6. MechWarrior: Living Legends
We heart the original because: The MechWarrior/BattleTech series of tabletop RPGs/wargames has been drawing in fans for decades, with its vision of a far future torn apart by constant, intergalactic war fought by giant robots bristling with customizable weaponry. It’s a bleak, lumbering alternative to comparatively squeaky-clean Japanese mecha properties. And the videogames based on MechWarrior – including MechAssault on Xbox – have been mostly stellar, although we haven’t seen any new ones for a while.
Who’s behind it: A team of fanboys with mecha on the brain, naturally.
Why it rocks: Until recently, there had been no new additions to the game series, and no plans to change that. The Living Legends team stepped in to fill that ‘mech-shaped hole in our hearts, with this simulation combat title that will be multiplayer online. They’ve planned for 28 playable Battlemechs, as well as other vehicles, over 15 handheld weapons and bunch of missions and environments.
Where it’s at now: Rather than hand the team a cease-and-desist letter, Microsoft is reported to have given them its blessing to go ahead instead. We’re sporting a quizzical look as we try to imagine this paradoxical situation, but hey, we’re not complaining! There’s an open beta available for download and the game has won both ModDB’s editor’s and player’s choice award for Best Multiplayer Mod of the year in 2009.
Oh, but remember how we said “until recently” a couple paragraphs ago? Last year, it was announced that a MechWarrior reboot game was in the works by Piranha games. Ironically, it’s the official game that hit a bit of legal trouble last June, because some of the ‘mechs in the game were too similar in design to those in the Robotech universe, according to Robotech franchise owner Harmony Gold. Despite all this, it looks like both MechWarrior titles are still going strong, which is good, because we look forward to welcoming both into our game libraries. Sometime soon, we hope.
7. Beyond The Red Line
We heart the original because: It’s based on Battlestar Galactica, a show that not only tickles our inner geek because of its epic space battles, Cylons and other hard sc-fi elements, but because it was also a damn good drama that tackled difficult and relevant issues, from terrorism and religion to the survival of humanity.
Who’s behind it: A team of fans headed by a 3D graphics model artist Napoleon Nicdao.
Why it rocks: Using the engine behind space shooter FreeSpace 2, Beyond the Red Line looks pretty sweet, with plenty of ships and characters from the BSG-verse. We always did want to try our hand at being a Viper jockey.
Where it’s at now: There’s a demo, which enables you to pilot a Viper in three different single-player missions. For the full version, however, the website says anyone waiting on the release is in for “the long haul.” However, after the demo was released, the team reportedly split up, due to internal conflicts. Nicdao’s project is still ostensibly ongoing, but we haven’t seen updates for many months. Meanwhile, the other faction of the team went on to start its own BSG fan game, called Diaspora. If BSG has taught us anything at all, isn’t it that we are our own worst enemies and need to work together if we want to survive? Still, Diaspora looks pretty sweet. We just hope at least one of these horses makes it out the gate.
8. Project AM2R (Another Metroid 2 Remake)
We heart the original because: Sure, Metroid II: Return of Samus for the Game Boy didn’t get the rave reviews the NES-based original did, and in fact took some flak for its repetitive backgrounds and music. But it’s an important part of the Metroid canon, and did a lot to develop the gameplay and look of the series.
Who’s behind it: Milton Guasti, who goes by the handle DoctorM64 on his blog. Guasti is a 29-year-old sound technician from Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Why it rocks: Guasti has nicely overhauled the graphics and environments in this remake, while keeping the same basic plot and game mechanics. Now you can ponder the highly philosophical question of whether Samus is hotter in 8-bit black-and-white, or in color? Guasti’s also adding some fun new weapons and features, like an auto-morph function that makes it easier to roll into a ball, and a bomb that looks like the Metroid equivalent of a nuke in the trailer.
Where it’s at now: Guasti’s blog says he’s going to do his “best” to get the game done in 2010. Last year, he wrote about ‘real-world’ responsibilities getting in the way, like keeping his business going, not getting swine flu, paying the bills and remembering his girlfriend’s anniversary. Hmm… Metroid II Remake, or keeping your life from imploding like a dying star? Priorities, man, priorities! For now, though, we’ll have to get by on the demo, which is linked from his blog.
9. Amulet of Monkey Island
We heart the original because: We love us some ‘90s adventure games, especially ones that don’t take themselves too seriously. And unlike some of the other big adventure series of its time, the Monkey Island games weren’t trying to kill you every step of the way.
Who’s behind it: Metamorfo Entertainment, a group reportedly located in Argentina.
Why it rocks: It’s a Spanish-language fan game based on a series that began more than a decade ago. And based on the preview screens, it looks fun and quirky, like the original.
Where it’s at now: This one might have headed into that black hole of project abandonment, given that it’s been years in the making, and Metamorfo’s website is currently down. At least now we’ve got the new Tales of Monkey Island.
10. The Silver Lining (King's Quest IX)
We heart the original series because: King Graham and the royal family were the Brady Bunch of the fantasy world – a little too goody-two-shoes for our tastes. But we loved them anyway. The King’s Quest series represented PC adventure gaming at its best, and we remember playing them over and over. Those were the days when heroes solved puzzles, villains were pretty straightforward, and damsels were in distress.
Who's behind it: Phoenix Online Studios, formed by a group of fans, started the project (then titled King's Quest IX: Every Cloak Has A Silver Lining) around 2002.
Why it rocks: Sierra abandoned the series after the kind-of-crappy King’s Quest VIII had majorly crappy sales, leaving the series’ storyline unfinished and its fans unsatisfied. TSL looks like it will finally give the rulers of Daventry a real send-off; we watched the trailer and played the short demo, and we can say these fans know what they’re doing. Not only are the graphics and gameplay pretty solid, but everything else that made the series more fun than a bag of pop rocks is back: the KQ sense of humor, the characters you know and love, and an intriguing storyline.
Where it's at now: Vivendi, which owned the series’ original publisher Sierra prior to being bought out by Activision, almost sent The Silver Lining to cease-and-desist limbo after Phoenix released a trailer in 2005. But disappointed fans wrote back with letters and petitions until, a month later, Vivendi relented. Phoenix could finish the game, Vivendi decided, so long as they dropped “King’s Quest” from the title. According to the team’s website, TSL is over 90 percent complete, but a new release date hasn’t been given yet. Still, we’re guessing this fan game will have its happy ending someday. Soon, we hope!
Honorable mentions for already-completed fan games:
Super Mario: Blue Twilight DX: This fan game is a spooky mashup of various Mario game elements from across the 2D and 3D titles, with a Halloween theme. It looks like great old- (mixed with new-) school fun, and it gives Boo a chance to shine as well.
Hard Hat: The Rebellion: Ever wondered what it would be like to play as a Hard Hat from the Mega Man series? Neither did we, but thanks to fan-game makers, that dream we never knew we had, but now desperately want, is a fun little reality!
Sonic the Hedgehog: Time Attacked: It’s Back to the Future meets Sonic, where Sonic is Marty McFly and Dr. Eggman is a cross between Biff the bully and Doc Brown. This sharp-looking title has Sonic speeding his way to the past in an effort to prevent Dr. Eggman from wiping his present self out. Original gameplay, combined with all-new levels, make this one a winner.
The Bard’s Tale: While not exactly a fan game – developers InXile Entertainment sold this title commercially, subverting legal issues by only loosely referencing the 1980s role-playing classic – this snarky update looks interesting. It pokes fun at fantasy game conventions, like why wild animals would go around carrying money and items, and why the protagonist should be able to indulge his or her kleptomania and ransack the homes of others for treasure.
GoldenEye: Source: It’s an update of that classic first-person shooter, GoldenEye 007 for the Nintendo 64, created using Half-Life 2’s Source engine. While the developer team has put in a lot of effort to retain the look and feel of the original, they’re also releasing new levels and features to keep things fresh.
Feb 18, 2010
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