Before the collapse of video game publisher Midway, the company's Chicago studio was working on a game known simply as Hero, an ambitious open-world superhuman project that was ultimately killed. But like most superheroes, Hero may cheat death. [Updated!]

Based on newly released videos of the game, Midway's Hero looked similar in style to another super-powered game from the publisher, Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy. But the 15 minute walk-through of Hero's key features shows that this project was much more ambitious, letting players customize their superheroes with powers like super strength, invisibility, searing vision, electric shock attacks, super speed and the ability to summon a screen-clearing tornado.

Hero was essentially a third-person shooter with some cool mutant powers attached, gunplay mixed with mechanics we've seen in games like Sucker Punch's inFamous and Radical's Prototype.

The storyline for the game, according to the walk-through, involves a natural disaster that leaves thousands dead and a city in chaos. A private military group is installed to deal with the situation, which gets worse when the dead begin rising with special powers.

While it appears that Hero, as a Midway game, is dead—like similarly ambitious open world action games This Is Vegas and Necessary Force—the team behind it wants to resurrect that project in another form.

Phosphor Games, which is comprised of many former Midway staffers and aided in development of Kinect Adventures, appears to have two Hero-like concepts in the works.

Awakened

See Midway's Dead 'Hero' & Its Super-powered Mutant Spawn

Awakened is described by its creators as "fully original Phosphor Games Studio code and content, but builds on our experience and lessons learned from past projects, and expands on all the best features that made past work so promising."

The Awakened trailer shows off many of the same concepts seen in Hero, with what appear to be a few new tricks, like a Thing-like crust, a telepathic takeover of an enemy and a force field-like telekinetic attack.

Update: The Awakened trailer and the following 8-bit Death trailer have been pulled from their source.

Then there's this...

8-Bit Death

See Midway's Dead 'Hero' & Its Super-powered Mutant Spawn

Trading a more realistic look for something video game-inspired, 8-bit Death trades gore for enemies that burst into a shower of coins when killed. Phosphor dubs it "post retro," a mix of "classic and cutting edge" and a third-person "AAA title" designed for Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network.

The trailer shows a mix of multiplayer deathmatch, splitscreen play, and a Mario Party-like interface for selecting matches. Environments run from realistic to levels that look Mario-esque—complete with pop-up text that warns "our princess is in another castle"—to levels that feel Tron-inspired.

From the (now-pulled) description of 8-bit Death:

  • Up to 4 players can jump in and play together!
  • Pick [your] super powered class
  • Grind through waves of minions that shatter into showers of coins, light, power ups and gear
  • Spend your cash on the upgrades you want
  • Take on challenging and quirky bosses
  • Unlock secret levels

Phosphor's official web site says it is "working on a very innovative 3rd person action-adventure title for next-gen consoles for 2012. This game will change the industry."

Will either project fare better than Hero? Which would you rather play?