With 2016 in full swing, let’s pause and take a look back at some favorite video game franchises that I think deserves to be revived. The revival of the Shenmue franchise at last year’s E3 gives me hope for the future of some of these other franchises that time forgot. After all, since we didn’t get any hoverboards, at least give me some of these!
Parappa the Rapper
This lovable little dog loved to sing, and he had some of the catchiest tunes! Stop on the gas! Step on the brake! I mean, who couldn’t love that! He has made an appearance in a PSP game and a token cameo in the PlayStation Battle Royale game, but outside of that, this dog has been put to sleep. And that’s awfully sad.
In the midst of the slow, painful death knell for the Sega Saturn – which seemed to start almost the moment the console was released – came this gem from Sonic Team. As opposed to the Blast Processing speed that the hedgehog was known for, NiGHTS took place is a quasi-3D world of magic and wonder. I still couldn’t fully explain the storyline today, but the gameplay is so original and almost calming to experience. Heck, it even came with its own “3D Controller”. This is a cult classic that, despite a belated sequel appearing on the Wii, deserves to be remade or rebooted. In the annals of Sega’s rich franchise library, this one has sadly been forgotten about.
Zombies Ate My Neighbors
A side scrolling 16-bit home console classic that featured the living dead rising again (don’t they get bored of doing that?) and wrecking havoc on castles and shopping malls – the latter of which takes a cue from the horror classic Dawn of the Dead and predates the more popular Dead Rising franchise). But yet, only a sad sequel (Ghoul Patrol) and an appearance on the Wii Virtual Console is all that’s left of this great game.
Originally dismissed as a ripoff of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I found Battletoads to be more fun that most TMNT games of that era. It is truly a cult classic and often one of the top games you hear when people talk about games they’d like to see more of – something we haven’t seen since Super Battletoads on the Super NES twenty-one years ago.
A mascot character for the Sega Master System that never got the popularity he deserved was Alex Kidd. Was he a human? Was he a monkey? He had characteristics of both, but he was always charming. When Sega needed a mascot to rival the popularity of Nintendo’s Mario, Alex was pushed aside for Sonic, and he hasn’t had his own full game since 1990’s Alex Kidd in Shinobi World for the Master System. He has been relegated to cameo winks and nods in Sega compilation games such as Sega Superstars Tennis and Sonic and Sega All-Star Racing. But it’s hard to say if I feel he needs a comeback by the definition of the word since he never seemed to be given a fair chance to begin with.
Racing games are a dime a dozen, but what set Road Rash apart was its attitude and combat fighting *while you were racing*! Want to get that competitive edge over a hated fellow racer? Why not take out a chain and knock him off his bike? It was a lot of fun! The series peaked in popularity with ports on Super NES, PlayStation and Sega Saturn in the 16-to-32 bit era, and the last legitimate game in the original franchise I think was 1999’s Road Rash: Jailbreak on the PSX. Racing and violence? I don’t know why this didn’t become a mainstay because it was a blast.
Nintendo may be known for franchises like Mario, Zelda and Pokemon, but one of my favorite games from them was an early horror title named Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem. This M-rated title earned its stripes with mind-bending dark storylines, horrific imagery and even mind games that sincerely toyed with the gamer towards the end. But as with most horror or “adult” games on a Nintendo system, this one got very little traction despite being looked very fondly upon by many. Hope for a sequel or reboot came recently as Nintendo extended their trademark on the title, but no news has come to light from the darkness of the eternal limbo that this franchise has been engulfed in.
There are other games I could mention, and such titles like Psychonauts, Crash Bandicoot, Alone in the Dark and F-Zero all come to mind. But when it is all said and done, there is a wealth of games out there that have sunk into obscurity that is a real pity. With gaming companies seemingly content with a new Call of Duty, Madden or Mario every year, these great and original franchises are left to wilt away. And that is a real loss for us all.