Saints Row has run the gamut from serious to near-parodical remix of itself, and it’s been a hilarious ride. But there’s one venue it won’t be exploring anytime soon, it looks like: the fighting game arena.
Saints Row: The Cooler is a now-defunct project originally in development for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 funded by THQ, with development being handled with Heavy Iron Studios, out of Los Angeles. After THQ’s dissolution, the project was obviously canceled, but thinking about what could have been is interesting.
Work began way back in March 2010 on what a Heavy Iron Studios artist referred to as a “brawler game,” where you’d “go to a bar, pick a fight,” and “smash a bottle over someone’s head.” It would be the first Saints Row game to completely utilize Microsoft’s Kinect and Sony’s PlayStation Move to allow players to control their characters only via motion.
A team of 40 people was assigned to the project, which eschewed the open-world sensibilities of the Saints Row series and would feature several different activities to engage in beyond brawling.
Set in areas like slaughterhouses and bars, there would be about 8 locations in the Saints Row universe, with a “bar” ecosystem that would allow for gambling, lap dances, ordering drinks, and other activities you’d expect out of games like Grand Theft Auto’s ilk.
“The Cooler” referred to the character who would eventually be the game’s protagonist, a “bouncer” of sorts that players would be in control of who would work his way into working in “higher class joints.”
After the team worked diligently on The Cooler for about six months and reached 60% completion, THQ canceled the project with no explanation given. One member of the development team did mention “quality concerns” as the reason, but there was no formal announcement to the public or to the press regarding its cancellation.
It’s believed that, due to comments from a former Heavy Iron Studios animator, the developer repurposed some assets for the Kinect title UFC Personal Trainer: The Ultimate Fitness System, which released in 2011.
Thanks, Unseen 64.