When a developer takes one of their most famed and critically acclaimed properties and hands it off to another developer, there lies a sense of tension and uncertainty. You never really know what will become of it. We’ve seen the good (Metroid Prime), the bad (Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City), and everything in between, but beneath the uncertainty and worry lies the steady hope that something great and different will come of it. With so many series staying close to the devs’ heart, not many of these visionaries have the trust and confidence in thinking that another developer will give their series the kind of care and love that they themselves give it. But some ideas don’t disappear with time. Here’s a new list of games that we’d love to see handed off to another developer than the one who currently holds it, and the developer who seems to be the best and most trusting caretaker of these franchises. Enjoy!
NOTE: None of these examples are guaranteed to actually happen. It’s just fun to fantasize, right?
Legend of Zelda (Retro Studios)
This pipe dream has been circulating the Nintendo news world ever since Retro Studios nailed that near-perfect 2D-to-3D transition with Metroid Prime. Samus Aran’s return was something rich with fresh ideas, fantastically presented worlds and a gameplay polish that rewarded exploration and intuitive puzzle design. The action was great too, keeping the shooting accessible, but challenging. So many different gameplay elements were introduced in Metroid Prime; it was a cornucopia of clever mechanics and ingenious design. While Retro Studios did make the more straightforward Donkey Kong Country Returns, I know I’m not alone in desiring a Zelda title from them. They’ve proven their skill in not only design, but also versatility. Metroid Prime had so much going on throughout and that same consideration for varied, but cohesive gameplay is something that the Zelda series has prided itself on. Why not give this Little Development House That Could a shot at one of the biggest franchises in gaming history? Well, Shigeru Miyamoto has danced around this question for years now, ultimately leaving us with the archetypal “it could happen” scenario. But this is a dream that will pursue. The day Retro Studios gets the go-ahead for this mission, I already predict something memorable, one that would even make the great Miyamoto say “wow…that’s a pretty damn good game.”
Star Fox (Platinum Games)
The Star Fox series has been one of Nintendo’s most memorable series, but it’s also been the one that’s the most criminally neglected. It’s had its share of unorthodox detours with Rareware’s Star Fox Adventures and Namco’s Star Fox: Assault, both deviating from the classic Star Fox flight-shooter formula into questionable on-foot territory. Star Fox: Assault sort of got it right, but it felt unfocused. The sloppy ground combat and underwhelming challenge design didn’t reach the heights of the fantastic Star Fox 64. But Platinum Games could very well break this streak. They’ve stunned with amazing action sequences (Vanquish), buttery-smooth combat (Bayonetta) and creative visual design (MadWorld). They’ve conquered the third-person action game, the shooter and even the third-person brawler. Putting on a show with a classic franchise like Star Fox would be an instant cake walk for this unquestionably talented group of developers. Think of a Wii U Star Fox game led by Platinum Games, complete with ranking leaderboards and a stylish visual aesthetic. Platinum Games are becoming close friends with Nintendo by bringing Bayonetta 2 to the Wii U. I think Nintendo should return the favor and trust them with this series that has been lying dormant for years.
Conker’s Bad Fur Day (Grasshopper Manufacture)
Now, hear me out on this. What game do you instantly recognize as one of the funniest games of all time? Conker’s Bad Fur Day, of course. It was blatantly scatological, unflinchingly sexualized, and downright immature across the board. Now, who likes toilet save points (scatological), cheerleader upskirt shots (sexualized), and beam katana masturbation (immature and you know it)? Suda 51 does. This transition from British humor to Japanese humor may sound odd at first, but Suda 51 and Grasshopper Manufacture don’t really pride themselves on Japanese humor. Lollipop Chainsaw wasn’t very “Japanese” at all. It was more Panty and Stocking than Doraemon. Suda 51 has proven that he loves that Western humor style. He loves parody. He loves dirty, adult action. Given the criteria, I think Grasshopper Manufacture could make a wonderful Conker game, one that keeps that universally bizarre humor of singing crap and ultraviolent catfish. While Japanese humor isn’t the best method of making Americans laugh, Suda 51 has never been all about the Eastern culture style in his games, and Conker could be a way to get this guy even further down the rabbit hole of “WTF?!”
Pokemon (Monolith Soft)
Earlier this year, I wrote an article on how Nintendo needs to make a Pokemon MMO. I still hold firm to that vision, but if anyone can make the game work, I’d give it to Xenoblade Chronicles developers Monolith Soft. They made a huge world in Xenoblade Chronicles, but also captured the feeling of an MMO with dynamic and customizable gameplay. In a world so vast that it was compared to the entire country of Japan, think about a world that big, but with Pokemon. Think about huge fields of grass and in the distance, a rustling patch. Send your trainer to the area and instantly entire a real-time battle to capture the wild Pokemon. Compete with other trainers throughout the entire Kanto/Johto/Hoenn/Sinnoh/Unova universe. No other company this generation has handled an RPG world so thoroughly as Monolith Soft and giving them the opportunity to expand beyond the Xenoblade series could not only sharpen their already honed skills, but it would also give Game Freak a much needed break from rehashing Pokemon over and over. Give Monolith Soft a chance, Nintendo! I’m sure you won’t regret it!
Road Rash (Criterion Games)
The fast-paced motorcycle combat racer Road Rash is a nostalgic gem in my psyche (it was one of the first games I played on my first game console, the Sega Genesis). Its speed was only matched by its addictive aggression. Beating your rivals over the head with a club while crossing the finish line at top speed was such a great feeling. While we’ve seen the sense of speed ascend to blisteringly fast paces, Criterion Games’ Burnout series remains the top tier in high-speed racing action. Criterion has openly expressed interest in reviving this long dormant racing series, and quite frankly, I can’t think of a better development house to do it. Speed has become their forte in game design, but the aggressive element has risen up the ranks too. If they can take that aggressive speed element into a car racer, why not a motorcycle racer? Dashing at 100+ mph down a freeway while ramming into your opponent till they swerve off course? Make it happen, Criterion. You’ve proven yourself with Burnout. Time to move from four wheels to two.
Silent Hill (Frictional Games)
Survival horror is no longer a big man’s game. The independent developers are the ones who’ve mastered fear this generation and no developer has made such a big mark on the genre as Frictional Games, developers of the Amnesia series. I originally wanted to give the Resident Evil series to Frictional Games, but I chose Silent Hill instead. While Resident Evil keeps the action at a respectable high, that psychological element of fear that was present in games like Silent Hill 3 and even Silent Hill: Shattered Memories was so rich with texture that I instantly compared it to the sanity-questioning fear seen in Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Silent Hill is on life-support right now, with underwhelming sequels with clunky combat that takes precedence over the unsettling atmosphere. Frictional Games know fear better than anyone and that element of unknowing and unnerving ambiance has made Amnesia a series for the ages. They’ve taken something as unthreatening as an empty room and made it absolutely terrifying. Silent Hill is a perfect fit for them, especially if it’s…you know…the good Silent Hill games that they aim to connect to.
Bethesda has done some wonderful things with other franchises like Fallout and The Elder Scrolls, moving both into first-person with excellent effect. Could they take the ultimate dungeon-crawler franchise and make it into something even more significant? I think so. With the Diablo lore so intricate and rich, Bethesda could take that mythology and put a unique spin on it. They could even take it into first-person (while leaving out all that item auctioning and server issue garbage). Yes, it does sound a bit like Oblivion, but the world of Diablo, the lore of the series is what has made the franchise go beyond an exercise in clicking speed. People thought Fallout 3 was a departure from its original titles, so give Bethesda a chance, Blizzard! You’ve done enough damage to the series already…
Perfect Dark (Bungie)
Bungie unknowingly created the future of shooters with Halo: Combat Evolved. Intense action, excellent multiplayer and a ton of bizarre, science-fiction elements pioneered a new age in console shooters. Perfect Dark’s role in the late years of the Nintendo 64 was something of immeasurable value. As if the shooter couldn’t get any better than Goldeneye 007, Perfect Dark plowed through the speculation and delivered a shooter with creativity and meaning between the firefights. This sense of variation and intensity can clearly be seen in Halo: Combat Evolved, where ideas like regenerating shields and incredibly fun tech sent the genre far beyond the running and gunning of Goldeneye 007. This also complimented the aesthetic well, delivering a sci-fi world that kept you guessing. Bungie’s ambition continues to grow with their upcoming Destiny project, but I honestly can’t envision them disappointing us on their interpretation of the Perfect Dark series. I mean, it couldn’t be worse than Perfect Dark Zero…
If anything, the Uncharted series has detailed epic set pieces, presentation elements that are far ahead of its peers and a collection of gameplay styles that mesh very well together. The shooting, the climbing, the exploration, the stealth…it’s all so cohesive. Naughty Dog has left the series alone for a while in favor of their post-apocalyptic tale The Last of Us, so I think it’s time to give Nathan Drake a new caretaker, and I think Rocksteady has the chops. After the massive success that was Batman: Arkham Asylum, Rocksteady made a big name for themselves with the Batman mythology, but I was more impressed with the varied and accessible gameplay concoction they developed. So many different gameplay elements were mixed together into something that didn’t neglect any of them. It was so varied and so creative in that execution. The buttery-smooth combat, the different items to use, the slick traversal of gliding; now, take out The Dark Knight and put Nathan Drake at the helms. Take out the gloomy world of Gotham and think of an ancient city or tomb. Think of Drake counterattacking a group of thieves, checking out puzzles with a keen and explorative eye, eventually escaping out of a collapsing cave with the same finesse as Batman. Rocksteady’s past works have been showcases of diverse gameplay and Uncharted is another example of a series that takes the best from its contemporaries and makes it into something far beyond memorable. While Naughty Dog is away, Rocksteady will play.
Any Peter Molyneux Project (Will Wright)
Okay, let me lay this one down. Peter Molyneux hasn’t really made a great game in a long time. His promises are so thick with vision, but stumble in practicality. His ideas are lofty and undeniably ambitious, but the execution is something to be desired. I’m going to go so far and say that Milo was something worth pursuing, but not in the same way as the Kinect seemed to do. Think of social relationships. Think of building them into something bigger, something more intricate, something with branching decision paths that ultimately develop into something unlike what another player might experience themselves. Will Wright remains a developer with a keen eye for development. Not like game development alone, but the idea of making something small and simplistic into something huge and bustling. Will Wright made that idea happen with SimCity in 1989, The Sims in 2000, and even the surreal world of Spore in 2008. That concept of growth and extension, it’s something that Molyneux hasn’t made a reality since Black & White in 2001. If Molyneux has the vision, then I believe that Will Wright has the ingenuity to make it into more than just a dream worth dreaming.
Any other game-developer combos that need to happen? Share them in the comments below!
It began with a hand-me-down Sega Genesis from his cousin and since then, he's been fascinated with video games. He enjoys the blissful platforming of the 16-bit era and the rich adventures of the 64-bit era. Favorite games include Metroid Prime, Banjo-Tooie, and practically every 16-bit Sonic the Hedgehog title.
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