Microsoft has a knack for snatching away key third party franchises and bringing them over to the Xbox. Sega continued the Jet Set Radio brand and brought back the Panzer Dragoon series on the Xbox. In fact quite a few franchises have seen a rebirth on the Xbox and Xbox 360. Ninja Gaiden, which was hugely popular in the NES days, made a huge come back on the Xbox. Perfect Dark, a N64 hit, comes back after a few years as a 360 launch title. Part of the advantage of grabbing these franchises is it lures in gamers who are already familiar with them. There are still plenty more video game series that could be brought back for the 360, here are five we’d like to see.
Bonk / PC Genjin
This caveman was once the star of the Turbo Grafix / PC-Engine library. The first game Bonk’s Adventure was a smashing success. Clearly it was one of the “must have” TG-16 titles. It had all of the elements of a great 2D platformer clever level design, good graphics, charming music, a cool hero who gained super powers from eating meat and one thing other platformers didn’t dinosaurs. Naturally kids liked Bonk and he ended up making a couple more PC Engine games including Air Zonk a futuristic shoot ‘em up spin off. After the system died Bonk seemed to fade away. He had some derivative SNES games and made a brief appearance on the Game Boy. So why should Microsoft care about Bonk? The under eighteen crowd. As of now the Xbox 360 is geared towards hardcore gamers and that’s great, but what if Microsoft expanded the market to include the family audience too. It would make the 360 even more of a success, but to do this they need family friendly titles. Not multiplatform Pixar games or a Hello Kitty’s Magical Forest romp. They need an exclusive hero that kids would like and in the past Bonk was so well received he pulled the Turbo Grafix 16 into American homes while competing against Sonic and Mario. Imagine this take Artoon who was the developer of the Blinx series add Hudson’s classic character and a bunch of dinosaurs.
Possible hope for a revival is that Hudson is reviving another PC Engine classic on the 360, Tengai Makyou Ziria. They’re also creating a new first person style Bomberman game called Bomberman: Act Zero. Obviously the two companies are working together, so there’s a small chance that Bonk may live again.
Back in the NES days the adventures of Rash, Zitz and Pimple were on top of the co-op game playing charts. Yes, we’re talking about Battletoads the game where you smashed robots on your path to the Dark Queen. There were other beat ‘em up games like Double Dragon on the market, but Battletoads succeeded because of its humor. The game also had a couple of cool gameplay features like getting a huge stick after beating a walker and riding jet skis. Battletoads was also fairly challenging it wasn’t a game you would play through once and beat. In fact the jet ski level probably made lots of kids rip their hair out in frustration, but the game was always fun to play. A new Battletoads game could fill the void for casual gamers who don’t want to invest hours learning how to do a backflip combo attack, single button smashing is easy to do. The game could also feature more interactive environments where you could pick up all sorts of stuff as a make shift weapon. Or use the series’ sense of humor to sell a new title. Put the Toads in “video game world” where they fight through parodies of classic video game scenes. Then add in some Xbox Live support so you can always have a second player to play with.
Making a new Battletoads game is really a no brainier because Microsoft now owns Rare. If they want to test the market they could release the previous games over the Xbox 360 arcade and see how people respond to them.
Snatcher / Policenauts
Before Metal Gear Solid one of Hideo Kojima’s major productions was the Snatcher game series. The first game put you in the role of Gillian Seed, a detective who wants to find the source of the mysterious body snatching robots. While the game is often renowned for it’s suspenseful though cliché story, Snatcher’s gameplay was mostly menu based. The Sega CD version had you shift through menus and then pull out the Justifier light gun to blast robots on screen. Even so the game is so beloved that eBay prices of mint copies still go for a hundred dollars. Now if Konami re-released Snatcher and translated it into 3D these same fans would flock to the 360. In fact if Kojima continued the story from the first game some of those Sega CD owners would be happy to plunk down cash on a new 360. They’ll also usher in a new genre into their library. As of now adventure games are scarce, but the genre still has followers. Perhaps a more edgy and dark adventure title is just what the doctor ordered.
Kojima may not be ready to make the Metal Gear Solid series an Xbox 360 exclusive, but he never said anything about Snatcher. Perhaps if Microsoft contacted him about reviving one of his classic titles Microsoft could have a killer third party exclusive on their hands.
In the future counter terrorists called Striders are what remain to protect people from the evils of the world. But they’re not passive peace makers, they’re more like futuristic ninja. Equipped with a “cipher” stunning stick and acrobatic aptitude Hiryu was the king of all Striders. During the NES / Genesis era Strider was one of the top action titles. It had imaginative level design never before seen in a console title. One second you’re battling a giant mecha gorilla then you’re taken to the Amazon. Strider also had tight controls, which made the game a nearly flawless action title. After the success of the first titles Strider disappeared until he was brought for Strider 2, a Playstation title. Like Strider before it Strider 2 was another awesome 2D action game. Again Strider disappeared into obscurity and has been reduced to making video game cameos. Namco X Capcom and Marvel versus Capcom featured Strider even though his glory days have long been gone. There’s a major reason for this fans still love Strider even after all these years. Over the past year Capcom’s excelled at creating action games, just look at Devil May Cry 3. If Capcom took the cinematic, combo heavy action of DMC 3 and mix it with Strider they’d have another sure hit on their hands.
Capcom has made some Xbox exclusives in the past like Dino Crisis 3 and now they’re working on Lost Planet for the 360. Since the Playstation already has a bad-ass action star from Capcom (Dante) why not bring Strider back for the 360?
If there’s one game that can sell the Xbox 360 to the Japanese market it’s got to be Chrono Trigger. The combined talents of Akira Toriyama as the character designer, Hironobu Sakaguchi, Yuji Horii and Yasunori Mitsuda’s score put together one of the most beloved games of all time. Unlike other RPGs with dismal storylines about a post apocalyptic future Chrono Trigger was more lighthearted. The end result was a game that was pure fun from beginning to end. Then the biggest surprise came after you beat it, there was more to do. Alternate endings to discover and a hidden programmers room for players to find. When Squaresoft finally released a Playstation sequel, Chrono Cross, it couldn’t quite carry the same torch as Trigger. Maybe it was that it had too many characters or astronimcally high expectations from fans. Either way after Cross the series faded away again, but fans still love Chrono Trigger. Time and time again it’s at the top of lists that pick the best games of all time. A new Chrono game would capitalize on the fan base and convert gamers that aren’t interested in Halo 3.
While Square-Enix has started Xbox support it’s unlikely that they’ll make the Chrono series an Xbox exclusive. However, the “dream team” can mostly be reassembled. Hironobu Sakaguchi is already working closely with Microsoft and he’s in touch with Akira Toriyama through Blue Dragon. Masato Kato, who’s the scenario designer went freelance and Yasunori Mitsuda could be picked up to make a musical score. Instead of continuing the series they can pull the Monolith Soft trick. Take nearly all of talent behind a game and move it to a similar style title with a similar name. If it worked for Xenosaga, which piggybacked off Xenogears it’s bound to work for Chrono title.
Will any of these games make a comeback on the 360 or any other system? Who knows except the developers, but if Rygar can make an out of the blue comeback anything can.
Update: Retro gaming expert Racketboy posts a response up regarding the list. He points out that Snatcher / Policenauts has the best chance for profitability since the series has a strong fanbase and that a 3D Strider might be too a futuristic Devil May Cry clone. We’re fine with another 2D Strider game too, just have more than five levels Capcom.