Game Delayed For 22 Years Is Finally Out

Image: Nintendo / AgeOfGames / Kotaku
Image: Nintendo / AgeOfGames / Kotaku

In 2002 a group of friends in Italy started developing an action-platformer with RPG elements for Nintendo’s Game Boy Advance handheld. Then 22 years passed and now, in 2024, Kien is finally launching on GBA, ending one of the longest delays in video game history.

Over the decades, there have been numerous games with protracted development cycles and delayed releases. One of the most famous is Duke Nukem Forever, which was first announced in 1997 but didn’t end up shipping until 2011, nearly 15 years later. But Kien took even longer to finally arrive.

As reported by The Guardian and Patricia Hernandez (former EIC of Kotaku), Kien was developed by a small group of friends in Italy back in 2002. None of them had experience making games. But for the next two years, the pals worked extremely hard to develop Kien, taking very few breaks and crunching a lot. After a few years of development, the game was finished and ready to be published. However, the high costs of shipping the game on Game Boy carts and the risk that Kien might not be successful led to no publisher wanting to release the game.

Eventually, only one member of the original development team remained: game designer Fabio Belsanti. Despite believing in the unpublished game, he moved on with his life, founded a new development company, and began creating educational games for kids and teens. Through it all, though, Belsanti never gave up hope for Kien. When he noticed recently that retro games and consoles were popular again, he decided to return to Kien and give it another chance.

“I believe we are in a phase similar to [the revival of] vinyl or cassettes for music,” Belsanti told The Guardian, “a return to previous, more primitive forms of the medium driven by nostalgia from the generations who lived those eras, and curiosity by those who came after such technology.”

Belsanti teamed up with Incube8, a publisher focused on releasing and supporting new games for classic consoles, like the GBA. Incube8 was a perfect fit for Kien and in June it finally launched, 22 years after development had started on the action-platformer.

“On a romantic level, the thought of releasing the game on its original console is simply magical,” said Belsanti. “To see Kien come to life on the very platform it was designed for is a dream come true.”

Kien is out now. You can pick up a physical version of the game for Game Boy Advance or buy a digital version that you can play on an emulator.

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