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14 forgotten franchises we want back

Smuggler’s Run

Why we want it back: Smuggler’s Run has no modern equivalent. Car games now are all some variation on racing, tricks or combat, while Run was all about getting from point A to point B with your precious cargo intact. Make drops, avoid border patrol, careen over mountains, whatever you have to do to get the job done. The dead simple gameplay (you vs them) and enormous level maps made each level intensely exciting, with almost every chase ending in a vehicle-launching explosion.


Above: Big air, exaggerated physics and weird dance music made Run a distinct experience

How we’d like to see it return: As a hugely multiplayer cops vs robbers war zone. The more cars on the field the better, though obviously we’d still want some 8 on 8 rounds. This formula would absolutely kill on Xbox Live/PS3, and if all the matchmaking and modes were handled correctly (as in Bungie-level attention to detail) Rockstar could have yet another mega franchise on its hands. Midnight Club’s had its chance – let’s try something else.


Colony Wars

Why we want it back: Because there are next to no space combat games these days. Wing Commander (another potential for this list!) was the big PC hit for the genre, but Colony Wars brought the same epic space battles, reasonably gripping drama and top-end graphics to console gamers. The PS1 original was even narrated by James Earl Jones, adding extra gravitas to the laser-drenched sorties. This was so well received it earned two sequels and critical praise, so there’s no reason to think it couldn’t work again.


Above: With modern technology, battles next to glowing stars or other space phenomena would be awe inspiring. These looked great… in 1997

How we’d like to see it return: Had a chance to play Halo Reach? There’s a space combat level that captures about 10% of Colony Wars’ majesty. Take that idea and expand it into a full game, with better controls, more involved missions and a story worth remembering and you’d have a surefire hit. Multiplayer could come in too, but maybe it’d be best to focus on the single-player experience before splitting resources.


Panzer Dragoon

Why we want it back: Something about this world is irresistibly captivating. Granted, firing missiles off the back of a dragon is inherently cool, but the surrounding environments, from the foliage to the animals that scurry from place to place, suggest a fully realized world that we can’t quite see. Despite three amazing games for Saturn and one pretty good entry for Xbox, Sega has since left this brilliant concept alone. Can haz plox?


Above: Crude as it is, even the Saturn version retains some measure of splendor 

How we’d like to see it return: First we want an HD collection of the initial two (maybe three) games, just to get us pumped for the real deal. Then, once interest is back up (and we’re sure people would fall in love with this all over again), Sega could unleash a gorgeous, impossibly lush on-rails shooter that sets a new graphical standard for today’s consoles. With no open world to worry about, the entirety of the 360/PS3 could be devoted to the fly-by environments. Assuming this goes well, an RPG follow-up a la Panzer Dragoon Saga would be nice too.


Killer Instinct

Why we want it back: Fighting games are making a comeback, and while we don’t want the market to saturate itself with copycats and frivolous sequels again, we would be willing to spend some time with Rare’s c-c-c-c-combo-laden scrapper. Some derided its memorization-heavy “dial a combo” gameplay, but the reality is KI always demanded a level of skill, and the deafening presentation was so exuberant and over the top that we’d love to see it get a much deserved third entry.


Above: The escalation is simultaneously ridiculous and amazing


Above: Some Glacius-on-Orchid action

How we’d like to see it return: A 360/PS3/PC reinvention on par with SFIV, but with a much-needed update in character design. The dead eyed computer-generated models of the ‘90s won’t stand up today, so KI3 would probably need a drastic visual overhaul. But, definitely keep the screaming announcer (ULTRAAAA COMBOOOOOOO), and make sure there’s a typically strong Rare soundtrack and we’re there on day one.


RC Pro Am

Why we want it back: Have you played this game recently? It rules beyond belief, and somehow its combative quest for pole position still bests many contemporary demolition derbies featuring pick-ups and weaponry. In fact, we can even use RC Pro Am to accurately convey the last five years of quality combat racing games:

Even if you disregard the lesser known sequel, the Genesis version, and the misleadingly titled Super RC Pro Am for Game Boy, the isometric racer was in fact a bit of a genre back in the day. RPM, Rock n’ Roll Racing, Super Off-Road, Micro Machines… need we go on? Odds are you have some history with one. What made them special, and it’s something relatively simplistic, fun and fallen completely out of practice, is it adds Up and Down controls into the steering equation, unlike today, where all racers focus on your ability to nudge right or left. In short: Less like steering a car and more like aiming one. NOW, with that in mind, throw in a track strewn with collectibles, oil slicks, vehicle enhancements, and f***ing missiles, and you’ve got the glory that is RC Pro Am!

How we’d like to see it return: How’s your XBLA/PSN/Steam library looking these days? Sidescollers, 2D beat ‘em ups, twin stick shooters… Keeping the above sentiments in mind, with so many old school genres getting downloadable resurgences, why not whatever the hell you want to call the one RC Pro Am falls into?! And we defy you to think of a better control scheme than the one isometric racers never really got: The Analog stick.


Wizards & Warriors

Why we want it back: Another abandoned series from Rare (what are they doing over there?), W&W managed to crank out four games in the NES days and then disappeared completely. As with Shinobi, each new title altered the gameplay and general structure such that it was familiar yet fresh, mixing things up and taking chances in a way sequels today rarely do. There isn’t really an overarching reason why W&W needs to come back, other than it was a fun, clever set of games that never made it beyond the 8-bit days.


Above: However, Kuros could leap unnaturally high, which we’d happily trade for better swordplay

How we’d like to see it return: The original W&W games are apparently banned from Wii’s Virtual Console, so we’d have to settle for a 360 update that hopefully A) Doesn’t become some unnecessarily M-rated makeover and B) Manages to capture that ‘80s-era Rare magic. It’s not doing a whole lot these days, so Rare might as well try sifting through their heyday.

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101 comments

  • 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.

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  • 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 once...as 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

Showing 1-20 of 101 comments

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