Reboots aren’t only for movies. In the last few years we’ve seen new versions, or HD editions, of a number of classic games: Bionic Commando Rearmed, Twisted Metal, and Rocket Knight Adventures are only three examples. Coming up we’ve got Tomb Raider, XCOM, and DMC: Devil May Cry. Thanks to the ever-increasing love of digital distribution systems like Steam, Xbox Live Arcade and the Playstation Network, reboots and remakes with similar game-play to their originals are easy to distribute and can be sold at a lesser price. Sure, some of them have failed – 2009’s Bionic Commando was a bit of a mess, equally so Golden Axe: Beast Rider – but there is hope out there for the forgotten franchises of gaming. Here’s a rundown of the series I would love to see return.
For years, the Road Rash games were my favourite racing games. Brutal, fast, exciting, and with a killer soundtrack, they were everything that a nineties racer needed to be. But, we’ve not had a Road Rash game since 2003, when Road Rash: Jail Break was ported to the Game Boy Advance. The original games are still a hell of a lot of fun to play, and have a real timeless quality. So, isn’t it time we had a bit of motorbike-based, road-racing, baton-smashing fun?
Streets of Rage
Speaking of brutal games, Streets of Rage was one of the best series on the original Mega Drive/Genesis. Taking on gangs of street thugs, Streets of Rage was part of that now-forgotten genre of the side-scrolling beat ‘em up. We had a sequel-of-sorts in Fighting Force on the original Playstation, a Streets of Rage update in all but name, but no actual update to the series. Given the recent resurgence of side-scrolling fighting games, such as Scott Pilgrim and the Final Fight rerelease, this is the perfect time to see a return for Streets of Rage.
Wizards & Warriors
Remember Rare? They were those totally awesome dudes who made titles such as Goldeneye, Donkey Kong 64, Killer Instinct, and Perfect Dark. Well, like I said in my last retro games review, they got started out on the NES. Wizards & Warriors was a series of very fun yet incredibly infuriating action-adventure games. Three were released on the NES, and one of the Game Boy. Since Acclaim’s demise, the rights now sit with Throwback games, but unfortunately they have no plans for a remake right now.
Flashback is still one of the most stunning, immersive games around. A platformer with plenty of puzzle and action elements, it was one of the classics of the 16-bit era. Known for its absolutely fantastic, motion-captured visuals, people often forget just how brilliant this game is. We’ve seen a release of Another World, Flashback’s sister game, for iOS and Android, but it would be absolutely fantastic to see Flashback return to come consoles, either as a HD update or as a brand new game.
Heart of Darkness
Another platformer from the maker of Another World, Heart of Darkness was one of the best games on the Playstation. After your dog is kidnapped (or should that be dog-napped) by dark shadow beings, you go hunting after them. A simple, linear game, but plenty of fun and with a few gory moments, Heart of Darkness made big steps for cinematic storytelling on home consoles. Unfortunately, because of the in-fighting and fallout from the bankruptcy of Amazing Studios, it’s probably unlikely that Heart of Darkness will ever see another release.
Oh Capcom. You know I love you really. You’ve given us such wonders as Mega Man, Street Fighter, Resident Evil, Bionic Commando, and all those totally fucking awesome NES-era Disney games. But you should stop being such an incredible tease. Strider Hiryu is a playable character in the Marvel vs. Capcom games, so I know you haven’t forgotten about him. Why not get him out of your intellectual property draw, dust him off, and let him run free with a new game? Oh, and while you’re at it, a modernised Mega Man game would be lovely, too.
Sometimes I think I am the only person who played this. Published by Sierra, Arcanum is a steampunk isometric role-playing game released in 2001. Playing in a style similar to the Forgotten Realms RPGs or the original Fallout games, you play as the lone survivor of a zeppelin crash, forced to survive in a harsh world. The best thing about the game, though, is the magic vs. technology dynamic that vastly changes the game world. Given that steampunk is still seen as very cool by video game and geek communities (unless I am completely out of the loop), now would be a perfect time to bring back this universe.
Speaking of isometric RPGs, Planescape: Torment is one of the best. Developed by Black Isle and using the same engine as Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale, it gives the player a strange, dark world quite different from the other Dungeons & Dragons universes. In spite of great critical acclaim at the time, Planescape: Torment has been forgotten about in the years since its 1999 release. However, Overhaul Games, the creators of Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition, have said that if that HD remake is successful, then other games from Black Isle’s back catalogue could get the same enhanced treatment. Here’s hoping.
Originally released on the Game Boy, and then ported to the NES, Amiga, and Super Nintendo, Alfred Chicken is a puzzle-platformer where you need to release a number of balloons before being allowed into the next stage. Was there a plot? Damned if I remember. But it had surreal visuals, strange characters, and completely absorbing game-play. The last game released was in 2001 on the Playstation, but I think the world needs more bright red chickens solving puzzles.
Toe Jam & Earl
Finally, two of the most hip and happening characters of the nineties. They’re all the way live! They’re the bomb! They’re out of this world! If you don’t agree, talk to the hand, dude! The first two Toe Jam & Earl games were brilliant. Both were co-op games but were incredibly different: the first being a top-down collection game, the other a platformer. What did they have in common? A sense of humour lampooning nineties culture and brilliant visuals and game-play. There was a third game released on the original Xbox, but surely it’s time for a bit of colour and a bit of humour to return to video games.
That’s all for now. Finally, you may have noticed a wee bit of a gap between this post and my last one. Let me just say that there are some interesting things afoot that will hopefully come to fruition soon.
Next time: another retro games review.