BattleBots (found build of unreleased GameCube/PlayStation 2 game based on robot combat TV series; 2003)
BattleBots was a video game based on the robot combat television show BattleBots. It was developed by Warthog Games and was set to be published by THQ for the GameCube and PlayStation 2 in 2003 prior to cancellation.
On November 19th, 2001, it was announced that THQ had secured the licence to publish BattleBots games. Development for a GameCube and PlayStation 2 title had already started, with plans for future Xbox and PC games. BattleBots was first showcased by THQ at E3 2002. According to Nintendo World Report, there was a playable GameCube demo containing around five robots to battle, within a single bridge arena. Based on this article, the game would feature 80 robots, 40 of which would be from the TV show. It also featured basic and advanced control configurations, and plans were made to have a four-player mode.
IGN listed other details, including 20 arenas being added to the game, and three different game modes; these were Simulation Mode which emulated the TV series' tournament structure and arenas; Arcade Mode, where one could freely choose robots they created or from the show and compete in arenas with power-ups added; and Multi-player Mode. The game would also be showcased at Gen Con 2002, with GameSpot reviewers detailing the GameCube demo, and noting that the game would allow for the camera to be switched to a "robot's eye" view during a fight.
The game was first announced on the official BattleBots website on September 12th, 2002, with an expected release date in November 2002. However, the game was then postponed until early February 2003, before being delayed once again to May 2003. After that, there were no more mentions of the game on the website. According to the February 2018 issue of Retro Gamer, THQ suddenly decided to end the project, despite the game reaching "an advanced stage of development". This most likely stemmed from the announcement that Comedy Central had decided not to renew the show for another season in September 2002, and because of a slow improvement in fixing bugs and issues during development.
While the game went unreleased, prototypes of the game were made and sold on the official website for $150 and again for $299.98, with seemingly only one copy for sale. In May 2015, Team Nightmare Combat Robots were actually able to play the GameCube version. A screenshot exists of the aftermath, where hotel security caught them playing it on the hotel lobby's television. Despite all of these events, no build of the game, in demo or complete form, has ever been publicly released. YouTuber "Gatorbox" had also owned a GameCube build of the game, but it was never publicly released due to a copyright dispute.
Nevertheless, a video was uploaded to YouTube showcasing gameplay footage. Additionally, many screenshots of the game and its concept art were made public in 2017 by Gary Switzer and Merlyn Lear.
On Christmas Day 2021, the Twitch/YouTube channel Gatorbox uploaded a two-and-a-half-hour gameplay video of the prototype showing off numerous parts of the game and some of the bugs that cause it to crash. Draco, the host of the channel, stated that he is in possession of the prototype but is not at any liberty (or ability) to release it, but assured viewers that he had made multiple personal archives of it to prevent it from truly becoming "lost". Five months later, however, he uploaded the prototype to the Internet Archive on May 6th, 2022. While the PlayStation 2 build of the game still remains lost, it's believed that this version isn't as different from its GameCube counterpart.
- 1995 Robot Wars UK Open (partially found rejected robot combat TV show pilot; 1995)
- American Robot Wars 2000 (lost MTV pilot of British robot combat game show; 2000)
- BattleBots (found Comedy Central robot combat game show; 2000-2002)
- BattleBots Collegiate Championship (partially lost unaired spinoff of robot combat TV show; 2009)
- Mechanoids (partially found BBC robot combat game show; 2003)
- Plunderbirds: Talk Robots (partially found unfinished robot combat mockumentary film; 2019)
- Robot Wars (found cameos of robot combat-themed BBC 2 ident; 1999-2000)
- Robot Wars (lost footage and HSE documentation of behind-the-scenes accidents of BBC robot combat game show; 1998-1999)
- Robot Wars (lost near-death footage of Jeremy Clarkson from robot combat game show; 1998)
- Robot Wars (lost work on unfinished cartoon series based on robot combat game show; existence unconfirmed; 2002-2004)
- Robot Wars (partially found footage of robot combat show qualifying auditions and battles; 1998-2003)
- Robot Wars (partially found unaired or partially aired battles of BBC robot combat game show; 1998-2017)
- Robot Wars (partially found uncut battles from BBC robot combat game show; 1998-2017)
- Robot Wars Extreme: Series 1 (lost original BBC Choice version of robot combat battle; 2001)
- Robot Wars: Extreme Warriors: Season 1 (found TNN robot combat game show; 2001)
- Robot Wars: Extreme Warriors: Season 2 (partially found behind-the-scenes footage of TNN robot combat game show; 2002)
- Robot Wars Revealed (partially found BBC Choice spin-off of robot combat game show; 1998-2000)
- Robot Wars: Series 8 (lost unaired pilot of BBC robot combat game show; 2016)
- Robot Wars: Series 8 (partially found Science Channel reruns of robot combat game show; 2018)
- Robot Wars: The Kick-Off (lost BNN robot combat special; 2001)
- Robotica (found TLC robot combat game show; 2001-2003)
- Robots Revenge (partially found Discovery robot combat documentary series; 2001)
- Why Hypno-Disc can't work in an office (found testing video of Robot Wars competitor; 2000, 2007)
- GameSpot reporting on THQ securing the BattleBots licence, detailing game development plans. Retrieved 11 Nov '21
- TM Station noting BattleBots was showcased at E3 2002. Retrieved 11 Nov '21
- Digital Press providing a photo of BattleBots at E3 2002. Retrieved 11 Nov '21
- Nintendo World Report reporting on the BattleBots demo at E3 2002. Retrieved 11 Nov '21
- IGN reporting on details regarding BattleBots. Retrieved 11 Nov '21
- GameSpot detailing the BattleBots demo at Gen Con 2002. Retrieved 11 Nov '21
- Archive of the official site announcing the game. Retrieved 21 Nov '15
- Archive of the site announcing the first delay. Retrieved 21 Nov '15
- Archive of the site announcing the second delay. Retrieved 21 Nov '15
- February 2018 issue of Retro Gamer noting that BattleBots was cancelled at an advanced stage of development by THQ. Retrieved 11 Nov '21
- SB Nation noting BattleBots was not renewed in September 2002 by Comedy Central, likely being a major catalyst for the game's cancellation. Retrieved 11 Nov '21
- A Reddit post, with comments from a user who was part of THQ's quality assurance team explaining about game testing. Retrieved 11 Nov '21
- AssemblerGames thread on the game. Retrieved 21 Nov '15
- Official store page for the game. Retrieved 21 Nov '15
- A photo of the hotel event. Retrieved 15 Oct '21
- The Gatorbox Secret Stash, where the GameCube build of the game is mentioned in "Unavailable" section. Retrieved 11 Nov '21
- List of screenshots and concept art provided by Gary Switzer. Retrieved 11 Nov '21
- Robot and stage render provided by Merlyn Lear. Retrieved 14 Dec '21
- "BattleBots (Gamecube Prototype)" by Gatorbox Retrieved 25 Dec '21