I wrote before about a few franchises that AL wanted to go away. Well, here is a list of 10 that AL wants to return:
There must be a special place in obscurity for all the forgotten platformers that sound like they were named by the same damn guy. Some are not so bad, like Blinx and Vexx, while others plain don’t belong, like Gex. This franchise has spawned two sequels, the last of which shipped 6 million copies (that’s this many) so chances are that you just went “Oh yeaah… I remember Gex! It’s that more-likable Geico lizard, who didn’t try to sell me shit,” and you did it with a smile on your face because it was a solid series that was also pretty freaking funny, thanks to the excellent voice work of none other than Dana Gould!
Gex: ““Captain, there are a bizarre alien race that find Adam Sandler funny.” Timeless.
Well, OK, I have no fucking idea who Dana Gould is but every review seems to mention him (yes, it’s a him) so he must be a big deal, right? Regardless, the guy made for an awesomely nerdy lizard equivalent of Duke Nukem, and he found himself in the most perfect environment for such a character: TV-land. On top of the cool setup and humor, Gex brought a couple of original tricks, like the ability to attach himself to surfaces and… stuff. It had all the elements of another household-name franchise and after a decade, it’s time to remind everyone why. Maybe after Crystal Dynamics is done with that new Tomb Raider?
You must think that I’m trolling here. After all, Unreal is everywhere and it’s all up in your face, any time you fire up a console. There is the famous Unreal engine powering everything, from Gears of War to Zumba Fitness (hey, guess which one sold more copies… wrong), also, another Unreal Tournament was released just a few years ago. Well, I would argue that fuck all that. I want that original single-player series back. I’m talking about the Unreal series that everyone seems to have forgotten about, the one that has only received a single sequel but two entire spinoff series!
Isn’t this the most welcoming sight ever?
The main purpose of Unreal was to own Quake II, and it did so by not being a never-ending romp through a random rust factory, or whatever the fuck that place was in QII. Unreal started things off with an awesomely eerie crash sequence on an alien planet, and then proceeded to gradually reveal its’ murderous secrets, and its’ brutally vicious foes, who would swiftly charge you, with rape in their eyes, and side-flip-dodge your fire in 1998! I’m still haunted by those frighteningly foreign sounds that made it feel like a place where no one would ever look for my unlucky ass. Don’t get me wrong, both games had problems but they had potential to be one… epic series…
8. ROAD RASH
This needs to happen for two reasons. One is that EA needs to give Need for Speed a rest (they’ve already released one titled ‘Run’ for fuck’s sakes!), and give another racer a turn (get it?). Two is that there aren’t too many moto racing games out there and none of them allow players to kick opponents onto oncoming traffic so, you know, what the fuck is the point? And three (because fuck math) is that it was one awesome series! In fact, it’s only at number 8 because I suspect that one might be in development. It has to be!
The last game that actually mattered was Road Rash for 3DO, Playstation, Saturn, Tamagotchi, etc. Even the fucking menus were awesome in that one because not only would you shop for some badass bikes in there, you’d be listening to Soundgarden doing it. That just says everything that needs to be said about the people behind the game. They could serve up nothing less than the insane crotch rocket races, with a side order of chain-whipping your opponents and steering them into cows, while getting trolled by cops with roadblocks and nightsticks to the back of the head. Honestly, how has this not been revived yet?
Hey, remember Blood? Of course you don’t, that’s why they aren’t making another one, but read on and join the fans in outrage. See, Blood was once a badass first person shooter series. The much underrated sequel was bloody awesome… :/ but it’s the original that really has me craving another one. Now, gory first person shooters are not exactly rare these days. Pretty much every new game is ultra violent and pretty much every new game is a first person shooter. What still sets this one apart is the style and the protagonist:
He’s that dickish kid from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom!
Just, kidding. He was Caleb–the most evil and sadistic antihero in gaming. If you happened to be a punk-ass cultist in 1928, he wouldn’t just stab you with a pitchfork, set you on fire with a lighter and a spray can, or shoot you in the face with a flare gun (which would also set you on fire ’cause fire–good); he’d also cackle and tell you that “it’s for your own good” in the most sinister voice you’ve ever heard. And I know that some of you might be thinking that the Duke is the coolest protagonist ever, not some Caleb. Well, Duke Nukem did appear in Blood, and Caleb even… “interacted” with him a bit… He didn’t make it.
6. KING’S QUEST (Mask of Eternity)
No list of mine would be complete without some cheating. So, here, I’m really only including a single odd outing of a franchise, by using the fact that it was technically a part of it. King’s Quest: Mask of Eternity was the last game in the King’s Quest series but it drastically differed from all of them in nearly every way, from style to perspective to gameplay. Hell, the main character wasn’t even a fucking king! Still, it’s known as “King’s Quest VIII” (and VIII is apparently a number) and it’s a series that has not seen a title in over a decade so it stays.
And it did Minecraft visuals first.
I should also mention that a new King’s Quest is already in the works but it’s not planned as a Mask of Eternity-type game in any way (it will be an episodic cartoony title). What I want is another MoE. Playing the game was like experiencing one of those classic adventure stories you’d read as a kid, but at the same time, it had a serious feel and I don’t mean that in terms of violence. It was not about grit or gore; it was about a straight up, no nonsense magical journey with a clear cut case of good vs evil. The game overall was like a western Zelda that wasn’t another Zelda clone. Well, it had the potential to be. It still does.
5. STREETS OF RAGE
Confession time: I’m a console fanboy. Though, it’s not what you think. I like 360 and PS3 about equally, (hehe jk, they both suck); for me though it’s all about Sega fucking Megadrive. That name alone kicked the ass of the entire current generation: “MEGADRIVE!” sounds like a fucking badass Transformer or something that would kick the shit out of a “Playstation” or “Threesixty” or especially “Wii”. I haven’t played one in over a decade but I still have sweaty memories of some of the most brilliant console exclusive franchises ever: particularly one with a name worthy of its’ platform–Streets of Rage.
No, you’re not the happy Kangaroo. You’re the guy who beats the shit out of the happy Kangaroo. AND the clown.
Remember the awesome Godhand (and shame on you if you don’t)? Then, you have a vague idea of what SoR was like, only in a different setting and in 2D. You would enter a world, where everything that breathed, did so to be punched in the face by a character of your choosing and… that was pretty much it. You’d walk city streets, left to right, beating everything to a pulp because that’s just what the fuck was going on. And believe me when I say that it was a blast: you’d kick all sorts of bizarre ass, knock punks off their motorcycles, and shatter phone booths with thrown hookers (you vandal, you). Crazy! And that’s the way I like it.
4. BALDUR’S GATE
There is a bunch of great PC franchises that could be included here (and I AM talking about the PC series here) and some of them are RPG’s. It’s pretty crazy that among them is something as huge as Baldur’s Gate. In fact, this is another entry that I didn’t put any higher just because I suspect that something sequel-related absolutely must be already happening right now. This series has sold millions of copies and its’ name has become an asset in itself (watch Atari announce a BG clothing line). Even the biggest noob would say “Baldur’s Gate”, if someone asked for a name of an old-school PC RPG.
“Duh! It’s that Vin Diesel game.”
Despite sinking countless nights into BG, I still can’t describe the gameplay because it was complex as fuck. I can tell you that there was a shit ton of spells for every situation; and for every spell, there was another spell. If magic existed, that’s probably how it would be: without an exceptionally good memory and a passion for reading instructions, you’d be more of a fairy than a mage. And you know what? Fuck yes! BG didn’t simply enable you to blast magic, they let you really get into that shit. What I miss most though is the character interactions. You really had to deal with your companions’ shit to get anywhere, which made them a lot more special than what we have become used to. Can’t wait.
Before you find out for yourself, I should probably mention that the developer of this next franchise is Delphine Software, whose logo appears at the beginning of Shaq Fu… If you don’t know what I’m talking about, don’t even worry about it. If you do, then know that Delphine also made Another World, one of the most unique adventure games in existence (it’s on iOS now, buy it). Yes, Fu was the Wicker Man of gaming but it was just a brain shart for a developer that has dropped a whole deuce of my favorite games of all times, one of which was Flashback.
A year later, Schwarzenegger would don the same exact outfit in ‘Last Action Hero’. Nerd.
Essentially, it was a gorgeous sci fi Prince of Persia (2D original) with guns, and as is the case for any self-respecting video game, its’ plot involved amnesia, but it also took place in the most deliciously dystopian future to ever feature jungles with doors. The sequel, Fade to Black, received that much-unneeded 3D facelift, which was great at the time but caused it to age worse than Nicolas Cage’s sanity. I hereby wish for someone to make a sequel that strikes a balance between the two, like a Shadow Complex-type hybrid! The original is supposedly in the Guinness World Records as the best-selling French game of all time. Someone inform EA.
What MDK stands for is a subject of debate. The booklet said “Mission: Deliver Kindness” a few pages in. The Japanese box said “My Dear Knight” (but Japanese games do tend to use English for saying the strictly random shit). Some claim that it’s for “Max, Doc and Kurt”, the game’s three protagonists, while Wiki says that it’s “Murder, Death, Kill” because that phrase has been uttered in the Sylvester Stallone movie, the Demolition Man… makes sense. It really could be either one of those things though because neither describes the game best. You see, it was one the most unique action titles ever made.
Describe what you’re seeing right now.
I’d describe it as a third-person Halo, at its’ most action-packed, along with all the open-field battles and a guy in a suit (a much cooler suit) and even Grunts (it predates Halo so hmmm…) BUT with a lot more style, humor and especially variety: in MDK, no level looked the same and no action sequence was repetitive. BioWare made a sequel, where you got to play as all three protagonists, including a four-armed dog, which may sound stupid, if you don’t know that he could carry and fire four shotguns simultaneously. Still, the first game was better but unfortunately, there is little chance of the original developer making another one because Shiny Entertainment is dead and the franchise is owned by the undead Interplay.
1. EARTHWORM JIM
Here’s another franchise birthed by Shiny and currently owned by Interplay. Despite that, why there has not been a game in this series, in over a decade, boggles the mind. Yes, the last one, cleverly titled Earthworm Jim 3D (get it? it’s a third game and it’s in 3D, and it’s a turd) sucked but Jim was HUGE once. He had his own freaking animated series for fucks sakes, one spanning two seasons! That’s one more than Mario’s received (although fewer episodes) and just as many as Sonic did! We’re here for games though… so take everything I said about MDK and now imagine it as a whacky side-scroller and you’ve got something resembling Earthworm Jim 1 and 2.
See? Just like Halo.
The sheer amount of creativity put into those games is still astounding in terms of both design and art style, while the production values were so top notch that I can still pick up either of the mid-90’s titles today and have a blast and a giggle throughout, without having to squint at blocky shit, trying to distinguish face from ass. The good news is that one of the key people behind the first two titles, David Perry, has recently announced a yearning for a sequel and has apparently been talking to the original Jim team about it. Apparently, there is a way! The bad news is that they aren’t in a hurry to make it happen.
Honorable Mention: System Shock
System Shock 2 is one of the best and most atmospheric games ever made (and it has zombie monkeys!). If I’m honest though, I’m not craving another one like I used to. Bioshock is a decent enough spiritual successor and Dead Space does the space horror well enough (whether that will continue to be the case remains to be seen though). I feel like the itch is being scratched, though if Ken Levine announced a sequel tomorrow, I’d still be tracking him down with demands to take my money.
Anyone else got any? Be warned though: if someone says “Shenmue” without having played it, he/she will be shot out of a canon into the sun.