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Volition shows off canceled Saints Row Undercover on PSP

Volition’s Saints Row series may have never become as huge as Grand Theft Auto, but the wacky and sometimes supernatural open-world games have been among the most creative in the industry. The franchise (and studio) even survived the bankruptcy of former parent company THQ, but there was one game that Volition didn’t make the cut: a Saints Row for the PSP.

Titled Saints Row Undercover, Volition originally planned to port Saints Row 2 to the PSP before deciding to focus on a handheld-exclusive game. In the studio’s own words, it “isn’t a handheld developer,” so work was delegated to a separate studio. Development of the game didn’t get incredibly far before the game was canceled in 2009, but Volition employees still seem surprised by what the studio was able to do on the console with the time it had.

Related: Saints Row IV: Re-Elected review

“It has some minor player customization — there’s an actual open world here,” says associate video editor Josh Stinson. “It was honestly kind of shocking that this was so far along.”

As you can see from the video, this isn’t exactly the “console quality on the go” that Sony pushed when the PlayStation Vita hit the shelves a few years after Saints Row Undercover was cancelled. The framerate is horrendous, there are virtually no shadows, and the draw distance only extends to about 50 feet in front of the player.

“We have it so good now, with the graphics,” says video producer Alexander Mejia. “When we look at a PSP game, it’s just like, ‘oh gosh: how can it be that way?'”

But what you’ve seen in the five-minute video is just a fraction of what Volition is willing to show off. On January 28 at 5 p.m. EST, the studio will be streaming the game on Twitch. Perhaps the support it gets from fans will inspire them to develop a Saints Row for the Vita or the 3DS … but probably not.