Classic Franchises That Actually NEED a Resurrection
As a follow-up to my Games That Actually NEED A Sequel and further inspired by this post at Siliconera, I wanted to discuss a few classic game franchises, that while they did have at least one sequel, they haven’t surfaced in quite a while. And even though there are a small handful of older franchises that are just now seeing new hope of life, there are many others that deserve some attention. In addition to simply choosing the titles, I spent some time thinking about what style and platforms each franchise would thrive on most — both for gamers and the publisher.
When Capcom wasn’t working on Street Fighter Alpha installments during the 32-bit era, they were playing around with their “other” 2D fighting franchise, Darkstalkers (aka the Vampire series in Japan). This alternate fighting franchise featured a number of diverse characters that are inspired by every vampire and monster movie you could imagine. The fighting is also fast, furious, easy to control, and loaded with both color and splashy visual effects.
While a handful of Darkstalkers characters have been featured on crossover games like Marvel vs Capcom 2, we haven’t seen a a new Darkstalkers game in a number of years. The closest we have seen is The Vampire Chronicles for the Dreamcast or the Darkstalkers port to the PSP.
I don’t quite have the confidence in Capcom to make a good 3D fighter, so I don’t think they should go that direction. However, if they did a new Darkstalkers game with high-resolution sprites in the fashion of Guilty Gear X or Street Fighter 3: Third Strike, I do believe the fighting community would buy it in droves.
Even though we have seen countless “Shining” games released on the Playstation 2 (Shining Tears) and Gameboy Advance (Shining Soul), we haven’t seen a “real” Shining Force game since Shining Force III was released on the Sega Saturn.
Instead of focusing on the great strategy elements from the original Shining Force trilogy, Sega has transitioned the Shining franchise into the Action RPG genre. Even though each of the new generation of Shining titles has received lackluster reviews from both the media and RPG fans, Sega hasn’t gotten the clue that they need to go back to their roots.
The Shining Force name is still well-known among the hardcore gaming community. The resurgence of strategy RPG with titles such as Fire Emblem and Disigaea has show that there is still a demand for similar games and Sega should capitalize on their brand effectively before they tarnish it more.
I’m not sure what the chances of having Camelot Software (the original Shining Force developers) work on more Shining Force games as they have seem to moved into Nintendo’s camp with the Golden Sun series for the Gameboy Advance (which I also wouldn’t mind seeing more of) and the Mario Sports games for both the Gamecube and GBA.
I’m sure, however, that the first two Shining Force games (from the Genesis) will be available on the Nintendo Revolution Virtual Console. But it would be incredible if all three scenarios of Shining Force III would be translated and re-release on the Revolution or another modern machine (only the first Shining Force III scenario was released in the US).
This innovative beatemup from Rare spanned a wide variety of consoles, arcade machines, and handhelds throughout the 1990’s and was met with critical acclaim. As much as I praise Gunstar Heroes for having great side-scrolling action and levels that have different play styles, Battletoads originated that combination, resulting in a fun-filled game that avoids being repetitive.
Part of what gave BattleToads its unique character was its exaggerated ways of finishing off enemies. These include a headbutt that would have the battletoad sprout ram’s horns or a football helmet, a punch with an extremely enlarged fist, and on climbing/falling levels, the ability to transform into a boulder and act as a wrecking ball. And while the original games because extremely challenging at times, the gameplay was top-notch as a great cooperative experience with friends.
The was some hope of a new Battletoads title for the Gameboy Advance back in 2004 as Rare’s lead designer stated that ‘a Battletoads game would be really cool on the GBA… hopefully we can do one in the future.” But alas, nothing ever happened. Now that Microsoft owns Rare, who knows what may happen. Sure, Perfect Dark was brought back, but now their are working on a pinata game…
Anyway, if Rare did bring Battletoads to the XBox, having 3 Toads work together via XBox Live would be killer and I could easily see a sequel maintaining the 2D gameplay while using cel-shading, just like Viewfiful Joe. The cartoon atmosphere would be maintained while utilizing the modern capabilities of the XBox/XBox 360.
If there is a Capcom character that has the most under-utilized potential, Strider Hiryu would be my #1 choice. The original Strider game was very popular in the early 1990’s on both the Sega Genesis and arcade machines. The NES also received a Strider game, but it was significantly different from the arcade original.
After the stunning Genesis version of Strider arrived, Capcom inexplicably gave the rights to the series over to U.S. Gold, but the results were nothing that were close to the original Strider game in terms of control, gameplay quality, or style.
Ten years later, Capcom finally produced a true sequel, largely because of the massive popularity Hiryu enjoyed in the company’s fighting games such as Marvel vs Capcom.
Strider 2 utilized a mixture of 2D sprites and 3D backgrounds, but the game abandoned its predecessor’s checkpoint-based continue system, meaning that completing the adventure was mainly a matter of dropping in quarters/continuing and aiming for a high score.
As with Battletoads, I think it would be most appropriate to keep Hiryu in the hand-drawn fashion we have known him in. Making him more realistic (like the modern Shinobi games) would kill some of the character that Capcom has built up. Having high-resolution sprites (ala Guilty Gear X) with 3D backgrounds would be most appropriate in my opinion.
Looking at Capcom’s recent track record with its older franchises, a PSP sequel looks most appropriate. They could also tie a Strider 3 in with the original Strider and Strider 2 (each of which were released on the PSOne) and use them with Sony’s upcoming PSOne emulator for the PSP. Problem solved.
Building on the technology used on Nintendo’s hit Donkey Kong Country, Killer Instinct gave Nintendo a flashy entry into the fighters arena while Street Fighter 2 and its variants were lighting up the arcades. As a joint venture between Rare and Nintendo, Killer Instinct was originally released in arcades and was later released on the Super Nintendo. An arcade sequel, Killer Instinct 2 was released in the arcades and a Nintendo 64 port went by the name called Killer Instinct Gold.
By today’s standards of 2D or 3D fighters, the older Killer Instict games don’t really hold up especially well. However, with the name recognition, a cast of characters that is already developed, and a group of nostalgic fanboys, Rare could create a great 3D fighter just in time for the XBox 360 to compete with the Revolution and PS3.
And yes, a Killer Instinct III would most likely be an XBox 360 exclusive as the originals were developed by Rare and only licensed by Nintendo, much like Perfect Dark and Conker. As I mentioned in my discussion about some of Rare’s older titles not being availible on the Revolution’s Virtual Console, Nintendo does own the rights to some Rare games that use their characters, such as Donkey Kong Country.
As an answer to Nintendo and Rare’s Donkey Kong Country series and it’s pre-rendered, 3D-like graphics, Sega fought back with the Vectorman series. It featured its own 3D-ish character and provided some animations, which in my opinion, were even more impressive than DKC.
The Vectorman games are straightforward 2D action shooter/platformers (like Gunstar Heroes) in which Vectorman is equipped with a blaster that fires one bullet at a time; powerups include a machine gun, “bola” gun, and triple-fire guns. Vectorman also possessed the ability to transform, through the use of powerups, into several different forms.
Sega actually had a lot of work done on a new Vectorman for the Playstation 2, but they had little success in bringing the franchise to a full 3D environment (and many people thought that the redesigned Vectorman looked too much like Halo’s Master Chief) and the project was eventually canned.
Vectorman would probably benefit from celshading or more vector-type graphics. It would also be essential to keep the 2D gameplay. If Sega is hesitant about bringing Vectorman to a full console after its intitial PS2 mess, perhaps an old-school Vectorman 3 for the GBA, DS, or PSP would be more appropriate.
If there is one game that PC gamers want a follow-up to, its StarCraft. Basically a sci-fi version of the ever-popular Warcraft RTS series, Starcraft featured a single-player story line is intense and anything but superficial. The cinematic sequences further the plot and make a deep impression, putting you completely into the story. The multiplayer mode of Starcraft was also well-done and a new installment would be ripe for taking advantage of modern technology.
StarCraft 64 was released for the N64 (obviously) back in 1998, but fans have still be waiting for a completely new installment. Wikipedia sums up the situation well… “Fans impatiently await the creation of StarCraft II. Blizzard has announced that they are interested in making a sequel to their popular game. This includes posts by Blizzard officials on the Battle.net forums asking for suggestions for such a game, the lack of other projects for Blizzard after World of Warcraft’s completion, and an Easter egg unlocked after completing Warcraft III on the most difficult setting, as well as a leak about a 2007 release from HanbitSoft, the Korean publisher of StarCraft, but the development of a sequel has not yet been officially announced.”
Even Blizzard’s spinoff project, StarCraft: Ghost has been put on hold, making Starcraft fans wonder what is going on. You wouldn’t think that Blizzard would just abandon a franchise when so much demand is there, but I’ve seen dumber things. At least they acknowledged fans with the recent “World of Starcraft” April Fools joke.
System Shock was a unique entry into the first-person shooter sci-fi/horror genre, set in a Cyberpunk future. Although the game was superficially similar to many other first-person shooters on the market, it was a fan favorite because of an engrossing storyline and deep gameplay.
System Shock had a great attention to detail and had elements that changed the game a bit if you played it through multiple times. System Shock 2 improved on many aspects of the original game — including a simplified control scheme — and is considered by many to be one of the best games of all time.
The with sequels such as Half Life 2, DOOM 3, and others, the amount of big name FPS’s has not been letting up. With the PC and XBox 360 becoming powerful and popular platforms for the genre, a System Shock 3 would surely become a top seller. If the attention to detail is continued in System Shock 3, it would give FPS fans a deeper alternative to technically amazing, but otherwise shallow shooters like Black.
As one of the best titles to come out of EA, Road Rash was one of the first successful games to combine the fast-paced elements of a racing game with fighting elements. The gameplay combination worked naturally and became a fixture of the late 16-bit and early 32-bit eras.
In Road Rash, players could fight other bikers with a variety of hand weapons while competing in a race where crashes actually make a huge difference in your time. The weapons in Road Rash were wide-ranging, but who can forget the cattle prod?! Fights between riders would often result in the loser flying off their bike at high speeds through traffic, pedestrians and roadside obstacles, with the victor gaining place and the loser sustaining bike damage, losing time, and increased chances of getting busted by the police.
With Electronic Arts’s reputation of constantly rehashing franchising until they are blue in the face (Need For Speed or Madden, anyone?), you would think that the mega-publisher would jump at the chance to bring a new Road Rash to the market. Now that there have been other popular games that seem to be influenced by Road Rash such as Twisted Metal and Full Auto, EA should jump out at the opportunity to cash in.
While this isn’t an “old” classic, it is a series that seems to have died off needlessly. As one of the Games That Defined The Dreamcast, PowerStone took a unique approach to become one of Capcom’s only good 3D fighters.
Instead of a traditional 3D fighter like Soul Calibur or Dead or Alive, Power Stone allowed players to freely run around in open playfields and use items from their surroundings (chairs, boxes, poles) in addition to bonus weapons and standard punches, in order to beat the crap out of their opponents. The game is similar to another classic-but-forgotten Playstation series, Poy Poy, but features the extra polish and character that gamers have come to expect from Capcom’s best games.
The Dreamcast had two great installments of the PowerStone series. The first one was very solid for one-on-one combat, but PowerStone 2 pumped up the action with more characters, 4-players support, and larger environments. PowerStone, unfortunately had so much going on at times that it was hard to keep track of the chaos.
Luckly for PSP owners, a PowerStone collection is on its way for the Sony portable. However, the compilation is a simple port of PowerStone 1 & 2 with a stretched-out screen. What we really need is PowerStone 3 with a multiplatform release. I’m sure XBox Live support would be incredible.
- Clayfighter – another forgotten fighting game from the 16-bit era that had loads of character, but ran out of steam.
- Story of Thor/Oasis – Sega’s action RPG series from the Genesis, Saturn, and Game Gear could do well if polished enough. Use Oasis for Action RPG games and leave the Shining series to strategy.
- Lost Vikings – Blizzard Entertainment’s early action platforming series still has a fan following to this day.
- Rocket Knight Adventures – An underappreciated platform series from Konami deserves another chance.
- Jetman – Remakes of Rare’s early games such as Lunar Jetman and Solar Jetman would be great for XBox Live Arcade and Rare’s later N64 cult classic Jet Force Gemini is due for a remake.
- Jet Set Radio – The only reasons I didn’t list this wonderful series is that it is fairly new and I mention it all the time ๐