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Argonaut issues depressing update

VUG pull the plug on Malice, Orchid canned, and no Kung Fu Chaos sequel.

UK-based developer Argonaut has issued a pretty depressing trade update this morning, mainly focusing on the cancellation by Vivendi Universal Games of long overdue character-based platformer Malice and the outright termination of Orchid - described as "heavy blows" by company chairman Julian Paul.

With VUG now out of the picture, Argonaut will have to shop around for an alternative publishing outlet for Malice if it plans to get the game onto store shelves at all, and the Namco-backed Orchid has been axed because "potential returns on this title do not justify the additional investment required to complete the game in its new form", apparently referring to the firms' mutual desire to make sweeping changes to the formula.

What's more, Microsoft has decided not to commission Argo's Just Add Monsters studio to develop a sequel to quirky, critically acclaimed beat 'em up Kung Fu Chaos, after the game slipped and fell on its katana at retail. JAM is instead working on a new game that will be marketed to publishers "in due course".

On the plus side, Argo confirms that SWAT: GST is unaffected by all this and has just made it out of the alpha phase, meaning it should be available by the end of the year, and that the other product of Argo's Namco partnership - I-Ninja - is also still on track.

Other prospects for the firm include watercraft-based Xbox Live racer Carve, which is actually complete and just looking for a publisher now, and Powerdrome, a publishing contract for which is apparently on the cards in the near future.

All in all though, the trading update makes depressing reading for investors, and it hurts to see one of our favourite UK-based developers suffering so.