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Game Trilogies That Will Sadly Never Be Completed

More than any other entertainment industry, the video game scene loves sequels, follow-ups, and running franchises. A film can come out, make a ton of money, and then never see another entry. Titanic was the highest-grossing movie of all time in its day, but you won't be seeing the ship rise from the ocean depths any time soon. 

Gaming, however, has always been different. Virtually every commercially successful title receives at least one sequel. And increasingly, new game intellectual properties are designed with long-running series in mind should the first entry make good money.

But plans don't always work out, and not every ambition achieves its aim. Sometimes, video game franchises simply don't finish the way the developers intended. Maybe the first game simply didn't find an audience. Maybe shifting corporate priorities sank an otherwise successful title. In this list, there's everything from era-defining classics to shattered dreams, from good ideas gone wrong to great ideas that changed the industry. None of them, though, are likely to ever be seen through to completion. These are game trilogies that will sadly never be completed.

Half-Life will never get a third life

You didn't think we would leave this one off the list, did you? One of the most beloved and influential series in the industry's history, Valve Software's Half-Life games pushed technology, design, and presentation in bold new directions not once, but twice. The first game did away with the idea of cutscenes altogether, locking the experience into the player's perspective at all times. The sequel was a graphical powerhouse with a physics engine beyond anything seen before, featuring a diversity of gameplay sequences and styles that few games have matched. Oh, and they sold a whole lot of units; Half-Life 2 alone has around 11 million sales on Steam, which is only one of several platforms it was released for. These are pillars of the art form.

Half-Life 2 was continued in a series of smaller games that Valve dubbed Episodes. The company released two of them in 2006 and 2007, which led up to a massive cliffhanger involving new mysteries and the possibility of a final victory. And then... everything went silent. Fans eagerly awaited news of Episode 3...and they're still waiting. At some point, it was thought that perhaps Episode 3 had been abandoned in favor of a full sequel to round out the trilogy. And still, there was no news.

It's now been over a decade since the release of Episode 2, and at this point, it's more or less a given that the Half-Life franchise has been put on the shelf. In the meantime, Valve has largely focused on multiplayer games, like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Dota 2, as well as new hardware technology, such as Steam Machine consoles and the Vive VR system.

Advent Rising never rose again

Advent Rising from 2005 was a hugely ambitious science-fiction game series. Developer GlyphX hoped to take the basic tenets of the Halo franchise and do them one better. Combining a third-person shooter format with vehicles and superpowers, it was meant to do a little of everything that action games could do in the mid-2000s. On top of that, the story was supposed to break out of the stereotype that video game narratives were always terrible. GlyphX brought no less than Ender's Game author Orson Scott Card on board to co-write the game's script.

And GlyphX wanted more than just a single game. Advent Rising was always promoted as part one of a trilogy. And before a second game was even off the ground, the game's publisher, Majesco Entertainment, made a deal to publish a comic book series around the IP, too. In short, the plans for Advent Rising were pretty huge.

But it was not to be. While the first — and only — game did earn a cult following, it never sold at the numbers needed to recoup its large development cost. Plus, while the reviews weren't bad by any means, they weren't glowing, either; neither Bungie nor any other studio lost any sleep over Advent Rising. Card's influence over the story turned out to be less interesting than many had expected. The franchise never continued, in any format, and thus the game's cliffhanger ending will always remain open.

Star Wars: Battlefront ran out of ammo

The Star Wars brand has a habit of looking at other popular things, copying them, and then profiting off the strength of the IP. The Star Wars: Battlefront games from the mid-2000s were clearly a reaction to DICE's breakout Battlefield 1942, right down to the title. But in this instance, the Star Wars copy was a truly great title in its own right. Featuring huge numbers of players across vast maps with a broad variety of weapons and vehicles, 2004's Battlefront was a genuine blast to play. And, yes, it was Star Wars. That counts for extra.

Battlefront II largely improved upon the first game's offerings a year later, crafting an even more refined experience with a much better single-player campaign. The game became a sensation, so much so that, even over a decade after its release, a dedicated community still keeps the game alive – and growing. In fact, Disney released a patch for the 2005 game in January of 2018. That's how much community-love there is for the franchise.

So it's a shame that Battlefront III didn't make it to our screens. Never officially announced, it became an open industry secret that LucasArts had commissioned development on the final part in the trilogy. Alpha footage has even leaked online. But the developer assigned to the game, Free Radical, sadly closed its doors in the middle of production, and the project simply vanished. While EA and DICE (the studio behind Battlefield, which Battlefront copied in the first place) released a new Battlefront game in 2015, the third game in the original series now only exists as a fan project.

Portal only ever makes two holes, never three

The original Portal was a bit of a surprise, a small puzzle game included within Valve Software's Orange Box collection in 2007. The Orange Box came with a lot of heavy hitters: long-awaited shooter Team Fortress 2, the previously released megahits Half-Life 2 and its follow-up Episode One, and for the first time anywhere, Half-Life 2: Episode Two. What's a little puzzle game compared to that?

Yet Portal became a breakout sensation for its mind- and space-bending gameplay and its deliciously dark humor. Valve followed with a much larger sequel in 2011, Portal 2. The second game not only brought the first game's heroine back into the science lab of her nightmares, but expanded the story to include the history of the lab and the psychology behind villain GLADoS. On top of that, the game offered co-op multiplayer for the first time, with vastly more intricate puzzles requiring four physics-defying portals to complete. Portal 2 released to glowing reviews and fan acclaim. There's just nothing else quite like it.

And perhaps there never will be again. All these years later, Valve has never even hinted that another Portal game is coming to round out the trilogy. As mentioned above, the company itself has largely moved on to multiplayer-only games and hardware. Valve did make a surprise announcement about, of all things, a Portal crossover with indie game Bridge Constructor. But like cake, it looks like Portal 3 is a lie.

Star Fox never got a final flight

The original Star Fox from 1993 is a classic of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, an aerial dogfighting game using 3D polygons at a time when sprites still ruled the screen. Combining the kids' cartoon aesthetic of anthropomorphic animals with popular space-opera sensibilities, the game was yet another triumph for Nintendo rockstar Shigeru Miyamoto in a long list of them. With a glowing reception from kids the world over, it was no surprise that a sequel, Star Fox 2, was soon put into production.

What was a surprise was that Nintendo never released it. The company was getting close to releasing its new console, the Nintendo 64, which promised to take 3D gaming to a whole new level. Star Fox 2 was essentially completed when the decision was made to cancel it outright sometime in 1996. If Nintendo was going to make 3D games, they were going to make them for the N64, period, no matter if there was a completed SNES game on the table.

A different game, Star Fox 64, eventually debuted on the new console in 1997. While that game went on to become a critically acclaimed masterpiece in its own right, it was more of a remake of the first game than the proper sequel that Star Fox 2 was intended to be. Whatever that trilogy might have been, we will never know. But thankfully, in 2017 Star Fox 2 at long last released as a pre-installed game in the SNES Classic Edition console.

Alan Wake went back to sleep

Alan Wake was always intended to be a different sort of game. Far from the epic space battles or gritty urban wastelands of other titles, 2010's Alan Wake wanted to slow things down and lead the player through a thought-provoking psychological thriller. Inspired heavily by spooky TV series like The Twilight Zone and Twin Peaks, the first game was even broken up into episodes, exactly like a show. And just like a show, it had more seasons planned than just the first.

Unfortunately, the game simply couldn't find an audience on the scale of a Halo or a Call of Duty: the exact kinds of games that Alan Wake never wanted to be. While it eventually sold 3.2 million copies, which is by no means a failure, it's also not the kind of numbers a AAA game needs to hit in the modern era. So Alan Wake 2, already in pre-production, was scaled back into a smaller, stand-alone game, Alan Wake's American Nightmare. While this game progressed the story, it was also something of a sidestep in that it took place in a distorted other dimension instead of our own world, where the core story took place.

And then came the news that developer Remedy was moving on to an all-new title, Quantum Break. Though Remedy remains hopeful that Alan Wake might return some day, Microsoft's apparent reluctance to go back to that series means that the trilogy is almost certainly dead. That said, Remedy has teased that Break might have a little Wake inside of it.

Viewtiful Joe is out of sight

Hideki Kamiya is one of the industry's most famous directors. His games, to put it mildly, are not meant to be subtle: they're action-packed, visually overwhelming extravaganzas that can push even the twitchiest thumbs to their limits. After finding smashing success with 2001's Devil May Cry, Kamiya did not choose to move on to that game's sequel. Instead, he took a very small team and got to work on a 2D sidescroller beat-em-up, a style of game that had gone out of fashion with the arcade era. The game would be called Viewtiful Joe.

This was a bit of a strange move for Capcom, which liked to make big blockbusters like Resident Evil and Kamiya's own Devil May Cry. But producer Atsushi Inaba explained that he saw Viewtiful Joe as a "staff-focused project," which was less about creating a smash hit game and more about giving employees some extra experience so that they could then move on to bigger and better things. With its small team, budget, and schedule, Joe was an investment into the people themselves.

The result was an extraordinarily tight action experience, featuring all the blistering creativity for which Kamiya had already become renowned. Critical response in 2003 was so strong that, despite tepid sales, a sequel was released just a year later. Unfortunately, Viewtiful Joe 2 didn't sell well either, and Capcom later said not to expect a third game. This is doubly painful since Viewtiful Joe 2 ended on a narrative cliffhanger. Looks like we'll be hanging from that cliff for a while.

Neutopia was slain by Zelda

Back in the late 1980s, the TurboGrafx-16 Entertainment SuperSystem from Hudson Soft and NEC ushered in the 16-bit era...just a few years too early. At the time, the original Nintendo Entertainment System was still dominant, so it was no surprise when the new console went looking to the NES for inspiration. The result in 1989 was a near-copy of The Legend of Zelda called Neutopia. But given the TurboGrafx-16's superior colors and sprites, the new game actually looked better.

While much of Zelda's basic tenets remained intact, such as the top-down view and the item-based combat and puzzles, Neutopia did expand the idea in a few interesting ways. A compass made finding where to go far easier than in the Nintendo game, and some of the weapons were innovative for their time. A sequel, Neutopia II, released in 1991. A trilogy seemed like a sure bet.

So with better visuals and its own innovations, could the Neutopia franchise steal Zelda's crown and help the TurboGrafx-16 squash Nintendo? Nope. The Sega Genesis came along and robbed the TurboGrafx-16 of much of its thunder, before the Super Nintendo brought its own muscle to the competition (and with it, more Zelda). Despite Neutopia II's ending, which states, "To Be Continued: 199X Neutopia III," no third game ever released. The TurboGrafx-16 is now just a memory. However, both Neutopia games did eventually re-release for the Nintendo Wii — a console that also featured a brand-new Zelda game.

Mega Man Legends were never told again

The original Mega Man games from Capcom were classic 2D platformer-shooters. Featuring a cool lead character and inventive combat mechanics, Mega Man is still regarded as a landmark title to this day. But even as the franchise marched on from sequel to sequel to sequel, it never really had much in the way of story. Go to the place, shoot the robots, repeat, win: that was about it.

But with the emergence of true 3D graphics in the late '90s, Capcom decided to expand the Mega Man IP by creating a new sub-franchise that would progress both technically and creatively. Mega Man Legends not only brought the character — or at least, a new incarnation of the character — into the third dimension, but also provided him with dialogue, companions, and a plot. Well-received by criticsLegends quickly spawned a prequel and a sequel. A third game seemed inevitable.

A long time passed before, in 2010, Capcom at last announced what fans had been waiting for: Mega Man Legends 3 was indeed inbound for the Nintendo 3DS — trilogy confirmed, right? Yet only a year later, Capcom informed players that the project simply hadn't lived up to their own internal expectations. Mega Man Legends 3 was officially cancelled, and since then, no word of its resurrection has been heard.

Maximo couldn't survive the new era

Capcom's Maximo: Ghost to Glory was something of a throwback game, even when it released for the PlayStation 2 in 2002. With a dated but endearing art style and simplistic combat mechanics, it felt in many ways more like a Nintendo 64 game — which, in fact, is exactly how it had begun development. Still, even as this style of game was phasing out of popularity, Maximo was a great version of this kind of action-platformer and drew a devoted audience. The game ended up selling well enough to earn a place in the PlayStation 2's "Greatest Hits" catalogue.

The game was followed a year later by Maximo vs Army of Zin, which largely kept the feel of the original while modernizing the visuals a bit. Capcom got right to work on a third game to complete a trilogy, which according to leaked footage, would have further brought the franchise out of a cartoony aesthetic and would have featured more traversal and acrobatics. Yet this third game never saw the light of day, purportedly due to low sales of the second title.

The Lost Vikings are still lost to us

Before WarcraftDiablo, and Overwatch, there was The Lost Vikings. In 1992, Blizzard Entertainment's lovable action platformer took the innovative approach of giving the player control over all three Viking heroes, rather than making him select one at the start of the level. Each Viking had different abilities, and levels were carefully designed so that no particular one of them could get to the end of the level alone: all three had to work together for them all to succeed. Filled with vibrant art, slick animations, and endless creativity, The Lost Vikings was a taste of what Blizzard had in store in the decades to come.

The Lost Vikings II followed in 1997, again from Blizzard for the Super Nintendo, though later ports were changed significantly. The sequel didn't change all that much, keeping the same basic format and premise. The Vikings did get some new equipment to expand their abilities, and also gained new allies in the form of a werewolf and a dragon. It was another charming game and remains a classic among Blizzard fans. 

But this was 1997, and Blizzard simply had bigger fish to fry. Warcraft and Diablo were burning up the sales charts, and StarCraft was in production. With the colossal success of these titles, the studio never turned back to their three Viking friends, leaving their adventures to rest forever.