Earlier this year we pointed out how many series reboots were on the way. NBA Jam, Mortal Kombat, GoldenEye and Splatterhouse are just a few of the once-relevant names being dug up for the 2010-2011 season, plus the Sly Cooper/ICO HD remakes for PS3. In short, reviving prior successes is all the rage right now, and seeing these long-lost series with a new lease on life has kicked our nostalgic hearts into overdrive. So make with the reboots and bring these overlooked, formerly triumphant franchises back from the dead.
Why we want it back: Though it was an obvious attempt to capitalize on the Ninja Turtles craze of the early ‘90s, Battletoads more than made up for its marketing crassness with clever, exaggerated combat mechanics. Beating up waves of baddies is one thing, but when your finishing blow transforms your hand into a hammer, or your head into ram horns, there’s always an incentive to press on. It wasn’t just fighting though – each game had several level variations (including the infamous speed tunnel), meaning there’s plenty of ammo for a new take on the series.
Above: The 16-bit Battlemaniacs enhanced the finishers even more
Above: The arcade game let three ‘toads (Rash, Pimple, Zits) get in on the action
How we’d like to see it return: To keep it as close to original idea as possible, perhaps an XBLA/PSN outing with lavishly animated, outrageous finishing moves would be in order instead of a 3D adventure. Honestly, we’ll take it any way we can get it, as long as it retains the ridiculous excess of the originals. The metal-meets-sci-fi villains and over the top presentation really set the series apart from an extremely crowded market, so we’re confident a refresher would bring in tons of new fans.
Why we want it back: In an age of slow, plodding side-scrollers, Strider was unlike anything else. Also, it was about an acrobatic superninja who could scale any surface with impunity, whipped his sword around so fast that it became a crescent of light, and fought giant robot apes, Soviet robot millipedes and non-robot kung-fu practitioners on top of giant aerial battleships, so it was automatically cooler than everything else available. The series spawned four games – the original, the unpopular NES game, the reviled Journey from Darkness: Strider Returns (aka Strider II) and the great-but-ignored Strider 2, which was a bust largely because it tried to revive side-scrolling during a time when nobody was interested in old-school crap anymore. Protagonist Hiryu also lent his crazy ninja skills to both Marvel vs Capcom games, but that’s the last anyone’s really seen of him.
How we’d like to see it return: In a sense, it already is returning, if you count Necromachina. Created by Strider’s original director, Kouichi Yotsui, it seems to bring a lot of the same badass, lightning-fast action, now with the addition of four players.
Of course, it’s still not really Strider, even if it placates us on the gameplay front. Short of a 2.5D Strider 3, we’d settle for a reboot or a sequel in the vein of Ninja Gaiden or Devil May Cry. Maybe if Ninja Theory does a good job on DmC: Devil May Cry, they could handle a new Strider next?
Why we want it back: Badass ninjas fighting superhuman monsters with rocket launchers coming out of their eyes? Hell yes we want more of this. Despite its traditional appearance, Shinobi didn’t pigeonhole our hero into one time period – the series offered shuriken, guns, a vicious attack dog and wildly powerful magic from one game to the next, and pit you against everything from regular soldiers to mechanized beasts to Godzilla himself. Even the (impossibly difficult) PS2 revival from 2002 continued to mix things up, including the appearance of Shinobi himself.
Above: Various incarnations of Shinobi through the years
How we’d like to see it return: As a ruthless, stylish action game that combines what we already love about Vanquish (freakishly kinetic movement) with an elaborate and rewarding combo system on par with Bayonetta. Basically we want Platinum Games to bring Shinobi back to life. Maybe with a bit of Prince of Persia-style acrobatics too.
Legacy of Kain
Why we want it back: It’s hard to believe the Legacy of Kain/Soul Reaver franchise used to be huge, seeing as we’ve barely heard a peep out of it since 2003 (not counting the 2009 re-releases of Blood Omen and Soul Reaver on PSN). But there was a time when fans eagerly anticipated the next adventure of Raziel, the twisted, soul-sucking wraith anti-hero, and his vampiric nemesis/ally/mentor Kain, as they worked to rescue the postapocalyptic world of Nosgoth from the grip of an evil even more monstrous than they were. True, that story concluded with Legacy of Kain: Defiance, but it’s still difficult to accept that a franchise that raised the bar for production values, redefined our idea of what vampires could be and pumped out five marquee games in seven years could simply fade away into oblivion. Especially not after delivering one of the most memorable intros of all time:
How we’d like to see it return: Excluding the first game, the entire Soul Reaver arc – which comprised Soul Reaver, Soul Reaver 2, Blood Omen 2 and Defiance – might be an ideal candidate for an HD-remastered collection on PS3 and/or 360, although the gameplay would unavoidably feel dated. What we’d really like to see is either a complete reboot, a series of remakes a la Tomb Raider: Anniversary or just a sequel that follows the events of Defiance. So long as it had faster, more varied gameplay and the same attention to story and production the originals had, we’re sure we’d be happy with the results.
Why we want it back: We said it before and we’ll say it again: LucasArts needs to bring X-Wing and TIE Fighter back. To be fair, LucasArts did re-release X-Wing and TIE Fighter in the X-Wing Trilogy with an updated graphics engine in 1999. But gaming’s come a long way since then, and since these games were so amazing, a re-remake still sounds like a good idea to us.
Since their release in the early 90s, no other game has come close to capturing the feel of space combat as it was portrayed in the Star Wars films. You really felt like you were in the cockpit of an X-Wing, adjusting your shields to the forward position as you prepared to face off against a wave of TIE Fighters. And what other game ever let you fly as a wingman for Darth Vader?
BioWare’s upcoming Old Republic MMO could give us a taste of what we loved about X-Wing. But we’re a little skeptical about how fun it will feel after seeing early footage of space combat, which looks more like a very pretty on-rails affair.
Above: Extremely pretty, but lacks the freedom we demand
How we’d like to see it return: Of course, we’d love to see an X-Wing and TIE Fighter re-launch on the PC, which would finally give us a good reason to dust off our flight sticks. But we think the game would also work well on the 360 and PS3. The shoulder and face buttons on console pads should provide pilots with more than enough buttons to manage all the controls for their Republic or Imperial starships.
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