A few weeks ago during E3, Double Helix announced this September would mark the return of Killer Instinct. The new free-to-play game for the upcoming Xbox One is the first game in the franchise since KI: Gold graced the Nintendo 64 as a launch title way back in 1996.
Killer Instinct is by no means the only series suffering from neglect in recent years, so as we prepare for the return of Jago, Glacius, Fulgore, and the rest, here are five other franchises I’d like to see make a return in the upcoming generation.
First Game: Turok: Dinosaur Hunter (Iguana: Nintendo 64, 1997)
Last Game: Turok (Propaganda Games; Xbox 360, PS3, 2008)
Based on a Valiant comic series, the Turok FPS franchise is equal parts dinosaurs and wacky sci-fi weapons, one of which is a probe that bores into an enemy’s head and drains the brains inside like a medieval surgeon. Turok: Dinosaur Hunter was an early title for the Nintendo 64; an entertaining, albeit flawed sequel appeared the next year, followed by several sequels of varying quality. After publisher Acclaim folded, new owner Propaganda Games took over the rights to the franchise and managed to turn a game about a time-traveling Native American battling dinosaurs and aliens with sci-fi weapons into a bland, boring, generic shooter.
If left in the hands of creative developers more interested in making a fun game than convincing people to name their children after Turok, this franchise could be fun again.
First Game: Vectorman (Blue Sky Software: Sega Genesis, 1995)
Last Game: Vectorman 2 (Blue Sky Software: Sega Genesis, 1996)
I could go on for a while focusing on just series Sega could work on instead of finding new ways to ruin Sonic the Hedgehog. Vectorman starred the eponymous robot made of green spheres as he battled War Head, a robot with a nuclear bomb for a head. The game was a fun platformer and featured some of the best use of shading of the 16-bit generation. It was also a game with a lot of variety: in one stage you are a runaway train barreling over a bridge while another casts you as a top spinning through a disco parlor. Blue Sky released a sequel in 1996.
In 2003 Sega attempted to revive Vectorman as a third-person shooter for the PlayStation 2. However, apart from some screenshots and alpha videos, the game never saw the light of day.
3) Viewtiful Joe
First Game: Viewtiful Joe (Clover Studio: GameCube 2003, PS2, 2004)
Last Game: Viewtiful Joe: Double Trouble (Clover Studio; Nintendo DS, 2005)
Viewtiful Joe was a unique 2D beat ‘em up with stunning cell-shaded visuals, great music and a sometimes punishing difficulty (hello, four boss fights in a row without a save point). Borrowing its plot from Last Action Hero, Viewtiful Joe cast players as Joe, a film buff who jumps into his favorite movie to rescue his girlfriend. Capcom and Clover set up Joe’s adventure as a trilogy; however, only parts one and two ended up getting released before Clover closed shop in 2007.
Joe has since run the Capcom crossover fighter circuit, making appearances in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom and Marvel vs. Capcom 3.
4) Perfect Dark
First game: Perfect Dark (Rare: Nintendo 64, 2000)
Last game: Perfect Dark Zero (Rare: Xbox 360, 2005)
Released for the Nintendo 64 in 2000, Perfect Dark was a more-than-worthy follow-up to the classic FPS GoldenEye 007; some go as far to say Perfect Dark, with its creative weapons and dramatically expanded multiplayer, was the better game. For a time it appeared the adventures of Joanna Dark were destined to expand beyond the game with plans for TV show by Fireworks Entertainment and possibly a feature film. Those plans never materialized; to make matters worse, Perfect Dark Zero proved a lackluster sequel when it came out as a launch title for the Xbox 360.
An HD remake of the original came out on Xbox Live in 2010; since then Rare has been content to focus on Kinect games.
5) Mutant League
First Game: Mutant League Football (Electronic Arts: Genesis, 1993)
Last Game: Mutant League Hockey (Electronic Arts: Genesis, 1994)
Another great franchise that debuted on the Genesis, Mutant League Football and the sequel Mutant League Hockey pitted teams of aliens, trolls, skeletons, and other horrors in literal blood sport on the gridiron and on the ice. In addition to being visceral and damn fun both games were graphically impressive, especially compared to more traditional games like NHL and John Madden Football, and fans have been clamoring for more mutated mayhem ever since. The series even spawned a toy line and an animated series.
The appearance of the Mutant League logo on the zombie team in the recent NFL Blitz left some wondering if EA would re-animate the franchise.
Which neglected or down-on-its-luck series would you like see make a return? Leave your thoughts in the “Comments” section!