From the Vault: The Monster Island Pitch

by IG.Chris on October 27 2010

35 comments

“Stop, you fools! Your puny weapons won’t stop that monstrosity…they’ll just make it stronger!” –Dr. Von Eckhardt, Scientist

Many game ideas never make it to store shelves, and Irrational Games has its share of discarded pitches. Among those is the destruction-happy Monster Island, as described in a recently-unearthed document penned by Ken Levine nearly a decade ago.

Inspired by mythological creatures throughout history–but most significantly Godzilla and other Japanese film monsters from the 1950s on–Monster Island would have allowed players to control either a giant rampaging beast or the forces trying desperately to keep the monster at bay.

The pitch promised some 20 monsters, a living city, heavily destructible environments, and a dynamic civil defense network. Its premise and mechanics actually date back to a pen-and-paper game Levine wrote a further 10 years prior. Along with The Lost, Monster Island would have been an early foray into console development for Irrational, which had already developed System Shock 2 and Freedom Force for PC.

To add some color to the pitch, current Irrational artist Jorge Lacera (the subject of our latest employee feature) illustrated a few formidable monsters for retroactive inclusion. We’ve also uploaded those images in much higher resolution below. They’re even suitable as widescreen desktop backgrounds!

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  • zachellis | October 27, 2010 12:56 pm

    It’s always interesting to see how the ideas from the early 2000’s play out in the art style and Photoshop painting of artists today. From the PDF and this post I gather I would have enjoyed Moster Island as an offering. The idea feels strong enough to stick today, too bad it never made it to retail.

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  • seanbie | October 27, 2010 1:37 pm

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    Sounds and looks like a more in-depth version of Incog.’s War of the Monsters for PS2, which I freaking loved. Too bad this never was green lit.

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  • nabeel | October 27, 2010 1:44 pm

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    Interesting, you guys have never spoken about this project before. Fascinating to see what could have been.

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  • neuroman42 | October 27, 2010 3:00 pm

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    OK… seriously frakking want this now!!! I still have warm fuzzy dreams about Mail Order Monsters, Crush Crumble Chomp, and the old Movie Monsters game.

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  • October 27, 2010 3:02 pm

    [...] Source: Irrational Games [...]

    See Original Post at [thewarppipe.com]

  • jayakers | October 27, 2010 3:28 pm

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    Love the potential time period of Greece 400BC. So many aspects of this game sound awesome. Rampage from the POV of the people + resource control (using an ingenious triangle ‘civil defense’ graph) is an amazing concept. An IG XBLA game perhaps? Please? ;)

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  • ftrapture | October 27, 2010 5:13 pm

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    I love this ending part of the pitch : Regarding which console “XBox is probably the easiest, PS2 is a pain in the butt, and who knows about GameCube?”

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  • trentpetronaitis | October 27, 2010 5:59 pm

    Make it as a Steam game with graphics like that artstyle and I’ll buy it.

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  • October 27, 2010 8:41 pm

    From the Vault: The Monster Island Pitch | Irrational Games…

    Here at World Spinner we are debating the same thing……

    See Original Post at [www.worldspinner.us]

  • jub8jub | October 27, 2010 8:50 pm

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    Sounds like a cool game, but I will love bioshock more.
    We need more people eating.

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  • rybow73 | October 28, 2010 1:47 am

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    The drawings remind me of the old “last-generation” console game, Attack of the Monsters, or something along those lines, haha.

    Cool stuff!

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  • October 28, 2010 3:43 am

    [...] a 10-year-old video game pitch by Irrational Games – – “Rampage meets Black and White Creatures in a Fully Destructible [...]

    See Original Post at [brick.zeo.hk]

  • October 28, 2010 4:49 am

    [...] el blog de la desarrolladora Irrational Games (en cuyo diseño y contenidos deberían fijarse otros [...]

    See Original Post at [www.anaitgames.com]

  • October 28, 2010 5:28 am

    [...] Irrational Games have been refreshingly open about their canceled games and original concepts as of late, detailing their initial pitch for BioShock, as well as Left 4 Dead-esque Division 9. Now it’s time to take a trip to Monster Island. [...]

    See Original Post at [www.wouldyoukindly.com]

  • October 28, 2010 5:31 am

    [...] Assorted bits and pieces Irrational dig up the pitch for Monster Island, we still want to play. Teacher says DS ‘encourages and enhances learning’, which is [...]

    See Original Post at [www.gamepron.com]

  • piranha | October 28, 2010 6:34 am

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    It’s always interesting to see how the ideas from the early 2000’s play out in the art style and Photoshop painting of artists today.. Fascinating to see what could have been…

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  • jackebensteiner | October 28, 2010 7:34 am

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    Ooh that art style is sick! I’d totally get a wall-poster for that.

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  • mysterd | October 28, 2010 9:07 am

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    So…would this have been a strategy game? RPG game? A mixture of both?

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  • adesilva | October 28, 2010 10:36 am

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    I feel like this game was ahead of its time. In 2001 fully destructible environments didnt really exist and I think that would have been a core part of this game. The bread and butter of this game would also be multiplayer if you could have teams be the monsters and others be the military instead of the intended power stone 2 style fights. Its too bad Irrational is so invested in infinite because if they could afford to put a team on some of their thrown away ideas they could become big hits on PSN and XBLA

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  • October 28, 2010 10:43 am

    [...] die Jungs von Irrational Games (System Shock 2, SWAT 4, Bioshock) gewähren immer wieder Einblicke in ihre eingestampften Projekte. Erst vor einiger Zeit erwähnten sie ein [...]

    See Original Post at [www.videospielkultur.de]

  • joshuadesimone | October 28, 2010 1:29 pm

    Hey, ya never know. We still might see parts of it. Developers often bring unrealized ideas into their new ones and make something more full.

    This idea makes me thing of something like Rampage or King of Monsters meets something like Blast Corps from the N64. Lots of big monsters destroying lots of puny buildings, heh. I miss that type of mindless action idea though. Even games like Zombies Ate My Neightbors. Little bit of strategy with a lot of mindless fun.

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  • sunjammer | October 29, 2010 6:28 am

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    Monster Island is a really great title. Not “Escape from Bug Island” great, but great!

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  • nakiro1 | November 10, 2010 9:13 pm

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    Monster Island? Not bad! I may have tried it, but I guess we’ll never now. ah-ha! Reverse Psychology for $1,000, Alex!

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  • November 11, 2010 3:37 pm

    [...] defense network,” Irrational’s Chris Remo recounted in the studio’s latest “From the Vault” feature. The game would have let players control either a monster or the defending [...]

    See Original Post at [leviathyn.com]

  • bluestar334 | November 27, 2010 4:27 pm

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    really awesome

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  • November 28, 2010 11:59 am

    [...] see for yourself what might have been, head on through here and check out some of the really neat 50s-style [...]

    See Original Post at [www.vg247.com]

  • georgeb | December 1, 2010 2:02 pm

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    It would be nice if the Monster Island Czars had been part of the defense force.

    Thanks for the high-res desktops :)

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  • December 14, 2010 5:59 pm

    [...] You may recall some of Jorge’s other work previously featured on our site as part of the reconstructed Monster Island pitch document. Check out his personal art blog for [...]

    See Original Post at [irrationalgames.com]

  • theend69 | January 17, 2011 2:03 pm

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    Even though some of your projects never took off they all had such interesting concepts. thanks for sharing.

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  • warzombie | June 1, 2011 2:38 pm

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    Reminds me a lot of Cloverfield, as well. Sometimes there are ideas that get canned that I wish companies could one day go back to, this game included. If it would have stopped at just the monsster, it would’ve been awesome, but to play as the other side, as well? Sounds like a beefy game, at the very least.

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  • joelotoole | July 15, 2011 3:52 pm

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    I would totally buy that x)

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  • undeadredhead | March 22, 2012 7:47 pm

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    oh man would’ve loved to play this, retro movie monsters are right up my alley! ah well, hello new desktop background :D

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