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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.


Battletoads

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.


Strider

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?


Shinobi

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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101 comments

  • Dabenguin - September 24, 2010 7:20 p.m.

    Hehe Battletoads
  • db1331 - September 24, 2010 7:32 p.m.

    Wow. I can't even tell you how many hours I spent playing so many of these games. Battletoads, Strider, Shinobi, Mutant League Hockey, and mainly Wizards and Warriors. Any remakes or reboots of those games would have my immediate attention. I would also be more than happy to play a new Aero the Acrobat or James Pond.
  • Wazzle - September 24, 2010 7:33 p.m.

    It seems all of my favorite old school games are on this list. I played the dicks out of pretty much all of these and would kill for a new one of any of them. Hurrrhhh Durrrrhhh toof poosie.
  • Tygerclaws - September 24, 2010 7:34 p.m.

    More Soul Reaver? A return to actual storytelling in games? Yes, please.
  • Triplzer0 - September 24, 2010 7:38 p.m.

    Yes please make an awesome Star Wars space sim. Battlefront II kinda did it, but I felt like it was missing something.
  • PanzerDSS - September 24, 2010 7:38 p.m.

    I was going to go apeshit if Panzer Dragoon wasn't on here. I think the ultimate lesson is: SEGA has no one making decisions or programming there anymore. They can't port, they can't develop, they can barely even keep up. They'd be better off being sold to a company who knows how to sell video games. It pains me to write that, but they are just so terrible at everything now.
  • Moondoggie1157 - September 24, 2010 7:55 p.m.

    I agree Panzer... I have always been a lover of sega, but lately they have been nothing but an embarrassment.
  • Clovin64 - September 24, 2010 8:08 p.m.

    Killer Instinct? That was my first beat em up ever! I think I was about 6 at the time. Riptor was my favourite because I loved dinosaurs when I was a wee lad. I would love a fully fledged remake for Soul Reaver on the PS3/360, and that opening movie still gives me chills. Also, Raziel is the sexiest man in games. Raziel FTW. Also, where the hell is Dino Crisis? Stick it on this list!
  • OriginalJonty - September 24, 2010 8:09 p.m.

    Excellent List. How about some Medievil?
  • garnsr - September 24, 2010 8:09 p.m.

    I always liked the NES Strider best. It was a cool action/adventure sort of game, like Bionic Commando or Simon's Quest, with a cool sword called a cypher. Good stuff.
  • GwaR - September 24, 2010 8:11 p.m.

    RC PRO AM! Whoa, this whole sentence = RPM, Rock n’ Roll Racing, Super Off-Road, Micro Machines. I loved them all and had all but forgotten about all of them until this article. I can't believe no one has done a modern update of these classics. They were universally fun and the best ones were tightly balanced. They even allowed upgrades to your ride -perfect template for a modern update. Nice job GR! Also, I'll second Colony Wars and Tie Fighter, or any space combat game with a plot. They all seemed to die out in the 90s, which is shame when you think what they could do with a Freespace or a Wing Commander now. Lastly, I'd point out that Trine is kind of a spiritual successor to Lost Vikings. Trine is more combat-y and isn't nearly as hard, but it's the same kind of idea. Just saying...
  • GwaR - September 24, 2010 8:12 p.m.

    Also, add Dungeon Keeper to the list. I haven't seen another game like it since Evil Genius -which was largely overlooked.
  • TheCaptainAwesome - September 24, 2010 8:14 p.m.

    BETRAYAL, where is my beloved Conker if I may ask?
  • xXxBLACKHALOxXx - September 24, 2010 8:18 p.m.

    RC Pro Am Rocked So Did Battletoads I Remember When It Was Battletoads and Double Dragon For The SNES lol
  • db1331 - September 24, 2010 8:25 p.m.

    Let me add that I would also love a new Pirates of Dark Water game.
  • FoxdenRacing - September 24, 2010 8:36 p.m.

    I'm disappointed that a few others didn't make the list: Starseige Tribes ---------------- The granddaddy of class-based FPS, the multiplayer-only Tribes was a bit barebones [3 classes, and 3 loadouts for each, and 3 vehicles] even for its day, but the sheer number of tactical options it provided made it a simplistic masterpiece. To lay traps and sensors, or use living scouts? Load up an assault vehicle or spread out? Tribes kept the then-everywhere rocket jumping via its disc launcher and added in a second must-know movement tactic: skiiing. Using only a jetpack and the jump button, slide down one hillside, jet up another, and rocket into the sky motocross style...up one hill, down the next; a good skier could keep pace with vehicles, making the perfect escort. How I'd like to see it: A full-on sequel that takes advantage of modern hardware. 32-man rooms, a half-dozen vehicles with unique purposes, add in the multitude of options of Tribes 2 or even Tribes 1's Havok mod, keep the exaggerated weapons, and keep the gore to a minimum; it could provide the springboard to create 'Classic FPS' as its own genre. Screw realism! Descent or Descent: Freespace ----------------------------- A game not for the faint of heart or slow of reflexes, the world of Descent had a simple premise: a computer virus drives mining robots to violence, and only a tiny space-fighter could fit in the narrow caverns to take them down. What it did was redefine freedom of movement in FPS games, combining the rotation of a fighter jet with the linear movement of an FPS; players could move or rotate on any axis: forward/back, up/down, strafe left/right, as well as yaw, pitch, roll...and did I mention a nitro-style boost? It also introduced the world to tri-chording...the difficult movement technique of sliding on a diagonal, boosting, and moving upwards to greatly increase one's speed, from the days before all movement was normalized to 100%. Combine the best Ace Combat and any FPS have to offer, double the awesome, and that's Descent. Descent Freespace: Taking the technology (and movement mechanics) of Descent into the realm of open-air space battles, Freespace threw Descent players into the unfamiliar realm of wide-open space battles; and boy did it have a sense of scale. Players ran fighters, bombers, interceptors, and 'utility' craft against one another, and occasionally against bigger fish, all while non-military targets scrambled for cover and capital ships tens of miles long blasted each other from the stars. Crafty players would use not only the flak cannons but also the massive plasma beams shot from capship to capship to destroy pursuers, and crazy bomber pilots would ride the beam to line up a shot against the plasma cannons themselves, dropping bombs right down the barrel. Players did this all while managing shield distribution and energy balance...offensive power, defensive power, or booster strength could all be boosted at the expense of the others. How I'd like to see them: Full on modern updates. Keep the classic weapons, maybe add one or two new ones for 'interesting' factor. Introduce an F-Zero GX style shipbuilder in addition to classic machines, all with custom loadouts and Chromehounds-style custom camo. Otherwise, leave the respective formulas (frantic, high-speed, close-quarters dogfights and equally frantic massive space battles that'd make George Lucas have p**is envy) alone. F-Zero Visited more recently than the others, F-Zero pushed the limits of human reaction times...and that was to survive on easy. A brutally difficult game through and through with insanely fast frame rates, vertigo-inducing labyrinthine tracks, boosters that weakened the car with each use, and narrow spaces...all while 30-40 machines fought over the top spot...to some it was more frustrating than Ninja Gaiden II [modern, not classic]. To others, it was old-school arcade-style racing heaven. How I'd like to see it remade: A straight-up sequel to F-Zero GX. Any FPS in Quake/Unreal Tournament's vein: ------------------------------------ Bring back a rocket-jumping, health-and-armor grabbing, dozen-weapon game where there was no 'good' and 'bad' weapon, only 'right time' and 'wrong time' to use them, and see just how long today's foul-mouthed, tea-bagging, squeaky-voiced, spoiled-on-realism kids last against an entire generation of gamers that still have the skills, but nowhere to use 'em. The entire car combat genre: ---------------------------- Twisted Metal is nice, but tries far too hard to be dark; the fun-vs-grit ratio hit the perfect balance with TM2. Bring back the days where blowing cars apart was fun (or funny), not brutal. The entire beat-em-up / hack'n'slash genre: ------------------------------------------- DMC1 was awesome, and Dead Rising was massive, but we really haven't had a good-all-around, multiplayer-having one since Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance. There's so much potential there!
  • yagirlfriendsfavoriterapper - September 24, 2010 8:42 p.m.

    Streets of Rage HD!!!!!!!!!!!!! Nuff said.
  • Dreddie - September 24, 2010 8:49 p.m.

    I would go nuts over a next chapter in Soul Reaver. I was so addicted to that story.
  • Montag - September 24, 2010 8:51 p.m.

    Interstate 76 How many games had a poetry button?
  • Redeater - September 24, 2010 8:51 p.m.

    I was SO dissapointed with Strider for the NES. For some reason I had it in my head that Strider and Willow would be exactly like their arcade versions with slightly worse graphics. A new Battletoads game would be fun. Maybe on xbla WITHOUT those terrible racing levels.

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