Hello and welcome to a brand new edition of the Top 5! This week, we’re going to be tackling the issue of abandoned franchises. The subject of abandoned franchises is something that not a lot of people talk about often, primarily because our hobby is comprised of the cult of the new. But when intense conversations do happen amongst gamers, we often look back at some franchises that we had a fondness for that are no longer around. And while some of us may hope that the very same publishers are listening to our conversations and writing notes down on everything we liked about these series, the chances of them looking to revive these classics are slim to none.
But that doesn’t stop us from talking about these awesome games! And what an incredible diverse list this is!
5. Clock Tower
The games may not have been great, but the fact that the Clock Tower series survived three generations of video games says something about the premise of it. The games gave you a feeling that you’re being chased down by a lumbering, impenetrable force and the tense feelings it would give you when you attempted to run away and escape from these horrific creatures were unrivaled by any game. There have been games, notably Amnesia, that have managed to bring this unique feeling to a modern audience and that’s fine. But Clock Tower, regardless of its clunky controls and funky hotspots, made me believe that the best is yet to come with the series. That is, if someone actually took a risk in it again.
4. Mega Man
You’re probably asking, “Why is this even here? Mighty No. 9 is going to scratch that Mega Man itch!” The fact is that while Mighty No. 9 is shaping up to be a fantastic title in its own right, the Mega Man series has always had a potential to return. Sure, the sales of the retro-styled Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10 may not have been stellar, but perhaps there was a disconnect between how much Capcom was investing in the game versus the reality of the genre that it belongs to. Mighty No. 9′s successful Kickstarter funding proves that there is still room for these kinds of games, but Capcom controls Mega Man’s reigns and it doesn’t look like we’ll be seeing the blue bomber back in action anytime soon. There goes my hopes for a follow-up to the Mega Man X series…
Probably out of a majority of the games on this list, OutRun is the one game that was remade well. I remember playing Sumo Digital’s rendition of OutRun from two generations ago, a version that I still proudly own for my PlayStation 2, and dazzled at how gorgeous the visuals were and how peaceful yet frantic each of the drives can be. And while the game amounted to being just a glorified a time trial, being able to drive to different locales and seeing various sights (apparently, you can drive from Easter Island to Paris) really gave OutRun a unique flavor that no other driving game has been able to provide since. We’ve gone through one generation already and we still haven’t seen a new iteration of OutRun. The OutRun re-release on Xbox 360 doesn’t count! Is the franchise abandoned? Based on Sega’s recent lineup, I’d chalk it up to a yes.
2. Rival Schools
For various reasons that Ted will know to explain, Rival Schools is a series that will no longer exist in the west. And that’s a damn shame, because I loved playing it when it came out in the arcades and for the PlayStation. The punches and kicks in Rival Schools had sort of a weight and power to them that made it so satisfying to beat your opponents over and over again. And the premise that everyone is, in some form, part of a school population – from students, jocks, teachers, and even principals – was so unique and so creative that I languished in the menus, admiring the artwork and pored through each of their individual biographies. Given the chance, I’d love to own a digital copy of the original PlayStation game. But, alas, that’s not going to happen any time soon.
1. Yakuza (Western releases only)
This one’s new and also the most disappointing to me, which is why it sits on the top of my list. For the exception of the Japanese released Ryu ga Gotoku games (Yakuza’s name in Japan), I have every single Yakuza game in existence – which goes to say that the franchise is definitely one of my favorite brawlers of all time. Sure, we saw some incredible brawlers like Castle Crashers, Double Dragon Neon, and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World in the previous generation, but Yakuza provided us with a very deep fighting system that allowed us to improve our existing arsenal of punches and kicks and allowed us to beat the living crap out of our opponents in merciless ways. In addition to the addicting gameplay it’s also got a very Asian drama heavy storyline, which is unique to the west, and the locales featured were both varied and depicted different areas of Japan in very interesting ways. But, alas, Yakuza 5 will never see the light of day here in the United States, as Sega’s strategy changes and focus is placed on more western centric titles.
I’m kind of retreading old ground here, but that’s okay. I’ll take any excuse I can do draw some attention onto these fantastic franchises that have been mercilessly abandoned by their developers and publishers! It’s an RPG heavy list, but what can I say; it’s my favorite genre which almost every abandoned franchise I care about belongs to.
This week’s honorable mention goes to the original Actraiser, an excellent Super Nintendo game that brilliantly combined a side scrolling action platform game with a town building god simulation. This honorable mention does not extend to Actraiser 2, which carelessly abandoned the simulation aspect of gameplay entirely in favor of more platforming action. The front of the box even says, “100% Pure Action and Excitement!” which in my opinion was the perfect excuse not to care. I seriously doubt it will ever happen, but I’d love to see a proper sequel to Actraiser, complete with a god sim.
5. Ogre Battle
There are two sides to the Ogre Battle series. On one side are the strategy RPGs. There is Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together, which paved the way for Final Fantasy Tactics (made by much of the same team) and there is also Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis, a Gameboy Advance title and the most recent entry in the series which was released in 2002 in North America. The other side contains the original game, Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen and its sequel Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber, which I can only describe as real time strategy role playing games. We never saw a North American release of Ogre Battle: Legend of the Zenobia Prince, which was a side story to March of the Black Queen and was released for Neo Geo Pocket Color.
In any case, I want to see this series brought back, and I don’t care which side of the series gets the next sequel. Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together is highly respected and can usually be found included on lists of the best strategy RPGs of all time. Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen and Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber both feature a very unique brand of real time strategy that I’d love to see brought back in a sequel. Sadly, aside from a PSP rerelease of Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together, the Ogre Battle franchise has been long dormant, and I fear it is completely abandoned. I hope Square Enix doesn’t let this excellent series fade into complete obscurity.
4. Soulblazer / Terranigma / Illusion of Gaia
These three are among my favorite Super Nintendo games, and it’s absurd that Terranigma never saw an official North American release. Though not officially related, fans have put the pieces together and affectionately dubbed this set a trilogy; the Gaia Trilogy to be precise. Regardless of whether they are connected or not, all three games are fantastic, and after more than 20 years of waiting, I am ready for a revival, a reboot, a sequel; anything to bring this series of classic games back to life.
I’d particularly like to see more from Soul Blazer, a dungeon crawling action game in which the player brought lost villages back into existence one piece, person, plant or animal at a time by destroying monster lairs. It was great fun to watch the civilizations come back into existence, and I enjoyed the action elements as well, though they are admittedly dated by today’s standards. Nevertheless, a sequel would be awesome. Illusion of Gaia is probably the most well-known entry into the series, particularly for its excellent storyline, and Terranigma pushed the action elements forward a great deal, but Soul Blazer will always be my favorite.
3. Phantasy Star (not Online)
The stars are aligning. With Sega now in possession of Atlus via the purchase of the assets of Index Corporation, they have a new wealth of RPG developing talent at their disposal. Could Phantasy Star V become a reality? Damn, I hope so. I know technically this franchise is still alive and well, as the Phantasy Star Online series continues to be developed to this day, but I consider that a different beast entirely. What I’m looking for is a new Phantasy Star game, a new single player RPG like the Sega Genesis games.
Phantasy Star II was a brutally challenging, classic JRPG, with a huge cast of diverse characters and a fascinating world to explore. Phantasy Star III had the player exploring multiple worlds, and controlling multiple generations of heroes that could be different from one game to the next depending on which characters got married. Phantasy Star IV was a massive game with vehicular combat, the strongest storyline yet in the series, and just a ton of RPG goodness. So where the hell is Phantasy Star V?
In the late 80s and early 90s, Phantasy Star was right there alongside Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy, helping to define the JRPG genre. It’s tragic to me that Sega never developed Phantasy Star V… or VI or VII for that matter. We should have Alis Returns: Phantasy Star XIII by now! Okay, maybe not quite that many, but still, a new Phantasy Star game is long overdue, and with Atlus’ resources added to their own, Sega is out of excuses.
2. Chrono Trigger / Chrono Cross
This might be an obvious choice. Everyone wants another sequel to Chrono Trigger! As one of the greatest RPGs of all time, it’s astonishing that Squaresoft only developed one sequel. And Chrono Cross isn’t exactly what people were hoping for. Its cross-dimensional gameplay has its appeals, and I enjoyed it a great deal for what it’s worth, but it just wasn’t of the same caliber as Chrono Trigger, one of the few games that did time travel right.
Perhaps that’s why we haven’t seen a sequel; maybe they know they can’t make a better game than Chrono Trigger. But they don’t really have to! I don’t think anyone expects the next “greatest RPG of all time,” but at the very least a respectable sequel, complete with time travel and a great storyline with appealing characters and an engaging battle engine should be something the developer is capable of making. Though I suppose the anti-Final Fantasy XIII brigade would argue that they actually are incapable of coming up with a good storyline and characters at this point, but hopefully Bravely Default (via Silicon Studio) restored some faith in Square Enix.
In any case, another sequel to Chrono Trigger is one of my greatest wishes as a gamer.
It’s been 8 years now since the release of Suikoden V, which was an excellent entry in the series after the somewhat disappointing Suikoden IV. Suikoden V was so good, that it seemed like the future of the franchise was bright! Instead, all we’ve seen since are spinoffs and… slot machines? Yes… that is how far the series has fallen. Genso Suikoden Pachisuro is nothing more than a Pachislot game. Meanwhile, the closest thing to a proper game in the series recently, the PSP title Genso Suikoden: Tsumugareshi Hyakunen no Toki, was never released in North America, and since its release, we haven’t heard a peep about anything Suikoden related from Konami. It feels as though the franchise has indeed been entirely abandoned, especially after the news in 2011 that the team which developed Suikoden games had been disbanded.
Why do I care so much? Because the Suikoden series contains three of my favorite RPGs: Suikoden, Suikoden II, and Suikoden V. I also have a lot of respect for Suikoden III, even if it wasn’t quite what I was looking for in a sequel. Nevertheless, the series is known for allowing the player to recruit an army made up of 108 developed characters while housing them in a massive castle (or base structure), all while taking part in incredible storylines filled with adventure, politics, fantasy and emotion. To put it simply, they are fantastic games, and their passionate fans demand Suikoden VI.
If you want to show your support for Suikoden and do what you can to influence Konami towards reviving the series, visit the Suikoden Revival Movement on Facebook. They are an ever growing community of fans (over 21,000 and counting) with a huge list of goals that includes the worldwide digital releases of every game in the series, the localization of Genso Suikoden: Tsumugareshi Hyakunen no Toki outside of Japan, the eventual development and release of Suikoden VI and more. I encourage you to like them on Facebook and participate in their efforts and events. Maybe together we can make Suikoden VI a reality!
I’m including this on the list because until it’s confirmed, we’ve all been left hanging with the most excruciating cliffhanger gamers have ever had to endure. The only reason why this isn’t higher on my list is because it’s not really a matter of “if” but rather “when.” We all know it’s coming, let’s get on with it already. The lack of this game’s existence makes me hate DOTA 2 and all it’s fans as well.
4. Buffy: The Vampire Slayer
Yes, Buffy. I played both games for generation 6 consoles (the first game was an Xbox exclusive!) and they were both really good action games. In fact, they’re amongst some of the better licensed games out there. Solid writing, the sound-alikes are, for the most part, on point. And the gameplay was fun. Unfortunately, licensed games are only viable in the AAA space when the IP is still in the current pop culture lexicon, and since Buffy ended its run a whopping 11 years ago (I am so old), there is little, to no chance I will ever see another game in the series. But man, if they expanded upon that ending – THAT would be a great story.
3. Alpha Protocol
Mix Mass Effect with a spy setting and that was pretty much the pitch for Alpha Protocol. While what came out was more or less that very thing, it was ugly as sin and broken as hell. Still, there are a lot of cool things in this game and I would have loved to see what Obsidian could do with a sequel, but unfortunately the game reviewed poorly and sold even worse, thus killing all chances that anyone who powered through the game’s many issues (and found the diamond in the rough) will be seeing a sequel.
2. Legacy of Kain
Sure we have Nosgoth coming up, but that’s an MMO set in the Legacy of Kain universe, and hardly a continuation of the franchise. In all honestly, I would love to see a proper sequel to the original Blood Omen. It was a fantastic, dark, violent top-down RPG that I loved the hell out of. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the Soul Reaver games (I skipped Blood Omen 2 because it ditched most of what I loved about the original) but it’s not simply the world I enjoy, but also it’s the gameplay of the original that made me a fan in the first place.
1. Knights of the Old Republic
Yes, I am including this as my number 1 because despite Bioware’s assertions to the contrary, an MMO is NOT a continuation of this franchise.
That being said, what else can I saw about this game that I haven’t said a bunch of times already? It’s a Star Wars RPG made by one of the best western RPG studios in existence. It’s been entirely too since the original, and no disrespect to Obsidian’s follow up, nothing can match the awesomeness of the original KotOR. Hopefully with EA having the rights to Star Wars games, Bioware can finally make a proper, next gen sequel.
It was the recent next-gen title that probably killed this IP, but the original Turok trilogy on N64 was cool as hell. Forget the fact that Turok 1 had unfathomably short draw distance. You had cool guns and smooth action, a sweet bow, and you took down dinosaurs. It was cool. Turok 2 was the first game to use the N64 Expansion Pak, bumping the game’s resolution from 320×240 to 640×480. There was also a third Turok, and a multiplayer-focused Turok Rage Wars, but Turok and Turok 2 live on for the N64 generation.
4. Phantasy Star
Phantasy Star Online was one of the coolest games ever. For a week. Until it was hacked to hell and back, and everyone had a Spread Needle. Before that, Sega had released 4 installments of an exclusive RPG franchise (which can still be experienced on Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection) that many people could put against anything else on the market. The last thing we got was Phantasy Star Universe in 2006, an MMO lacking too many features to be taken seriously, and 2 portable spinoffs on PSP. Many people wonder when Phantasy Star Online 2 is coming stateside. It probably never will, and it’s a shame, I hear too many good things about it.
3. Jet Set Radio
What the hell! Where did this one go? I remember getting Jet Grind Radio for my Dreamcast, after reading about how hyped it had been in magazines. I wasn’t disappointed with the cool and unique stylings of the game, and I never really noticed it was hard to control. Sadly, this one was also a victim of the year 2000, or the year in which Dracula was in every video game ever. Even so, this one only got one sequel on the Xbox, before the Xbox was completely household and ingrained, and to where it has gone, we won’t know.
Maybe there’s no room for it in the more recently crowded fighting game genre, but Darkstalkers always had a unique character design. Admittedly, the mechanics of the games aren’t the easiest to grasp, but a modern retooling could help that, like Street Fighter 4 reinvigorated things. I guess the sales of Darkstalkers Resurrection weren’t enough to bring the franchise all the way back, but as long as NYChrisG can wield a joystick, Morrigan will still rule the world of the FGC.
1. Tony Hawk
We know what happened to this one. It’s no secret: those gimmicky skateboard controller titles were no good. But you have to remember on the halcyon days of the PlayStation, or N64, or it even showed up on Dreamcast, you played Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. It was that good. Didn’t matter if you were into skateboarding or not, you played it. Period. The HD Remix is a neat throwback, but it lacks something of the urgency of the originals. We live in a new era, one controlled by the Internet and groupthink. And yet, Tony Hawk was a game you had to play, and it was good, and no one but your friends told you to.
What a list! I sure didn’t expect Ted to mention Tony Hawk, but there it is! So tell us, dear readers – what abandoned franchises would you like publishers and developers to revisit? Sound off in the comments below!