Mondays are usually slow for news as people start to stir for the coming week. Therefore, every Monday, we will address one topic to start the week and get discussion flowing. It stimulates the week like a cup of coffee, hence the title.
Awhile back, we asked specifically about which mascot games people wanted to see again. This week, we’re going to go beyond the rote mascot of Mario, Sonic, and Crash Bandicoot’s ilk and expand upon it to all game series. Sometimes, a series just disappears for some reason, and while Kickstarter and other ways to crowdfund are a great way to bring back some, others still fall by the wayside either due to lack of interest or someone sitting on the intellectual property.
This week’s question:
What game series would you like to see make a comeback?
Mohamed Al Saadoon: This is a hard question simply because so many games that I thought would never be seen again are getting sequels or remakes.
Mechwarrior? We got Mechwarrior Online coming up. X-Com? We got a new X-Com and the fan-made Xenonauts in development. Tropico has made a triumphant return, and Jagged Alliance got a remake as well.
That’s a lot of games coming back from the dead, so it took me a while to come up with something from my childhood that just died and never came back.
And then I remembered Peter Molyneux and the recent news of him leaving Lionhead Studios and found an answer. I’m going to cheat here and not name one series but an entire developer’s catalogue: Bullfrog Productions.
The Theme series (Theme Park, Theme Hospital), Dungeon Keeper, Populous, and Syndicate (and no, the shooter does not count). These titles, especially Theme Hospital, enthralled me as a kid, and pretty much the only title that Peter Molyneux has produced that was similar during his Lionhead years was The Movies, which was sandwiched between experimental titles like Fable and Black and White.
Peter Molyneux doesn’t hold the rights to these games anymore. EA does, which means seeing sequels to these titles is probably never going to happen unless they’re first-person shooters or Facebook microtransaction games.
Connor Horn: The first thing that comes to my head is FreeSpace 3. However, things aren’t quite that easy because there are several important qualifiers that need to be put alongside that statement. First, it needs to be a sequel by Volition. “If it ain’t by V, it ain’t FreeSpace 3!” says the tired, over-repeated adage that everyone has to begrudgingly admit is right. At the moment, however, the rights are sitting squarely in Interplay’s hands. Also, Fallout designer Chris Taylor did say, “We’re fans of the game and would like to make one someday, but there are other games we have to work on first. The more we hear from people about FreeSpace, the more likely a FreeSpace 3 will happen.” When I e-mailed him about it in 2010, the question was, would they work with Volition on it? That’s more nebulous. If they do work with V, great; we might see another fantastic game that could actually be profitable this time around. If they don’t work with V, though, then Interplay doesn’t exactly make games. When they do, they’re all pretty much horrendous.
The second qualifier to wanting a FreeSpace sequel is that it can’t suck. It’s a common story: “Hark, look upon the horizon! The belated sequel to our beloved oldies franchise!” And then one dramatic pause later, we realize the game sucks. I don’t want to see that happen with FreeSpace, and the problem is that most of the people who worked on FS1 and FS2 have largely moved on now; they’re all probably somewhere out in Wisconsin teaching their five-year-old kids how to fish. That means that if Volition were to take on the task of making a new FreeSpace game, then you wouldn’t actually have the same people working on it, just the same studio. That means that you’re relying on only the same “spiritual zeitgeist” of the original team to make the game, and spiritual zeitgeists don’t always produce quality content. So, could Volition make a good, modern space combat sim these days? Could anyone? Would they try to give it the AAA treatment and give it a superficial cinematic four-hour campaign and then spend all their time on multiplayer? These are the questions that could keep you up all night.
Besides FreeSpace though, I think what really needs to happen is Mirror’s Edge 2. The first one was great and amazing. Yes, it had its flaws, and no, I don’t know what the story was about, either. However, it was immersive, unique, and fun as hell. Anyway, I think DICE learned a lot from their first Mirror’s Edge outing, and if they put their hand at it again, I think they could might pull off a masterpiece. There’s some definite good in the Mirror’s Edge formula, a potential that, with the right amount of creativity, artistry, and quality design, could easily make for a true Game of the Year.
Also, while we’re shooting ideas out there… Gex 4, anyone? Come on, you know you want it.
Nathan Wood: I had to think long and hard about the topic this week, and it didn’t come as naturally to me as it may have to my fellow writers. This is because, as the youngest, most games I’ve played have been suffering from sequelitis, and I don’t mean that in a necessarily bad way. Can’t complain about getting more of what you enjoy.
However, there was one title that came to mind once I put in some real thought, and that was Shenmue. The Dreamcast was the host of a massive amount of unique titles, with Shenmue being at the top of the list. It laid the groundwork for titles like Heavy Rain and Grand Theft Auto to an extent. Sure, technical limitations at the time and budgetary constraints stopped the game from reaching its potential and ended the series prematurely in my opinion. If a sequel were made today, technical limitations wouldn’t be a problem, and in the perfect world, the budget would be there for Yu Suzuki to finish his story.
Shenmue isn’t the game that I want the most, though. That title goes to Phosphor Games’ non-superhero hero game Awakened, which has seen more than a fair share of development issues. But as far as already established games go, I couldn’t think of a better option than Shenmue.
Also, how about a sequel to Bully, Rockstar? That’d be really super of you guys.
Crystal Steltenpohl: I still can’t think of anything I want to say to this. If you’d asked me two years ago, I would have said Golden Sun, but I finally got my wish late 2010. Pokémon basically shits games out, and I only recently got into Tales of and they get some relatively regular updates as well. I don’t think Left 4 Dead or Portal are dead enough for me to say I want more of that, and my love for Final Fantasy died with FFX-2. I also don’t miss enough of the games I loved as a kid to want to see them revived, or they still have games made for them (e.g. Metroid, Anno). The only thing I can even remotely think of that I’d like to see come back is Lords of Magic, but I don’t know if I have enough material to really write much about it.
Christopher Bowen: It probably won’t happen because they destroyed it with the Wii game, but I’d really, really like to see Rygar have another game. I still think that the PS2 game was an underappreciated gem that didn’t get the recognition it deserved because God of War had a better marketing budget and David Jaffe giving interviews to anyone with a pen. However, the Wii remake was so atrocious (same game, but they dumbed the look down) that it might have killed the series. It’s disappointing because really, the Rygar games were good for their day, as I’ve stated.
I would also say I’d like to see something like a new Kabuki: Quantum Fighter, but I dread to see where that aesthetic would go nowadays. Maybe some good things from that era should stay in that era.