It’s an unfortunate truth that the best video games aren’t always the ones which make money. Essentially there is little correlation between critical reception and commercial success. The same goes for movies and music as well, though sites such as Metacritic have helped mainstream consumers make informed decisions in the entertainment field.
This means some of the best classic video games ever released haven’t generated sequels, or, if they have, not for a long time. Meanwhile, there’s a new Call Of Duty game (aren’t you sick of this series yet?) released every 12 months, and at least six franchises were awarded sequels when they should have been left well alone. So, which games need to be brought back to life?
Viewtiful Joe was a classic video game developed by Production Studio 4 and published by Capcom. It was originally created for the Nintendo GameCube before being ported to the (gone but never forgotten) PlayStation 2. The game is ostensibly a side-scrolling beat ’em up, but it intermixes 3D cel-shaded graphics and employs a number of other clever effects to lift it above others in its genre.
The gorgeous visuals, unique concept, and challenging gameplay combined to make Viewtiful Joe a fantastic experience. Thanks to its small budget it was considered a commercial success, but not enough of one to warrant any sequels beyond 2006. A new Viewtiful Joe title would make for one hell of a strong digital game for both the Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Store.
Missing Since: 2006
Bully (or Canis Canem Edit) is a Rockstar game that, for whatever reason, didn’t quite get the attention the company’s other titles have done. It follows the Rockstar standard of being an open-world sandbox game, with the setting being a boarding school, and the objective being to sail through the lessons while causing mayhem during your downtime.
It was a brave move by Rockstar to portray bullying as a lifestyle choice, but there are consequences to every bad action you undertake in the game. Bully looked great, was highly entertaining to play, and thoroughly deserves a sequel. Sadly, a new school year has never arrived. Rockstar has indicated it would like to revisit the series in the future, but Grand Theft Auto V is, for the time being at least, all it cares about.
Missing Since: 2006
Ecco The Dolphin
Ecco The Dolphin has to be one of the strangest games ever released. Not only was the main character a bottlenose dolphin, his arch-enemies were a group of hostile aliens. And yet it somehow worked. It’s amazing how much a video game dolphin is capable of, with swimming skills the tip of the iceberg. The series ended in 2000 with a Dreamcast reboot; when the Sega console died, so did our friend Ecco.
The Mega Drive originals have, in recent years, been re-released on digital platforms. Which means a whole new generation of fans will have taken these demanding games to heart. A brand new title is surely overdue, especially with ecological issues meaning a classic video game starring a dolphin trying to protect its watery homeland would make more sense now than it ever did previously.
Missing Since: 2000
Psychonauts was created by Tim Schafer and his company Double Fine Productions. It was originally released on PS2 and Xbox, with subsequent releases on a variety of platforms meaning the title gained a considerable number of fans. The game was fantastically unique and original, telling the story of a boy with psychic abilities who, along with other kids with extraordinary powers, exposes a sinister plot.
This is a fun and humorous game that is still infinitely playable. Unfortunately, though Schafer has expressed interest in making a sequel, one has never materialized. While the original game was something of a cult hit, a sequel would, with the right marketing, have the potential to make it big with a more mainstream crowd.
Missing Since: 2005
Shenmue is the final game on this list because, quite frankly, it’s the one title that had to be included, no questions asked. Shenmue was originally conceived as being (at least) a trilogy of games, with a storyline that continued seamlessly throughout the chapters. When the Dreamcast failed, so did Sega’s reasons for pouring money into development, hence Shenmue II ends in an unresolved cliffhanger.
At the time of its original release Shenmue was a revelation in terms of size, scale, and gameplay, with QTEs (Quick Time Events) having since become pretty much standard. There have been various petitions and appeals designed to politely persuade Sega to finish the series off with a third game, but all to no avail. There’s still hope, but it’s dwindling over time.
Missing Since: 2001
It’s likely that not all of the above games will appeal to you equally. I suspect, instead, that one or two will have given you a pang of nostalgia and longing for the past… when video games were made for purposes other than to make money, or at least in addition to that ambition.
Personally I would love to see sequels to all of these classic video games. If David Braben can fund a new Elite game through Kickstarter then why can’t the developers who worked on these games do the same?
Would you like to see sequels or reboots to any of these games? If so which one(s)? Is there another classic, long-forgotten title that you feel we all gave up on too easily? As always let us know in the comments section below.
Image Credit: Matteo Paciotti