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Posted February 14, 2016 by Joseph Rositano in Feature
 
 

Staff Roundtable: Franchises that should be revived


With the cost of game development on the rise, it’s commonplace to see studios taking less risks. There’s a bigger push to stick with “safe” franchises which are almost guaranteed to sell well. If sales expectations are not met, it often spells doom for the franchise and it is condemned to be a memory only. Some designers will even look to crowdfunding for support, an example being Yu Suzuki’s Shenmue III. Here at Rocket Chainsaw, we asked ourselves “which franchises do we want to see revived?”. As selection of staff have contributed to this roundtable, covering franchises from the heydays of the Commodore 64, to beloved Nintendo titles that were seemingly replaced by Wii Sports.

 

destroy all humans screen

Joseph

Destroy All Humans!

The Destroy All Humans! franchise is something of a love/hate relationship. The first two games in the series were critically acclaimed and developed by Pandemic Studios. The studio was eventually purchased by EA Games, so THQ gave development duties to Sandblast Games and Locomotive Games for the next two entries. Unfortunately, at the time the developers had not worked on any other sandbox titles. Their inexperience no doubt played a part in Path of the Furon and Big Willy Unleashed having unpolished gameplay and visuals that simply did not take advantage of the console’s hardware.

Despite this, the franchise always succeeded in its storytelling. The plots were outrageous, often referencing pop culture, taking jabs at real-life conspiracy theories and featured crazy, likeable characters. The main star of the series, Crypto, was a wise cracking and innuendo suggestive being who was a complete contrast to the scary aliens we’ve come to know from the X-Files and Independance Day. The gameplay mechanics were also engaging – you can read the thoughts of humans, use an anal probe weapon, PK powers and unleash the destructive power of a flying saucer. Combined, these elements created a unique experience that has never been replicated in quite the same way. In fact, only Saints Row comes close to capturing that same feeling. While the latter games may have missed the mark, I strongly believe the franchise has potential to make a come back and return to glory.

The license for Destroy all Humans! now sits with Nordic Games. The publisher needs to find a developer that is experienced with sandbox titles and give them adequate time to craft a story and fine tune gameplay. Where they decide to take the franchise is another matter entirely, though I think a reboot would work well and introduce it to a new generation of gamers.

wave race screen

Zach

Wave Race/1080°

These days if you walk into a video game retailer and ask for “the sports games” you are likely going to be offered bunch of fairly mainstream team sports titles, with each iteration trying to be more realistic than its predecessor. I personally don’t enjoy those kinds of sports games. Back during the days of early 3D gaming in the late 90’s to early 2000’s, there was a different kind a sports game – those that focused on riding a type of board or vehicle, doing fully sick tricks, race through gnarly tracks and overall featured silly arcadey fun. I think now is the perfect time to revive these style of games, especially with children of the 90’s endlessly chasing feelings of nostalgia. However, it seems that all attempts to do so (other than a handful of indie titles) haven’t managed to take off.

To me, Nintendo’s Wave Race and 1080° franchises (based on jet skiing and snowboarding respectively) would be perfect titles to help usher this glorious sub-genre back into the spotlight, but perhaps not in the same form as their predecessors. You see, the Gamecube entries of both franchises (Wave Race Bluestorm and 1080° Avalanche) both featured the same cast of characters, meaning the franchises likely took place in the same world. It would make a lot of sense to combine them into one single game. Why stop at simply combining them though? I say take it to the next level and add in a full array of sports. Already designed a bunch of snowy mountain tracks for snowboarding? May as well let them ski as well. Spent all that time developing wave physics for jet skiing? Why not add surfing? In fact, with all the trick mechanics already implemented into the game, just take them and apply it to skateboarding, roller skating and possibly even BMX. By bringing all these sports back, with a cast of thrill seekers, a focus on doing sick tricks, online and local multiplayer and wrapping it all in a radical 90’s aesthetic of beautiful HD graphics, I think you have a recipe for a successful revival of both franchises.

wild arms screen

Andrew

Wild Arms

It was quite some time ago now that I first played Wild Arms. I had just been given a PlayStation 1 for Christmas and my Nan bought me 3 random games from K-Mart, having no idea what they were or how much a profound impact one in particular would have on my gaming consciousness. The closest thing I had played to an RPG in the past was Wonderboy 3, and so the level of story found in Wild Arms and the turn based battles and progression blew my mind. My love for Wild Arms, in particular the music, led me to try, and love, other series like Final Fantasy which became a mainstay of my gaming pastime for many years to come. With the PlayStation 2 came Wild Arms 3 and my love for the series and the Western style and music continued.

With the release of the PlayStation 3 I eagerly waited for the announcement of a new Wild Arms, and waited and waited and waited, before eventually realising that there would not be a new one. The series that had coloured my passion for so long and steered the direction of my gaming preferences for a decade simply disappeared after Wild Arms XF came to the PlayStation Portable in 2007.

Since then, nothing has quite scratched the same itch that Wild Arms did for me, and watching Developer Media.Vision continue to release well regarded RPGs since then has only served to make the lack of Wild Arms games worse. There is some potential hope of a new game, with Media.Vision confirming that they’re talking about how to celebrate Wild Arms twentieth anniversary this year. Until something concrete comes of it, I will continue to wait and hope that a new Wild Arms game is announced someday.

the last ninja screen

Tim

The Last Ninja

When most people think of gaming of the late 1980s and early 1990s, they think of the titles that have gone on to become cultural touchstones, or at least led to future titles that were. Often, however, these weren’t the games that were actually popular at the time.

A good example of this is the game that just happens to be the biggest-selling game on the Commodore 64. I’m talking about The Last Ninja, na game that makes the 8-bit exploits of Ryu Hayabusa in Ninja Gaiden look like a walk in the park. Using an isometric view to create a deep three-dimensional world, the game was something of a technical marvel on the humble C64, showing the system could still mix it with the more powerful 16-bit Amiga and Atari ST computers.

More than this, though, The Last Ninja is a game that we would recognise now as the kind of action adventure that was popularised by games like Tomb Raider, Uncharted and, funnily enough, the modern Ninja Gaiden series. The series was a little more focused on puzzle-solving and exploration than most of its contemporaries, and this is something that would translate really well into the modern gaming zeitgeist.

The last game in the series, The Last Ninja 3 came out in 1991, and there were attempts to revive the series as late as 2004. It’s easy to imagine the exploits of series protagonist Armakuni fitting in well with the modern landscape, and the series definitely still has something to offer the gaming world.

klonoa screen

Adam

Klonoa

In a world where platformers are rarely produced outside of indie developers, it’s sad to see such heroes of the genre like Klonoa fall by the wayside. When it really shouldn’t – Klonoa was a triumph on both PS1 and PS2, not only having unique and eminently enjoyable gameplay, but showcasing vibrant 3D visuals that each system’s hardware was capable of. Imagine what it could bring to the PS4 today. Namco released a graphical update on the Wii a few years back which seems like a strange strategy – why not go for a full on sequel?

Or, failing that, why not bring back Klonoa‘s portable series, Empire of Dreams, which were equally fun to play, albeit puzzle focused. Slap a new one of those together for the 3DS or iPhone, and I’ll be happy as Huepow.


Joseph Rositano

 
While Joseph's main hobby has always centered around video games, he's also taken an interest in movies, musicals and traveling around the world. No one quite knows what Joseph's true motivations are, but rest assured he is always planning his next grand adventure!


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