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Defunct Franchises

As part of Sony’s State of Play, we were treated to a host of exciting upcoming games, from Spider-Man 2 to God of War: Ragnarok. One game really stood out for me and that was Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Remake. This follows on the back of a recent announcement regarding a Dead Space remake. We have seen other franchises long dormant getting releases recently, including Streets of Rage 4, Shenmue 3, Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX, Crash Bandicoot and even an upcoming Mass Effect 4. Some of these are remakes, some are sequels, all parts of a series or story we thought were finished. After Mass Effect Andromeda, I was unsure if we’d see another in the series, let alone one based in the Milky Way. Streets of Rage hadn’t seen a release since the Sega Mega Drive but did have ports to almost everything. Series can become defunct for a number of reasons. It can be a poorly received entry, a developer closing down, a change in market demand or even the owners of the IP deciding they wanted to make Pachinko machines. The recent reinvigoration of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Dead Space got me thinking about other franchises that have lay dormant for quite some time. Some of these aren’t as old as you think but it is sad that we haven’t seen a new entry, or in the case of older ones, a remake.

Dino Crisis

Last entry – Dino Crisis 3 (2003)

It’s hard to believe that the Dino Crisis series has laid dormant for nearly 20 years. The first game in the series took the survival horror basics from Capcom’s other hit franchise, Resident Evil, and injected it with dinosaurs. It stared Regina as she and her team are sent to a research facility to track down a supposedly dead scientist who has re-emerged and is making weapons. The game utilises the fixed camera angles and tank controls of Resident Evil but did attempt to bring 3D environments to the series. The game includes a litany of traditional Capcom puzzles to sink your teeth into and the dinosaurs provide a much sterner threat than zombies. As a result, they’re not as populous as Raccoon City’s residents. The game would go on to sell well and would spawn a much more action orientated sequel. Dino Crisis 2 placed you in the boots of Dylan (and later Regina) as they explore another research facility. The tight corridors of the first game are gone, replaced with a much more open environment. With the more action-orientated style, you could now purchase weapons and ammo from kiosks. It felt like Dino Crisis was trying to find a unique identity to help it stand out from Resident Evil and, as such, both the first two Dino Crisis games are different experiences. Dino Crisis would fall into the trap of “poorly received” sequel, with Dino Crisis 3 averaging a 51% on Metacritic. I haven’t played this one but I have heard its space setting, lack of differing dinosaurs and controls all hold it back. It is a sad ending to a once budding franchise. Recently, Capcom have engaged with remakes of their classic Resident Evil games. Sadly, there doesn’t appear to be any plans to bring back or even remake Dino Crisis. Fans have been clamouring for a return of the series, with any Capcom updates flooded with people asking about Dino Crisis. Maybe, when Capcom have exhausted their Resident Evil remakes, maybe they’ll show this forgotten franchise some love.

Twisted Metal

Last Entry – Twisted Metal (2012)

I still find it strange how old the PlayStation 3 actually is. It still feels like it was only yesterday that it was released. I still recall seeing images of Killzone 2 and being blown away by it. Even stranger is that Twisted Metal, a series I loved, hasn’t seen a new entry in almost a decade. Twisted Metal was a series that arrived with the original PlayStation, bringing vehicular carnage to our homes. Here, you could take control of one of twelve characters as you blasted your way through different maps. Each vehicle could pick up weapons dotted around the map and use them to take out their opponents. A year later, Twisted Metal: World Tour would take everything great about the first game and dramatically improve on it. There were wackier characters, more missions, bigger levels, better controls, improved graphics, it was so good. I would rent it constantly and play with a friend. It was one of the best games on the PlayStation. The series would switch developers, moving from SingleTrac to 989 Studios. The series would receive Twisted Metal III, Twisted Metal 4 and Twisted Metal: Small Brawl, all of which would not be released in Europe. As a result, I haven’t played them but it sounds like they weren’t up to the standards of the second game. With a new generation, came a new Twisted Metal. Released in 2001 on the PlayStation 2, Twisted Metal: Black would take a much darker tone than those that came before. It looked grim yet striking, with levels containing a host of secrets, including hidden characters. The vehicles looked great and the combat was as frantic as ever. It would receive a PlayStation Portable version (which would later be ported to the PlayStation 2 in the US) but then the series lay dormant for seven years until 2012’s Twisted Metal. Released on the PlayStation 3, it had much larger arenas, more destruction and online play (which was introduced in Twisted Metal: Black Online). The game featured three playable scenarios, replacing the multiple characters of previous entries. Players could also choose their vehicles. While offering more options, it was a bit sad that the wacky and unique characters of the previous games, along with their stories, were pushed to the back. It received generally favourable reviews but the series hasn’t seen a new entry since.

F-Zero

Last entry – F-Zero Climax (2004)

Three things are certain at a Nintendo Direct according to fans: Sora will be in Super Smash Bros Ultimate, the Switch Pro will be announced and Nintendo are bringing back F-Zero. Unfortunately, none of these seem to be happening. F-Zero was a game that took the Super Nintendo by the horns and showed off what the Mode-7 graphics system could do. It was fast, frantic and challenging but thoroughly enjoyable. The graphics, controls and music all hold up today. It was beautiful, amazing considering it was a Super Nintendo launch title. The one downside was that it didn’t have any multiplayer modes. This was fixed with the Nintendo 64’s F-Zero X. Fans had to wait eight years before they could sink their teeth into a new instalment in the West (Japan did receive Satellaview releases). This added in multiplayer, extra characters, new tracks and brought the game into wonderful 3D. It was pure adrenaline racing. Similar to the first game, it had a steep learning curve, with later Cups being devilishly tricky. Like many games from the era, the graphics might not hold up as well but it was still great. Fans wouldn’t have to wait as long for a console sequel as F-Zero GX hit the GameCube in 2003. This game looks spectacular and its speed is incredibly impressive, even to this day. With plenty of cups to unlock, new characters (as well as hidden ones) and another steep learning curve, this one kept gamers coming back. This entry would be developed by Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio (yes, that Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio) and would receive very positive feedback, even being nominated for several awards. The Game Boy Advance would also receive three games in F-Zero: Maximum Velocity (2001), F-Zero: GP Legend (2003) and F-Zero Climax (2004). F-Zero Climax was a Japanese exclusive and sadly where our F-Zero story ends. The fast paced, challenging, thrilling series hasn’t seen another console or handheld entry since then, being absent from the Nintendo DS, 3DS, Wii, Wii U and (to date) the Switch.

Left 4 Dead

Last entry – Left 4 Dead 2 (2009)

The Left 4 Dead series disappeared as quickly as it arrived during the seventh generation of video game consoles. Developed by Turtle Rock Studios and Valve, this action-horror series had you fending off the undead as you attempted to flee to safety. Split across different scenarios, you and up to three friends had to work together to make your escape. You could choose from one of four characters as you battled against a variety of undead from the fearsome Tank to the haunting Witch. Each scenario would have a different setting, including a hospital, a town and a shopping mall. Both games followed the very same premise but the sequel added in new infected, new objectives and new characters. The games were a joy to play in co-op (2-player split-screen or 4-player online) but you could also play them in single player, with the AI taking control of your teammates. Although not a replacement for human controlled characters, the AI did a good job at helping you survive. The game also featured a great respawn system, in which your teammates could find your character hiding in later areas of the map. It was a fun series that received entries in 2008 and 2009, as well as DLC, before just vanishing off the face of the earth. I suppose Valve have better things to be doing these days…

Gex

Last entry – Gex 3: Deep Cover Gecko (1999)

During the 90s there were all sorts of mascots with ‘tude. These included Sonic, Crash, Bubsy, Radical Rex, Mr. Nutz and, of course, Gex. Gex was an anthropomorphic gecko, full of snappy one-liners. The character starred in three games across the Saturn, PlayStation and Nintendo 64. His first game, titled Gex, was a 2D platformer, where Gex would dive into his television. Here, he would encounter a variety of levels from a graveyard to an industrial complex. It wouldn’t be until Gex’s next game, Gex: Enter the Gecko, where he would enter the 3D realm. Both Gex: Enter The Gecko and Gex 3: Deep Cover Gecko would have slightly larger worlds to explore, full of all sorts of television and movie tropes. Gex would also learn new abilities to help with his adventures. The games were fun, featuring good voice acting, interesting level designs and inventive platforming sections but they didn’t exactly set the world on fire. The series was developed by Crystal Dynamics, who were acquired by Eidos and later, Square Enix. With the return of Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon in remastered trilogies, I’m surprised Square Enix hasn’t jumped at the chance to release a remake of the Gex trilogy. Then again, they may be too busy doing Marvel stuff or something…

Ridge Racer

Last entry – Ridge Racer Draw & Drift (2016)

This one doesn’t seem to be that long ago but when you consider the last console entry was in 2012, it’s a bit sad the series hasn’t seen a release on the eight generation of consoles. These are games I remember for their pure arcade racing, whether it was playing Rave Racer in an arcade, or renting Ridge Racer Type 4. Its last console entry attempted to try something different, bringing in a more “combat” style of play. For me, the original PlayStation entries were pure euphoria. I adore Ridge Racer Type 4. Its different styles of handling, wonderful Grand Prix mode and fantastic music are an experience to behold. I would often stay up late just trying to win the final race. I never cared about unlocking all the cars (there are a ton of them) but I did want to see the end of every story. I was disappointed the series never really went further down this route but it can’t be denied how much of a rush its racing was. Even to this day, I’ll pop in Ridge Racer Type 4 and just drift around the corners. I would love another entry that harkens back to those days, instead of one that tries to follow Burnout or SplitSecond. Hopefully one day Bandai Namco will give us that feeling once more.

Resident Evil Outbreak

Last entry – Resident Evil Outbreak: File 2 (2004)

Now, hear me out on this one. Resident Evil isn’t a dormant or defunct franchise. In fact, its going through a renaissance of sorts with the remakes and Resident Evil Village. What is dormant is its co-op Outbreak series. Originally released on the PlayStation 2 in 2003, Resident Evil Outbreak had you control one of eight characters across five scenarios as you attempted to escape Raccoon City. Each character would have their own stengths and weaknesses as well as different starting equipment. You could even get different scenes depending on who you chose. The game focused heavily on co-op, with the ability to play online with three other players. Resident Evil Outbreak: File 2 would arrive a year later, bringing new characters, new scenarios and new stories. The games received mixed reviews, with players upset over the computer’s AI when you weren’t playing online. No voice chat also made it difficult to navigate with friends and Capcom would eventually shut down the servers in 2011. While it had its flaws, Resident Evil Outbreak was ahead of the game. The ability to work together with people to survive (or even kill them if you were inclined) was something that was revolutionary for the series. Each scenario also gave us a look at what happened to the ordinary residents of the city. What’s surprising about this series is that Capcom never revived it. In the seventh generation, we saw a boom of online games on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Players could now connect across the globe and enjoy co-op in the likes of Left 4 Dead, Resident Evil 5 and Dark Souls or tear each other apart in Call of Duty, Battlefield and Halo. It would have been a perfect time for Resident Evil Outbreak to be revived, giving players an online survival horror experience. Hopefully Capcom will look at this again someday as the main Resident Evil series is going from strength the strength.

I hope you enjoyed my list of franchises I’d love to see return. Of course, there’s more such as Shadow Hearts, Grandia and Golden Sun but I wanted to avoid JRPGs for once. What franchises would you love to see revived?

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