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Heavy Iron Studios was once working on a fighting game spin-off of Saints Row. The leaked details on the project suggest it would have been a very polarizing project.
Unseen64's report says that Saints Row: The Cooler would be a brawler driven entirely by motion controls. The Xbox 360 and PS3 versions would have required Kinect and PlayStation Move, respectively. Players would act out blocks, kicks and punches in first-person fights against opponents.
Unlike other Saints Row games, The Cooler didn't star a gang member. Instead, the player was a bouncer who had to deal with rowdy customers and other problems. He'd work his way up from dive bars to upper-class establishments. It sounds like the closest thing we'll ever get to a Roadhouse video game.
“It was a ton of fun to work on because we got to use the original Saint’s RowSaint’s Row was open world and our game was not, we could afford to devote more time and engine resources to artwork)," a developer told Unseen64.
Players still had a little freedom, though. They could explore the bars where they worked and order drinks, play poker, or get lap dances.
Heavy Iron started working on Saints Row: The Cooler in March 2010. They developed the game over six months before publisher THQ decided to scuttle the project. THQ was reportedly not happy with the game's quality.
The Cooler lived on through another unrelated game, though. Heavy Iron is said to have used assets from the game on UFC Personal Trainer: The Ultimate Fitness System. UFC Personal Trainer was a fitness game in which players performed mixed-martial arts moves.
To me, this cancelled project represents a larger trend: the failure of Kinect and Move to become go-to peripherals for core gamers. When those accessories were first announced, we were assured that they wouldn't just be for family or kid games. However, the vast majority of motion control games ended up targeting just those markets. The core games with Kinect or Move used those technologies in optional or minor ways. For example, Ryse went from being a Kinect-only action game to a controller-centric experience with a few voice commands.
It's just as well, really. There's always been a lot of skepticism about motion controls among hardcore gamers. We've been using controllers for decades and it would take a lot for us to abandon them. The Cooler would have needed to be a really special game to get us to play it - or rather, to convince us to buy a Kinect Or Move to play it.
The Saints Row franchise never received any kind of spin-off. Series creator Volition still makes the sort of open-world crime games we've come to expect from the series. Their current project is Saints Row: Gat out of Hell, a standalone expansion to SR4.