I’ve been playing videogames for thirty-years. During that time, I have seen a great number of franchises rise and fall, many disappearing unjustly before their time. In honor of of gaming’s mightiest fallen franchises, I have chosen to compile this list of gaming properties that deserve to continue on and see new life. Be sure to let me know which of these franchises you remember and if there are other gaming properties that you want to see revived, yourself! Here we go!
- Resistance: Fall of Man
After making a name for themselves with the Spyro the Dragon and Ratchet & Clank series’, Insomniac Games took a sharp turn away from platformers and unleashed the first-person shooter Resistance: Fall of Man for the PlayStation 3. Resistance put Insomiac’s talent for innovative, over the top weaponry front and center and set the conflict in a universe where humanity ended up being invaded by an alien race called the Chimera in the 1940's. The result was a blend of gritty World War 2 and futuristic sci-fi action.
Insomniac released two more Resistance games during the PlayStation 3 era before the series was laid to rest with Sony choosing to bet the shooter farm on Guerilla Games’ Killzone franchise instead, which now also lays dormant. Insomniac has gone on to achieve great success with more Ratchet & Clank games, Sunset Overdrive (which also deserved a sequel) and is now handling Marvel’s Spider-Man franchise.
While it’s great to see Insomniac doing so well, it’s hard not to notice that Sony has a severe lack of exclusive shooters and multiplayer focused franchises on PlayStation. I would love to see Insomniac get the green light to return to the Resistance universe whether it be in the form of a full-fledged fourth installment or something new altogether. Insomniac showed real talent for shooter development with Resistance and as great as their other work is, it would be a real shame not to see Insomniac get another crack at it. It’s time for the rebirth of Resistance.
2. Dino Crisis
Before Resident Evil was a household name, Capcom had another survival horror franchise named Dino Crisis which was the brain child of legendary game designer Shinji Mikami himself. The first two Dino Crisis games were released for the original PlayStation and felt very much like Resident Evil, but featured a red-headed protagonist facing off against dinosaurs instead of zombies. When it comes to horror, would anything be scarier than facing off against velociraptors in a laboratory or fleeing from a T-Rex in the jungle? At the time, there weren’t many games that were scarier. The second Dino Crisis game took a more action-oriented approach than the first, helping it differentiate itself from Resident Evil, which continued to grow in popularity.
Then came Dino Crisis 3 for the Xbox…In a decision that will forever be confusing and maligned, Capcom decided to take Dino Crisis 3 into outer space and leave the series’ protagonist, Regina, behind. Not only were all of these decisions a poor way to continue the franchise which was still fresh, but Dino Crisis 3 itself was also a terrible game in almost every regard. Instead of fighting for survival against dinosaurs in tight corridors with a senses of paranoia and claustrophobia, players were now in outer space, utilizing a jet pack. Surprising no one, we have not heard a peep from Dino Crisis since.
While we have heard rumors that Capcom has internally tried to reboot Dino Crisis a few times, nothing has panned out. While fans have tried to develop remakes of the original Dino Crisis games, nothing has been released whether it be due to Capcom shutting it down or development just fizzling out as fan projects often do. There is some hope for fans of dino-laced horror, however. A new game called Instinction was recently announced and quickly identified as a Dino Crisis-esque game which is planned for release in 2022. Capcom even recently stated that they want to bring back dormant intellectual properties. Maybe there is a chance that we will see Dino Crisis live on after all. For now however, the only way to play the original Dino Crisis games is to play them on the original PlayStation or digitally on the PlayStation 3 or PSP. If you love classic horror games, do yourself a favor and play them both.
3. Twisted Metal
The Twisted Metal franchise was once the pride and joy of the now dormant car combat genre. Debuting for the original PlayStation and published by Sony themselves, Twisted Metal spawned countless sequels and a number of clones which rose to prominence as competition. During Twisted Metal’s prime, the car combat genre was almost like a multiplayer tournament simulation. You chose one of many stylized character and vehicle combinations from an ice cream truck driving clown to a man strapped to monster truck tires. These playable characters and vehicles all participated in a tournament which made up the games’ campaigns, fighting the other vehicles and characters to the death. At the end of the tournament, the winner would be granted a wish, many of which backfired. Eventually, the entire car combat genre fizzled out due to a lack of innovation and player burn out.
With so much time having passed since the car combat genre’s dominance, the time is ripe to bring it back. Imaging re-envisioning Twisted Metal not only as a multiplayer game focused game in 2021 but maybe even a battle royale. While a developer did recently try a car combat battle royale called Notmycar, it quickly failed and was shut down. I wouldn’t blame this on the lack of demand for a new car combat game however. Notmycar simply lacked marketing, polish and name recognition. With a AAA budget, legacy of the Twisted Metal name and Sony’s modern marketing, a new Twisted Metal game could really bring the franchise to new levels.
In a very recent and strange twist of fate, a Twisted Metal television series was just announced. If Sony isn’t already working on a reboot of the franchise on the gaming side, hopefully the television series succeeds and opens the eyes of a whole new generation of Twisted Metal fans. In all seriousness, it would probably be a miracle if the television series itself is half-way decent so we’ll see what happens.
During the early days of online gaming on consoles, Sony and Zipper Interactive launched the SOCOM franchise, a tactical third-person shooter based on the operations of American NAVY Seals. While the SOCOM games initially featured campaigns, the meat of the SOCOM series (which peaked in many ways with SOCOM II) was the online play. Structured similar to Counter-Strike with a “one death per round” style of gameplay, SOCOM was among the first games of its kind on consoles. If you owned a PlayStation 2 and had broadband, playing SOCOM II online was an essential experience that many will remember.
While Sony has shut down Zipper Interactive and there is a great deal of competition in the tactical shooter genre today, there are still many who have fond memories of SOCOM II. The SOCOM games had a very unique and satisfying style of gameplay and iconic maps that could be easily redesigned with modern graphics and spacing. While many small studios have attempted to develop spiritual successors to SOCOM, none have come close to being able to fill the shoes left by Sony’s once mighty property.
While Zipper itself is now defunct, rumors have begun circulating that Guerilla Games, the developers of Killzone and Horizon: Zero Dawn are working on a SOCOM reboot that would likely launch on the PlayStation 5. Guerilla is known for their graphical prowess and garnered plenty of shooter experience during their time working on Killzone. To take matters even further, several experienced tactical shooter developers including those who worked on games like SOCOM and Rainbow Six have recently joined Guerilla. It will be very interesting to see if the rumor comes true and if so, if Guerilla can return SOCOM to its former glory. If they do, I will be one of the many gamers that lines up to play it.
While many of you have probably heard of Titanfall, what a lot of people don’t realize is that Titanfall is developed by Respawn Entertainment. Many of you know that Respawn is responsible for Apex Legends and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order but few people know that Respawn Entertainment was the original Infinity Ward, creating Call of Duty before splitting with Activision to create a new company. With all that established, its fair to say that the level of talent at Respawn has been top-tier for decades.
Despite both Titanfall games being extremely high in quality, the franchise didn’t take off the way that Electronic Arts would have liked. The first game was initially exclusive to the Xbox One, a console that failed during its first several years of existence and Titanfall 2 launched at the same time as both a Call of Duty and Battlefield game, creating insane amounts of competition. Since Titanfall 2 failed to achieve financial success (mostly due to EA’s own decision making), EA decided that a Titanfall 3 wasn’t in a position to succeed and sent Respawn back to the drawing board. Luckily for us, this story has a happy ending.
Faced with doubts from Electronic Arts, Respawn changed the direction of Titanfall 3’s development, choosing to experiment with the booming battle royale genre. The end product of these experiments was Apex Legends which is set in the Titanfall universe, has smashed records and is still running strong to this day. While it makes sense for Respawn to continue to focus on Apex Legends and further its development for years to come, my hope is that Respawn will find a way to migrate the robust fanbase of Apex over to Titanfall and that we will indeed receive a Titanfall 3, packed with wall running, Titans and the works. That’s not to say that Apex Legends should be sunset either as Activision has proven that a free to play battle royale and AAA arena style shooter within the same franchise can coexist with Call of Duty.
With all of that said, the Titanfall games are just too good to leave behind and I highly recommend that you them. You can buy both Titanfall and Titanfall 2 on a variety of platforms now and they hold up incredibly well. If you’re looking for fast-paced parkour-filled action while mechs duke it out with rockets and swords, look no further than Titanfall.
6. Unreal Tournament
Before games like Call of Duty, Fortnite and Valorant were topping the charts, the Unreal Tournament franchise was one of the shooter genre’s biggest and boldest names. Known for incredibly fast, twitch-centric gameplay that rivals games like Quake, the Unreal games dropped players into battle arenas and asked them to use only their aim and movement abilities at the highest rates possible to eliminate each other. While the carnage unfolds, a memorable announcer accented the action to make players feel “God-like.” If you haven’t played a game like Unreal or Quake, you really can’t understand how important the sense of speed and developing talents like “bunny hopping,” are/were. The game was all about utilizing space, firing high powered weapons like rail guns and shotguns, rocket jumping and more to frag your opponents. That was it. Quick, simple and satisfying. Think fast, shoot fast and kill fast.
Older readers probably know that Unreal Tournament was created by Epic Games, who younger readers know from Fortnite, which is one of gaming’s great ironies. The Unreal games were extremely unforgiving, hardcore and adult in their tone. Unreal Tournament creator Cliff Blezinkski went on to create Gears of War, giving birth to the cover shooter sub-genre before departing Epic to start his own studio called Boss Key. Unfortunately for everyone involved, including gamers, Boss Key closed after its first two games failed to take off. After Cliff’s departure, Epic initially began to flounder after the Unreal franchise lost its luster and Microsoft moved on with Gears of War, without Epic.
In addition to those events, when Fortnite first launched, it was a single-player or cooperative PvE game about building forts and fighting off waves of zombie-like enemies. It had been in development for five or more years when it released and though it had a unique look, it just didn’t take off at launch. Epic, who had once been one of the gaming industry’s powerhouses, was beginning to look like a shell of its former self. Shortly after the launch of Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds however, Epic struck gold by releasing a battle royale mode for Fortnite and the rest is history.
With Fortnite becoming one of the biggest games of all time, Epic froze development on all of their other projects and is now essentially a one-game studio. Epic has been investing the so-called “Fortnite money” in interesting ways by advancing Unreal engine and other related development infrastructure and the Epic Game Store but it remains to be seen what other plans Epic has for in-house game development.
As the battle royale genre continues on and consolidates as it has, with just a handful of successful battle royales remaining, some predict that many players will begin to burnout on battle royales and we may see a resurgence of more traditional, arena-style shooters. Call of Duty hasn’t slowed down and I believe that Halo: Infinite will bring that series to new heights by reaching an entirely new generation. As arena shooters creep back into view, will there be a place for a new Unreal Tournament game? My hope is yes, considering the development team and budget would likely be a fraction of that required for most modern games. Hopefully, if Epic does give Unreal Tournament another chance to shine, they find a way to tap into the massive Fortnite audience and invigorate the franchise with new fans, without bastardizing it.
7. Anarchy Reigns
I’ve never been a huge fan of the fighting games but there’s no denying that they usually feature a wealth of great characters, settings, and take a great deal of skill and dedication to master. Due to my own lack of patience, I haven’t taken the time required to get great at a particular fighting game but have tinkered with them and enjoyed them in bursts. One fighting game that I never got to play, but wanted to was Anarchy Reigns from Platinum Games, which most of you probably won’t remember.
While Platinum is primarily known as a highly skilled developer of action games, Platinum tried their hand at fighting games with the forgotten Anarchy Reigns for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Instead of launching a straight forward one versus one fighting game, Platinum put their own spin on the things, opting instead to make a brawler where multiple players can duke it out. They even brought Jack from their Wii-exclusive beat em’ up Mad World over to spice things up and drive the game from a character perspective.
Unfortunately for Anarchy Reigns, the game launched at a time when multiplayer-only games weren’t quite a thing and it seemed that Platinum was forced to shoe-horn an undercooked single-player campaign into the mix which weighed the game down. Add in some questionable net code as Platinum had never made an online game the result was a turned off audience. Anarchy Reigns had a great concept, undoubtedly solid mechanics, character design and signature Platinum action but it never really had a chance to succeed.
While many fighting game fans would likely disagree with me, I believe that one of the reasons that fighting games have waned in popularity is a lack of innovation. Developers of fighting game need to find new ways to excite players, much like battle royale did for shooters. Anarchy Reigns is a classic example of a great idea that was just too far ahead of its time and I hope that more fighting game developers begin to take risks like Platinum did. Sooner or later, someone will stick the landing.
As much as I would like to see a sequel to Anarchy Reigns or Platinum try their hand at another multiplayer brawler, I unfortunately think that the chance of either one happening is slim to none. We will have to live on with the memory of this one and take it to our graves.
Let’s go with back to back Platinum Games’ franchises, shall we? After Clover Studio broke off from Capcom and became an independent company (Platinum), they hit not one but two home runs right off the bat. While legendary Devil May Cry director Hideki Kamiya launched Bayonetta to great fan fare, Platinum asked Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami to come on-board to direct Vanquish. Turning away from his meticulous survival horror roots, Vanquish is an extremely fast-paced, sci-fi action game which let players experience levels of action only previously seen in The Matrix films.
Vanquish puts players in control of a badass super-soldier that could boost across the ground for ages, flip through the air and take on entire armies of large scale robots on his own, while dodging tons of incoming fire and explosions. It was like a trailer for a high-octane action film, but in videogame form. Bullets, explosions, backflips, cigarettes, giant machines and more! Now that I think about it, Vanquish was almost like playing out anime-levels of action with a controller in your hand. The sense of speed and pace of action that Vanquish featured had never been achieved by a single-player third-person shooter at it’s time, with so much action happening on-screen. While I wish that I could find the words to describe the thrill of playing Vanquish, it truly does need to be played to be understood.
Shortly after Vanquish was released, Shinji Mikami concluded his partnership with Platinum and went on to start Tango Gameworks alongside Bethesa, where The Evil Within has become their main work. While there’s no reason that a sequel to Vanquish couldn’t happen, it seems unlikely that Sega would bring the franchise back after eleven years, given its relatively niche following. Platinum could hypothetically develop a Vanquish sequel without Shinji Mikami with their action-pedigree but they seem much too busy with a number of other on-going projects to have time to return to the past. With all of these factors in mind, Vanquish is likely to live on and be remembered as an extremely high-caliber, “one and done” gaming franchise, even if a sequel could be great. If you haven’t played Vanquish yourself, I highly recommend picking it up on Steam where it retails for just $19.99.
Much like my experience of fighting games, racing games have never really grabbed me. While anyone can enjoy occasional rounds of Mario Kart, very few racing franchises ever compelled me to play for more than five-minutes, with the exception of F-Zero. Unlike many of today’s racing games, which strive to be as realistic as possible, F-Zero was an arcade style racer set in the future where speed takes center stage. While the series originally debuted on the Super Nintendo, the series peaked with F-Zero GX (Or AX in arcades) which put players in control of iconic vehicles flying through futuristic race tracks at insane speeds.
Ever since the release of F-Zero GX (which was developed in partnership with Sega), the F-Zero franchise has been dormant. Sure, Captain Falcon is in Smash, but that doesn’t really count for much. While there may not be a wealth of “fans” of the F-Zero franchise around, it still perplexes me that Nintendo hasn’t tried to maintain more of a presence in the racing genre, which remains popular. Given the warm-reception to the Nintendo Switch’s gyro controls which are prominently used in games like Splatoon, the time seems ripe for Nintendo to revive F-Zero and give players unprecedented levels of control over their futuristic vehicle by utilizing the Switch’s gyro feature. Make it happen, Nintendo. Listen to your fans for once and give us a new F-Zero game.
10. Viewtiful Joe
Viewtiful Joe was (initially) one of Capcom’s GameCube exclusive releases, created by Hideki Kamiya, the man who directed Resident Evil 2 and Devil May Cry. During a time when 3D gaming was going stronger than ever, Viewtiful Joe took us back to the days of side-scrolling action games but showed us what they could be on more powerful consoles. Sporting a slick, cartoon-like aesthetic, Viewtiful Joe used some clever film tie-ins to play like action-packed cartoon with slow-motion and time dodging mechanics. Viewtiful Joe was received extremely well for its charm and action which helped spawn several sequels, spin-offs and even an anime in Japan.
Things between Clover Studio and Capcom didn’t last however, with Clover eventually splitting from Capcom and forming Platinum Games instead. Though Platinum has yet to work with their old partners at Capcom, Hideki Kamiya has publicly expressed interest in working on Viewtiful Joe again giving fans hope that the relationship between Platinum and Capcom may someday be rekindled. Rumors of secret meetings between Capcom and Platinum have persisted for years with talk of an Okami or Viewtiful Joe remake coming front and center, but thus far, nothing has materialized. Either way, let’s hope that we see Viewtiful Joe, who has appeared in several of Capcom’s fighting games since, ride again.
BONUS: Dead Space
Visceral Games and Electronic Arts had something really special on their hands with Dead Space. Players stepped into the shoes of Isaac Clarke, an Engineer left alone in space during a massive and mysterious outbreak of horrific monsters and demons intent and brutally ending all humans that they encounter. Featuring incredible atmosphere and a gameplay hook that forced players to skillfully remove the limbs of enemies instead of just endlessly blasting away, Dead Space was cosmic horror done right. That was until the third-game, which largely abandoned its horror roots in favor of a Hollywood style action romp. In addition to pacing changes, Dead Space 3 introduced cooperative play which effectively ending the isolated feeling of the first two games and by the game’s conclusion, they had effectively run the franchise’s story and lore into the ground.
While it seems unfair for just one poorly received game to end an entire game studio that had showcased such skill and promise, that’s exactly what happened. After Dead Space 3 was panned by critics and fans alike, Visceral never released another game. Electronic Arts tasked Visceral with developing a Star Wars game which never saw the light of day and eventually unceremoniously closed the studio. Just like that, both Visceral and Dead Space were gone.
All of this is surely a pain point for many fans which is why its hard to include it on this list. While Dead Space surely has the potential to come back in a variety of ways, Visceral is gone and there isn’t an heir apparent to take over the reigns of development. It doesn’t help that Electronic Arts continues to make questionable decisions either. Look no further than what has happened with Bioware, Mass Effect and Anthem. While it’s sad that the Dead Space saga ended the way that it did, it might be better that it stay dead at this point.
There is still hope for Dead Space fans, though! One of the creators of Dead Space has formed a new studio and is directing a new game called The Calisto Protocol which looks a heck of a lot like a new Dead Space game. While I could try to describe the game’s reveal trailer for you, you should really just go watch it and draw your own conclusions. While it’s not exactly Dead Space 4, I think that is safe to say that The Calisto Protocol is the closest thing that we may get to it for a while.
It’s painful to think of how great some of these franchises were and the fact that they aren’t with us today. Gaming has seen so many franchises come and go and it may be up to us to carry their memory forward. On the other hand however, maybe we will see some of these names again in the future? Only time will tell but until then, play these games as you can and enjoy them for what they are. Just because they aren’t on-going franchises doesn’t mean that you can’t still experience them for the first time, or throw it back and relive their glory. As long as you can access a playable version of them, videogames, like all art, live on forever.