10 origin story games you didn't know you wanted

Humble beginnings

Reimagined origin stories are the new hotness. Tomb Raider, God of War: Ascension, DmC: Devil May Cry, Gears of War: Judgment--they all offer a look into the earlier days of the characters weve already grown attached to, with the opportunity for some retconned lore or nuanced character development. Also, its just plain cool to see your favorite current-day heroes before their rise to greatness, when they were fledgling adventurers or ordinary citizens.

With that in mind, weve pondered which characters we think should get the origin story treatment, and what the games they star in could possibly depict. Even if they drastically change our perceptions of protagonists we already know and love, these hypothetical reboots could give their franchise a real shot in the arm for a new generation of gamers. Or not--but we can dream, cant we?

Garrus Vakarian, C-Sec detective

He helped put away Saren and save the entire universe from the wrath of the Reapers--but there was a time when Garrus was just a crackshot gumshoe trying to bring justice to a world that didnt care. The origin story of this upstanding Turian would play out like a futuristic noir film, as Garrus worked to follow the footsteps of his father by cracking cases and putting bad guys behind electronic bars. Life on the Citadel aint as hunky dory as the Presidium makes it look--one trip to the mean streets of the lower Wards will make you sing a different tune about so-called advanced civilizations.

Garrus was a cool, calm, and collected investigator long before he met Commander Shepard, and hes seen his fair share of crime scenes, interrogations, and--oh yes--shootouts. When pinned down by hoodlum gang members in the dark alleys near the Purgatory Bar, Garrus would pull out his trusty sniper rifle and put a slug into the forehead of anyone who thought they were above the law.

The Yoshi Clan, native islanders

We know where Mario came from, to some extent--that little bundle of joy was air-mailed in the mouth of a stork. But what about his trusty dino pal Yoshi? For that matter, where did this entire tribe of island-dwelling, rainbow-colored bipeds come from? Before Yoshi was forced to play babysitter to a whining siren in diapers, he was but one of many in a Technicolor pack of herbivorous beasts.

Finally, the questions weve always asked ourselves would be answered: how the Yoshi people first crafted shoes, why they willingly volunteer to act as transport for obese plumbers, and why they apparently incubate their eggs inside randomly placed blocks throughout their domain. Perhaps there was a time before the Super Happy Tree, when the Yoshis were primal carnivores who devoured all other species into extinction. Had he been born earlier, Baby Mario wouldve been nothing more than a tiny morsel of reptile food.

Samus Aran, vengeful orphan

The Metroid series has barely touched on Samus rich history--luckily, theres a manga for that. Released way back in 2002, this multi-volume saga explains the tragedy that transformed a young girl into a resolute bounty hunter. According to the lore, Samus parents were killed during a Space Pirate raid on her homeworld, led by that vicious, purple pterodactyl Ridley. As the only survivor of the massacre, the three-year-old Samus was rescued by the Chozo people, who built her Power Suit so she could withstand the harsh environment of Zebes.

This origin story would mimic the recent Tomb Raider reboot, telling the story of a strong female protagonist who had to acclimate herself to the harsh realities of life after Space Pirates. Samus wasnt always so proficient with her Arm Cannon--shed have to train up under the guidance of her Chozo guardians, and conquer the challenge of her first bounty. Were certain itd be more captivating than Other M.

Leon Kennedy, rookie cop

Leon is the product of dire circumstance, forced to man up and save the world after a zombie outbreak during his first (and only) day with the Raccoon City Police Department. But to earn his spot on the force, Leon had to work his way up through the police academy. His prequel game would chronicle the trials and tribulations of a 20-year-old pretty boy policeman in training, with a strong sense of justice but the inability to accurately fire a pistol.

His missions would be a far cry from undead extermination and rescuing the presidents daughter--theyd be more along the lines of sorting through unwanted paperwork and making donut runs for his senior officers. Fans of Leons dashing good looks would get a real treat during the games shower scenes, where Kennedy and co. would hit the locker room and wash up after a grueling day of intense physical training.

Raz, daring acrobat

This would be legitimately awesome, in an X-Men: First Class kind of way. Before he discovered and developed his latent psychic abilities, the youthful star of Psychonauts was an acrobat-in-training. Razs warped perceptions of his father (Meat Circus, anyone?) are a product of the backbreaking training he had to go through as a child. Trapeze-swinging, tightrope-walking, human pyramids--just a day in the life of a young man in a circus family.

Much like the origins of Robin, the Boy Wonder with a Double Fine/Tim Burton twist, Razputins early exploits would have him interacting with circus freaks and depressed, alcoholic clowns in between demanding acrobatic routines that require peak physical agility and grace. Wed even get to see more of the rival circus that Razs company had to compete with, and face off against the evil gypsy who cursed his lineage to always drown when submerged in water.

Gordon Freeman, science geek

Before he ever picked up a crowbar with the intent of smashing alien skulls in, Gordon Freeman was just a lowly lab technician in a top-secret research facility. But even before that, he mustve been a shy science student in a world full of hormones, cliques, and teenage angst. Playing like a mix of Persona 4 Golden and Bully, Gordons early years would document the hardships of being a brilliant but mute grade A student whos just trying to make some friends.

Under the tutelage of Dr. Eli Vance, Gordons kind and caring physics professor, Freeman would have to maintain his social relations without saying a word, while avoiding swirlies and atomic wedgies at the hands of hulking jocks. With the help of his trusted pal (and part-time wingman) Barney Calhoun, Gordon might even have the chance to ask Vances stunning daughter Alyx out on a date. Sure, it'd be taking quite a few liberties with the presumed timeline, but it'd be worth it to see G-Man as the creepy school janitor who's constantly ducking out of sight.

Corvo Attano, expert bodyguard

Not just anyone could be appointed as the Empress sworn protector. Prior to his betrayal, visits from the Outsider, and the donning of his metal mask, Corvo was a highly trained operative tasked with keeping the most important woman in all of Dunwall safe. The treachery we know about couldnt have been the only attempt on the Empress life--surely Corvo mustve staved off dozens of evildoers in the past, without the powers of teleportation or mind-control on his side.

Its not blatantly explained in Dishonored, but Emily is most definitely Corvos lovechild; a prequel would give us the chance to see romance develop between Jessamine Kaldwin and her strong, silent guardian. Wed also get more insight into the possible rivalry between Corvo and Daud, the equally skilled Whaler assassin who seems to have a strange connection to the Lord Protector.

Frank West, war reporter

Frank lives to remind people about what hes accomplished during his journalism career. But despite all his boasting, we know hardly anything about his escapades before the days of the dead rising from their graves. In fact, we dont even know which wars he recorded and reported on, and what kinds of events transpired to make him keep so cool in the face of raging chaos.

Picture this prequel as Pokmon Snap, with intense firefights and hectic warzones in place of cute creatures frolicking in the wild. Frank might even have to abandon his journalistic objectivity and help citizens in need, or run through contested territory to recover a notepad he carelessly dropped during an evacuation. In fact, playing the role of a war correspondent could be even more harrowing than your average shooter; think Spec Ops, except all you have to defend yourself with is a tape recorder in place of a gun.

Fox McCloud, novice pilot

Fox doesnt talk too much about his childhood, but growing up on Corneria mustve been the source of most of his happy memories. His father, James McCloud, recognized that his son was a prodigy piloting the familys Arwing, and enrolled his son in Cornelian Flight Academy to hone his skills.

Gameplay for this prequel would mirror Pilotwings, with increasingly demanding flight instructors running Fox through drills, in the effort to develop the vulpine hothead into a top-notch fighter pilot. In between classes, Fox would shoot the breeze with Slippy Toad, the mechanic whose friendship would help form the core of the future Star Fox team. There may or may not be room in the final product for a volleyball scene against Falco--really, thats all up to Nintendo.

Bill Overbeck, American hero

Left 4 Dead depicts Bill as the grizzled veteran in a quartet of survivors as they struggle to fend off the mutated Infected hordes. But he wasnt born an expert gunman--he was forged in the fires of war, specifically the Vietnam War. Why not take the first-person action of L4D back to one of the most disorienting, depressing conflicts in American history?

We envision this prequel playing out as flashbacks during Bills last moments (as seen in The Sacrifice DLC), where visions of incoming zombies blend with vivid memories of Bills time spent gunning down Viet Cong soldiers in battle. Theres nothing like a good ol fashioned Jacobs Ladder-style twist, and Far Cry 3 proved that hallucinations can do wonders for first-person experiences. Also, Valve would absolutely have to license Buffalo Springfields For What Its Worth for the soundtrack.

Look to the past

Those are the origin story games we'd welcome with open arms, but which would you like to see? Let us know in the comments--and with any luck, a developer will stumble onto this page and find inspiration for their next big project.

And if you're looking for more imagination-fueled features, check out the most ludicrously impractical FPS weapons and What if Solid Snake failed to stop Metal Gear?

Lucas Sullivan

Lucas Sullivan is the former US Managing Editor of GamesRadar+. Lucas spent seven years working for GR, starting as an Associate Editor in 2012 before climbing the ranks. He left us in 2019 to pursue a career path on the other side of the fence, joining 2K Games as a Global Content Manager. Lucas doesn't get to write about games like Borderlands and Mafia anymore, but he does get to help make and market them.