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Ghost Rider may not draw the attention that characters like Batman, Deadpool, or even Squirrel Girl; but that hasn't stopped the demonic bounty hunter from stepping into the light from time to time. Currently, Robbie Reyes' rather than Jonny Blaze is set to roar onto the small screen as he joined Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on Tuesday, Sept 20th.
Almost 10 years ago, Ghost Rider got his first screen adaptation in the movie starring Nicolas Cage, simply titled Ghost Rider, as well as a tie-in video game of the same name for the PS2, PlayStation Portable and Game Boy Advance. Neither fared well with their release in 2007, which is disheartening considering the rich history that the Ghost Rider has.
Yet just about any notable comic book hero; whether iconic and noble like Superman, Spider-Man and Captain America or more of the rough-around-the-edge type like Deadpool, Wolverine and The Punisher have made the transition to starring in their own video game. Getting your own game is a testament to a character's staying power, so the fact that Ghost Rider earned a game in and of itself is pretty great, but what you may not know is that over an entire decade earlier Ghost Rider almost appeared on the original PlayStation console, check out the footage below.
The game that almost was...
The cancelled Ghost Rider game came from Neversoft (now defuncted and merged into Infinity Ward) - a studio that gained notoriety thanks in large part to the acclaim surrounding Tony Hawk's Pro Skater. Yet, prior to their acclaim, Neversoft was approached by Crystal Dynamics (known for the Tomb Raider series) to develop a game based on the Ghost Rider character. This was as part of a licensing deal between Crystal Dynamics and Marvel, yet alas the game was cancelled as Crystal Dynamics faced mounting financial burdens, and chose to leave the publishing side altogether and put all their focus on development.
Neversoft's game was set to play out as a side-scrolling action platformer and functioned similar to many games from the era of being a 2-D game in a 3-D world. Although Johnny Blaze was the Ghost Rider that everyone recognized, he only fit into the story as a narrative transition. In Neversoft's game, the player would control a new, unnamed Ghost Rider that was filled with the Spirit of Vengeance after Johnny's capture. The character played as you would expect, and followed the lore of the Ghost Rider; using his hellfire chain and penance stare to collect souls of the wicked, ultimately gaining power to face the game feature villain, Lillith.
Sadly though, with Crystal Dynamics pulling their support out, Neversoft was left no choice but to cancel the project and add it to the ever-growing pile of games left in purgatory; which considering it was about Ghost Rider, is a rather ironic place to send it.
Could Ghost Rider return?
It's incredibly unlikely that Neversoft's version of the game would ever surface outside of the footage from above, but the Ghost Rider legacy definitely has potential in the gaming world. Here are three viable ways that a Ghost Rider game could surface in the upcoming years.
A Virtual Reality Game
Imagine if you will a VR experience like you've never seen. A horror/action experience that followed the Ghost Rider character through a set of hellish challenges. A virtual reality game would make for an immensely powerful use of exploring what's around you. Just imagine catching up to those you deemed impure and using the penance stare and seeing them drained right before your virtual eyes. It would bring a whole new atmosphere to the action VR experience.
With the newest generation of consoles coming soon (Xbox Project Scorpio & PlayStation 4 Pro) and being VR-enabled, means that the potential is nearly limitless if the right developmental team gets behind a project like this.
A Classic Platformer
Whatever your opinion on the genre, it definitely is a viable gaming model. Just look at some of the games released over the last few years that followed the platformer model. A platform game doesn't simply mean that it has to be a side-scrolling 2D adventure, although there is no reason why Ghost Rider couldn't go full retro like Mario or Metroid. But I think that A Ghost Rider platformer should follow in the play style of Ratchet & Clank, Crash Bandicoot and Spyro by utilizing a large map that through finishing challenges you unlock various weapons and abilities and throughout the level you move around from area to area whether that's via hell-cycle or foot is up to the player.
A platformer could do well considering it doesn't need to utilize the high-end graphics capabilities of the newer generation consoles, so it could truly be allowed to focus on the lore of Ghost Rider and the narrative of the game.
An Open World RPG
This would probably be the hardest gaming genre to crack, but if done correctly it could be incredible. I was thinking that if you were to mix games like X-Men: Destiny and Fable. X-Men: Destiny may not have lived up to the hype of its release, but it had incredible potential considering that you could basically 'create' your own mutant and that's how I would envision a Ghost Rider open RPG. Being able to customize your Ghost Rider in appearance and powers would be a unique twist on the character (although it may deviate from the tradition a bit to allow for power customization). Then if you take Fable and merge the open world feel and questing, you've got yourself a nice little game
An open World RPG is possible although difficult, but with the right studio behind it, Ghost Rider could truly see a unique and beautiful game that matches its own legend.