For nearly as long as there have been video games, there have been video games based on popular comic book properties. From cultural icons like Batman and Spider-Man to harder-edged favorites like Deadpool and Spawn, just about any every notable comic book hero has been the star of their own game at this point. Johnny Blaze – aka stunt biker turned demonic bounty hunter Ghost Rider – is no exception, having starred in a tie-in game for the PS2 that coincided with the release of the 2007 Ghost Rider movie starring Nicolas Cage.
What many might not be aware of is that Ghost Rider was originally intended to head to consoles long before 2007, an entire decade before in fact. With latest incarnation Robbie Reyes’ impending arrival into the Marvel TV universe via ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. helping to return the fiery character to the forefront of fans’ minds, Youtube channel DidYouKnowGaming? has released a new video discussing what exactly the plans were for Ghost Rider’s aborted video game debut, and why exactly things didn’t work out. Gameplay footage from a proof of concept demo is also included.
To sum up some of the above video’s findings, game developer Neversoft – which first gained widespread acclaim for Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater – was enlisted by publisher Crystal Dynamics back in 1996 to create a PlayStation game based on Ghost Rider, as part of a licensing deal between the latter company and Marvel. Essentially a side-scrolling platformer/action title, Neversoft’s Ghost Rider operated on a 2-D plane within a 3-d world.
The game’s plot would have been told through fully CGI cut-scenes, and featured the vampire goddess Lilith as its main villain. Oddly enough, while Johnny Blaze figured into the narrative, players would have actually controlled a new, unnamed Ghost Rider that was drafted into battle following Johnny’s capture. In practice though, the character still played exactly as one would expect just about any canon Ghost Rider to, utilizing his trademark hellfire chain and penance stare to collect the souls of his enemies and gain power.
Unfortunately, Crystal Dynamics would soon decide to get out of the publishing game entirely, and focus solely on development. This led them to abandon support for their Marvel projects, leaving Neversoft without a publisher to continue to cover the costs of Ghost Rider’s creation, and leaving the seemingly promising project to enter the always growing scrap heap of video games that never made it to store shelves. A truly hellish fate, which in some ways feels appropriate when one considers Ghost Rider’s infernal subject matter.