123 games with untapped franchise potential

41. Crush

PSP (Sega/Zoe Mode, 2007)

This Escher-esque platform/puzzler has you playing as an insomniac who must traverse the twisted corners of his own mind to collect all his loose thought-marbles. Crush featured a 2D/3D mechanic similar to Super Paper Mario, and won praise for its unique look and design. Alas, Crush is another one for the Okami column; pretty, innovative and no one bought it.

42. Grim Fandango

PC (LucasArts, 1998)

While the adventures of Manny and Meche don’t really warrant a sequel, Tim Schafer created something fascinating with Grim Fandango, which reimagined the Mayan underworld as a ‘50s-style, Latin-flavored backdrop for film noir adventures starring Dia de los Muertos skeletons. The story of its characters may be over, but there’s no reason we couldn’t go back and play in that world. The afterlife is a pretty huge place, after all, and in the right hands there’s the potential for some amazing stories to be told.

43. Star Wars: Republic Commando

PC, Xbox (LucasArts, 2005)

A rare foray into more serious, Jedi-free themes within the Star Wars universe, Republic Commando was instantly loved and then never heard from again. Putting players in charge of a fire team of four elite clone troopers, it mixed easy squad tactics with balls-to-the-wall shooting that put you right in the thick of events like the Battle of Geonosis, giant thundering war machines and all. We’d love to see another one set during Episode III, particularly if it could involve fighting Jedi after Order 66.

44. Sacrifice

PC (Interplay/Shiny, 2000)

Shiny’s creature-sacrificing, altar-defiling action-RTS won praise and devotion for its refreshing take on the genre, but Sacrifice was practically invisible to the gaming public. Sacrifice may well be one of the most underappreciated games of all time - nothing like it has been seen before or since. Double Helix Games, the studio that Shiny merged into, apparently owns the game now. We humbly suggest they stop taking lucrative, soulless assignments like The DaVinci Code and The Golden Compass and pour everything into Sacrifice 2. If we understand the economic rescue plan correctly, you’ll be able to pay your mortgage with artistic integrity. AMIRIGHT??

45. Scrapland

PC, Xbox (Enlight/Mercury Steam Entertainment, 2004)

The quickest way to describe Scrapland is GTA with robots. Mix in spaceships and a whimsical sense of humor, and you have a game that’s tough not to like. The hero, D-Tritus, is a lowly robot journalist who gets sucked into a robot conspiracy surrounding a string of robot murders. We’d love to solve and/or commit more crimes in Scrapland, if only that were possible.

46. Star Wars: X-Wing and Star Wars: Tie-Fighter

PC (LucasArts, the ‘90s)

No game captured the feeling of piloting a spaceship in the Star Wars universe like the old X-Wing and Tie-Fighter games from the 90s. Defend capital ships from waves of incoming Tie-Fighters or bomb the heck out of a fleet of ships delivering supplies to some rebel scum. Although a few expansions were released for both games, we’d dig our old flightsticks out of our closet in aninstant if only LucasArts would revisit these great games by giving them proper sequels.

47. Kung-Fu Master

Arcade, NES (Irem, 1984)

Sometimes we don’t want deep stories with tons of plot twists that try to shed some light on the human condition. Sometimes, all we need to know is that some bastard’s kidnapped our girlfriend and it’s up to us to punch and kick our way to justice. That’s why we think the classic 2D beat ‘em up, Kung-Fu Masters has some untapped potential for a next-gen follow up. It worked for Prince of Persia and Bionic Commando didn’t it? So somebody please give gaming’s most kickass gaijin, Thomas a next-gen sequel – and let us pull a Bruce Lee on some bad guys in beautiful 3D dojos.

48. Dead Man’s Hand

Xbox, PC (Atari/Human Head Studios, 2004)

Dead Man’s Hand was held back by a slew of technical problems that ruined what could have been a rootin’ tootin’ Old West shooter. The era continues to fascinate.

49. Auto Modellista

PS2, GC, Xbox (Capcom, 2002)

Auto Modellista had a unique cel-shaded look and about a million customization options, but was plagued by wonky handling. Fix the controls, and Auto Modellista could be a stylized breath of fresh air for the realism-obsessed racing genre.

50. Cy Girls

PS2 (Konami, 2004)

2004’s Cy Girls failed in many ways, with half-formed ideas and shoddy level design that had the player incessantly backtracking through levels. Some of Cy Girls’ core ideas, like the virtual/real world tie-ins, could be redone for awesome effect. Plus, there’s a whole line ofJapanese toys(they’re the “Cool Girls” over there) from which new characters could be culled. Konami is in dire need of some new A material – Cy Girls could be it.

51. Dark Summit

PS2, Xbox, GC (THQ/Radical, 2001)

We need a good alternative to Shaun White’s ego vehicle and the tired SSX franchise. Enter Dark Summit, an emo combat snowboarding game that could provide the remedy to the shameless corporatization of the sport.

52. Outcast

PC (Infogrames / Appeal, 1999)

Cutter Slade, a former U.S. Navy Seal, must lead and protect a government expedition into the recently discovered parallel universe of Adelpha. Okay, so the hero’s name is stupid and the plot sounds like a rehash of Stargate, but trust us, this action-adventure game was revolutionary. You could freely explore open world cities, mountains and forests (two years before GTA III). You could commandeer extraterrestrial vehicles – in this case, dinosaur-like creatures - for quicker transport (two years before Halo). You could pick and choose missions in the order that suited your playing style (nine years before Fallout 3). The sequel was planned for PlayStation 2, but fell apart when the developer went bankrupt. Hopefully, thesedevoted fanscan pick up the franchise torch…

53. Gunstar Heroes

Genesis, Game Gear, PS2, Virtual Console (Sega, 1993/2006)

Considered to be one of the best action games for the Genesis, Gunstar is a blistering quick side-scrolling shooter known for redefining the genre (hit points/large freakin’ bosses made of multiple sprites). Its popularity led to its release on the VC a couple years ago, but why not a sprite-based sequel ala Mega Man 9? C’mon Sega!

54. Haunting Ground

PS2 (Capcom, 2005)

No one really makes haunted house games anymore. Devil May Cry ditched its spooky theme long ago, Fatal Frame’s recent outing in Japan blows and Clock Tower has gone the way of the do-do. Bring back Haunting Ground with a sexy protagonist who runs from creepy dudes in the scariest of castles. You had a dog assist you in some cases, which is okay we guess. Could you imagine what a current-gen system could do to really freak the shit out of you? Could you!?

55. Blood Wake

Xbox (Microsoft/Stormfront, 2002)

This early Xbox game had cool water physics, slick graphics and outstanding multiplayer. Just replace the short, maddeningly repetitive campaign with a brutalicious story about Somali pirates, and you have yourself a franchise.

56. Dead Head Fred

PSP (D3/Vicious Cycle, 2007)

As the titular headless detective, you solve your own murder by collecting the heads of suspects. Each head gives Fred a different power and advances the plot. Dead Head Fred’s angry, sarcastic script won the Writers’ Guild’s first ever award for video game writing. Sadly, Fred was conscripted to the PSP ghetto and never really had the chance to shine. Sequels on more accessible platforms, please!

57. FantaVision

PS2 (SCE/SCEI, 2000)

What started as a tech demo turned into a highly playable puzzle game for the PS2 launch. If GalaxyWars can be a franchise, FantaVision ought to be as well. Perhaps people are confusing it with the orange soda?

58. Herdy Gerdy

PS2 (Eidos, 2002)

Criminally overlooked, Herdy Gerdy can best be described as a sheepherding sim. But it’s so much more than that. Animation straight out of a Don Bluth film [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Bluth] and some peaceful game playing, we’re sure a revival would be more relaxing than PS3’s Flower. Yeah, we said it.

59. Legendary Wings

Arcade, NES (Capcom, 1986)

A top-down Greek mythos-themed shooter might seem a tad unreasonable today (seriously, who plays top-down shooters anymore?), but a third-person action game with flying? Sure, Capcom’s making Dark Void, but what if it was Greek-themed? We dare pose that question in this time of uncertainty.

60. GUN

Xbox 360, PS2, Xbox, PC, GameCube, PSP (Activision/Neversoft, 2005)

It might still be a little early to call GUN “untapped,” seeing as the game made a memorable splash during the Xbox 360 launch and sequel rumors have dogged it ever since. Good Western games are extremely rare – especially free-roaming, gory Western games like GUN. We’d hate to see it die off just because Neversoft’s too busy cranking out nine Guitar Hero games a year.