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Hello, and welcome back to Second Chances.
Now, normally this column is all about talking about something that deserves another chance to shine, whether movie, album, game, or even vacation spot. However, in light of my first project with Braindamage Games (follow my girlfriend & my studio's progress here), I decided to broaden my scope this time. See, there are plenty of holes in game libraries these days due to established franchises just... stopping. A healthy gamer can't survive on shooters alone. As the studio begins work on something to fill a void left behind by a dead IP, I decided I wanted to take a moment to give my take on dormant franchises that deserve another chance on the sales charts.
Now, I do have some rules for determining what counts as a dead franchise. First, there had to have been at least three games released. That rule requires me to leave out series like Portal, Team Fortress, and Left 4 Dead. (Man, it looks like Valve just can't count to 3.) Second, it had to have been at least five years since the last release (including ports and remasters) with no announced follow-up. If a new entry is on the upcoming release schedule, the franchise doesn't count. Finally, I'm only counting releases in America. With these in mind, here are ten franchises that deserve to be brought back.
'Breath of Fire'
Breath of Fire was one of the first RPG series I got into. The tales of a kid who gains the power to transform into dragons are simple. However, the battles are engaging, the characters are colorful, and there's always plenty to do. In fact, I've spent hours just fishing! The last game to release in the US was the very strange Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter on the Playstation 2 back in 2003. Come on, Capcom! The series deserves better than a terrible mobile MMO that never left Japan!
While the first entry in this series was written off as just "Resident Evil with dinosaurs," the other two Dino Crisis games added more action, giving it a great arcade flavor. Unfortunately, Dino Crisis 3, released on the Xbox in 2003, failed due to technical issues, primarily the broken camera system. With today's advancements, we deserve another chance to square off with a T-Rex.
Like I said, Valve can't count to 3. Half-Life managed to squeak onto the list thanks to the follow-up episodes to Half-Life 2 (that ALSO didn't get to 3). I know Valve isn't in much of a hurry to do a follow-up since they're raking in money hand over fist just from running Steam, but 11 years is a long time to keep people wondering about the fate of Dr. Vance.
With all the attention on Rockstar's open-world crime and Western games, it's easy to forget about their street racing series Midnight Club, which was actually much better than Need for Speed in my opinion. The open cities made finding shortcuts during races immensely satisfying. Rockstar hadn't forgotten the series; achievements honoring it have shown up in Grand Theft Auto 4 & 5. However, it's been ten years, guys. It's past time to tear through a new city at 150 mph.
While people got pumped up by the pulse-pounding action of Devil May Cry, I actually preferred the moodier Onimusha series. Focusing on samurai fighting demons in feudal Japan, the series had a haunting tone that worked beautifully along with the sword-swinging and puzzle boxes. Unlike Devil May Cry which moved into the seventh console generation easily, the Onimusha series was left behind after Dawn of Dreams hit the PS2 in 2006. Hey, Capcom, here's a franchise you haven't milked to death yet!
The Panzer Dragoon series was one of the Saturn's biggest high points. The first two games were like StarFox with dragons, and Panzer Dragoon Saga was one of the greatest RPGs ever made, worth shelling out hundreds of bucks on eBay for one of the rare copies. However, the series was shot down after Panzer Dragoon Orta hit the Xbox in 2003. (I swear, was 2003 just a good year to kill franchises or something?) For this one, I'd be perfectly fine if Sega never made a new entry in the series... as long as they do a remaster of Saga. Please, make it happen, Sega!
The Shining Force series is my favorite tactical-RPG series. Shining Force CD is the best reason I can think of to get the Sega CD add-on (aside from Snatcher). While there were a couple of attempts to turn the series into an action game, the last true game in the series was the Saturn entry twenty years ago. Hell, the Americans didn't even get the other two episodes that the Japanese got! Maybe Sega can take a break from trying to re-boot Sonic (again) and bring the Force together one more time.
What happened to my favorite horror series flat-out hurts since it was because of corporate incompetence. 2012 was supposed to be an event for Silent Hill fans as three games were releasing in a month. Unfortunately, the HD Collection was a broken mess, Book of Memories was a genre change no one wanted on a system no one owned, and Downpour was very mediocre. I guess we'll just have to wait for Death Stranding to see what the cancelled Silent Hills could've been.
As one can gather from my Twitter handle, I love the Tenchu series. While the enemies may be stupid and the games may be formulaic, they are the only series that incorporated stealth into the ninja arsenal. I'll have more to say about this series later, but, suffice to say, it needs to come out of the shadows again.
Here's a franchise that died just as it was hitting its stride. The first TimeSplitters was the best multiplayer game at the PS2's launch. The second added an awesome campaign mode and multiplayer options out the yin-yang. The third Future Perfect was one of the greatest shooters of the era with a hilarious story mode and online options that included the ability to share created maps. Unfortunately, since the developers, Free Radical, are history, a mod is the only hint of TimeSplitters available now.
I know there are more franchises out there that deserve another shot. Which one are you rooting for? Let me know, and game on!