development hell.

For this list, we’ll be looking at video games that experiences a long and arduous development process, but which were eventually released - for better or worse. We will not be including those which are still in development, like “Beyond Good and Evil 2,” despite how much time it’s spent in development.

#10: “L.A. Noire” (2011)

“L.A. Noire” was a hugely ambitious game for its time, mostly due to its unique use of MotionScan, which allowed the developers to film an actor’s face and transfer it onto their digital counterparts. It was innovative, and really creepy. Unfortunately, with ambition comes delays. Bondi began development in 2004, and it was originally going to be published by Sony before Rockstar picked it up in 2006. It then missed its 2008 release date, and the debut trailer wasn’t revealed until 2010, two years AFTER the game was supposed to be out. It finally hit stores in May 2011, seven years after it began development.

#9: “Team Fortress 2” (2007)

“Team Fortress 2” still remains popular and incredibly influential ten years after its release, thanks to its whimsical gameplay and constant updates. We can’t image the modern gaming landscape without it, but we’re lucky we even got it at all. It was originally unveiled way back at E3 1999 sporting a modern war aesthetic similar to “Call of Duty,” complete with parachute drops and RTS elements. It was then delayed due to Valve switching to the Source engine, and that was the last we heard of it for six years. It was finally reintroduced in 2006 with the cartoonish visual design it now has, and the game was released in October 2007, eight years after it was shown at E3.

#8: “Kirby’s Return to Dream Land” (2011)

Remind us to never travel with Kirby, because we’d probably be dusty skeletons by the time we got to where ever we were going. Kirby first began his return to Dream Land in 2000. The game was eventually showcased at E3 2005, with a multiplayer component and gameplay similar to its predecessor. However, this version was soon completely scrapped, along with two succeeding builds, due to the difficulty of making the multiplayer. After years of silence, it was finally shown at E3 2011 as “Kirby Wii” and was released that October, eleven years after it began development. Granted, it was pretty good, but come on. Eleven years!? We could have made our own game in that time.

#7: “The Last Guardian” (2016)

“The Last Guardian” was the announced as the next project by Fumito Ueda, director of “Ico” and “Shadow of the Colossus,” so the hype was insanely high from the get go. Unfortunately, it was plagued with so many issues that many began to question whether they’d ever see it. The team began work on the game in 2007, and it was showcased at E3 2009. However, the problems then began to occur, including difficulties in working with the PS3 hardware, the departure of Ueda from Sony, and changing the development from the PS3 to the PS4. It was finally released in 2016, although many agreed that the nearly ten-year development showed in its sometimes dated performance.

#6: “Final Fantasy XV” (2016)

The “Final Fantasy XV” we know today wasn’t even going to be a main entry in the series. It was originally slated to be a spinoff titled “Final Fantasy Versus XIII,” and development began in 2006. However, this version was entirely scrapped and forgotten around 2012. Focus was switched from the PS3 to the PS4, the engine was completely reworked, and the development team was moved around. Well that was six years of work down the drain. The game began from scratch and eventually released in 2016. Now that that’s over, can we get “Kingdom Hearts III?”

#5: “Aliens: Colonial Marines” (2013)

We would have been totally OK if this one stayed in development hell forever. A new “Alien” game was announced in 2006, but what followed was a huge mess which resulted in the game’s delay. Sega got wind that developer Gearbox was putting their employees to work on “Borderlands,” despite receiving payments for work on “Colonial Marines.” This led to layoffs in 2008 and the temporary cancellation of the game. Work eventually started up again but was outsourced to other developers to make up for Gearbox’s incompetence. After numerous delays, the game was rushed to market in 2013, seven years after its initial announcement - and we all know how that turned out.

#4: “Doom” (2016)

On the flip side, we’re really glad that “Doom” - formerly “Doom 4” - was finally released. Lead developer John Carmack hinted at the fourth entry at QuakeCon 2007, and it was officially announced in 2008. It was originally going to be a cinematic and action-packed experience similar to “Call of Duty,” but it suffered from mismanagement and started over from scratch in 2011. Carmack then left id Software in 2013 for Oculus VR. A teaser trailer for the final product was finally unveiled at E3 2014, and the game released two years later to stellar reviews.

#3: “Mother 3” (2006)

Development for “Mother 3” began in 1994 for the SNES in Japan. However, the development team grew too ambitious for that console and switched development to the N64. Turns out, they were still a little too ambitious, as the game couldn’t fit on the N64 either, so they scaled it down and planned to release it on the 64DD, a Japanese expansion for the console. The game was eventually cancelled in 2000 before work began AGAIN in 2003 for the Game Boy Advance. It was finally released in 2006, twelve years after development began and after going through four consoles on its way to release. Now that has got to be frustrating.

#2: “Duke Nukem Forever” (2011)

Duke Nukem Forever is the poster child for games stuck in development hell, and its story is well-known within the gaming community. Too bad it turned out to be so…bleh. The game was officially announced in 1997, complete with promotional material. However, constant delays and radio silence soon causedinterest to rapidly deteriorate. 3D Realms then downsized and lost “Duke’s” developers, and the publishers even sued the company for its failure to produce the game. “Duke Nukem Forever” finally went gold in May 2011, fourteen years after it was officially announced. Too bad interest in the series was loooong gone by that point.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

“Prey” (2017)

“Resident Evil 4” (2005)

#1: “Grimoire: Heralds of the Winged Exemplar” (2017)

Holy crap, we thought it would never happen. The son of a gun actually pulled it off. Granted, the game is mediocre, but he pulled it off nonetheless. “Grimoire” was developed by one man, Cleveland Mark Blakemore, and work on it began in 1993. Yes, 1993. Some of you weren’t even born yet. He then announced that the game would release in 1997, but it never did. Finally, Blakemore started an Indiegogo campaign in 2010, asking for $250,000. He raised little over $10,500. Not one to give up, Blakemore finally completed the game, and it released in August 2017, nearly 25 years after development began. Now that is what you call dedication.

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