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We never knew much about Kaio: King of Pirates, the anthropomorphic animal-pirate title by Mega Man designer Keiji Inafune. But today we know one thing for certain: it's canceled.
Kaio: King of Pirates was announced as a 3DS title in 2011, with a 2012 release date. However, the title was eventually delayed into 2013 and, this week, canceled altogether. Kaio's development reportedly cost around $3.8 million.
According to the press release from developer Marvelous (translated by Siliconera), the plug was pulled because the video game marketplace is undergoing a shift. And, apparently, anthropomorphic animal-pirates don't fit into that future.
In an interview with Siliconera back in 2013, Inafune indicated that Kaio: King of Pirates would be part of a trilogy. The story was based on a Chinese novel from the 14-centrury called Romance of the Three Kingdoms. It's one of the most important pieces of literature from the Ming dynasty. However, Inafune softened much of the dense, historic narrative, so that it could appeal to western audiences.
Here's how he put it:
I feel that Kaio will appeal to America and the Western world since the story is unique and its immersive. I’m a fan of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms and it’s a great story. If you take it as a Chinese war story, it’s hard to get into if you’re from the West. With Kaio, I recreated it with a pirate theme and the characters are all animals. It’s easier for people to get into since it’s totally recreated.
Keiji Inafune has had an impressive career. He started working for Capcom in the 1980's and had his name attached to titles like Street Fighter, Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, and Breath of Fire. But he's best known for his work on Mega Man and Dead Rising.
Also, he did the character designs on Yo! Noid, which is my favorite credit.
There's no way of knowing if Kaio: King of Pirates will ever be revived, but it’s a shame to see $3.8 million go to waste. Perhaps Marvelous will follow Blizzard's lead and shift the characters into a new franchise.
When Blizzard decided to pull the plug on Titan, a super-secretive MMO that had been in development for nearly a decade, the company pulled many of the pieces out and used them to create Overwatch. Perhaps we'll see a similar strategy with Kaio?
Because I'm a sadist, I've attached a Kaio trailer below. Just remember, you'll never get to play this game. Enjoy.