Futurama (lost build of cancelled GameCube port of 3D platform game; 2003)
Futurama is a 3D platform game developed by Unique Development Studios and released by SCi. Based on the animated sci-fi comedy of the same name, it tasks the player to complete a variety of shooting and platform-based levels in order to stop Mom's plans after she becomes supreme ruler of Earth. Released for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox in August 2003, a GameCube port of the game was also in development, but was ultimately cancelled a few months before the other ports were released.
With plans for a Futurama game being announced back on July 25th, 2000, the earliest indication that a GameCube port was in development came on February 21st, 2002, when it was announced that developers Unique Development Studios had signed a deal with SCi, where the latter would market and distribute PlayStation 2, Xbox and GameCube ports of the game internationally, with the exception of North America. The game was meant to have been released in Christmas that same year, An IGN article on the 25th of February verified this claim, but stated that it would debut on next-generation consoles during SCi's 2003 financial year.
Development of Futurama continued into 2003, and it was announced in April 2003 that Sierra would be responsible for distributing the game in the United States. This was announced at its pre-E3 2003 briefing, with plans to release a GameCube port also noted. Oddly, however, when an April 2003 IGN article concerning games expected to be previewed at E3 2003 discussed Futurama, it stated the game would be released only for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. However, this may have been an omission made in error, as IGN would release a gameplay trailer of Futurama showcasing footage from the GameCube port. Based on the footage, the port seemed to be near-completion, as the gameplay was identical to what was revealed in the released PlayStation 2 and Xbox ports. The game was then showcased at E3 2003, with confirmation that a GameCube port was in development.
Futurama would go on to be released on August 1st, 2003 on PAL consoles, with a NA release on the 12th that same month. However, the GameCube port was noticeably absent in stores, leading to speculation that the port had been cancelled. In an IGN Mailbag that took place on August 15th, 2003, one question concerned rumours of the port's cancellation. Ultimately, IGN confirmed the US version of the GameCube port had been cancelled, because the Nintendo console had experienced slowing sales compared to its competitors, making it risky for publishers like Sierra to distribute games for that system. Hence, the port was withdrawn before it could reach US stores, but there was still debate concerning whether a European release of the GameCube port would commence.
While Futurama is readily available to play on the PlayStation 2 and Xbox in Europe, it appears no GameCube port made it to stores. This has been subject to confusion over the years, including with an IGN article claiming that a European release of the GameCube indeed occurred. However, this may have been an error, as the article was written by IGN staff members within the United States who may not have been able to verify the release claim. Analysis of UK, French and German versions of online stores like Amazon and eBay indicate no European release ever occurred, with the only Amazon listing showcasing the GameCube's supposed American GameCube cover art, including an ESRB rating, with no copies for sale.
Thus, despite the port's seemingly reaching near-competition based on the gameplay footage, no build of the GameCube version of Futurama is currently accessible to the public. Aside from the trailer and article mentions, the only other indications of an intended GameCube release come from the US cover art found on an Amazon listing, and font graphics including GameCube buttons being found on the code of the other reports.
- MobyGames description of Futurama. Retrieved 6 Sep '21
- IGN article announcing a Futurama game project in 2000. Retrieved 6 Sep '21
- News concerning Unique Development Studios signing a distribution agreement with SCi for Futurama, which included a GameCube port. Retrieved 6 Sep '21
- Archived IGN report announcing Futurama would be released on next-generation consoles, including the GameCube. Retrieved 6 Sep '21
- GameSpot article concerning Sierra distributing Futurama in the United States, with a GameCube port also announced. Retrieved 6 Sep '21
- IGN article listing upcoming games to be previewed at E3 2003, noting Futurama but only that it would be released for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. Retrieved 6 Sep '21
- IGN providing gameplay footage of the GameCube port of Futurama. Retrieved 6 Sep '21
- IGN report on Futurama at E3 2003, with confirmation that a GameCube port was being developed. Retrieved 6 Sep '21
- Archived IGN Mailbag which confirmed the US GameCube port's cancellation, but suggesting a European release was still being discussed. Retrieved 6 Sep '21
- IGN comparison test of the PlayStation 2 and Xbox ports of Futurama, claiming a European release of the GameCube had occurred. Retrieved 6 Sep '21
- The Cutting Room Floor Wiki article concerning Futurama content, including the GameCube button graphics. Retrieved 6 Sep '21