I live in an age when nearly everything I grew up has been given a modern-day facelift and a new spin for a fresh generation of kids for today. Nightmare on Elm Street was utterly destroyed by Michael Bay, Texas Chainsaw Massacre improved its grim story by being in 3D, My Little Pony is on its way to crushing the world under Pinkie Pie’s hoof, and there’s been Battleship and Rock’em Sock’em Robots movies. I could go on. Video games work a little differently. It is one thing to take TMNT and give it a fresh start (I’m a big fan of the new series), but with a game like, say, Bionic Commando, that had great promise to break ground here. The game, suffering from putrid controls, bland atmosphere and a horrendous story, fell completely on its face. Other series have flourished; Castlevania, Namco’s Tales series, and Spyro, to name a few, have seen new energy that has kept them from falling into obscurity. I have been playing Double Dragon Neon for the last couple of days and have been amazed with how well it has incorporated the familiarity of what made the game a classic without just being a bare bones flashback and nothing more. It made me sit and think for a long time, and after tough consideration, narrowed it down to 5 games I have always longed to see done again or continued.
#5 Electronic Arts’ Strike Series
To my knowledge, there hasn’t been an action helicopter shooter since the Strike games. This series involves a good combination of action and strategy that was unheard of in most action games for the 16 bit era, as most games involved blowing up everything in sight! There was seldom music during the actual gameplay, and you didn’t have to fend off waves of enemies. You had to move at a brisk pace while being sure to not run out of fuel, and approaching your opposition too hastily will get you shot down quickly. With the decline of Ace Combat and no real shot at the medium, I think a new Strike game could potentially be very innovative and awesome.
What killed it? The early games were vaguely linked to the Gulf War and Operation Desert Strike, but I don’t think it was because the games were no longer topical, but perhaps for the time the series had run its course. EA wanted to go into a new direction with a potential sequel called Future Strike, but later became Future Cop LAPD, a variation of an RTS game. Personally, I had a lot of fun with it, but incredibly poor sales caused the production team to split, and the Strike games and hopes of a sequel disappeared with it.
Why it might not work: The 3/4 isometric camera angle and the controls fit like a glove for the Strike games, inverting the Y and X axis and a button to accelerate, but engineering the controls for a helicopter game sounds very cumbersome. The easiest way, I presume, would be to keep the same scheme intact, incorporate some actual physics (pitch and yaw adjustments) while jazzing up the visuals similar to the Command & Conquer games. Modern day controller layouts would be perfect for accommodating the necessary functions you may need, especially in a series that taught using patience. So, nailing the controls might be a big hurdle, but the challenge lies in pitching a meticulous strategy shooter in an age when run’n’gun, kablooie, and juggle combos dominate. REMAKE CHANCES: Not Likely.
#4 Killer Instinct
Off all the Mortal Kombat clones that existed at the time, the one that stood toe to toe with Midway’s pugilistic mayhem was Nintendo and RAREs’ button mashing brainchild, Killer Instinct. With its sleek, black cartridge and twisted, neo-Bladerunner setting, KI not only proved it could be dark, but it could be something of its own. Mortal Kombat’s world was one based off mythology and folklore, ancient tales that could be found in old scrolls and Chinese manuscripts. Killer Instinct embraced a quasi-futuristic apocalypse, where technology has mangled the ecosystem and scientists create vicious raptors for fighting, quite the opposite, until MK3. KI’s gameplay resembled a tepid Street Fighter formula, quarter circle motions and charge back attacks, and while it’s fatalities aren’t as memorable as the former, they went instead with fast-paced, multi-hit combos, combo breakers (the earliest a counter move was ever utilized in a fighting game Ultimate Finishers (more satisfying than the actual fatalities), and the famous Ultra combos. KI’s speed apparently caught the attention of Midway, because their third entry featured dumbass tap-tap combos and a damn “run” button in feeble attempts to speed up the game. While KI’s roster wasn’t as big, each character fought differently and had a fantastic appearance. Even Eyedol’s ending took shots at Blanka’s story from Street Fighter II! Topped off by its rocking soundtrack, this really felt like a worthy number 3 in the echelon of fighting games behind SF and MK (You decide whose one and two)…..
What Killed It?…Until the lackadaisical home port of Killer Instinct 2 (dubbed KI Gold) for the N64. It was excusable for the Super NES to not be able to utilize the computer animated graphics, even with the Mode 7 processor, but the same hardware that made the first game in arcades was based on the rough data for what would be eventually become the N64. Still, the SNES version was done very well. This was an early sign that Nintendo should’ve abandoned cartridge-based game developing. Not that KI Gold was a terrible game, but it played nothing close to the speed of the arcade game. Almost all of the animation was butchered, reduced to static shots and any extras included were barely noticeable. I still play it to this day, and it’s a pretty fun game, but the limitations of the 64 left me very deflated that I might not ever get a true chance to play KI or KI2 in its true form. Why was this game called Gold in the first place?
Why it might not work: Various press releases from officials and employees at Rare have stated that while they would like to make a new game, Microsoft isn’t interested, but it hasn’t been particularly ruled out. I’m shooting from the hip here, but perhaps there is a chance that Killer Instinct could be released for XBox Live Arcade, something with licensing issues with a TV show of the same name, but even if I don’t get a part three, being able to play the old games in original entirety would be a treat and I could die happy. REMAKE CHANCES: Faint, but not impossible.
#3 Road Rash
This edgy street racer’s claim to fame was its fighting, used to fend off other racers. Careful, they would hold grudges and comeback for you if you aren’t on guard. My brothers’ and I spent countless hours playing this game on the Genesis and the 3D0, even pulling all-nighters to earn money for the most expensive super bikes in the game, only to buy them and wreck them because they were too fast to handle. Road Rash boasted very fine controls and great music (the 3D0 game featured HammerBox, Monster Magnet, and Soundgarden, making it one of the earliest games with a soundtrack full of notable musicians) and was the first game that allowed you to beat up the police, as far as i can remember.
What Killed It? Road Rash 3D and Road Rash Jailbreak would follow shortly after the
Playstation and Sega Saturn ports of the original 3D0 game, and they weren’t very good. 3D came first, but failed to capture any single element that made it fun of the Sega Genesis in the first place. It was slower, the handles on the bikes were kind of sluggish, and the combat was executed very poorly. Road Rash’s soundtrack, once boasted some of the better hard rock and grunge/punk tunes of the time, saw its sequel even further water down the series’ anti-establishment persona with the likes of Sugar Ray, Kid Rock, and The Mermen. Yeah, because Mark McGrath and a skinny, middle-aged hick pretending to be a pimp cowboy definitely puts me in the mind of illegal street racing! It’s follow-up, Road Rash Jailbreak, killed any hopes of repairing the series’ shattered image and would be the last game in the franchise. Jail Break begged people to play it, promising even more fighting while failing to fix the chunk controls, even adding a sidecar, so if someone else in the room sees you play this game, wants to kill themselves and didn’t find a good enough reason, they can join in and degrade the human race with fighting controls so bad, they make BallZ look like Virtua Fighter. The fact that the Visigoth’s fist takes up more space on the game’s cover and the motorcycle is barely visible tells you where EA wanted to go with this game.
Why it Might Not Work: With franchises like Saint’s Row and GTA, who have already captivated a far edgier streetwise attitude that borders on nuanced enough to be a feature film (Saint’s Row 3 excluded), any attempt by Electronic Arts to dig this out of Pet Cemetary would be kind of pathetic. Much like Beavis and Butt-head’s failed comeback, Road Rash’s early 90s punk rock mentality would feel incredibly out-of-place in a world where Tokyo-style drift racing is now passe. Also, those cheesy live action cinemas had a certain charm that no amount of CGI can recreate. When was the last racing game that mattered, anyway? I’m being serious, I can’t think of one. Need 4 Speed may as well be GTA at this point. I guess that leaves Mario Kart. REMAKE CHANCES: None, and that’s so bogus, dude!!
#2 Earthworm Jim
There isn’t much more I can say about how fantastic this game, or its sequel, is, and it’s a shame that Jim’s run was cut short. Even his TV series, which was hilarious, was cut down in its prime. The least Jim deserves is a true sequel, with the original team that made him an icon of 16 bit gaming, to give him proper justice, or at least some finality.
What Killed It? Shiny Development had nothing to do with Earthworm Jim 3D for the N64, and it clearly showed. None of the comedy even came close to resembling the charm from the first two games and even by 1999 most developers realized how to make competent 3D adventure games. EWJ64 felt like it was made for the Atari Jaguar. This game was constantly delayed, and I waited like an imbecile for it to come out, and what I got was a hot dog: 10% real meat, 90% ground up testicles and toe nails.
Why it Might Not Work: If Shiny was reassembled and the game got a Ray Man-styled reboot and going back to 2D, it would be gaming heaven. But that would be a long shot, and David Perry and his peers have moved on to other projects. REMAKE CHANCES: Not likely
#1 Dark Cloud
Dark Cloud 2 Dark Chronicle was my absolute favorite video game for the Playstation 2 and I bought a PS3 for the slim hopes that a part 3 might see the light of day. It has not happened yet. But Dark Cloud and its sequel are some of the best 3D adventure RPGs for the system, the later game in particular. It’s cel-shaded graphics, random generating dungeons, an enhanced combat engine allowing it to flow more smoothly and quicker than it’s predecessor. City building didn’t feel as chunky as the first game, and meeting the prerequisites of the town’s people to insure a 100% completion was much easier. Playing as either Max or Monica gave two unique play styles, Monica’s close range combat or Max’s emphasis on long-range weaponry and his trusty Ridepod is capable of crossing areas Monica can’t cross on her own. Its fantastic cel-shaded visuals, beautiful fantasy/futuristic world setting, and great voice acting only had my anticipation that a bigger, better sequel could be in the works.
What Killed It? I’m going by theory here, but the absolute worst thing that might’ve happened to this game in its intial release was now-cancelled magazine company PSM hyping this game as a (get this) Zelda Killer!! I am NOT kidding. That’s a death knell for any game development team, much less a unnoffical third-party beating their gums about Nintendo’s storied franchise! That’s like if Gabe Logan from Syphon Filter got in front of a camera with a mic and called out Solid Snake, stating his series was gonna put Metal Gear to sleep. You just don’t do that!! My loose theory is based on the thought that if these fools had kept their mouth’s shut, Dark Cloud would’ve been allowed to stand on its own instead of the high expectations people may have placed on it by comparing it to something it wasn’t even trying to emulate, and found a potential series with room to grow and flourish.
Why it Might Not Work: Actually, there no reason why it might not work. In fact, I thought this could have been a series that defined adventure RPGs for the system. It blended dungeon crawling with Sim City as well as containing some great mini games and side quests that didn’t distract from the main plot, which also was well written. I don’t say that about time travel-based stories that often. Instead, it seems the series took a bow after the second game and left the stage. There’s no talk or rumor of a third game being in the works, and while I am a hopeless dreamer, the fact that Toan, Max, or Monica didn’t even get a nod to appear in that garbage Playstation All-Stars Royale with Cheese collab, featuring characters I’ve never seen before for the most part, tells me that Dark Cloud has been long forgotten about, which is a shame. I felt this would’ve been a series to separate it from the XBox instead of being a pallete swap system with limited original game ideas.
There is always hope for an old idea or concept to catch the eye of aspiring developers and publishers. You’re always told to never say never, but some of these games existed in an era when it’s attitude was considering cutting-edge or unique. Video game continue to bolster new ideas and even more powerful machines, leaving possibilities endless. The inception of retro arcades, Xbox Live Arcade, and Playstation Network could mean that any of these games could see a rerelease that might generate buzz, and who knows what could happen from there. I’m confident everybody has a game that they would love to see revived. How many of yours has already been made?