14 forgotten franchises we want back

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.

X-Wing/TIE Fighter

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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  • sactravas - December 23, 2010 6:41 p.m.

    two words - Dungeon Keeper
  • samuralobama - October 1, 2010 10 p.m.

    Screw all those games I WANT A JET SET RADIO FUTURE SEQUEL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SOMEONE HERE MY CRY!
  • Danthelgard - October 1, 2010 2:06 a.m.

    Hail to Battletoads and Battletoads with Double Dragon. I want to Double Dragon and Cadillacs and Dinosaurs.
  • lizhiyong60 - September 28, 2010 1:29 p.m.

    Wonderful. Share a website with you , ( ) Believe you will love it. We accept any form of payment
  • shinigamiDude - September 28, 2010 8:52 a.m.

    I totally enjoyed the days when I used to play 2 levels per day on PS2 Shinobi. I'll end up breaking the controller if I have to play more than 2 levels in one day.
  • luckyseven - September 28, 2010 6:14 a.m.

    i dun think War of the Monsters qualifies as a franchise but it definitely deserves a next gen sequel...great list btw
  • Romination - September 27, 2010 9:38 p.m.

    So this list kind of sounds like "What the hell, Rare, dig up some of these franchises already"
  • Samael - September 27, 2010 8:20 p.m.

    I will always love you guys for mentioning Legacy of Kain whenever you get the chance. It remains my favorite game series of all goddamn time. I would do terrible, terrible things to get an HD remake of Soul Reaver 1. You don't even have to update the combat! If you're a true fan of the series, you love it the way it is! I can recite the entire opening of SR1 by heart! "Kain was deified. The clans tell tales of him. Few know the truth. He was mortal were we all, but his contempt for humanity drove him to create me and my brethren. I am Raziel, first born of his lieutenants. I stood with Kain at-" Yeah I should probably stop there...
  • Bitchslapthehomeless - September 27, 2010 8:13 p.m.

    More Leagacy of Kain and Raziel please!
  • d0x - September 27, 2010 6:44 p.m.

    Legacy of Kain: Defiance was not a proper end to the series. In terms of the entire storyline it was just the start and im pissed it has never been concluded. As far as gaming stories goes its the most well written and well acted. The only crap thing is the lead writer Amy Hennig moved onto Naughty Dog after Defiance came out but I still want the series to continue. Look at my profile icon, fans of the series will know what it means!
  • tankman232 - September 27, 2010 5:54 p.m.

    flashback dammit!
  • big0jeff - September 27, 2010 2:41 p.m.

    I agree with aequitas13 about remake Flashback. One of the best games of the 16 bit era. However, a remake of the Kain series without Blood Omen, the one with the best story? Hell no!!!!
  • RedAppolyon - September 27, 2010 6:09 a.m.

    Star Wars: Dark Forces or the Jedi Knight series. I have been dying for another Star Wars FPS for years now.
  • Erebus - September 27, 2010 5:27 a.m.

    Wing Commander for sure. Sadly Origin died and EA owns the IP now I think :( Wing Commander Prophecy introduced a new character for you (the son of a great pilot in the Wing Commander 1 I believe), Blair disappears and then....nothing. First 3D WC game which looked great back then (should reinstall it to see how it looks now). Loved those games. (going on Origins...some may want a new Crusader game too) X-Wing vs TIE Fighter also. I feel that game was way ahead of its time since it was purely a multiplayer game in the 90s when multiplayer was basically just LAN. Imagine now. There could be some epic space battles nowadays with all human controlled fighters on both sides blasting away at each other whilst one side tries to protect a frigate. Why have space flight sims died :(
  • sleepy92ismypsn - September 27, 2010 4:35 a.m.

    @reaperskull No need. The king of car combat is back baby!
  • theintellectual - September 27, 2010 3:25 a.m.

    star wars battlefront. i died a little when i heard #3 was canceled.
  • AuthorityFigure - September 27, 2010 2:52 a.m.

    Shinobi was always better than 'Gaiden. Blizzard have forgotten how to make game-type games, and so Lost Vikings would require some sort of massively multiplayer BS, right?
  • cheezitmonster - September 27, 2010 2:16 a.m.

    where's Earthbound
  • Darkmessiah24 - September 27, 2010 12:15 a.m.

    Battletoads, Jumping Flash, Shinobi and Legacy of Kain sounds good but I'd like to see more Power Stone, Tech Romancer, Viewtiful Joe, Jet Set Radio and (hopefully) Zone of the Enders.
  • reeperskull - September 27, 2010 12:09 a.m.

    id love a reboot of carmageddon with modern graphics it would be epic