Pleased to meet you – time for a remake

Remakes, reboots, and sequels: all popular parts of today’s media landscape. Lacking original and unique ideas many production companies are relying on trawling their back catalogues, searching for something that was once successful or beloved that they can shoot out again for a quick buck – with no concern for destroying that legacy in the process. So I got to thinking, why hasn’t this happened more in the videogame industry? Or more accurately, why hasn’t this been done better? With so many popular games series fading into the background over the years why haven’t more developers tried to rehash such fallen titles? I started to go through some games and franchises that have vanished or “ended” that I’d personally love to see resurface on today’s generation of consoles.

In no specific order I’ll list the games I’d like to see rise from the ashes…

Legacy of Kain

Raziel and Kain

Before vampires glittered in the sunlight they fought against one another, and against various monsters and humans alike, across the land of Nosgoth. Beginning with Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain the series started out much like the Diablo series in gameplay style, before eventually making a successful transition into three dimensions with a 3rd person action adventure.

Why? Even though this series did technically come to an end, it was definitely one the best and most memorable game franchises to emerge from its time period – even if it didn’t enjoy as much success as other franchises that ran alongside it (Tomb Raider, Resident Evil). What separates Legacy of Kain from modern 3rd-person action adventure games is that it has an excellently thought-out storyline.

The series tied itself together towards the end after five titles: two Soul Reavers, two Blood Omens, all climaxing with the masterpiece of its genre, Legacy of Kain: Defiance.  Beautifully designed environments, entertaining puzzles, and near-perfect voiceovers give the series the breath of life that vampires themselves are missing.

With the graphical engines of today the series could only benefit from an overhaul. A reboot? Definitely not. But a remake or a sequel would definitely be welcomed into my home.

Why Not? The Legacy of Kain series was well-written and complex and even though the story came to an end with a slight possibility for a sixth game, the outlook is not so good. From what I can see, now that Eidos have been bought out by Square Enix they’re on the short leash of less creativity and more money – unless this possible creativity equals more money. Crystal Dynamics have been hard at work on Tomb Raider after Tomb Raider after Tomb Raider without an end in sight, seeing as Lara is getting a revamped adventure series in 2011. The second strike against a remake is that with all the emo-esque vampire TV series and movies around today, any vampire videogame might be affected by higher-ups demanding a specific creative direction in order to market it towards teeny bopper vampire fanatics.

The final nail in the coffin is Amy Hennig. Amy was the master weaver of the series but now she’s been hired by Naughty Dog and is the brilliant mind behind the Uncharted series – I doubt very much they’d let her go. And honestly, would you have enjoyed Lord of the Rings as a series if the last book was written by Stephen King? [I would probably have enjoyed it more but that is a matter of taste. – Ed] [Blasphemy! He might’ve been able to make the Silmarillion readable though. – another Ed]

The one last glimmer of hope is the DLC for Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light. Somewhere deep in the Crystal Dynamics offices there are people who have not forgotten.

ActRaiser

ActRaiser screenshot

At first glance ActRaiser may have one thinking “oh hi there, Castlevania”, but there is more to it than that. You play as a deity who’s out to cleanse the world of the dark forces currently plaguing various lands. The twist hinted in the title itself is that after clearing an area of evil you return to your temple in the sky. take control of your angelic minions and begin to rebuild the world in Sim City-esque gameplay whilst defending the village from attacking monsters.

Why? The series was generally overlooked at the time, even though it was visually spectacular and managed to mix its various game elements together seamlessly. With the leaps and bounds forward in these component genres of gaming over the past fifteen years  the ActRaiser series could only benefit from the lessons taught by games like God of War and Civilization V, a heady cocktail which when blended together could produce a spectacular sequel to the ActRaiser series.

With the merging of Square and Enix, and the fact that these combined companies already own Taito and Eidos, there are a lot of skilled game makers with relevant experience who could pick up the ActRaiser series.

Why Not? Square Enix. The once-legendary company that came to define JRPGs with Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and the Kingdom Hearts series has taken some critical hits in recent years, and with games like Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy XIV performing poorly the chance of a rejuvenated ActRaiser is an unlikely one. It is a sad state of affairs when a company is fearful of straying from its big-selling properties even when they’re falling from grace. Square Enix, please: take a chance.

Killer Instinct

Killer Instinct splash screen

Definitely a series which just faded away – odd as it was well-known for its insane combos and juggling – Killer Instinct falls somewhere between Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat when it comes to enjoyable gameplay and stylised violence.

Why? With the resurgence of the fighting game genre within the last few years (Street Fighter IV, Marvel v.s. Capcom 3, and not Tekken) it’s possible that we’ll see the Killer Instinct games appear on XBLA, PSN or both. But a full-fledged sequel or remake is what is needed. Regularly appearing in lists of the greatest fighting games of all time – fifth place in Screwattack’s Top Ten Fighting Games or UGO’s Top 25 Fighting Games Of All Time – it’s hard to believe that this series will never re-emerge in some shape or form. With online multiplayer and a fancy new engine such a game would have fans salivating.

Why Not? Microsoft. Currently Rare is under the ownership of Microsoft, and since this ownership has taken effect Rare haven’t produced the sort of quality material they were once famed for (I’m looking at you, Perfect Dark Zero). I can’t help but notice that, in addition to Rare shifting from a uniquely creative power to a cog in the Microsoft machine, a Killer Instinct game doesn’t fit the current vogue for making everything 360 avatar and Kinect related.

There’s also Tao Feng: Fist of the Lotus, which if you don’t remember was a very lacklustre fighting game published by Microsoft and developed by the late Studio Gigante which folded back in 2005. If that’s any indication of what a Microsoft joint fighting game looks like, I think Killer Instinct may be better off in hibernation.

Double Dragon

Double Dragon splash screen

Oh Billy and “Bimmy”, where have you run off to? To save one or the other’s girlfriend, no doubt.

The Double Dragon series was the first real classic beat ‘em up and inspired nearly a decade of games. It spawned toys, a cartoon series and a very bad movie.

Why? The Double Dragon series is a fantastic throwback to a much simpler time. Someone has kidnapped your girlfriend and you don’t like that very much, so you call up your brother and head out on the town, kicking ass until it leads you in the right direction. When I picture a new Double Dragon I picture something like the Fist of the Northstar game (but good) – a 3D transition for the series and of course some “2 player simultaneous action!” With a version of the original game coming to the iOS platform, new interest in the series may be sparked.

Why Not? The current holder of the game IP is Million Co. who have only ever made handheld titles, specifically for the Gameboy Advance, so unless another company is interested enough to purchase the property from them I don’t see a console next-gen version popping up any time soon – unless Million step up to the challenge. But who knows, perhaps Billy and Jimmy will appear in another game as DLC characters.

Battletoads

Battletoads splash

Hello Double Dragon DLC! Battletoads is probably one of the most-loved game series of all time, and it’s memorable for two reasons. Firstly it had all the fun of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and secondly it managed to be fun whilst also being so frustratingly hard it made you want to cry. Speaking of Ninja Turtles that’s the whole premise of the series: it was created to compete with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles because they were so widely popular at the time. The Battletoads game was even followed by a comic and a cartoon. An additional point of interest: the Battletoads themselves are mutated video game testers. Yes, that’s right.

Why? Does this really need to be asked? With a penchant in the gaming community for incredibly difficult games, or games which have a difficulty level that surpasses the standard “HARD”, it’s clear that a series which was never kind or forgiving will be popular. The zany style of the Battletoads could be tons of fun in 3D, and online and local multiplayer could only enhance the fun factor. The market for this type of game is clearly there with releases like Demon Souls and Super Meat Boy, both on different sides of the gaming spectrum, being simultaneously critically acclaimed and praised by gamers for their engaging difficulty.

Why Not? This is a one-two punch, with or without enlarged toad-like fist. Firstly I see this as another example of Microsoft’s ownership of Rare being a problem; the risk of a disappointing sequel or remake because of the corporate leash. The second factor is far funnier: because of the Ninja Turtles. The remake of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time was met with a very poor response, from critics like Destructoid saying “delete it” to fans complaining about all the changes made for the remake. It’s only logical to assume that Battletoads would risk the same treatment.

In Closing

These are just a handful of games that I myself would love to see rise from the grave. I know there are a lot more great series out there which were prematurely snuffed out by the games industry. Obviously the arguments above as to why these series may have fizzled out or could succeed once again are just my own; the real reasons may be as forgotten as the franchises themselves. But with releases like Pac-Man Championship Edition DX and Space Invaders there is definitely a sign that retro gaming has returned alongside a creative wave of people who have what it takes to bring something new to the table and improve on a classic – without drastically changing it so much that fans of the original hate it. On the other hand we’ve had past classics regurgitated as new horrors such as Bomberman Zero, N.A.R.C. or Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows, where the departure from the source material, however ambitious, lead to a terrible experience overall. Then there are the games which fall flat or between “good” and “terrible” by having nothing too impressive to offer their second time around, like GoldenEye or Perfect Dark.

The future shows no promise of a halt in the remaking of movies, TV shows, or video games, with most of Nintendo’s upcoming titles for the 3DS consisting of remakes of classic Nintendo titles. We can only grimace and cross our fingers in hope that our once-loved games don’t become too distorted in the process. Killspace Entertainment, I have my eyes on you… Yar’s Revenge may not be the only revenge in order.