Even the best laid plans are prone to change. Projects start with one particular vision in mind, but the creative process adds new ideas and throws away old ones, for better or for worse.
At times the finished product can be unrecognizable from the original idea that the creators had in mind.
None of this is more true than with video games. Overestimating a console's technical ability, business deals, executive meddling, and all sorts of happenings change the course of a game's development.
The completed title being nothing like the prototype is not always a bad thing, but it is always interesting to look at what could have been.
This list will look at games that started off radically different than what eventually hit store shelves. This can be in regards to the genre, setting, important details, or even beginning as an entirely different project altogether.
Whether the change was for the best is hard to say, as oftentimes few get to even see the original concept, let alone play it.
Some of the ideas made it well into development before being dropped or altered, while some of them were put to rest during the planning stages. As cool as some of the concepts may seem, it is usually easily understandable why they never made it into the final game.
Radical ideas are cool, but games also have to worry about marketability. Many promising titles get canceled, so changing certain aspects is an easy compromise to make when considering the alternative.
So crank up those "what if" machines, because here are 20 Ways Video Games Were Almost Completely Different.
20 Halo Was An RTS
Master Chief's adventure started out not as a first person shooter, but as a real time strategy game akin to their previous work on the Myth series.
Not only that, but the revolutionary title was first revealed at a Macworld conference by Steve Jobs, slated for a release on Windows and Mac at the same time.
A year after its reveal, Bungie was purchased by Microsoft and the game transformed into a third person action game.
Further into development, the final jump to a first person shooter was made.
It is difficult to say if Halo: Combat Evolved would have made such a splash if it stayed as an RTS. Knowing this, it makes sense why the series delved into the genre with its spinoff, Halo Wars.
19 Metal Gear Solid 2 Was Even Crazier
Hideo Kojima's Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty was unlike anything players experienced before in both game play and story.
Whether one liked its many twists and subversions or not, it was undeniable that they were surprising. To put it simply, the game is bonkers.
However, there were even crazier ideas left on the cutting room floor.
A translated version of Hideo Kojima's original outline reveal several details that were different from the game finally released. The most ridiculous concept would definitely be sharks in the Hudson river.
Kojima always has atypical ideas for his games, and sometime it is for the better that some of his vision gets cut from the final product.
18 Mortal Kombat Starring Jean Claude Van Damme
In the arcade days, cabinets had to put great effort into standing out from all of the others. Midway felt that having an arcade title starring an action hero would do the trick.
Ed Boon and his team were intent on developing a fighter featuring Jean Claude Van Damme.
Unfortunately, the deal to use his likeness fell through, and the team was forced to come up with an original idea. That idea turned out to be a little something called Mortal Kombat.
Maybe the Jean Claude Van Damme game would have been a hit, but it probably would not have garnered the legacy that Mortal Kombat has.
Additionally, the lore and characters of the series are what makes it so special to many players.
17 Final Fantasy VII In The Real World
When Final Fantasy VII was in its early stages, Hironobu Sakaguchi intended for the title to be drastically different from its predecessors.
While the finished game is still a massive departure from the first five entries, some early ideas fell even further from the tree.
Mainly, the title was going to be set in the real world, primarily in New York City.
Though the final game has its own unique setting, some traces of the original idea are still evidenced, with Midgar resembles a slightly futuristic Big Apple.
Final Fantasy VII managed to rub some players the wrong way with its science fiction setting and story. These same people probably would have hit the roof if the game took place on Earth.
16 2016's Doom Was Doom 4
The first two Doom games rocked the gaming world. Doom 3, while a solid title, felt like too much of a departure from the originals with its focus on horror taking away from the hectic demon slaying action.
Doom 4 was in development for some time, with Earth being the main setting.
Those working on the project said that the title looked more like a Call of Duty title than a Doom game.
The team went back to the drawing board and came out with 2016's Doom. The new title was extremely well received, and even has a sequel on the way.
Sometimes going back to square one is the necessary, but painful step, to finding what really works.
15 Metal Gear Solid 4's Dynamic Battlefield
In a rare case, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots seemed to be announced as soon as development began.
Before the game's release, Kojima teased the concept of a dynamic battlefied, saying "so you have country A or country B, so Snake could interfere with either of the countries. It does not necessarily mean that everyone is an enemy to Snake."
In the actual game, one side of the conflict is distinctly the enemy and it is encouraged to help out the other.
In fact, not helping out one side makes the first two acts significantly harder.
The original ending was also going to have the two leads, Snake and Otacon, turn themselves in and lose their lives for their crimes.
14 Beyond Good & Evil Was Incredibly Ambitious
Michel Ancel's creative mind gave the world titles like Rayman and Beyond Good & Evil. The latter game was intended to be much larger in scale with a different aesthetic.
Beyond Good & Evil's initial ambition was a fully explorable world that sought to wow players with its size.
Unfortunately, negative reception from E3 2002 caused the game to be overhauled with less exploration and a more grounded art style. The title was a critical darling, but failed to make any waves commercially.
After many years, it seems like many of Ancel's original ideas may be coming to fruition with the long awaited sequel currently in development.
That title is still a long ways off, so hopefully it does see the light of day.
13 Goldeneye Was A Lot Of Things
Rare was still thinking Super Nintendo when it was handed the task of developing a James Bond game. In this stage, it was to be a side scrolling platformer similar to the Donkey Kong Country games that put the developer on the map.
When development switched to the following generation, the company had to do a significant amount of work without knowing the exact specs of the console or even how the controller would look like.
Because of this, the game was designed to be both on rails and free roam, in case the controller did not lend itself to player movement in a shooter.
When everything was ironed out, the world received one of the funnest, most addictive console shooters ever.
12 Star Fox Adventures Was Not Star Fox
Rare was at its peak during the Nintendo 64 generation, with titles like Goldeneye, Donkey Kong 64, Banjo-Kazooie, and Perfect Dark.
Near the end of their partnership with Nintendo, they were working on an N64 game called Dinosaur Planet.
Shigeru Miyamoto once noted the similarities between Dinosaur Planet's protagonist and Fox McCloud.
It is unclear if this is the reason for the game taking on the Star Fox brand, but development was switched to the upcoming Gamecube and the title changed to Star Fox Adventures.
The change was disliked by some of the developers, but the game was well received upon release. It also ended up being the last title Rare made before being bought by Microsoft in 2002.
11 Devil May Cry Was Resident Evil 4
Resident Evil has reinvented itself several times, but always retains its scary atmosphere. When one idea for a new Resident Evil was deemed too out there for the series, it was turned into a new intellectual property, Devil May Cry.
Resident Evil 4 was being made in several different forms before becoming what players know and love today.
One early concept was focusing too heavily on action and sleek style instead of tension and horror. It was decided that this did not fit the vibe of Resident Evil, and thus Devil May Cry was born.
It's hard to imagine a game being deemed too action packed for Resident Evil, but this was long before the bombastic action of titles like Resident Evil 6 and Operation Raccoon City .
10 Dark Sector Looked Like Warframe
Few may remember 2008's Dark Sector, but it is notable for being the first game announced for the Playstation 3.
If one compares the first look people got of the game to the final product, they hardly look like the same project at all.
The original trailer shows a science fiction setting in space. The final game takes place on Earth and retains some sci-fi elements, but nothing recognizable from the first footage.
The change in design was attributed to the changing market at the time away from science fiction shooters.
The old, unused aesthetic was later utilized for Warframe, a free-to-play multiplayer shooter that is hugely successful and still regularly adds new content.
9 Elder Scrolls: Arena Was Not An RPG
Elder Scrolls: Arena was Bethesda's first foray into role playing games, and they almost bit off more than they could chew with it.
In fact, the game was not initially envisioned as an RPG, but as a tournament fighter. The main objective of the player was to defeat all of the other combatants and become the champion.
As development went on, side quests were expanded upon and focus shifted away from the arena combat concept entirely.
Eventually, arena fighting was let go and the game became a full fledged RPG.
The move paid off and the game spawned a massive franchise that shows no signs of slowing down, with Elder Scrolls VI currently in development.
8 Conker's Bad Fur Day Was Cute
These days, the market is littered with profanity laden, violent games. Conker's Bad Fur day came out before this was the norm and also appears adorable on the surface.
However, a quick glance into the game reveals adult, and often scatological, humor.
Its first reveal had none of the immaturity, and it elicited little enthusiasm along with unwanted comparisons to Banjo-Kazooie.
After going quiet for a little while, it reemerged with the the tone that stole critics' hearts.
Conker's Bad Fur Day did not manage to garner high sales, but went on to become a cult classic. It was remade for the XBOX and even featured on Rare Replay for the Xbox One in 2015.
7 Borderlands Looked Serious
Before Borderlands, Gearbox Software was known mainly for two highly venerated Half-Life expansions and the Brothers in Arms games.
Players' interests were piqued when the dungeon crawler and shooter hybrid was first announced in 2007.
Following the showing, news of the title was sparse until it emerged once again from the shadows with an entirely different, more cartoonish art style.
It was a radical departure from the more grounded look early trailers showcased.
The change was done at the last minute and meant throwing away huge amounts of work. Gearbox decided on the new art style in order to avoid comparisons with other post apocalyptic shooters such as Rage and Fallout 3.
By all accounts, the new direction paid off.
6 Bioshock Without Rapture
Ken Levine and Irrational games made a big splash with Bioshock. The jaunt through the underwater city was worked on for many years, and in the early stages of production, it barely resembled the Bioshock of today.
The first prototype revealed was set on a space station and the enemies were mutants. The basic ideas were there, but in a completely different setting.
This first footage was made in 2002, making it another five years before the legendary title hit the market.
The game spawned two sequels, and while Irrational games is no more, its legacy is firmly cemented.
The future of Bioshock is uncertain, but a new game is not out of the question.
5 Grand Theft Auto Was All About Racing
Each successive Grant Theft Auto title seems to outdo the last in almost every possible way.
At this point, it is one of the most popular pieces of fiction to ever exist. However, its controversy stirring, money generating concept of playing relentless criminals was not always a part of the plan.
The first title in the franchise was supposed to be called Race 'N' Chase.
Its game play was entirely racing focused and was planned to have multiplayer as well. The small criminal element of the original design eventually took full focus and racing was made secondary.
It is highly doubtful that Race 'N' Chase would have went on to become the mammoth sized franchise that Grand Theft Auto is today.
4 Assassin's Creed Was Prince Of Persia
For more than a decade, Assassin's Creed has been pumping out games on almost a yearly basis.
Considering how popular of a franchise it is, it may surprise some that the premiere game started life as an unconventional sequel to a different series.
The first foray into the world of Templars and Assassins was going to be a Prince of Persia game where players controlled one of the Prince's bodyguards.
Ubisoft was not taken with the idea of a Prince of Persia starring someone other than the Prince, so the game morphed into an Assassin's Creed.
It is great that a new franchise was born, but fans are still patiently waiting for the Prince to start a new adventure.
3 Uncharted 4 Was Unconventional
Fans waited more than four years for Uncharted 4. Part of this can be attributed to early troubles in development and a shift in directors.
Amy Hennig left Naughty Dog in 2014, and along with her went her version of Uncharted 4: A Thief's End.
One principle difference was Sam, Drake's brother, starting off as a villain who was bitter towards Drake for leaving him to rot in prison.
Additionally, the main character would not wield a gun for almost the entire first half of the campaign. This was done to make the title really stand out from its predecessors.
The reasons for Hennig's departure are still unclear, but the world will never know how her vision for Drake's last adventure would have turned out.
2 Donkey Kong Was A Popeye Game
With Donkey Kong, Shigeru Miyamoto created two gaming icons. Pauline was there too, but she stayed out of the spotlight afterwards, perhaps because of her mayoral duties to New Donk City and focusing on vocal lessons.
None of these characters would have been featured if the original plan was realized.
Nintendo had intended to produce a game based on Popeye the Sailor Man. Unfortunately, the deal to use the brand did not go through, and Miyamoto was forced to dream up original characters.
Eventually, Nintendo did make a Popeye game, but it did not make any waves in the market.
Donkey Kong, however, went on to be a smashing success, with Mario and Donkey Kong becoming superstars.
1 Infamous Was More Like Animal Crossing
Before Infamous, Sucker Punch Productions had success with three Sly Cooper titles. When it came time for the next generation, the team wanted to make a new property that greatly differed from the sneaky raccoon's adventures.
They started with a super hero concept that was being touted as a "superhero version of Animal Crossing."
Along with fighting baddies, the player would also moonlight as a city developer.
After half a year, the simulation elements were deemed boring, so they were axed in favor of the straightforward free roaming game play.
It proved to be the right choice and Infamous kicked off a franchise of three games and numerous expansions.
City development can be interesting, but not when one can be a superhero instead.
What other games can you think of that started off entirely different? Let us know in the comments!