Easter Special: Most-Wanted Franchise Resurrections
Nothing like a little mild blasphemy to start off the week, we always say. Find out what some of us were really praying for this weekend...
For being such a famous series, it's shocking that there are only two Kid Icarus games in existence. The original on the NES was followed by a Game Boy sequel that few have heard of - and even fewer have actually played. With the re-designed Pit, announced for the upcoming Super Smash Brothers Brawl, I think it's about time to bring back Kid Icarus on the DS in all its 2D, Metroid-Vania glory. Imagine if you will, a free-roaming 2D action/platformer with an ancient Greek backdrop, mythical monsters galore, and more arrow-shooting fun than you could shake a stick at. Or to put it another way, God of War meets Metroid with a little Kirby thrown in for the heck of it. The vertical nature of the series would be perfect for the DS's stacked screens, and it's about time for a less common hero to be brought back into the limelight. Make it happen, Nintendo!
Beyond Good & Evil
It is time to invoke the power of the gods in order to put the breath of life back into the Beyond Good & Evil franchise. Though this game never had any sequels, or even different iterations (it was only released in ported versions between the PC, PS2, GCN, and Xbox), it was clearly made with grand ambitions. It had stealth elements, fun combat systems, awesome minigames, and upgradeable vehicles. Also, the game ended in a cliff-hanger that for over four years now has haunted the dreams of those who played through it, only to never be resolved. This game was Ubisoft's critically acclaimed baby which sold poorly enough to be left for dead in the aisles of your local game store. Kind of like E.T. for the Atari, only this game didn't suck.
Ubisoft needs to give this game another chance at life. Whether this franchise were to return as just a straight port to the PSP, or even a game that picks up where the first one left off, it deserves to be resurrected. And, after it were to come forth, emerging from it's publisher-induced tomb, it would show you that amongst so many terrible new franchises there are still some that can rock your face with awesomeness.
Mike Tyson's Punch Out
Did anybody dislike this game? I still have fond memories of trying to find King Hippo's weak spot and the feeling of giddy success when I timed the Bald Bull punch just right. Many kids finished Zelda and even more finished Super Mario 3, but when I was a kid, knocking Mike Tyson out was the ultimate test of one's video gaming ability. The coordination and response time required on the higher levels bordered on the absurd. Who says little kids can't drive cars? I don't know any 70 year-olds who can beat that game.
An updated version with cel-shaded graphics and a lineup of completely unique characters (no palette-swaps) would make me wet my pants with utter joy, though at this point in his "career," Mike Tyson would probably be your first opponent, and not your last.
Though I know it is a resurrection oft-prayed for, I will go so far to say that my want for the second coming of Richard Garriott's Ultima must go deeper than the norm. While most of the console RPG world whiled away their hours with the likes of Phantasy Star and Final Fantasy, Ultima was a world no PC gamer could ignore. The series spanned 20 years with 9 (mostly) fine titles, two brilliant first person spinoffs, and the world's first graphical MMO. At its summit stand two of the greatest titles ever wrought; Ultima VII: The Black Gate, and its sequel The Serpent Isle. They featured vast, open worlds, weather and day/night cycles, an intuitive yet immersive mouse based interface, and a brilliant story full of dark conspiracy, murder, and true virtue.
I grew up seeing the story of the Avatar unfold through that ever changing world as a young and impressionable observer, watching beside my elder brothers who played. And it was through those games that I came to understand the power of interactive narrative. Everything from the cloth map and the manual disguised as a journal to the 4th wall rending copy protection interrogation, served towards our total immersion. And what made the world felt like a world was a matter of baking bread. A player could harvest the wheat from the field, grind it into flour at the mill, mix it with water from the well, roll it and knead it, then bake. Then there was the most unique and innovative game concept of virtue, which was (in the series' best iterations) the key to bringing peace to the world of Britannia.
If I sound reverential to what is essentially a series way past its prime, it's because I am. Some people have childhood memories about hitting home runs or spelling bees. I was there when the Avatar shattered the Black Gate, and I'll hold that memory till the day I die. My wish to see it resurrected, perhaps simply refurbished with modern graphics, comes from the desire to share those memories with a broader audience. And so I can finally say to my friends, "Wasn't that ending freakin sweeeeet!"
Streets of Rage
When last we saw Sega's fighting game series, it ended on a watered-down note with the funky and somewhat underproduced Streets of Rage 3. I mean, seriously, a kangaroo that can kick ass? Didn't we already see Namco do one better with one in the Tekken series? So it would be no surprise that I'd like to see this Sega franchise get a revisit, with Team Ancient (Yuzo Koshiro's producing team) at the helm.
Now, Team Ancient actually had a concept going around for a new Streets of Rage for the Sega Dreamcast, but like so many Sega projects (Propeller Arena Online and Vectorman PS2, to name a few), it never really got the gas it needed to become a roaring engine. So Ancient put it on the back burner and the team began working on other side projects. Still, the memory of Streets of Rage continues to linger today, what with the original game's release on the Virtual Console service for the Wii and Streets of Rage 2 still being highly regarded as one of the best beat-em-ups ever made.
So here's what I propose, Sega. You don't necessarily have to make it a 3-D game. In fact, a 2.5-D game along the lines of Gekido for the PlayStation might do the trick. Bring back Adam, Axel, Blaze, Max, Skate, all of them (except the weird Dr. Zan and that damn kangaroo), and have them face an all new version of Mr. X and a horde of new bad guys. Make it a GBA/PSP/DS release and make it one for the ages, I say. Let Team Ancient in there and let Yuzo work on a classy soundtrack, not a crappy experimental one like the one he threw in SOR 3.
Make it two-player compatible (via AdHoc or Wi-Fi), and make the game lengthy enough to satisfy, with at least eight stages, several unlockable items (maybe even the original SOR or SOR 2 as a hidden goodie), and various challenge levels, and you could have yourselves a winner. Please, Sega, I IMPLORE you. You brought back Gunstar, you brought back NiGHTS, now it's time to give the flaming fists of Streets of Rage a fighting chance once more.