Four Video Game Franchises That Desperately Need a Reboot
As gamers, we often see game franchises come and go. Great franchises like Uncharted and Metal Gear Solid blow our minds and then come to an end gracefully, and some never seem to get off the ground, like Too Human for those of you who remember that fiasco. While some series like Final Fantasy and Mario continue to impress (more-or-less) others continue on forever, only to run themselves into the ground or fade away into obscurity. With the much-needed reboots of Devil may Cry and Tomb Raider coming later this year, I’ve decided to put together this list of franchises that also desperately need reboots, either to bring them back or to make them good again.
Most gamers remember good ol’ Crash Bandicoot, PlayStation’s furry little mascot. He was to Sony as Sonic the Hedgehog is to SEGA, or how Mario is to Nintendo. For the newer generation of gamers, here’s a quick run down. Crash Bandicoot was a third-person platformer developed for the original PlayStation by much-loved developer Naughty Dog. It featured a crazy spinning bandicoot named Crash as the main protagonist, and featured clever bosses, and levels loaded with enemies, traps, and collectibles. The first game was very well-received, and Naughty Dog went on to develop two sequels, both of which were also adored critically and commercially. However, once the studio passed the rights on to Traveller’s Tales (known for the incredible LEGO games they develop today), Crash lost his momentum. Today, platformers are so few and far between, that a return from Crash Bandicoot would be a great thing, and taking a modern-day gaming approach with storytelling could really breathe some new life into the series’ fantastic and lovable characters. We need more platformers, which leads me to the next big franchise…
I’m not sure how many of you remember Gex the Gecko, but he was easily one of my favorite characters growing up. The first game in the series was a side-scroller simply titled Gex, but this little wise-cracking gecko really shined when he made the move to third-person platforming in Gex: Enter the Gecko. With a set-up similar to Mario 64, you controlled Gex, a TV-and-movie-loving lizard who constantly spewed clever one-liners and quotes from horror films, cartoons, and action movies. There was a hub-world that allowed access to several giant TVs that were similar in fashion to Mario 64′s portraits, and new areas could be opened once enough remotes and been collected from completing various goals inside of the levels. The levels were, of course, themed based on different movie genres, and contained almost every classic movie cliche you could imagine. Combine that with clever bosses, and you had a fantastic game, which spawned another fantastic sequel Gex 3: Deep Cover Gecko, which took on a slightly more mature attitude with the humor. While Gex was really the only character besides the villains (and Playboy model Marliece Andrada as Agent Xtra in Gex 3), a new entry in the series could expand on the universe and present some new characters, and instead of just poking fun at movies, Gex could be thrust into the world of video games, with some humor coming from the fact that he actually realizes that he is in one. (Think of Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard). It was hilarious hearing Gex shout “hail to the king baby” a la Ash from Evil Dead, and I think it’s time for it once again. And that quote brings me to the next game…
Okay, so while just about everyone hated Duke Nukem Forever I absolutely loved it. People criticized its dated graphics and gameplay, and shunned its offensive humor. To me, it was perfect Duke. Too many gamers (and developers) have become so accustomed to Call of Duty and think every shooter ever made needs to use the same mechanics, which is why a game like DNF felt like such a breath of fresh air to me. It was classic fun, and the humor is exactly what long-time fans of the franchise should have expected. We live in a world where the gaming industry has seemingly lost its sense of humor, and every game, for some reason, needs to be an incredibly serious look at the problems in society and the way mankind is blah blah blah. Remember the good ol’ days where we could play games to have fun and laugh a little? We need more Duke to help us remember gaming’s roots, and to make fun of the Call of Duty’s and Gears of War’s of today, but this time, we need it to be a proper reboot, not a sequel that’s been incubating for over 10 years.
Very few people that I talk to remember Tomba, the pink-haired silent hero who kept his entire inventory in his stomach. Tomba, developed by Whoopee Camp, was released in North America in 1998 for the original PlayStation to very favorable reviews, though it didn’t sell very many copies. You played as the aforementioned hero on a quest to reclaim his grandfather’s bracelet, which was stolen by an army of evil pigs. The game was a sidescroller that used a mix of 2d and 3d graphics (generally referred to as 2.5D), which was cutting edge back in it’s day. The gameplay was quest-based. You found characters who gave you quests, and for each quest you completed you would earn ability points, and sometimes entirely new weapons or abilities, which allowed you to reach new areas a la Metroid. The game had an incredible amount of charm and well-delivered humor, and eventually spawned an even more impressive sequel, Tomba 2: The Evil Swine Return. Once again, it had very good reviews, but failed to sell very well, and Whoopee Camp shut down in 2000. Tomba has now become a big cult hit, but with games being somewhat rare, they can sell for as much as $150 online. It would be great to see Tomba return to the spotlight, whether it’s by remaking the original two games for a PSN release, or a developer picking up the rights to make an entirely new game. Tomba is easily one of my favorite games growing up, and I actually just recently played it again for the first time in several years, and it was a breath of fresh air, because to this day there is still nothing like it. I would definitely recommend finding a copy (or playing it via emulators).
Okay, so there a lot more game franchises that really need reboots, but these four really stand out to me. They all represent games that were once critically acclaimed, but have no fallen into a state of obscurity. Let’s hope that these excellent titles make their way back to the top.