Yesterday (Monday, November 10) we began a week-long countdown feature
outlining 15 classic games or franchises we think are ripe for the modern/future gaming era. It's a hot topic, because everyone has fond memories of games from yesteryear -- games that may have shaped them into the people, or gamers they are today.
So we picked from a heady list of titles across a number of genres and platforms and found 15 we think have what it would take to transition to now, or into the future. We've also invited you to drop your own thoughts on what you think would work and to agree or disagree with our own list, of which we're showing you three titles each day.
Yesterday we gave you the X-Wing series, Shadow Man and the classic Battletoads. It's important to remember, however, none of these are actually in any order of what is specifically best, across the board, in our opinion, each of these would have an equal place in the revival space.
Now, on to day two:
Original Platforms: N64, GameBoy Color, Xbox, PS2, GameCube
Although Turok and Shadow Man are from the same now-defunct Acclaim camp, and both were based on Valiant comics characters (Shadow Man much less than Turok though), the importance of both the first and second Turok N64 outings cannot be understated. Outside of GoldenEye, both Turok games were the
first-person console shooters to own. They were also part of the first wave of truly 3D FPS games which, amazingly, outside of Quake 2 were not PC-based.
In response to the multiplayer offering of the second game simply not being enough, Acclaim commissioned a stand-alone multiplayer entry in the series simply called Turok: Rage Wars that released on N64 and, oddly enough, GameBoy Color. It was marked as a bit of a Quake III Arena rip-off, however, and did little to maintain the momentum of the series' single-player component.
The first Turok, however, suffered from incredible "fogging” though this was easily palmed off as ambient jungle atmosphere. Despite this huge set-back, the game still managed to scare the pants off unsuspecting players because you could only see five-feet in front of you and dinosaurs and badguys would seemingly emerge out of nowhere hellbent on your demise.
Like Shadow Man, the Turok series also starred a minority protagonist with the titular Native American. The first game’s story was a bit miss, but the sequel, Turok 2, not only amped up the narrative foundation of Turok’s new videogame universe, it also offered some of the most devilish weaponry ever seen in videogames (Cerebral Bore, anyone?), unparalleled gore (at the time) excellent AI, massive, tiered level design and multiplayer, to boot. It was also one of the most impressive-looking videogames on the N64 at its release and remains one of the most memorable first-person experiences on that console outside of the legendary GoldenEye.
Reason for Revival:
Perhaps this review
can give you reason enough. Despite the negative spin there, the point is that the series needs to go back to the drawing board and not necessarily reinvent itself -- which is a common knee-jerk reaction these day. Rather whoever takes on the IP needs to foster what made the first and second games so good, but in a modern development and gameplay environment.
Our good friend Joab at GameArena mentioned a mod he’d love to see stem from a moddable Far Cry 3 that essentially allowed for Jurassic Park
in Ubisoft’s impressive PC engine. But why not just go to the source -- Turok already was a jungle-set first-person shooter with Dinosaurs and it had no Sam Neill or Laura Dern (a plus in my book). And do I really need to reiterate this point: first-person shooter... with Dinosaurs
. It started at a good place and has serious heritage in the modern world of gaming, and bringing it back there would be an absolute triumph for many.
Street Rod 2
Original Platforms: DOS, Amiga, C64
Set in the summer of 1969, Street Rod 2 put players in the guise of an upstart street racer, allowed them to buy their own cars through browsing the local newspaper, work on them in their garage, and then finally, take them out for a spin to the local burger joint to challenge other racers for cash, or even pink slips.
It might sound ludicrous now, but for its time, the 20+ car list for Street Rod 2 was a huge bonus, and added infinitely to the game's customisation strengths. Each car was also a classic, ranging from the early 50s to the late 60s. Makes included Ford, Pontiac, Chevrolet, Corvette, Dodge and more.
Street Rod 2, which ran on DOS, with incredibly detailed EGA graphics (for the time) was beloved for many reasons, but probably most importantly for its depth in customisation, beyond simply changing the colour of your ride within the very limited colour range of the EGA graphics of the day. From changing the differential, mufflers, exhaust manifolds, and even the engines through buying new parts, each vehicle could be turned into its very own street monster as each new race was won.
Although common at the time as the game allowed players to crash their cars, the consequences in Street Rod 2 were felt monetarily in addition to the humiliation of losing a race, and if players were left without any money to repair or buy a new car, they’d better hope they kept a well versed library of saved games as to avoid having to end their street racing career early.
When you take into account the realistic range of vintage American cars on offer, the end result felt like a realistic representation of an era when racing through aqueducts did occur after the sun went down.
Reason for Revival:
: Capturing an era for vehicle racing as opposed to simply giving players literally hundreds of cars to choose from, still makes Street Rod 2, to this day, a brilliant entry into the racing genre -- even though the actual racing mechanics were very basic. With today’s modern racing engines and realistic car models becoming the norm, by simply recreating the game using modern technology the end result will feel fresh and a lot of fun, even in today's saturated racing market.
It’s a simple concept, that can of course be expanded via allowing the customisation and racing options to be diverse, with added multiplayer support that could even work towards creating a persistent online community of street racers. In keeping the 60s setting (or even a different era like the 50s or 70s), this could be something quite special -- buying and modifying your own vehicles, taking them out to find challengers at the local petrol station or late night burger joint, and literally putting your car on the line in a winner-takes-all drag race through an aqueduct.
Original Platforms: DOS, Amiga, Mac OS
LucasArts was the king of original adventure IPs back in the day, and were so synonymous with the genre, it was always bankable to just try something new and untested. Thus Loom was born.
The game's story writer, Orson Scott Card, is responsible for some of the most important sci-fi and fantasy books of the last 40 years. But his original background was actually in game coding. Beyond Loom, he also worked on The Secret of Monkey Island, The Dig and Advent Rising.
Penned by legendary science-fiction/fantasy scribe Orson Scott Card (Ender’s Game, Tales of Alvin Maker), Loom focused on the character Bobbin Threadbare, a member of a shrouded guild who use music to create magic. Looms then, “spin” this magic (which was the game’s way of saying “spells) and the game actually had many of these the player could learn, however, as magic was music-based, and the main character begins not nearly as powerful as he’ll become, not all notes were available from the outset, adding to the adventure and exploration element of the game.
It also featured one heck of a fully realised fantasy setting, and did not hold back on complexity. Players were forced to think outside the norm, and unlike other Lucas-based adventure/fantasy games of the time, Loom was more serious in its characterisation and writing. It also had a fully voiced cast of characters, intoxicating music and stunningly bright visuals.
Beyond the bells and whistles though, Loom was also a challenge for players and featured a difficulty setting that took away your on-screen notes to play, leaving you to figure out the music, and “spin” by ear. Puzzles were also challenging for a 2D game and never once left the player feeling like progressing was a breeze.
Reason for Revival:
Loom was a different kind of game for its time and would be a breath of fresh air today (or tomorrow). Utilising magic, music, exploration, puzzles and character growth, you could actually build a 3D adventure with a massively realised fantasy setting and almost no combat. Imagine how cool that would be? It was also originally meant to be released as a trilogy but only made it as a single game. LucasArts’ new parent company would be wise to bring the game-world back to life, especially if they could get Orson Scott Card on board (what with the Ender’s Game movie getting closer and closer to reality).
There’s also just a lot of love being thrown around for these original adventure games at the moment, and while it might sound like blasphemy to imagine them being converted to a third-person style of game, Loom’s setting and world is just too rich to leave in the 2D past.
Again, we'll be back tomorrow with day three and three more titles to add to this revival list. In case you missed it, yesterday's can be found here, and once again we urge you to chime in with your thoughts on today's additions, as well as giving us your own. We'll be collating all the suggestions from feedback once we've given you all 15 as well, based on popularity, importance and likelihood/feasibility.
To be continued...