Fangwheel recently did a story on the Wii U, PlayStation 4 and Xbox 720 and we talked about features the three next-gen machines might have. This got me thinking about what game franchises I’d like to see return in the next generation. We all know Halo, Call of Duty and God of War will all live on into the next iteration of machines without a doubt, but I’m wondering about franchises that went MIA this gen. I’ve narrowed it down to five franchises that I would love to see something from again. Many of these titles did extremely well in their own generations but have faded away into obscurity and the question that is plaguing my mind is can these once great franchises have a future in the next-gen?
Viewtiful Joe – Released in 2003 on Nintendo GameCube and later on PlayStation 2, the game would use a comic inspired cell shading style with game-play that was both engaging and entertaining. The title was released to mostly positive reviews and got a Metacritic score of 93. The game would go on to spawn sequels such as Viewtiful Joe 2 (GameCube and PlayStation 2), Hot Rumble (Sony PlayStation Portable) and Double Trouble (Nintendo DS). Barring the PSP and DS releases, the franchise seems to have gone dark with Joe only appearing in Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Viewtiful Joe 2 was released in 2004 and got a Metacritic score of 86. The title would prove to be the last proper sequel developed for home consoles in the series. Graphics have changed a lot since 2004, and if Capcom were to give fans a proper Viewtiful Joe 3 on the next-gen machines; it would be wonderful fan service for those of us that have held the line for the franchise to have a proper return for so long.
Killer Instinct – Released in 1994 in arcades and on the Super Nintendo, Killer Instinct was unlike any fighting game of its time. It had the style all of its own with CGI graphics and the fighting flare of its competitors (Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter) but came to the table with such features as Automatic Combos, Ultra Combos and the Combo Breaker. Killer Instinct 2 was released in 1996 and ported to Nintendo’s N64 as Killer Instinct: Gold and retained a lot of what made its predecessor such a success. KI2 / Gold would be the last we heard from the series, with developer Rare making rumblings from time to time that they would someday love to make Killer Instinct 3. No gen like next-gen, Killer Instinct 3 would be a huge success if pulled off correctly, Rare now being a subsidiary of Microsoft Studios, could develop the title for Microsoft’s next machine to make it rival current fighting titles and really bring the Killer Instinct franchise back into relevancy.
Dino Crisis – Capcom is famous for its Resident Evil franchise, but in 1999 they proved that zombies weren’t the only thing you should fear. Dino Crisis is a survival horror game that borrows a lot of its game-play style from its famous zombie filled cousin, where you must survive the assault of a relentless Tyrannosaurus. The game is the 11th best selling Capcom title in the history of the company but it doesn’t surprise me why they stopped at Dino Crisis 3. The second sequel in the franchise had lost its way and it is clear why Capcom might have abandoned any future plans for the series. A next-gen re-boot of the original game with newly done graphics would be welcomed by fans and offer Capcom to do justice for the title by offering all new sequels that won’t stray as far as the plot of Dino Crisis 3 seemed to.
The Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver – Crystal Dynamics and Eidos released Soul Reaver in 1999 on the original PlayStation, Sega’s Dreamcast and Microsoft Windows. This is technically the second game of the Legacy of Kain series, but acts as a standalone adventure for the character Raziel, a wraith and his battle against head vampire, Kain. The title was released to critical acclaim, with it scoring a 91 on Metacritic. This particular game has seen a re-release recently in 2009 on the PlayStation Network as a “Greatest Hits”, but primarily remains untouched. The game would spawn its own direct sequel Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2 which was released in 2001 on PlayStation 2 and Microsoft Windows, going on to score only a 77 on Metacritic. Another direct sequel or possibly a graphically re-done version of the original Soul Reaver would be welcome with some changes. It has always seemed that the game ends before it probably should have, so seeing the developer go back and tell the story they originally wanted to tell would be amazing to finally play. The game-play and challenging puzzles still stand as strong today as they did back in 1999, so a next-gen that includes this franchise is a win for gamers.
Shenmue – This is an interesting one, as anyone that had a Sega Dreamcast also most likely had a copy of Shenmue or knew someone who did. Shenmue was released in 1999 and was the first time that many gamers experienced the type of open world gaming that many of us take for granted these days. Playable characters even had their own schedules, practically simulating real life. The game went on to have a sequel that was released in 2001 and was also available on the original Xbox, which ended on a cliffhanger that has yet to be resolved. The original Shenmue scored 88 on Metacritic, while its sequel came in at an 80. This upcoming gen, it would be nice if Sega would finally give Shenmue fans what they have been asking for with the long overdue Shenmue 3 and a little closure.