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J.C. Wigriff is an author and guitarist from IL.

10 Game Series in Need of Resurrection

Posted by J.C. Wigriff on March - 20 - 2012

Sometimes a game or series will garner great success, and then inexplicably vanish into obscurity for years, if not decades. Sometimes a long dead game series will gain a strong cult following years after inception. Regardless, I don’t know a single gamer who doesn’t have that special title close to their heart, that he or she would kill to see rise from the ashes like a phoenix.

Boggs and I recently constructed a list of titles that we would like to see get hit with a defibrillator. Here is the official J.C. Wigriff “Top 10 Game Series in Need of Resurrection.”

 

The Adventures of Lolo

The Adventures of Lolo is a puzzle game series developed by HAL for the NES, and based upon the Eggerland series from Japan, also by HAL.  In the game, Lolo’s girlfriend Lala is captured by King Egger, and taken to a… you know, it isn’t really important. This game shines on mechanics, not narrative – and the puzzles are fantastic.

You move through a series of levels collecting hearts, moving boxes, and strategically dodging enemies. The puzzles are cleverly designed, and sometimes frustratingly difficult, but with a great sense of accomplishment upon completion. The game doesn’t rely on reflexes for the most part; just pure ingenuity.

Lolo received three North American releases on the NES, the last of which was in 1991. With the success of games like Portal and Braid, there is no reason why this little blue testicle with eyes couldn’t meet with success in today’s gaming market.

 

Smash TV

Every time I see yet another downloadable game like All Zombies Must Die!, I can’t help but feel that a new Smash TV could do it better.

Based upon a fictional game show where contestants battle for their lives, Smash TV seamlessly incorporates over-the-top, cheesy, B-movie antics into a blast-n-grab shooter. You battle against waves of enemies, collecting money, weapon upgrades, and prizes (like toasters and meat products), while enjoying the occasional narration of host Evil M.C.

A new Smash TV game with mutants, big money, and big prizes? I’d buy that for a dollar!

 

Soul Reaver

Equal parts frustrating and enthralling, the Legacy of Kain series was a masterpiece of the era. The dark and gothic architecture and storyline appeals to more than just Twilight fans, though. Do you like gratuitous violence? How about time travel?

There’s no arguing with the fact that playing though the LOK canon trilogy is one of the most satisfying experiences in the history of gaming. I’m not advocating that additional chapters are added to this book, only that the existing ones are treated with some dignity and respect and brought up to date.

Rife with cliffhangers and shifts in perspective, LOK was groundbreaking in how involving the storyline was. The cut-scenes were long without being boring, frequent without interrupting the gameplay, and had some of the best voice acting I’ve ever heard in any video game to date. It may have been a bit convoluted, but all confusion was resolved in the end.

Perhaps the most resonating and deeply felt concepts of the series was hope. Even if the planet has been ecologically shattered and is now populated only by a race of sterile immortals that can sometimes travel through time to commit genocidal slaughter across the eons, we can still hope for a better tomorrow – or at least one nominally less cataclysmic than today.

 

Maniac Mansion

Out of all of the LucasFilm adventure games, Maniac Mansion is my favorite. I cherished my time with Dr. Fred, Nurse Edna, and Weird Ed, putting hamsters in microwaves, evading dangerous space-tentacles, and trying to save my girlfriend from an evil meteor.

I already harped on the excellence of Maniac Mansion’s soundtrack in my “Top 11 Video Game Soundtracks Of All Time,” but it’s really that good. Combine that with the campy feel, the interesting aesthetics of the mansion with all of its bizarre furnishings, and the wacky humor, and Maniac Mansion is a franchise that deserves more attention.

Maniac Mansion hasn’t been seen since Day of the Tentacle came out in 1993. With Monkey Island receiving a facelift, Sam & Max still going strong, and Telltale Games bringing back King’s Quest, why not another Maniac Mansion?

Some people say that point-and-click adventure isn’t a viable genre anymore. Those individuals can [Walk To] > Wigriff’s house, [Kneel Down] and [Kiss] > Wigriff’s ass.

 

Shadowgate

Released in 1987 for the Apple Macintosh and in 1898 for the Atari ST and the NES, Shadowgate was an amazing point-and-click adventure. Set within the confines of a massive castle, the player must traverse its depths in order to confront the Warlock Lord and halt his summoning of the demon Behemoth.

Although the game has an admittedly ambiguous storyline and deposits you in front of a castle with some line about you being “the last in a long line of hero kings”, it nevertheless provides you with a challenging and enjoyable experience.

Shadowgate is infamous for the many forms of death the player can suffer; to include being sucked into outer-space, dissolving in slime, or being killed by sharks and cyclops and dragons (oh my).

Instead of using tricky button combinations and precise timing, Shadowgate forced the player to puzzle out vague clues and, usually through trial and error, and overcome countless obstacles and enemies. Do I use this sword on the dragon or… Oh fuck it – I’m just going to stab myself.

It’s time for a reboot. Although a few sequels have been made to no great avail, the series could use a serious revival, and would be a big hit with fans both old and new.

Ikaruga

Forget what you’ve heard elsewhere, Ikaruga is the king of shoot ‘em up. Released in 2003 for the Gamecube, the game slowly developed a huge fan-base with forums cropping up where players could submit high scores and discuss treatments for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and epilepsy.

A fast paced and visually stunning (read: seizure inducing) shooter, Ikaruga was a game changer. Using a black/white polarity feature forced the player to shift between the two, alternately dodging and absorbing enemy firepower. This was complicated further with the differences in damage that the two shots had on enemies based on their own polarity and made for an incredibly addictive test of a gamers reflexes and situational awareness.

Avoiding environmental hazards and obstacles combined with almost overwhelming enemy presence would have the player hammering buttons and control sticks like tiny ######## (removed by the Editor).

While it may be too soon to consider a full remake of the game, certainly a re-release with tighter graphics and additional levels would be worth the trouble. The genre isn’t dead, yet.

 

StarTropics

StarTropics was an action-adventure game released for the NES in 1990 by Nintendo. It depicts Mike, the games protagonist, on a search to find his Uncle that has been abducted by aliens. Mike has to traverse the many isles of the South Seas, fighting monsters, solving puzzles, and meeting companions.

Zoda’s Revenge: StarTropics II came out in 1994 – one of the last titles for the NES. Nintendo of America was originally going to use Mike as a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, but decided not to since StarTropics was never released in Japan.

Nintendo is bringing back Kid Icarus, so why not StarTropics? I would love to march into battle once again, smashing faces with my yo-yo, on the Wii U.

 

Myth

Before Bungie became synonymous with Halo, they actually made other games. One of these games was Myth: The Fallen Lords, a real-time tactics game released for PC and Mac in 1997.

Being a RTT game, and not RTS, you don’t concentrate on gathering resources, or building armies. In Myth, you control small forces of units, with each unique unit possessing different strengths and weaknesses. This leads to skill really paying off, instead of just throwing hordes of troops at an enemy.

Myth also had a unique physics engine. Nearly all objects in the game were potential projectiles, and objects would relate to one another with appropriate physical behavior. This meant that explosions could be devastating, or that thrown objects may hit nothing at all.

Myth was also accompanied by a cool story and awesome pre-level narration.

Bungie released Myth II: Soulblighter in 1999, which improved the series in every way, before being bought out by Microsoft in 2000. Bungie lost the rights to Myth, and Myth III: The Wolf Age was developed by MumboJumbo and released by Take Two in 2001 to… less than stellar results.

The classic Myth games remain popular, even today, with mods and patches being maintained by the fan community. A new release in the series would be incredible though, if executed properly.

Killer Instinct

Do I really have to say anything here? Killer Instinct was awesome, with a cool cast of characters, deadly combos, and a pounding soundtrack. Back in the 90’s, this series was incredibly popular, but has been missing in action since Killer Instinct: Gold was released on the N64 back in 1996.

With the success of the latest Mortal Kombat and Marvel vs Capcom entries, a new Killer Instinct could provide an Ultra Combo for the fighting game genre.

Actraiser

In 1991, Enix had a nifty idea. They decided to make a game where you are God, and you wake up after 1000 years to find the Earth has been conquered by evil forces. You then have to view the land from your cloud-riding sky fortress to find the sources of the evil, and then descend from the heavens – sword in hand – to kick some demon ass.

The combat is a side-scrolling, Castlevania-esque affair, and is pretty straightforward. What makes the game so unique is what happens after you deliver a divine ass-whoopin’.

In between stages, you engage in a simulation game, helping citizens rebuild society and controlling weather powers, like earthquakes and lightning strikes. As you expand your town, your villagers will block off dungeons on the map, helping to seal off the flow of evil forces.

ActRaiser II launched in 1993, but unfortunately eschewed the simulation aspects of the game. It did have some incredible art,  a solid soundtrack, and was overall a fun game – but fans missed the sim-building.

In 2008, Fumiaki Shiraishi, a programmer at SquareEnix, said: “I’d like to make an ActRaiser sequel. That would be kind of fun.”

I’d love to see one too. Maybe one day SquareEnix will indulge us.

Addendum

A question that I am sure will be presented: Why isn’t Chrono Trigger on this list? Well, let us pretend for a moment that Chrono Cross – that mediocre title with a deficient combat system – had never been made. What you are asking essentially is: “Why not a direct sequel to Chrono Trigger?”

Making a direct sequel to Chrono Trigger would be an exercise in futility. No matter how good the game might actually be, fans will tear it to pieces, limb-from-limb, and castigate it before resorting to systematically raping its severed appendages.

Nothing would ever be satisfactory. It’s best we leave Chrono Trigger in the past, and let sleeping dogs lie.

 

~J.C. Wigriff

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One Response so far.

  1. Swaggmaster says:

    Smash tv is hot shit, remember playing the entire thing one day on one of those “midway arcade classics” things. Awesome fun.

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