Had things gone a little differently, Irrational Games might have been known as the studio that let you smash up Tokyo.
Not every idea gets to become a game, but sometimes it can be fun to look back and think about what might have been. Back in 2001, Irrational Games pitched a concept called Monster Island, which, like its original pitch for BioShock didn’t make it past the drawing board stage, but makes for interesting reading all the same.
Monster Island was set in three distinct time periods: Ancient Greece, Dark Ages Europe, and Post-War Tokyo. Described as “Rampage meets Black & White creatures in a fully destructible environment,” players could either take on the role of a period appropriate giant monster, like a hydra for Ancient Greece or a Godzilla-like beast for Tokyo, or the ever-so-crushable humans trying to repel the beast using tanks or catapults or whatever defenses were suitable for the time.
The monster’s goals were simple: smash stuff and eat people, with bonus missions cropping up every now and then, like climb a building or defeat a rival monster. Twenty pre-made creatures would have been included in the game, as well as a creature creator that let players make their own. The human side of the game was a little more complex, with the player taking on the role of five key figures in the cities defense: a scientist, an engineer, a girl who effectively served as monster bait, a general and a hero that could go toe-to-toe with the beast. The player also had limited control over the city’s resources via a simple interface that let him or her prioritize certain things like police or army funding.
Monster Island was imagined as a console game, although exactly which console wasn’t finalized, as Irrational thought it was a decision best made in conjunction with the publisher. The pitch says that making the game for the Xbox would have been the easiest options – presumably, because it has a lot in common with the PC – while the PS2 was described as a “pain in the butt.” The plan was to ship the game by 2003, but obviously, that never happened.
If you want to read the entire pitch for yourself, it’s available as a PDF from the Irrational website, with some extra artwork from Irrational’s Jorge Lacera to add a splash of color.
Soruce: Irrational Games