Article by contributor Nicholas Long.
So many games these days rely on becoming major blockbuster franchises, and publishers often have a multi-game deal signed with developers before the first game has even shipped. However, not every game series or developer is so lucky, and some truly inventive or unique games sometimes end up selling or reviewing poorly. Here are a few games that should have sparked huge franchises but didn’t quite make it into sequel territory.
Why it deserves a sequel: Folklore is probably Game Republic’s most interesting original IP. However, being an early PS3 exclusive is likely to doom even the best game to obscurity. Folklore is a unique experience, not simply in terms of its imaginative environments, but also because of its truly inspired gameplay. The usual RPG has the player scrounging its fictional setting for conventional weapons to fend off enemies. See, in Folklore, you use the enemies themselves as weapons, gaining their power by literally pulling their souls out with a yank on the controller via the Sixaxis motion sensor (a control option that was rarely put to good use). The entire game radiates personality in each of its unique visions of the afterlife, and it’s all wrapped in a mystery involving a death in a small town. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience that should have garnered much more enthusiasm from the gaming community.
Why it won’t get one: The game has a relatively small following, even among the most devoted Playstation fans. Add that to the fact that Game Republic shut its doors in 2011, and it seems unlikely that Sony will want to do anything with this particular property. A real shame considering it’s one of the most interesting, albeit flawed, games of the last generation.
The Legend of Dragoon
Why it deserves a sequel: Even though the project likely started as an attempt to cash in on Square Soft’s success in the genre, The Legend of Dragoon was one of the more interesting JRPGs to come out in the PS1 era without the words “final” or “fantasy” in the title. The combat innovated by means of the Addition and Guard systems. Likewise, the Dragoon transformations added a lot of variety to how battles would play out. Sure, the dialogue suffered from somewhat strange localization and the story was rife with typical JRPG clichés (trite love story, hero with a destiny, etc), but the game was a solid start to a franchise that would never come to be.
Why it won’t get one: It’s been 14 years since the game’s Japanese release, and despite being recently released for download on the Playstation Network and fan petitions, it seems unlikely that another entry in the series will ever come out. Additionally, protagonist Dart is in fact a cancelled DLC character for Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale. So if the hero of the game can’t even get a cameo in a game meant to highlight beloved Playstation franchises, it seems safe to assume that the series is all but done.
Why it deserves a sequel: Bulletstorm’s frantic style and unapologetic over-the-top nature made it a breath of fresh air in a genre dominated by Call of Duty and other realistically grounded, gritty shooters. The characters of Bulletstorm spend most of the game creatively cussing and excessively drinking while trying to get out of a situation that, in any other shooter, would have likely been handled in a much more somber way. Sure, there were moments where the game tried to show some actual character growth, but the focus was always shooting an enemy in the balls while lassoing him into a lethally spiked alien cactus to get a new gun. Bulletstorm is the game that parents and politicians are afraid of, and it’s fantastic.
Why it won’t get one: Unlike developer People Can Fly’s debut Painkiller, Bulletstorm didn’t have the same franchise potential according to its sales numbers. People Can Fly have since moved on to established franchises like Gears of War in favor of making any more attempts to create their own IPs. Additionally, the founding members of the studio have broken off to form their own company, The Astronauts, so it looks even less likely we’ll see a Bulletstorm sequel in the future.
Why it deserves a sequel: Platinum Games sought out to reinvigorate the cover shooter with Vanquish the way that they had previously reinvigorated the hack-and-slash genre with Bayonetta. Vanquish succeeded at shaking up the slow and sluggish pace of most third-person cover shooters by literally attaching rockets to your character’s legs, allowing you to jet from one cover position to another. Not only that, but you could actually shoot at enemies while sliding around battlefields on your knees. With all the standard conventions of both the cover shooter and the hack-and-slash genre alongside a smart health system that was tied to other key abilities like bullet time, the game was one of the best shooters of this generation.
Why it won’t get one: Although the game received a healthy dose of praise from critics, it didn’t quite break a million copies sold. Additionally, Vanquish was the last title in Sega’s limited four game deal with the developer. Add to this the fact that the studio’s best game (the aforementioned Bayonetta) needed a Nintendo exclusivity deal just to get its sequel, and it’s easy to see why gamers will be waiting for a long time for Vanquish 2.
Why it deserves a sequel: Comix Zone is a great example of style over substance. The game is a fairly standard brawler with various enemy types and power ups. The latter-day Genesis title features a protagonist who may be the most stereotypical 90s character of all time: Sketch Turner. Comic book artist and part-time rock musician, Turner is pulled away from his undeniably amazing life into his own comic book by one of the villains he created. The thing that makes Comix Zone so interesting is its presentation. The game is literally like playing through a comic book. When your character is finished with a wave of enemies or a puzzle, you jump through the panels of the comic. You can even make paper airplanes from the environment in a last-ditch effort to fend off foes. Comix Zone had a fair share of awesome bosses as well, making this game a Sega classic that fans of the 16-bit era could really get into.
Why it won’t get one: The game is 18 years old now, so gamers who didn’t grow up with a Genesis in their home wouldn’t even recognize the name. Also, Sega has tried and failed to reboot a few of its older franchises, so they probably won’t attempt to drag any more titles back from the dead. Still, there may be someone interested enough in Sega’s history to pull this one out of the catacombs.
Why it deserves a sequel: Sonic Generations is a lifelong Sonic fan’s dream come true. Clever references and a great sense of humor made the game feel like it was made by people who truly loved the brand and paid attention to the biggest criticisms of the series. Indeed, one of these criticisms is addressed in the very first cut scene, where all of the friends the blue blur has acquired over the last 22 years are removed from the equation. This begins a fantastic journey through Sonic history with 2D and 3D versions of levels from every major installment in the franchise with remixed music of the original stage tracks. There is so much for longtime fans and newcomers to enjoy that it’s impossible not to want more of it.
Why it won’t get one: While there’s still hope that the hedgehog’s best outing in a decade will get a sequel, Sega has publicly stated that they have no plans for one. This reinforces the growing idea that Sega just doesn’t know what to do with Sonic. He’s profitable and an important piece of gaming history, but they’ve been floundering since Sonic Adventure to find out how to make a 3D Sonic that consistently works. Sonic is faring no better in 2D with the disappointing Sonic 4. Sega has been throwing everything at the wall with their mascot, and even though the recent Sonic Lost World has been met with praise, Sega seems to want to ignore the one game that stuck.
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