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#004: Dead Phoenix


Inzoreno

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Dead Phoenix
Capcom 
Capcom
Gamecube
2002-2003

Released the prior holiday season in Japan and North America, the Nintendo GameCube had found itself struggling in 2002 to grab market share from the juggernaut PlayStation 2 and the new kid in the market, Microsoft's XBOX. Although the console launched with a solid lineup during it's first few months, delivering fantastic titles like Luigi's Mansion and Super Smash Bros. Melee, these titles were seemingly not enough to propel the GameCube into homes at the same pace as the PlayStation 2 was. Third-party support was a particular concern for the platform, as the previous generation had seen a number of significant companies either completely abandon the Nintendo 64 for Sony's PlayStation, or provide only tepid support for Nintendo's machine, a far cry from the NES and SNES days when Nintendo was the system to be on. So at the end of 2002, Capcom swooped in to provide shot of adrenaline into the system, unveiling what is known as the Capcom Five. Five brand-new games announced for the system and, at the time, stated to be exclusive to the GameCube, though this would turn out to be the result of miscommunication from Capcom, as nearly all the games that were released later found their way to the PlayStation 2. Of the five, only one never actually came out. That is the topic of discussion today, Dead Phoenix

As with the other games that make up the Capcom Five, Dead Phoenix was announced during a surprise press conference that Capcom gave in Japan in November of 2002 with a tentative release date of Spring 2003 for Japan. Not a significant amount of information was provided by Capcom at this point, beyond a general outline. You would take control of a character named Phoenix who belonged to the WInged Clan which means, as the name implies, he is able to fly using a pair of wings sprouting out of his back. The game would play as a third-person shooter where you would fly Phoenix around and shoot at enemies, in a similar manner to the Panzer Dragoon series. It took place on a floating city fully of all sorts of monsters to fight that was said to be constantly changing, possibly in response to the actions taken by the character during the story. That pretty much sums up what is known of the game, for Dead Phoenix simply vanished shortly after being announced. 

The first update of any kind the game received was a simple clarification in January that Dead Phoenix, alongside Viewtiful Joe, P.N.03 and Killer 7 were not actually contractually obligated to be GameCube exclusives, only Resident Evil 4 was. While they did not confirm that there were plans to release the game on the PlayStation 2, it's likely that Capcom would have waited until after it had first released on the GameCube to gauge if it was worth the time and effort to port, as this happened with both Killer 7 and Viewtiful Joe (and Resident Evil 4), but not P.N.03. Critical reception likely would have determined if Dead Phoenix received a port or not. 

Dead Phoenix easily passed it's original expected release window and was notable absent from Capcom's 2003 E3 presentation, where even Suda51's illusive Killer 7 made an appearance. inquiries made to Capcom on the status of the game were met with the generic 'nothing new to show', indicating that there was the possibility that at this point the game was still in development in some capacity, even though we would never see anything new from the game. It wasn't a long wait for us to receive confirmation of the game's fate, however. Only a few months later, in August, Capcom officially confirmed that Dead Phoenix had been cancelled, after the game had been deleted from Capcom's website. They would never give a reason behind the cancellation of the project.

So, was Dead Phoenix as big loss? Well, when one considers the quality of the other Capcom Five games, there is at least potential that, given enough time, it would have resulted in a good game. Of the four games that actually did come out, only P.N.03 could be considered a disappointment. The game was also being headed by Atsui Inaba, who produced both Viewtiful Joe and Resident Evil Code: Veronica, and Hiroki Katou, who was the director for Resident Evil Code: Veronica. Given their experience, the game was at least in good hands. The prototype gameplay doesn't look too bad, but given the seemingly free nature of the flying, camera control would have definitely been a potential issue, as completely 3D flying can be a mess for a camera to follow correctly. However, given the lack of any substantial details behind the game, there's only so far we can get with speculation and evidently something did go wrong for Capcom during development. Unfortunately, this was one phoenix that couldn't rise from the ashes.  

 

Sources:
https://www.gamespot.com/articles/dead-phoenix-announced-for-gamecube/1100-2897566/
https://www.ign.com/articles/2004/03/05/missing-in-action-the-lost-games-of-gamecube-dead-phoenix
https://www.gamespot.com/dead-phoenix/

Edited by Inzoreno

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