TOP FIVE GAMES WITH CUT CONTENT
Every game has cut content. It could an enemy design that didn’t work out, a section of the single player campaign that interrupted the pacing, or something as miniscule as a rock on a multiplayer map that was removed to improve map flow. However, some games leave more on the cutting room floor that others do. Few have become infamous for it, games that are burned into the collective consciousness of the gaming world for their content, or lack of it. The best part? You’ve probably played one of them.
V: Final Fantasy XIII
I’ll be honest. The only reason FFXIII is on this list is because people got really, really upset when art director Isamu Kamikokuryou said that enough content had been cut to make up another game. That’s a lot of cut content. So what the hell was cut? Well, Nora, Snow’s squad of wannabe heroes, once had a base in Lebrau’s shop. Other cuts include Lightning’s house, which apparently had a park in it for some reason, and a zoo in one of the game’s amusement parks. That doesn’t sound like enough stuff to be a full game, so we can only assume that more content got the axe along the way.
Producer Yoshinori Kitase was quick to point out that “the things that were cut either didn’t make sense in the storyline, would slow down the pace of the game or were otherwise unnecessary,” but that didn’t stop Final Fantasy fans (and PS3 fanboys who blamed the Xbox for the cuts) from throwing one of the biggest e-temper tantrums the gaming world has ever seen.
IV: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time/The Wind Waker
Ninty is known for the excellence of its first party games, and it’s all the more impressive when you consider the company’s insistence with keeping its studios on budget and on schedule. You’d think that would mean that Nintendo doesn’t cut a lot of content, but it’s not true. One series that this affected is The Legend of Zelda, but you’d probably never know it. The trend started with Ocarina of Time, all the way back on the N64. Eiji Anouma and Shigeru Miyamoto initially wanted Ocarina of Time to have the same number of dungeons as A Link to the Past, but it wasn’t to be. Three dungeons were to be for young Link, three for adult Link, and the last three in which Link would learn each spell – probably Nayru’s Love, Din’s Fire, and Farore’s Wind. Unfortunately, the last three dungeons proved too ambitious. Two were completely redesigned, and one was cut altogether (most likely the Temple of Light). Not enough cut content for you? Alright. Ocarina of Time also features a fully functioning Arwing. Rumor has it that the development team coded it in to test the Z-targeting system.
In a similar vein, Wind Waker’s initial design called for as many dungeons as there were in Ocarina of Time, but anyone who’s played the game knows that there aren’t eight dungeons. Why not? Well, two dungeons were cut from the game completely, but the data for them is still on the disk and can be accessed with a little ingenuity and some Action Replay codes. But why were the dungeons cut? According to Anouma, Nintendo was concerned that the game was becoming too big for gamers of all ages and all skill levels, and the company wanted everyone to be able to finish the game. Instead, the development team added the now infamous Triforce fetch quest. Even Nintendo makes mistakes.
III: Halo 2
Halo 2 came under fire for being an unfinished game almost as soon as it was released, and for good reason: It was unfinished. In fact, Halo 2’s development nearly destroyed Bungie. Why? Because Bungie had expanded significantly between Halo and Halo 2. The original design team for Combat Evolved consisted of 10 people, so communication between team members was easy. By the time development on Halo started, the company had hired over 50 more people. Separate, smaller teams were formed to design individual levels, but the company wasn’t used to managing so many people, and none of the teams ended up coordinating with each other.
When they got together to assemble the game for the first time, they realized that none of the levels fit together, the game’s story was incomprehensible, and the game transitioned from too easy to maddeningly difficult in the blink of an eye. The team decided to start over, and threw out most of the work they’d done. Entire levels bit the dust, along with a slew of new weapons and enemies. The Halo 2 campaign as it exists now was made in only 8 months, and even then, the game wasn’t finished. Bungie intended for Halo 2 to tie up the series main story arc, but they couldn’t complete the final two levels before the game was set to ship. Those last two levels would become the blueprint for Halo 3.
There’s no if’s, and’s or but’s about it: Quake destroyed the original incarnation of id Software. By the end of Quake’s development, John Romero was on his way out of the company, and the few remaining founders, save Carmack, would soon follow him. In many ways, Quake marked the end of an era for id. The once innovative company, known for its merger of cutting-edge game design and unmatched tech found itself remaking the same game over and over, unable to ever fully recover from losing its two most talented designers in Romero and Tom Hall. So what was cut? Damn near everything. Quake didn’t start as a first person shooter. Romero original envisioned it as a fantasy game, in which the player would fight in a first person viewpoint as Quake, a character ripped from id’s Dungeons and Dragons campaign. Carmack would complement Romero’s design with a new 3D game engine. However, this proved much harder to do than Carmack anticipated, and development of the engine was slow going. The rest of the team spent their time drawing up levels, characters concepts, and weapon ideas, but without Carmack’s engine, there wasn’t really anything else they could do. In the mean time, Romero formed a partnership with Raven Software to create HeXen, and spent a lot of time interacting with id’s community, something that infuriated Carmack, as he felt Romero wasn’t actually working.
Planned release dates for the game passed by, until finally, Carmack called the rest of the company in for a meeting. The engine still wasn’t done. Much of id’s staff suggested simply making another first person shooter. It was a genre they were familiar with, and it would take significantly less time to make another shooter than test Romero’s new ideas. Romero didn’t want id to simply make the same game over and over, but the rest of the company, including Carmack, didn’t care. Romero lost. Unwilling to lose the work the team had already put in, the design team added parts of the original game’s concepts into the new Quake. Medieval knights and horrible cybernetic monstrosities found themselves sharing levels, some of which were spawned by the original game’s design. Realizing they needed to explain the discrepancy the day before the game shipped via shareware, id inserted portals that would take the player between levels, and added a quick story explaining that Quake was going to take over all these different realms if the player didn’t stop him. Quake was finally finished, but it wasn’t the game id had wanted.
I: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords
Here it is: the most infamous example of cut content in video games. So famous, in fact, that if you Google “cut content” the first link is about KoTOR II. So, what happened? Well, as you may know, KoTOR was a huge success. It won a staggering number of Game of the Year awards and sold extremely well. Naturally, LucasArts wanted a sequel as soon as possible. Since BioWare was working on their own projects, the publisher hired Obsidian to make the sequel. Obsidian’s plans for KoTOR II, were, at the very least, ambitious. The game would have more content than the original game, and it would tell a more morally complex tale. However, it was not to be. LucasArts wanted the game to be released for the 2004 holiday season, giving Obsidian about a year of development time.
With all of the content that Obsidian wanted to include, that deadline was impossible. Obsidian pleaded with LucasArts for more time to finish the game, but they were denied, and so sizable cuts were made, though most of the cut content was actually close to completion. The game released on time, but it felt rushed and buggy, and Obsidian themselves petitioned LucasArts for a patch that would restore the content, but were denied. Instead, Obsidian released the missing files to the community, and almost immediately, a large mod scene dedicated to restoring as much of the game as possible sprang up, headed by a group of modders known as Team Gizka. Their mod was never finished, and in 2010 the group disbanded, citing internal issues. By then, however, other modding groups had grown impatient and begun attempting to restore the content on their own. Of the four modding teams that attempted to restore KoTOR II, only one has been successful, and on March 14th, the Sith Lords Restored Content mod was released, and has seen frequent updates since. This is no small feat, considering the amount of content was cut from the game can best be described as monumental. The mod has garnered much acclaim from the KoTOR II community (this user included), and can be found here, under downloads.
There you have it. The top 5 video games with cut content. Most of the time, content being cut isn’t an issue. It’s a natural part of game development. Sometimes, though, it goes beyond that, and while few games with a large amount of cut content will ever experience KoTOR II’s fairy tale-esque restoration, it’s better to know, don’t you think? Or maybe it’s not. Ignorance, after all, is bliss.