Vaporware Chronicles: Dead Phoenix

The turn of the century was a great time to be a gamer. Studios were really starting to grasp the hardware and developers were pumping out imaginative games that all seemed to differ. In 2002 Capcom unveiled the ‘Capcom 5’ that were to be released exclusively on Nintendo’s GameCube system. We all now know that only four of these titles were actually released and only one remained an exclusive. The five games were Resident Evil 4, Killer 7, P.N. 03, Viewtiful Joe and the never released Dead Phoenix. These titles were developed by some of the biggest names in the games industry. Shinji Mikami, Suda 51, and Atsushi Inaba have created some great games and these games are no different. These developers would later form Platinum Studios, but that is a tale for another time. Obviously the biggest success was Resident Evil 4, which has been ported to every platform except the Commodore 64–and I’m sure they’re just trying to figure out how to get it on there. Killer 7 put Suda 51 on the map for developers to keep an eye on. Viewtiful Joe did wonderfully critically and well enough financially to garner a sequel. The final one P.N. 03 didn’t do well critically or financially which surprised me due to the fact that Mikami took over the directing role for the game, but just like Fight Club, we don’t talk about P.N. 03.

The lost game that we are here to talk about today though is Dead Phoenix, which is somewhat of an oxymoron seeing as Phoenix’s generally rise again. From some of the footage that has been leaked and trailers that were released people could sense that there was a Panzer Dragoon feel to the game. It was to be a 3D shoot ’em up game where gamers took control of the aptly named man, Phoenix. You would take flight with this man through mythical floating cities and assist armies as they battled huge monsters. It was looking as if Capcom was coming after Sega’s 3D flying shooter, and from the looks of it a nice battle would have ensued.

The title was set to be released in Japan in the middle of 2003, but it sadly never took flight. Prior to 2003’s E3, Capcom announced that the title was still in development however, when E3 finally rolled around the title was nowhere to been seen and in August of 2003 the Capcom 5 silently became the Capcom 4. There could be many reasons as to why this title was dropped. Capcom saw that the GameCube just wasn’t going to survive the juggernaut that was the PlayStation 2. Financially Capcom also wasn’t doing well; prior to the announcement of the Capcom 5 Capcom has suffered 163 million in losses for 2002. Much of this was due to long development times, and poor sales. Dead Phoenix may have died due to the fact that Capcom saw no monetary gain for releasing the title.

(Dead Phoenix - Capcom)

(Dead Phoenix – Capcom)

The biggest story that comes from the Dead Phoenix tale is the fact that Capcom went back on its exclusivity deal with Nintendo. Instead of having all of the games only on the GameCube, Capcom decided to release Killer 7, Resident Evil 4, and Viewtiful Joe on the competing console. This soured the relationship between Nintendo and Capcom for years and showed the world what third party developers actually think of Nintendo. Eventually the relationship between Capcom and Nintendo was mended, but not before the damage was done to the GameCube. This helped ruin the GameCube’s chances with third party developers and made sure that the PlayStation 2 would win this console generation. Even to this day Nintendo has a difficult time enticing third party developers to their systems. The Wii may have been extremely successful but it made its way on mostly first party titles. That’s a difficult way to survive and puts a lot of strain on a company. Hopefully Nintendo can get third party folks on board with the Nintendo Switch–or people won’t be switching over to their latest system.

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