Thanks to the recent reimagining of Kid Icarus, I figured it was time to take a look at some other dormant franchises that deserve a fresh new set of eyes. For this column, I only selected my top five, but know that there are plenty of games that deserve a new lease on life.
Here we go...
Easily one of the best games of my childhood, Gauntlet excelled because of the simplicity of the gameplay mixed with the most basic of cooperative experiences. While the original was designed to eat up hundreds of quarters, this challenge translated well on the console versions. Hell, on the original GameBoy, when you had to play by yourself, Gauntlet still worked well.
The original game was reimagined as Gauntlet Legends in 1998. It was then followed by two sequels. These titles amplified the graphics and added to the gameplay. Although they were decent new games, this series deserves much more. In an era of networked gameplay, retro graphics, and incredible innovation, a new Gauntlet game could blow the doors off of any console. Just imagine what a great new look a developer like Behemoth could do with this franchise. In fact, Crimson Alliance is a great look at what a new Gauntlet could look like... and they didn’t even try that hard. Gauntlet was a fantastic little series that would work wonders with a new modern spin.
Diddy Kong Racing
The original Diddy Kong Racing was a wonderful counterpart alongside Mario Kart 64. The game added hovercrafts and planes that changed the gameplay without making it too lopsided. The characters were very similar to those in the Mario Kart franchise, but that didn’t make them any less entertaining.
Apparently, there is a DS version of this game that got slammed in reviews. What I’d like to see is an upgraded version for the Wii or the Wii U. The game must have online play, but most of all would need a sense of whimsy and silliness at its core. If this was just a simple upgrade with some new maps, gamers will leave the franchise behind. This game would benefit from some kind of wacky story to make the game be far more than just another Mario Kart clone. The chances of us seeing a new Diddy Kong seem pretty slim. Realistically, Nintendo is probably more interested in using the Kong family for Mario Karts and that’s it.
I know, I know. There was a new Banjo Kazooie game that came out in 2008. The problem was that the game was less about Banjo Kazooie and more about being an inventor. I didn’t mind Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, it just didn’t seem to fit with the rest of the series.
Banjo & Kazooie deserves a new iteration to the franchise. With all of the advances seen across the platforming genre and the plausibility of revisiting the old school gameplay styles, there is definitely room for a true sequel to Banjo Tooie. Especially since Rare has complete control over the characters (therefore Microsoft does too). There is no reason except grumpiness for this series to not come back to life.
When thinking through this column, I almost skipped past Altered Beast on my list. It wasn’t a game that I played too much, but one that deserves a new life. It was one of the cornerstone games of any Genesis fan’s collection and an interesting concept. How many other games have werewolf centurions kicking over zombies. Right?!
I was surprised to learn that this game has never seen a real sequel. That’s crazy considering how big of a hit it was back in the late 1980s. A new take on this game could go in a million different directions and if new developers took liberties with the story, I doubt anyone would care. Unfortunately, as long as Sega is in financial trouble I bet we’ll only be seeing more and more Sonic games. (Too bad because Ecco the Dolphin and Golden Axe also deserve to be reborn.)
How is it that one of the biggest franchises of a generation has gone dead? Double Dragon kept arcades alive, consoles on, and bandana sales continual. For it’s time, this game was just as important as Street Fighter II and was one of the most identifiable series. Now the game has practically been lost to history.
After seeing the fantastic side-scrollers like Castle Crashers and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Double Dragon could get a hell of a re-visit. Someone with a brain and some new ideas just needs to be hired to get the work done. Please, just don’t get the producers of the movie involved. Scott Wolf would thank us.
* Literally, while drafting this article a new version of Double Dragon was announced. Fingers crossed, people.