Change of management
Perhaps due to the aging nature of a bunch of big franchises, this generation has been full of reboots. Some have been successful (Hello DmC and Tomb Raider), some have been anything but (boo, hiss, Bionic Commando) and some have split opinion all over the shop (er, hey Prince of Persia 2008).
But plenty more franchises would benefit from one. There are too many much-loved series that have been flagging haphazardly for too long, suffering repeated underwhelming sequels that fail to re-energise them in a way pleasing to either fans or publishers. But it would be so easy to fix things. For every tired franchise, there's a perfect developer out there to fix it. If everyone would listen to us and be willing to do the right deals, we could have this problem fixed in a day. Here are eight of the biggest problem series, and who we'd hand the reigns to if we could make it happen.
Silent Hill - Frictional Games or Kojima Productions
Either of these studios would do a great job. While Giving Silent Hill to Amnesia developer Frictional would mean farming it out to another western dev (the series hardly has a great track record in that respect over recent years), but it would be one that really understands all of the things survival horror has lost over the last few years. If Frictional could bring its trademark abrasive, on-the-back-foot horror and abstract storytelling into third-person game design, then it could make Silent Hill truly affecting again. The studio is already talking about ambitions of deeper, more meaningful narrative in future games.
And as for Kojima, there are a million and one reasons that the Metal Gear studio's involvement would be a good idea. And certainly a possibility. We've already covered them here, so have a look.
Likelihood of it happening: After giving Silent Hill to a bunch of western studios already, there's no reason Konami shouldnt pass it to the most fitting one. A Kojima Productions Silent Hill however (or at least one overseen by Koj), is far from the realms of impossibility.
Resident Evil - From Software
Capcom has completely lost its way with Resident Evil. It knows things are wrong, but it doesn't seem to know how the Hell to fix them. Hence Resident Evil 6's approach of "Crap! Just do everything and do loads of it!". And hence the middling review scores and multiple appraisals that the game was a big, glorious, bloated mess.
Resident Evil needs focus again. It needs to be developed by people who know how to balance tension, threat, and satisfying, demanding combat. It needs a studio who knows that oppressive challenge doesn't have to put players off, who understands how to make fear addictive, and really gets how to make the overcoming of that fear its own reward. And one who can make a game about progressive empowerment without ever making the player feel too capable.
In short, it needs the Dark Souls team.
Likelihood of it happening: From Software are an independent studio, and Capcom is flailing in the dark for any idea of what to do with Resident Evil at the moment. It's not impossible. But it would need the schedules of Dark Souls 2 and Resident Evil 7 to synch up.
Prince of Persia - Rocksteady Studios or Platinum Games
Another game needing a reboot, is Prince of Persia. As excellent as the Sands of Time quadrilogy is, as the series went on it became increasingly apparent that Ubisoft had maxed out everything it could do with that particular gameplay model. Prince of Persia needs a fresh take on the series' core elements, and there is no studio better at flowing, freeform 3D combat and tactile environmental traversal than Rocksteady or Platinum.
While PoP's combat shouldn't be as complex as Bayonetta's or as meaty at Arkham's, the fighting id both games is cut from the same cloth as the Prince's baggy pantaloons. As for platforming, after the huge, versatile playground of Arkham City and the lunatic-fast, multi-layered cover-shooting of Vanquish, we'd trust either studio with creating a new version of Prince of Persia's trademark super-powered parkour.
Likelihood of it happening: Rocksteady alas, is unlikely, as Time Warner bought the studio in 2010. Platinum though, are fully independent and working for hire, so there's a possibility there however slim.
Star Fox - Sega AM2
Sega's premiere development division might technically have been folded into the main company, but unlike many others to undergo the same fate it still exists as an entity of its own. It might not have released a home console game since 2010, but that game was a brilliant advertisement for the studio's suitability for Star Fox. It was Afterburner Climax.
The fast, frantic, smooth as a greasy iceberg air-combat played out like a rabid, shallower version of Star Fox's linear levels, and was an excellent calling card. But there's a game in the studio's history that covers the open dogfighting stuff too. The completed but unreleased Dreamcast shooter Propeller Arena was pure SF, putting a variety of planes in a 3D battle zone and letting them fight it out amongst all manner of airborne and ground-based structures and obstacles. It was also to be fully online and the first DC game to get live voice-chat. Alas, sensitivities to the September 11th attacks saw the game shelved. A retooled, furry-themed update could be a great basis for a new Star Fox.
Likelihood of it happening: Dont rule it out. Nintendo has certainly been happy to let Sega studios take over their franchises before. The last time was when Amusement Vision made F-Zero GX, and that turned out frighteningly well.
James Bond - Starbreeze or MachineGames
One word: Riddick. Strip away the grimy, far future trappings from The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay and Assault on Dark Athena, and you have the core gameplay design for a brilliant Bond game. Starbreeze made both games, and MachineGames is made up of key team members.
You've got a physically capable protagonist working alone and effectively behind enemy lines in an almost entirely hostile environment. You've got smart, organic stealth and brutal first-person melee combat. You've got occasional, risky gunplay, tactical gadget use and surveillance. You've got a semi-open world full of potential enemies, allies and neutrals, all of whom will have to be combated, avoided, negotiated with or used for your own benefit. Switch out the Eyeshine power for night vision lenses, swap the pulse rifles for a silenced PPK, and you've got a perfect, intelligent, poundingly visceral adaptation of modern post-Casino-Royale Bond.
Likelihood of it happening: Small, but not impossible. MachineGames are currently owned by Bethesda, who do not own the Bond license. Starbreeze though, remains indie.
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater - Arcane Kids
Although it looks mental on first glance, Arcane Kids' indie (and free!) low-gravity parkour sim Zineth has a hell of a lot in common with an arcadey skating game. It's completely driven by momentum (like a 3D Tiny Wings), its stunts are all about angle of attack and accessible dexterity, and its open-world 'park' is designed entirely around player creativity and well-hidden secrets.
The aesthetic may be nuts and the scale may be vast, but the core fundamentals of what a good skate game needs to be are all there. Strip it back to a more (but not necessarily entirely) realistic look and feel, make the gameplay more focussed, and let Arcane Kids go crazy with whatever fresh spins they might want to bring, and you could have a Tony Hawk that feels as new and exciting as the series did when it debuted in 1999.
Likelihood of it happening: Activision trusting a new student team with what used to be one of their biggest franchises? Probably not going to happen any time soon. But it's exactly what the series needs.
Sonic the Hedgehog - Arkedo
If you haven't heard of Arkedo, it's probably because after a string of XBLA Indie games, its only major console release was the downloadable Hell Yeah: Wrath of the Dead Rabbit. But while that game seemed intially to be a slower paced, quite different game to a 2D Sonic, there was loads of the blue blur's influence at play. An intricate, labyrinthine platformer packed with boost strips, speed tunnels, destructible barriers and spring jumps, it was packed with the tenets of old-school Sonic before you even consider the fact that its protagonist was a furry animal who killed his enemies with a jumping spin attack.
Sega doesn't seem to know what to do with Sonic these days, displeasing fans in both 2D and 3D. The series needs a game that sticks true to the spirit of what made the early games good but without being limited to being too tied to recreating the past. Arkedo could definitely create that. The studio is currently in hiatus -- but not closed -- following financial troubles, but that's nothing a big fat development budget from Sega couldn't fix.
Likelihood of it happening: If Sega can see the bigger picture and be brave enough to let Sonic change, it could happen. Sega has already trusted Sumo Digital with Sonic the Hedgehog: Episode 4, and having published Hell Yeah, another deal with Arkedo would be in the two companies' mutual interests.
Mega Man - Vlambeer
Mega Man needs a reboot. Not just another sequel, but a full reboot. Capcom seems to have no idea what to do with its little blue once-favourite son, and it seems clear that an endless continuation of the NES series just isn't going to cut it. The best thing to do would be to hand Mega Man to an outside developer with sensibilities informed by the original series, who can freely evolve that gameplay essence in a fresh, modern direction. Much like Ninja Theory did with DmC.
Vlambeer's games are a perfect fit for Mega Man. PC and iOS hit Super Crate Box is the most obvious blueprint, being a sharp, tight, incredibly demanding single-screen platform shooter with very similar core gameplay mechanics mixed up with some subtly deep, smart nuances built around spatial control and weapon upgrades. But even 2D air combat shooter Luftrauser has totally fitting sensibilities, using a framework of simple but deep control, pixel-perfect shooting and a high-risk, high-reward, player-controlled health system that makes its challenge demanding yet entirely manageable through smart, insightful play.
Likelihood of it happening: It's not impossible. Capcom have done weirder things (Operation Raccoon City, anyone?), and Vlambeer are willing to work on established franchises, as Serious Sam: The Random Encounter proves.
Free to a good home
So, any more franchises you think are languishing needlessly? Any other devs you think would be a perfect fit to fix your favourite series, if they could just get the the rights? Let us know.
And while you're here, why not check out some of our related stuff? 8 ways developers will use PS4 to change how we play would be a good bet, as would 6 deeply inappropriate but disturbingly plausible FPS reboots to ruin your childhood with.