We here at KGB like videogames. Sometimes, a game series starts off so spectacularly, it is destined to become a legendary franchise. However, it's not unheard of for beloved game series to simply drop off the radar entirely for years at a time. Today's Top 5 features series we'd like to see revived from the realm of forgotten classics.
5. The Legend of Dragoon
While this was never intended as a series, it's still a game that I'd love to see sequelized! The Legend of Dragoon is, as gentleman scholar D. Bethel once put it, "Final Fantasy 7 done right", and I couldn't agree more! The game has become so popular, in fact, that there are multiple online petitions asking for a sequel. Released in June of 2000, this gem brought with it some incredible innovations, the greatest of which was the Additions system, which really shook up traditional turn-based combat in JRPGs. Historically, the flow of combat goes: you hit bad guys, bad guys hit you, rinse and repeat. The really awesome thing about Additions is that they add a timing element that is crucial to your triumph in combat, where success means you get to string together an attack chain that culminates in a special move. Every character has multiple moves they can pull off, and the timing can get insanely tricky, but it's so god damn rewarding!
Throughout the course of the story, it is revealed that many of the heroes are, in fact, Dragoons, basically super powerful beings possessed with the power of freaking dragons!!! Dragoons unlock a whole new level of combat capabilities, allowing you to unleash hell! The story is a bit labyrinthine, but it was definitely a nice break from the over-dramatic Final Fantasy series.
4. AKI Wrestling Games By Chris Linendoll
Back in the late 90s, pro wrestling was in a boom period. If was during this time that many of the wrestlers you recognize now came to prominence. Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H, Chris Jericho and KGB favorite Scott Hall were all major players in the rasslin scene. It was also during this era that the Nintendo 64 was kicking ass and taking names. Although the N64 seems to be the console which has aged with the least amount of grace, there were some amazing games in that lovely little box.
THQ released 4 wrestling games in the late 90s that have come to be regarded as classics. First off, two games were released with the WCW license. These games included legends like Hulk Hogan, Macho Man, and yes, Scott Hall. After losing the WCW license, THQ picked up the WWF/E name, and was able to release games that capitalized on the "Attitude" era megastars like Stone Cold, Rock, and D-Generation X. The backbone of all of these games was the amazing engine which was developed by AKI/ Asmik Ace. The revolutionary grappling system led to much more intricate and TV-styled matches than were ever before possible in pro wrestling videogames. Building up your characters Spirit meter allowed you to pull off signature moves, such as Rock's favorite: The Stone Cold Slammer.
The N64 wrestling games were such a leap ahead in design and presentation, that many fans feel current WWE games have yet to reach the heights attained by WWF No Mercy. And that game came out over a decade ago. That goes to show just how much AKI/ THQ got right in these games, and why they're still widely played to this day.
3. Burnout By Chris Linendoll
I've always been a fan of racing games. Okay, that's not entirely true. About once a generation, a racer comes along that seems to be just totally mind-blowing. Developers frequently use racing games as technical benchmarks for home consoles, and throughout the years they have been some of the best looking games available, no matter the system. I can still vividly remember going over to a friend's house in junior high, and marveling at the sheer beauty of Gran Turismo on the PlayStation. Despite my lust for the gorgeous graphics and sense of speed found in racing games, I just cannot get "into" them once I've bought it. I've tried simulations like Gran Turismo, arcade riots such as San Fransisco Rush, and mega-hit series like Need for Speed. And while I do enjoy my time with these, they rarely rank among my favorite games.
Then came the Burnout series. Spawned from Criterion, I was originally interested in Burnout due to the fact that it used the same engine as Grand Theft Auto 3. Or the same middleware, or something. I didn't care. Once those names became linked in my head, I intently looked forward to getting my hands on Burnout. I was not disappointed. Featuring superb graphics, and an intense sense of speed, Burnout satisfied every craving I had for a racer. I never minded the fact that the cars weren't licensed, as I'm not that much of a car nut in the first place. I simply want to go fast and watch my car get fucked up when (not if) I crash spectacularly.
Burnout remained a favorite series of mine through the years, right up until the summer of 2011. That was when EA trotted the Burnout name out of retirement, and slapped it on a mediocre XBLA game. That game, Burnout: Crash, is pure fucking garbage and it spits on the good name of the Burnout series. Fuck that game in its stupid face.
2. Advent Rising
Ok, I know that this one was a bit of a bomb. I know. I also know that its developer, GlyphX, worked exclusively on illustration and magazine covers and had never worked on a game before. Or since. But seriously, Advent Rising brought some fancy ideas to the table. First, the storyline was written by a bona fide sci-fi author. Who? Oh just an indie writer by the name of Orson Scott Card! Holy shit. That announcement alone had me sold back in 2005. And the story is actually pretty effing awesome! The game starts on the day that aliens have made first contact with humans. The main character, Gideon Wyeth, is co-pilot on a ship that's taking ambassadors to meet the aliens, where he discovers that humans are actually legendary beings, revered as gods throughout the universe!
This trailer still gives me goosebumps
What follows is Gideon's desperate fight against the evil Seekers as they try to destroy humanity. Along the way, the benevolent Aurelians help Gideon unlock his latent powers and help him become a super-weapon in the hopes of finally destroying the Seekers. So basically, he's kind of like Neo. No bullshit, guys, this game is incredible. I had a blast mixing up Gideon's insane powers with badass gunplay, flipping and flying around all the while! Watching as Gideon unlocks and levels up new powers is always fun, and finding sweet new alien weaponry is fantastic! As a nice treat, every weapon has a very in-depth, science-y explanation for how it works. I appreciate things like that. Anyway, the game, which was to be part of a trilogy, ends on a massive cliffhanger! Fuck! Unfortunately, given Majesco's money troubles and the fact that GlyphX hasn't made a game since Advent Rising, the chances of this series continuing are, sadly, zero.
1. Baldur's Gate
If anybody's been paying attention to the podcast, this should come as no surprise. But come on! Baldur's Gate successfully brought Dungeons and Dragons games into the modern era! No other game at the time, and few since, told such a compelling, well-crafted story with many onion-like layers to be discovered. For me, Baldur's Gate was my first foray into the Forgotten Realms, and Bioware did such a fantastic job bringing it to life, making it seem as if it could be a real place. From the first time I cracked the manual open, I felt like I was being drawn into a world that felt special and alive. Sadly, as time wore on, publisher Interplay sold the rights to Atari, who have been content to do fuck all with it. A few years back there was a rumored sequel, called The Black Dog, in the works but nothing ever materialized. All fans have wanted is a chance to return to this beloved setting, to go on perilous adventures with party members who had their own personalities.
And they just might be getting that chance! As we recently discussed on the podcast, Beamdog and Overhaul are currently working on Enhanced Editions of both Baldur's Gate 1 and 2! But that's not all! In a recent Gamespy Interview, reps from Beamdog said that if these enhanced editions do well, that may open up the possibility of Baldur's Gate 3 finally being made! They didn't say much more than that, other than that they're definitely considering Kickstarter as an option. Buckle the fuck up! I'm certainly going to be keeping my eyes peeled for more BG3 news!
Rock casts magic missile at the darkness...