Each one of us has felt the loss that comes with a loved game series dying out on us. A lack of sales, favorable reviews, or even just interest can all play a roll in getting a series put out to pasture, rarely, if ever, heard from again. While some series are better off going back to the abyss which spawned them, most deserve at least one more chance in the sun. I rounded up the staff and asked them what game they would resuscitate if they had unlimited resources. Think of this as a tiny peek into our collective insanity.
With the success of the first two games, and the seemingly endless source material to work from, the first series I’d fund with my bajillions of dollars would have to be the Marvel Ultimate Alliance series. The first two games, while each were flawed in their own way, they were both ridiculous amounts of fun. Marvel Heroes was intended to be the replacement for the series while establishing itself as a competitor for DC Universe Online.
These games weren’t just regular beat-em-ups. Yes, by definition, that’s exactly what they were, but they also had a full plot with choices you make having repercussions that you can’t fully see until after the game is over. The fluidity of time travel and alternate universes in comic books can lead to an extremely long shelf life since developers could have the same story arc take place in different times and dimensions each with their own gameplay quirks and designs. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go play through Marvel Ultimate Alliance and its sequel for the millionth time. Thor is just the best kind of OP.
There are a ton of great PC games from back in the day that I’d love to see brought into the present. One of the great things about PC gaming is that thanks to mod communities and the ever-increasing ease of creating content, a lot of this is already happening. There’s Goldeneye: Source, Freespace 2 mods, literally HUNDREDS of Left 4 Dead mods (many of which are at least as good as the core game), and the list goes on.
However, because Muaz is surely sending me a message now telling me to stop copping out and to answer his god damn question, here’s the series I’d bring back if I had the time/money/means: Hexen. This series (consisting of Heretic, Hexen, and Hexen 2) was developed by Raven Software, one of the most solid yet unappreciated developers in the business.
Heretic, the first game in the series, was essentially Doom but in a fantasy setting. It’s with the follow-up that Raven really started to do some exciting things with level design. It introduced a hub-based world in which the player had to traverse an interconnected network of zones in order to unlock pathways. Alongside the exploration component of this series, enemies are varied and fun to fight as you teleport, explore, and kill kill kill your way to some genuinely terrifying final bosses. With games like Rise of the Triad getting the HD remake treatment, I’d love to see somebody do a modern take on Hexen.
If I were to be given all the currency of the world, the franchise I want resurrected with all my being is the Mother series. If I haven’t made it clear in the past, it strikes me as one of the best games ever made and incorporates everything about the role-playing genre I love. With a fantastic 1st-person battle system, a breathtaking soundtrack, and some of the wackiest enemies known to gaming, it truly deserves another go to continue to ever-growing universe it is set in.
With all of that money, I would politely force Shigesato Itoi out of retirement and supply him with whatever he would need to be excited about his magnum opus again. I don’t care if it means he needs a quiet cottage by himself on the side of a lake with nothing but a typewriter, or a team of 50+ writers, composers, and all the game systems so he could learn what would work best for his new masterpiece. The only thing I would ask in return is that he stays true to the world he has already created, and that he doesn’t change the casino-slot visuals of the battle HUD. The Japanese commercial for the original Mother said not to cry until the ending, knowing that Ape, HAL Laboratories, and Itoi have no intention on bringing back such a perfect world is more than enough to make me get depressed, shut off all the lights in my house, and go to bed.
I hate that I’m actually considering Chrono Trigger for this list. I hate it because the original was timeless. It was so good that even today I could pick it up and still be amazed at the technical accomplishment that sprout forth from a collaboration of the creators of Dragon Quest, Dragonball, and Final Fantasy. It is a game that should be marveled at for what it dared to accomplish. To attempt to franchise a title like this would be insane, and that is exactly what Chrono Cross was. It was insanity. The funny thing is, that it was a good game. It certainly had its problems (as most sequels do), but lord knows it still had that something special.
With sequels coming for Breath of Fire and even Final Fantasy Tactics (spiritual sequels still count, right?), it was hard to choose a game that I would legitimately be amazed at if it came out today. A third title in the Chrono series would really be intriguing for me. I’m hesitant to think that Square Enix in this day could make something like that, but man I’d be excited to see it.
Out of all the dead gaming series’ I would choose to revive, my top choice would definitely go to Banjo-Kazooie. I know, I know, Nuts and Bolts came out not toooo long ago, but I feel like that was such a far-out departure from what made the original games what they were that I don’t even want to consider it as part of the series. Hell, even Grunty’s Revenge on the GameBoy Advance was great, and even then it was definitely a lesser title than the two flagship N64 titles. Banjo-Kazooie was one of the first games I ever played as a kid, and to this day it remains as one of my favorites of all time.
For me, so many different things about the games stood out. The platforming took such a unique approach in light of the many insane avian things you could do with Bird Brain in your backpack. I never remember getting bored or ever feeling like the game was falling into the doldrums of monotony; the game was constantly adding and switching things up, so much so that my 6-year-old attention span never spun out into left field. But aside from strict gameplay, the worlds were so much fun and all brightly realized. To this day I still remember just about all of them. Gobi’s Valley, Freezeezy Peak, Witchyworld, Terradactyland. Boy, those were the days. And, for being a game with little emphasis on dialogue, the writing definitely stood out. As a kid, I cracked up with how angsty and egotistical Kazooie was, how confused and oblivious Banjo was, and how vain and condescending Grunty was. When I recently replayed the game after buying an old N64, I still found it all just as hilarious and mesmerizingly actualized as I did when I was just a wee lad. Rare; if you’re reading this, feel free to get into contact with me so I can sell you my soul to bring this back.
I would bring back Star Control. The first one was a little strategy game with a fun real-time 2D 1v1 combat system. It featured a bunch of ships with different weapons and abilities. The overall tone was silly and the gameplay was super good.
Star Control 2 was pretty much Mass Effect 2. Expanding the game to a huge adventure story wherein you had to recruit aliens to fight a bigger alien (it’s also freeware under the name Ur-Quan Maters). Star Control 3 was a boring 4X strategy game that kinda ruined the series. I would bring it back with a grand RPG style campaign but also include online play as those space battles are still great today.
They say the stars that burn the brightest burn the shortest. It really couldn’t have been a quicker burning for the Mercenaries series, with one proper outing, one unmentionably awful sequel, and then a company shutdown from Pandemic Studios. But the one gem we did receive was also probably my favourite game in all of the PS2’s gigantic library.
Releasing at a time when ‘open world’ was synonymous with Grand Theft Auto (reviews claimed the game nods to GTA, merely on the basis you can commandeer vehicles), Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction opened our eyes to so much more: that a warzone is not a series of corridors to run down, but a gigantic playing field. We should be able to join whichever battles we want, when we want, and if we don’t like the way that 30-story office block is looking at us, we should be able to call in an airstrike on it. I’ve been replaying Mercs recently, and it’s got almost everything down to a tee, right down to the mood, the soundtrack and the voice acting. The only real age it shows is in its visuals, the trademark PS2-era fogginess and pop-in being something that always plagued games that dared go that big. Now that we’ve overcome that (Just Cause 2), let’s have more! And let’s try not to make it goofy and stupid like World in Flames, okay?
Given an unlimited budget, I’d resurrect Battletoads. I’d keep it to the classic sidescrolling beat ’em up style, and as unforgiving as the old games, too. This style of now-retro game has made some resurgence in recent years, and I’d love to see what new insanities could be dreamed up for this fantastic – if devilishly impossible – franchise.
In all honesty, I’m not sure why this hasn’t hopped back up already in the recent waves of games catering to the “old guard” who grew up on difficult but entertaining and unique IPs. And it’d give all those poor, abused Gamestop employees who’ve endured trolling over the years something to sell to the 4chan people who pester them about nonexistent entries in the franchise.
What dead franchise would I want to bring back? That’s a bit of a hard question for me since so many retro favorites of mine actually have made all-new comebacks in the past five years (Monkey Island, Rocket Knight, Metal Slug), but in the end I think I’d have to award it to the oft forgotten Squaresoft gem, Threads of Fate.
It was cool because it took an early action-RPG model for what closely resembles Kingdom Hearts today, threw in tons of memorable and cute characters, a fantastic soundtrack, and a revolutionary story. Revolutionary how, you ask? By going all Rashomon on us and giving us two main characters with two separate intertwining parallel storylines. It was an awesome idea that Square certainly returned to with Birth by Sleep, but I think Threads of Fate had such a unique taste and compelling universe that it’s worth giving another look too. Plus nowadays (and with an unlimited budget) we could make it even more grandiose to give it a horrendously complex multi-protagonist narrative rivaling even the latest season of Arrested Development.
(As a runner-up, I have to say Klonoa, but I feel like he’s not exactly “dead” yet seeing as there was a remake of the original on the Wii and characters from the series pop up in the upcoming Namco High dating sim)
Dear Left 4 Dead, I know it hasn’t been long since we’ve last saw each other, but I miss you. I often wake up from slumbers yearning to hold you, to play you, to love you. I miss the smell of boomer bile, the scratches and soothing sobs of your witch, the surprise hugs from your hunters. I miss it all. I know your father Gabe disapproves of our love, but I’m willing to fly to Seattle just to see you. I’m not afraid of him, or his knives. Lately. He has been parading around the SteamOS as if it is the true beauty of Valve, but I know the truth. Left 4 Dead baby, you’re the fairest game of them all. I hope that I cross your mind sometimes, because like Forrest Gump you been running through mine. One day, we’ll meet again, and hopefully that day you’ll have a three behind your name. Until then, I’ll have a hole where my heart once was.
P.S. I’ll wait for you
Sincerely, with love Devoun.
Now you know why the Twinfinite office is not a safe place to be unless you know a few different forms of martial arts. Anyway, what are some game series you would resurrect? Let us know in the comments!