Maybe it’s seeing Stallone and Arnie back in the cinemas recently that has me feeling nostalgic and hankering for the good old days. I even had a good root through some of my older games that I’d packed into the attic. Or perhaps I can’t blame it on the return of the aging action stars, it’s more likely to be the amount of kickstarter campaigns for retro game reboots, studio closures, stagnating sequels and brand retirements that made me think about what games from years gone by could lift gaming out of this over-familiar slump in which it finds itself.
Seriously, how bloody awesome was Onimusha!? The Feudal Japan based hack ‘em up titles were one of the most respected series on the PS2. The third game even managed to have a storyline that involved modern day Paris and still be brilliant, in no small thanks to a chain-blade wielding John Reno.
It may have relied on many pre-rendered backgrounds, but they were frequently jaw-droppingly gorgeous on the PS2, just imagine what they could do with today’s or even the next-gen’s technical grunt. Capcom have flogged the Resi series to an embarrassing death and there’s only so much they can do with Street Fighter.
A lack of enthusiasm for the setting can’t be blamed for the series’ disappearance. Just think how many Dynasty Warriors games have been released this generation. Actually, don’t, it’ll make you sad. Well Capcom, if you’re not going to bother with this, at least think about bringing back Okami or Dino Crisis.
Streets of Rage
We’ve seen re-releases on old Mega-Drive collections, but nothing approaching a sequel or even a HD repaint. If the considerably inferior Double Dragon (don’t start, just deal with it) can get one why not this Sega classic? This scrolling beat ‘em up had a large number of fighting moves that puts the competition to shame. A move into full 3D environments would be unnecessary and would remove the fundamental style of the series that make it such a joy to play. Sega were working on a 3D version back on the Saturn, but it was canned (it looked awful).
I’m only thinking of a simple PSN/XBLA release, hell it wouldn’t even cost that much to make compared to most of Sega’s other titles. Come on Sega, we need something to make us smile before you whore Sonic out to the Mario gang again.
Prince of Persia
Specifically a follow-up to the 2008 game please. No, wait! Come back! Admittedly, this is something of a personal choice, as this game never properly finished its story. A fantastic -and brave- ending to the main game left me stunned, but ready to accept it as final. Then Ubisoft released an epilogue chapter as DLC, which ended abruptly at a point that left the story in the air as gamers were left waiting for the next bit of DLC that never came. When Forgotten Sands came out a few years later it reset the story once again leaving us with a very average product, shunted out in time for the tepid movie.
Everything about the 2008 game just nailed it. It wasn’t just the effortless platforming and climbing. The new cell-shaded style gave the game a real sense of identity, enhanced by in-game events as you cured areas of darkness, allowing colour to flow back into the world. Elika was a fantastic companion throughout the game, slowly warming to the Prince over the course of their journey. Her AI was spot-on too, pulling you out of death drops when required being a favourite. Most AI characters are usually an obstacle to navigate, but here the game was designed to allow the two characters to react smoothly, with even swapping sides on a narrow beam proving no problem.
The combat wasn’t to everyone’s tastes as it required subtlety rather than mashing Square and Triangle until, RSI set in. So perhaps a happy medium needs to be reached. If the increasingly stale Assassin’s Creed series would stop selling so damn much, then we might be in with a shot of seeing the Prince and Elika return.
Medal of Honor (World War II era)
EA’s recent decision to take the series “out of rotation” due to poor sales and critical reception surprised no one. The FPS series desperately needs a return to its roots and by that, I mean World War II. Sure, at one point years ago we were inundated with WWII shooters, but the boring sandy hell holes of Generistan are done thanks to the like of Battlefield, COD and MOH all aping each other.
This return would allow the series to inject fresh perspectives into the forgotten era that video games once cherished so dearly. The weapons really made the old MOH games tick. Nowadays the guns fire so fast there’s no talent required, with the only challenge coming from the sheer numbers of enemies. The WWII setting would allow devs to dial back the bullet frenzy in favour of sneaking through small European towns, looking out for snipers. Of course, there are always opportunities for a hidden tank around the corner to strike terror into gamer hearts again.
Possibly the most requested return on the list, but Crytek remain indifferent. However, they have agreed to allow a group of modders to use Timesplitters assets with the CryEngine modding tool and even provide support if a decent team of enthusiasts can be assembled.
Timeplitters’ brand of multiplayer is just what modern gaming needs. Games today essentially release with the same dull variations on deathmatch, CTF or domination. Timesplitters had a broad selection of modes and allowed for vast flexibility when tailoring matches, with even the PS2-era online game proving a successful hit for years. At this point, many of us would settle for a HD collection, as long as there’s online functionality involved.
Legacy of Kain
Take your pick whether you want another Soul Reaver or Blood Omen title from this series or maybe a combination of both again allowing Azreal and Kain to flex their skills together. Azreal specialised in shifting between spectral existences opening up different doorways, while Kain’s main purpose was being the most bad-ass vampire in existence with a range of deadly skills in both open combat and stealth providing a varied gameplay experience.
Quality third-person action games are becoming increasingly rare on consoles this generation, namely thanks to a few low scoring ones putting off publishers. Could this undead pair bring the genre back? Or should someone else lead the charge?
Battlefield: Bad Company
While the main Battlefield series certainly isn’t going anywhere, I like to think that DICE haven’t completely forgotten about the boys in Bad Company. The likable bunch of US Army misfits have had two solid adventures so far and have provided great story campaigns for the single-player side of the brand adding a team atmosphere to events without forcing you into a squad leader role, you’re just one of the guys.
The last standalone Battlefield (3) game was criticised for a poor single-player campaign. Why can’t the two exist in one package? Bad Company for the story and Battlefield for the online action. You know, like Bad Company 2 did in the first place. It’s not rocket science, EA.
As always, we’d love to hear what you have to say. What game series do you miss? Go as far back as you wish. My Commodore 64 collection didn’t inspire anything from me and I would have dived into my other box of Mega-Drive titles, but there was a spider so nasty looking on it I could see the bastard smile.