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123 games with untapped franchise potential

81. Galleon

Xbox (SCi/Confounding Factor, 2004)

Galleon spent 7 years in development hell, jumping from hardware to hardware, before it was finally released for the Xbox in 2004. As such, it was somewhat underwhelming graphically; those who dismissed it on those grounds alone missed out on an acrobatic adventure with fantastic level design and a great story. We suggest raising Galleon from the depths and scraping off the barnacles.

82. Cobra Triangle

NES (Nintendo/Rare, 1989)

Imagine if you took the isometric racing perfection found in R.C. Pro-Am. Now imagine you could stack missile and turbo power-ups a la the Gradius series. Now imagine that it was set on the water, contained multiple modes beyond racing and came out twenty years ago. When you’re done kicking yourself in the face, why not kick start a petition to get Rare to update this forgotten classic in all its boat-ramping, dragon-killing glory?

83. Burning Rangers

Sega Saturn (Sega, 1998)

Being a firefighter today is pretty cool, thanks to the big trucks, the lights and sirens and the chance to make “my hose is HUGE” jokes. But in the sci-fi future, being a firefighter kicks allkinds of ass. You get a jetpack that enables crazy acrobatic moves, you get to explore bizarre locations like an underwater theme park and a zero-G military installation. And you get to extinguish rainbow-hued space fires of all shapes and behaviors with ray guns instead of water – which is convenient considering you also have to fight security bots and the boss monsters that still somehow appear, courtesy of masterful developers Sonic Team. Come on, Sega! Relight this candle already!

84. ChuChu Rocket

Sega Dreamcast (Sega, 2000); GameBoy Advance (Sega, 2001)

You have ravenous orange cats with shark teeth and mad eyes stalking a gridded playfield. You have a vast herd of cartoon mice who, though adorable, have only the brains to run forward in single file, turning right whenever they hit an obstacle. And you have a handful of arrows you place on the grid in order to tell the mice which direction to go to evade the cat and get to their rocket ship. It’s a simple concept, but a brilliant puzzle game. The GBA version was even better, thanks to the inclusion of more than 100 user-created bonus levels. There were even solid multiplayer modes. And we haven’t seen it since.

85. Dragon Force

Sega Saturn (Working Designs, 1996)

Braniacs will explain that Dragon Force was a real-time strategy game mixed with a Risk-type military board game complete with personnel management, but simplified and streamlined. Gamers will point out you could amass huge armies of knights, beast-men, dragons and more and then send them into 100 vs 100 battles on your way to conquering an entire kingdom. It rocked. There was a Japan-only sequel and the genre torch is now carried by the Generation of Chaos series, but this original had the best balance between depth and simplicity. Modern consoles could kill at this.

86. Jet Moto

PS1 (SCE, 1996)

Admittedly, Sony did see the franchise potential in Jet Moto. So much, in fact, that they ran the series into the ground with three indistinguishable games in the span of just two years. But hey, it’s been a decade since the last time we climbed aboard a futuristic crotch rocket and tore ass over land and water. Jet Moto’s time has come again. If we’ve learned from this business, it’s that otherworldly motocross shenanigans like high altitude trickery and a magnetic grapple gun for tight turns, doesn’t get old when released in moderation.

87. Kya: Dark Lineage

PS2 (Atari/Eden Games, 2003)

A blue-dreadlocked heroine, a gorgeous world to explore and a surprisingly deep combat system – this one has franchise written all over it. The game even ends with a blatant cue: the portal that is supposed to take Kya home deposits her it an unknown place and the words “The End?” fill the screen. So what happened next guise??

88. Bubba ‘n’ Stix

Genesis, Amiga (Core Design Ltd, 1994)

A redneck and a sentient stick are stranded on an alien planet, and must solve a series of fiendishly clever puzzles in order to escape. Though Bubba ‘n’ Stix sounds like a Phillip K. Dick novella, it’s actually a well-designed platformer with lots of wacky charm. What will that darned stick do next??

89. Chakan: The Forever Man

Sega Mega Drive, Game Gear, Genesis (Sega, 1992)

Chakan is a hard-as-balls old-school action platformer from the good old days when you played the shit out of a game no matter how hard it was, because back then gamers were tougher and also much better at games than they are now.

90. Rising Zan: The Samurai Gunman

PS1 (Agetec/UEP, 1999)

Above: A Gunurai?

Rising Zan may not have been the best PS1 game ever, or even among the best, but it has the words “Samurai Gunman” in its name, and that’s more than enough to warrant a sequel. How great would revolver/sword fighting be on a current-gen system?

91. RLH: Run Like Hell

PS2, Xbox (Interplay/Digital Mayhem, 2002)

Above: As you can see, running like hell is an aspect of the gameplay

More like “Development Hell!” (hyuck, hyuck, hyuck) After five years of development, redevelopment and bureaucratic nonsense, what was supposed to be a survival-horror game was beaten into a shoddy action game with a cliffhanger ending but no chance of sequels. It’s too bad - with the right people, this unfulfilled series could be revived and done right.

92. Space Bunnies Must Die

PC (Jinx/Ripcord Games, 1998)

Space Bunnies Must Die might be more suited to a drive-in than a computer screen. Since B-movies can manage sequel after ridiculous sequel, why not the games that borrow their campy charm?

93. Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy

PS2, Xbox, GC (THQ/Eurocom, 2003)

With the glory of ancient Egypt as a backdrop, Sphinx and his whipping-boy sidekick (the wretched Cursed Mummy) foil Set’s sinister plots in an imaginative, Zelda-like adventure. This gem of a game never achieved the praise and success it deserved.

94. Mace Griffin: Bounty Hunter

PS2, Xbox, PC (Vivendi Universal/Warthog, 2004)

Henry Rollins provided the voice of vengeful bounty hunter Mace Griffin in this sci-fi FPS that seamlessly blended space combat and first-person action. A sequel might end up looking a lot like Mass Effect, but hey, we’d hit that.

95. Shadow of Rome

PS2 (Capcom, 2005)

Above: Are you not entertained?

The bloodthirsty Shadow of Rome mixed action-packed gladiator battles with mediocre stealth missions. Sort of like this music festival we went to where they’d have a hard trance act followed by a reggae band – cool concept, but a bit too jarring in practice. A little revamping, and the addition of some sweet-ass multiplayer, would turn this period piece into a fantastic franchise.

96. Rez

DreamCast, PS2, 360 (Sega/United Game Artists, 2002)

Rez is a rave in a game box. Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s brilliant experiment in synesthesia was inspired by Kandinsky and electronic music and probably a lot of ecstasy. The Japanese version shipped with the infamous “trance vibrator" that was not available in the more prudish US. Last year’s Rez HD remake was cool, but we’re eager for a brand new electro-psychedelic experience to tickle our neurons.

97. Stormlord

ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, Amiga, Atari ST, DOS, Mega Drive/Genesis (Hewson Consultants/Raffaele Cecco, 1989)

Stormlord created quite a stir back in pre-ESRB 1989 with its lurid depiction of pixelly pixie boobs (edited out of the Genesis version to protect the kids.) Since the only other Stormlord game in existence is the 19-year-old Deliverance: Stormlord II, we hardly feel right calling it a franchise. Nowadays, thanks to games like Conan and God of War, bare-chested men are free to rescue bare-chested women and Stormlord is ripe for a comeback.

98. EOE Eve of Extinction

PS2 (Eidos/Yukes, 2002)

This Matrix-styled beat-em-up from Smackdown dev Yukes had glowy lightsaber weapons and fun, button-mashy combat. Criminally dumb AI and a bland protag kept EOE from really standing out or developing into a franchise, though there was potential in the underlying gameplay and setting.

99. Sword of Sodan

Amiga, Sega Mega Drive/Genesis (EA/Innerprise, 1988/90)

Sword of Sodan was a gory, side-scrolling hack n slash adventure in a medieval setting. Players could choose to play as a barbarian dood or chick in their quest to vanquish the evil Zoras the Necromancer. Though it looks and plays clunky now, it was a technical marvel at the time. Though the original Amiga game was made by just three guys, they never turned out a sequel.Here’swhat lead dev Soren Gronbech's been doing instead.

100. Psi Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy

Xbox, PS2, PC (Midway, 2004)

Above: Is it just us, or is that switch in the background absurdly large?

Midway’s 2004 shooter combined traditional weaponry with its protagonist’s psychic abilities (such as telekinesis), and received generally favorable reviews from critics and players. It was even reviewed better than the similarly-minded Force Unleashed, yet we still haven’t seen a sequel. Where’s it at, Midway? Oh right, things aren’t going so hot lately.