Monday, November 26, 2012

My Top 10 Video Game Franchises than need a reboot

(Originally written July 29, 2012)
Like movies and TV shows over the years, there have been many video game franchises that have faded into obscurity, some more so than others. For some game franchises, it’s probably for the best that they remain as just a part of video game history but there are others that truly deserve to have remained in the spot light. So I have gathered 10 game franchises that I feel need to be rebooted and by rebooted I mean given a full game release, not just a DLC, and a GOOD game that actually shows effort and care put into it. I will do my best to make suggestions as to what could make these reboots work for most of them. Now I know there are going to be a lot on here you might not agree with or feel I should have used something else but understand, if I have not played the game or have done extensive research on the game I don’t feel I can justify why it should have a reboot. Oh and Final Fantasy is not in need of a reboot. >_> so let’s get started!

10. Duke Nukem
Oh Duke… Where did things go wrong? Probably the 14 year development time and your original studio going under before Duke Nukem Forever came out. It’s no secret that Duke Nukem Forever sucked and really wasn’t worth the wait. I don’t think it was as bad as most reviewers said it was. Many reviewers calling it unplayable while I have no issues gameplay or glitch wise. To me, ‘unplayable’ means something is wrong in the controls, gameplay, or it’s so riddled with glitches that you literally cannot beat it. I do think this definitely should have been released around 2004 or so and I think most of the writing was completed around then because there are many early and mid 2000’s references in the game. Of course before this, Duke was in his prime in the mid-90’s with Duke Nukem 3D which would become a classic FPS game for PC and the many variations on it.  In order for this to be rebooted and be successful, Duke would have to undergo a few changes. The market for FPS games is a huge and over blown one these days. I can’t really see Duke going up against Halo, Call of Duty, and Battlefield. The game I’m thinking of isn’t really a reboot as more of a proper farewell. A game is better written so we don’t have the awkward stale humor of DNF and completely over the top action with destructible environments with buildings falling apart and cars blowing up all over the place. A real Michael Bay movie they plot which is honestly fitting for Duke. More weapons and crazier weapons instead of just rehashes of old guns from previous games and carry more than two weapons, wide open levels with multiple paths, none of this regenerating health crap, you actually have to get health packs, and have it take place on Earth and the Cycloid home planet with it getting blown up in the end. That would be a more fitting end for Duke rather than what we got with DNF.

9. Quake
What was once one of the Big 4 of FPS games on PCs, Quake was a shooter than needs a comeback. More specifically, a game like Quake 3 Arena which I played the SHIT out of! It was so fun just running around with all those crazy guns shooting each other up and the game was so easy to mod. The internet was full of maps and full conversion mods. Some of which could have basically been Quake 4 at the time.  The other Quake games were more or less sort of a rip off of another one of id’s games, Doom. They had pretty much the same game engine and feel. Even with Quake 4 in 2005, it pretty much just felt like Doom 3 but less scary. It wasn’t a bad game, just didn’t feel like the Quake I knew and loved. So yes, in case you can’t tell, I basically want to see an updated version of Quake 3. The Quake 3 engine was widely used in many FPS for years. Why doesn’t id try to make another engine that could be widely used like that? I’m sure there are very technical reasons why but a new Quake Arena would be a site for sore FPS eyes considering the sea of ‘realistic’ military shooters that dominate the multiplayer servers these days.

8. Dino Crisis
Dinosaurs are so cool. In 1999, Shinji Mikami, the director of Resident Evil, decided to make a Resident Evil game but instead of zombies, he replaced them with dinosaurs. GENISUS! For the most part… The first two games in the series were considered the best, the sequel being considered even better than the first. However, the trilogy came to a less than lukewarm end with Dino Crisis 3 for the Xbox in 2003. DC 3 was set in space and with zombie-mutant-dinosaurs.. wait what? Yeah, it got pretty weird there. Many fans didn’t like this departure and the franchise ended there. BUT this game could GREATLY benefit from the revamped RE game engine that Resident Evil 4 had. The over the shoulder shooting and faster paced action that is seen in the recent RE games could work really well for a game like Dino Crisis. Also return it to the jungle island setting like in the first two games. Everyone knows dinosaurs are scarier in the jungle. And bring Regina back as the main character! She’s up there with Jill Valentine and Aya Brea as awesome (and hot) survival horror heroines. I would love to see the Resident Evil master minds get back behind this series after RE6.

7. D
What is known as the D trilogy is a very unique and unconventional series of survival horror games that were made by Kenji Eno from 1995 through 1999. I’ve only actually played the first game and OH MY GOD IT WAS SCARY AS HELL! I should have included it on my top 5 scariest games list. The first game just never let up with the tension and horror. It is not a game you’d play in the dark if you didn’t want nightmares. The other games in the series, Enemy Zero (Sega Saturn) and D2 (Sega Dreamcast), continued as unconventional horror games with their own twists on the genre. If you’d like to learn more about the D trilogy, I highly recommend watching the Happy Video Game Nerd’s review of the games on youtube. As for a reboot? I personally do not have any ideas of how a reboot would work as these games were very different from other games of the time and even now. Kenji Eno himself said that he stopped the series because he felt that D2 had become too conventional and too much like other video games so I doubt he would be interested in a reboot.  If anything, I recommend tracking down and experiencing these games if you can. I know that the first D was on the Playstation One and I think I’m going to track down a copy just in time for Halloween..

6. Lunar
The Lunar games were an excellent and creative fantasy series. The first two games, Silver Star and Eternal Blue, came out on Sega CD and featured animated cut scenes. In 1998 and 1999, the games were remade and released on the PS1 with significant graphic and sound improvements and gorgeously redone cut scenes. The games had an endearing cast of characters and an epic story and were one of the finest examples of J-RPGs from the 90’s. There were rumors of a Lunar 3 for awhile but it never happened there were a couple games for the Nintendo DS and Sega Saturn but was not released internationally and was not as nearly as good as the first two games and their remakes. In 2010, Lunar: Silver Star Harmony was released on the PSP but was just another remake of the first game. How would a reboot work for this series? That’s hard to say. Classic RPG games like this just aren’t really around anymore. It would probably end up being like the newest versions of Final Fantasy and yeah… I just don’t really know. A reboot would be interesting to see but I somehow doubt it would be as good as the first two games of the series.

5. Fear Effect
Fear Effect and Fear Effect 2: Retro Helix was two games for the PS1 from Eidos that came out in 1999 and 2001. One thing that stood out about them was the cell shaded anime look for the characters with 3D rendered environments similar to the early Resident Evil games. In addition to the anime/Aeon Flux look, it has a semi-futuristic setting set in Hong Kong and has Blade Runner and Ghost in the Shell feel. The story was a very adult one with violence, drugs, bizarre human experimentation, and sex. The main character, Hana, would become most remember for being one of the first bisexual video game characters. Like many games that came out after Metal Gear Solid, it had lots of cut scenes and pretty good voice acting. Most notable was Wendee Lee who voiced Hana in the sequel who is best known for voicing Faye Valentine in Cowboy Bebop as well as many other voices in anime. The cell look that the game has would work well with this generation of graphics. Marvel Vs Capcom 3 is a great example and more recently Chainsaw Lollipop. Gameplay wise, anything would be better than the tank style controls used in many third person shooter games at the time. A fast paced Gears of War type cover system would work really well. Not much else to say but a cool and dark action game worth checking out.

4. Darkstalkers
One of Capcom’s most unique fighting games and probably one of the most unique casts of fighters in a video game. All the characters based on horror monsters, mythical beasts, and other bizarre creatures, Darkstalkers was a lot of fun. It’s spawned a pretty good anime OVA, a god awful American cartoon, graphic novels, many cameo appearances in other Capcom fighters, and what are considered two of the sexiest video game characters ever created (Morrigan Aensland and Felicia). So why no more games than it has? There a three main titles and two collection versions and that’s it. Considering how Capcom had really gotten back on the fighting game wheel and has made what I thought were some pretty good fighters over the past couple years (Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Street Fighter X Tekken),  I think a 3D Darkstalkers game seriously could be in the cards in the near future. Come on, Capcom, we know you hate your fans but you can make this one happen.. Please?

3. Sparkster/Rocket Knight Adventures
During the early and mid 90’s, gaming companies were all looking to cash in on the success of Sonic the Hedgehog with their own badass animal mascot and most of them were lame and just fell into obscurity. But Konami’s Sparkster is one that shouldn’t have. First appearing in 1993 on the Sega Genesis and then a sequel and spin off for the Genesis and SNES in 1994, these plat forming action games feature Sparkster, an opossum knight armed with a sword and jet pack. These games had awesome level design, a really great soundtrack, beautiful and colorful graphics, and were really fun. If you want a more in depth look into the games, once again check out the Happy Video Game Nerd’s review of these games on youtube. There was actually a semi-reboot for this series in 2010 on the Xbox Live Arcade called Rocket Knight. It was a 2.5D plat former that received pretty good reviews but was considered short and over priced for what it was. Like I said, only games are in need of full reboots made it to this list, DLC doesn’t count. This attempted reboot could mean that there could be a full reboot in the future. This blue armored critter definitely doesn’t deserve to be forgotten in the page of video game history. However there is one other animal character who deserves a reboot a little more..

2. Killer Instinct
This fighter was Rare’s answer to Midway’s Mortal Kombat in the mid-90’s. With excellent graphics, really cool fighters (Fulgor and Glacius were two of my favorites), and an awesome soundtrack, it was one of the best fighters of the 90’s. Released in the arcades and on the SNES and N64, it showed off what Rare and the Nintendo could do. Whatever happened to it? Well, my guess is it met the same fate as many Rare game titles when they were bought out by Microsoft. Remember when Rare had some of the best games on Nintendo then they kinda put out far fewer and crappy games once they got bought out? Chances are, if Rare put out another KI it wouldn’t be as good but there is always the outside chance some other company quires the title. I could have filled half this list with Rare games from the SNES and N64 days that need a reboot but with the way Rare has been over this past decade I don’t know if we’d get the quality games we used to love. Never the less, it wouldn’t be too hard to make a new Killer Instinct game. Just update the graphics and game play accordingly to match most modern day fighters. Some fans have suggested a Mortal Kombat Vs. Killer Instinct cross over title. Now that would be epic.

1. Earthworm Jim
Earthworm Jim is one of my all time favorite video game characters and video games. Earthworm Jim (94) and Earthworm Jim 2 (95) are in my opinion two of the best plat forming games of 16-bit era. They were fun, creative, awesome soundtrack, weird, funny, and ground breaking in terms of sprite animation. Jim is one of the most well animated video game characters ever made. Speaking of animation, he also had a really good cartoon show that ran on Kids WB when that channel was first starting out and I view it as one of the best cartoon series based a video game to date and featured great voice talent including Dan Castellaneta (aka the voice of Homer Simpson) as Jim. There also awesome action figures and even a short comic book series released by Marvel. Jim was on the top of the world for a little while. Sadly, his decline came in the late 90’s. Jim would suffer the fate of many 2D classics and would not transition well into the new 3D age of gaming. After a long and rocky development cycle that barely involved the series creator, Doug TenNapel, Earthworm Jim 3D came out at the very end of 1999. It went for the style of 3D gameplay that was seen in Super Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie but was plagued a really bad camera, awkward and at times unplayable controls, and some rather ugly graphics. Almost everything that made the first two Jim games what they were was not in this game and pretty much doomed the series.  A Gameboy game called Earthworm Jim: Menace 2 the Galaxy came out the same year and was seen as even worse than EWJ3D and considered the final nail in the coffin. For many years the series lay quiet till 2006 when a PSP remake of the first game was in the works. There was even a demo video made but I’m glad they didn’t make it because it looked awful. A DLC remake of the first game has been made and released on various platforms. I did a review of it recently actually and it’s pretty good. Not as good as the original but worth checking out if you can. Now there are have been rumor of an Earthworm Jim 4 and a complete reboot of the franchise including a new cartoon series and feature length movie. This was later denied by TenNapel himself even though he’d love to reboot Earthworm Jim, he lost the rights when Shiney got bought out by Interplay back in the late 90’s. As of right now Interplay lists the Earthworm Jim 4 as “a project still in development but at an unknown state.” Which probably means it’ll never get touched. A reboot with love and care of the original games with Doug TenNapel behind it would be amazing. We can only hope. 

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