Top Five – Games That Don’t Exist But Absolutely Should

This one is about my top five games “that don’t exist, but absolutely should.” You know, games that by all accounts should exist and be making developers lots of money, but which inexplicably might never actually see the light of day. On second thought, I’ll just shut up and keep it to myself util I can afford my own gaming company and then somehow make millions off of these obvious ideas…

*Walks out of post*

Okay, okay! I’m coming back! I’m coming back! Let’s just get started, shall we?

5.  Banjo-Threeie:

Is there any surprise that Rare would make it to this list somehow? Well, there shouldn’t be. Honestly, where do I start with this one? Let’s go back to the year 2000: it was a time when kids respected their elders and music wasn’t so terrible, presumably because Miley Cyrus hadn’t come around yet to ruin both of these things for future generations. Okay, okay! I’m letting nostalgia get in the way of my objectively assessing the past, but I digress. Back to the year 2000: after successfully helping the N64 survive the onslaught of the Playstation brand and after years of helping Nintendo expand its ever more lacking (in quantity, not quality) games catalog, wild rumors began to fly around that someone was on the verge of a megaton move (+10 Nerd Intelligence for you if you remember how the word “megaton” came to be associated with video games) in the most heated consoles war this side of the SNES/Genesis debate. What could possibly be so important?Someone was on the verge of purchasing Rareware from Nintendo. “Not possible,” we all told ourselves. “Nintendo would never be so incredibly stupid,” many said. Then the news came that, of all the companies that were rumored to be in the process of negotiating ownership of Rare, the developer was sold to a company no one ever expected would pull off such feat. Until recently, at $350 million the purchase of Rareware by Microsoft marked the single most expensive purchase of any video game studio in gaming history.

Immediately, things began to fall apart for the UK-based developer that was once considered amongst the best of the best. No, I’m serious! Rareware is the only developer not named “Nintendo” or “Sega” that ever managed to carry a system almost entirely through its own efforts. For a long time, the Nintendo 64 felt more like the “Rareware 64,” and Nintendo was simply a very good third party supporter (sort of like Capcom was for the Dreamcast). It soon became obvious that Rare and Microsoft did not see eye to eye and that Microsoft had, and still has, absolutely no idea on how to handle Rare’s talented teams. The developer that once gave us Perfect Dark and Banjo-Kazooie is now relegated to making games for a semi-functional game system (Kinect) that Nintendo already made several years before (Wii Sports).

Finally, Rare shows that it still has talent when it releases Viva Piñata and its spectacular sequel Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise. Then they show us a teaser of a new Banjo and the excitement hits the roof. This is Rareware, not “Rare.” It’s the old company we once knew, right? Wrong. As it turned out, the new Banjo-Kazooie was not a platformer at all, but a botched mess of terrible gameplay execution that didn’t really go anywhere. There was no necessity to change Banjo-Kazooie from what it was then to the disaster it was in its last outing.

Banjo-Threeie, a real sequel to the first two Banjo games, is a game “that doesn’t exist, but definitely should.” Why? Let’s be realistic here for a moment: Microsoft paid millions of dollars to acquire Rareware and even went as far as to threaten legal action against Nintendo in order to get their hands on Rare’s many extensive I.P.s. What is the point of paying of millions of dollars for a game company with an enormous catalog only to ignore it all and have them make generic, crap games that nobody will ever recognize? Furthermore, I can understand why continuing Perfect Dark might seem difficult: first person shooters have evolved a lot since Rare first successfully introduced them to a whole generation of consoles gamers with Goldeneye 007. But 3D platformers? Not so much, and as far as 3D platformers are concerned, not one game in the genre is more flawless than the original Banjo-Kazooie. Not even Mario, with the spectacular Mario 64 and the two Galaxies, has ever been able match the sheer amount of moves, precision, ingenious level design, and everything that Banjo-Kazooie brought to the table. Why? Because that’s what Rare does: it takes ideas that already exist and improves them tenfold. Is it any wonder that they improved the Mario 64 formula so much that to this day Nintendo is still playing catchup? It shouldn’t be (don’t believe me? After the success of Banjo-Kazooie, Mario appeared in his next feature game with a mysterious “backpack” that allowed him to have extra moves he never did before).

So you have this possible game with a formula that doesn’t need to be tampered with, a game that basically is already done for you for the most part, and you have fans clamoring for a return to form. That’s money, ladies and gentlemen, and lots of it. The best part? Unlike FPSs, the platformer genre is not oversaturated at the moment and hasn’t been for a very long time. If Banjo-Threeie released today, it’s only real competition would be the Mario Galaxy series (and Donkey Kong Country Returns, if you really want to push the issue).

So what the hell are you waiting for Rare/Microsoft? Make it happen!

*Waves angry fist at both companies*

4. A Good Pirate Sandbox Game:

Quick, quick! Tell me how many sandbox games since Grand Theft Auto III have been based on mobsters or “thugs” of some kind! I’ll give a full hour to make that painfully long list, starting…now

Done? Okay, good! With the obvious success of the action-adventure sandbox genre after Grand Theft Auto III you would think that developers would think up really cool and interesting settings for their game worlds in order to make everything more exciting. Don’t get me wrong, Red Dead Redemption, Bully and inFamous are all excellent games, but is that really all they can do? Here’s an easy one: make a good pirate sandbox game! Who doesn’t love pirate history and lore? It’s an amazing setting: a world full of possibilities and exploration. Forget driving a car down an alternate version of New York City and forget riding a horse through the Old West for a moment…now picture this: you, a ship, the open sea, and world to explore and plunder. It’s magical to say the least.

I’m baffled that no game developer has bothered to tackle pirates outside of the point-and-click adventure (the amazing Monkey Island series and the amazing Zack and Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure), the RTS genre, a few scant RPGs. The last time anyone tried was earlier last year when we got a glimpse at Pirates of the Caribbean: Armada of the Damned. It looked good…really good, but as everything Disney touches lately turns to s**t (minus Pixar, because Pixar is made of so much awesome that it still keeps its integrity despite Disney), a good game couldn’t possibly make it to the stores. So what does Disney do? They cancel it. Because…you know, the best way to break the gaming market is by green-lighting “wonderful” projects like Epic Mickey (I couldn’t finish that sentence without cringing, even though I slathered it in the deepest sarcasm from the deepest pits of human disdain).

I demand a good pirate sandbox game, gaming industry, or ye be walking the plank! Even Guybrush Threepwood, mighty pirate™ agrees!

3. Skies of Arcadia MMORPG:

Oh look, pirates again! I swear that my love of pirates has nothing to do with me being a buttpirate in real life. How long has this license been sitting around and getting no use? Oh, that’s right, for as long as SEGA has been creating more and more awful games starting a blue hedgehog with a severe allergy to fun gaming experiences. This is a no brainer: it’s an I.P. not in use, set in an interesting world that is fun to explore, and best of all has pirates! Okay, technically they’re “air pirates,” but it counts. So why isn’t SEGA even trying here? It’s such an obvious choice for me that I don’t know why SEGA keeps spending time trying to breathe new life into the rotting corpse that is Phantasy Star Online.

But then again, SEGA isn’t exactly known for being good at not running things into the ground…

2. Shenmue III:

…which brings us to our next game. See, of a few things in life we can be absolutely sure of: the sun will continue to rise, we will continue to lose our sanity to nine-to-five jobs, and SEGA will always be run by chimps. Very, very creative chimps, but chimps nonetheless. Specifically by chimps incapable of making good business decisions and balancing game innovation with the need to actually make money. People always like to blame the Dreamcast’s failure on Sony, but the truth is that no one was more to blame for the Dreamcast (an incredibly brilliant console) falling flat on its face more than SEGA was. To anyone who was ever a gamer during the fiasco that was the SEGA Saturn, the question as to how SEGA took such financial loses that it was forced to shut the Dreamcast down has a clear and absolute answer.

Part of the blame for the failure is also often tossed at Yu Suzuki; SEGA’s own version of Shigeru Miyamoto (except better). Why? Because Suzuki cost SEGA a whopping $70 million it didn’t really have, all in the hopes of creating one of the most unique experiences in gaming history. Did he succeed? Yes. Did he make the money back? No. So I understand why Shenmue, in sense, has been relegated to the back of SEGA’s “things-we-shall-never-speak-of-again” files and why it might never see a sequel.

But here’s the thing: those $70 million? Yeah, they weren’t spent just on the development of the original Shenmue. They were spent to develop the entire Shenmue series, so somewhere in SEGA’s headquarters there are files and files of music, software, and story that were developed but never saw the light of day. I would understand if SEGA had to put a great amount of money toward getting the third game released, but most of it is already done. Note to the chimps at SEGA’s financial division: the best way to make back $70 million from a project isn’t to sweep it under the rug and pretend it never happened. The best way to do it is to milk the living daylights out of the I.P. and its assets, which you somehow don’t seem to understand. You could start by releasing HD versions of Shenmue and Shenmue II on XBL and PSN, which would be fairly cheap (and would suck a whole lot less than that P.o.S. Sonic the Hedgehog 4 game you have the nerve to try and overcharge me for; and yes, I do hate Sonic.). Then you can continue by making a sequel and finally finishing the series. The clock is ticking and the more time that passes the less people are going to care about Shenmue.

You have a rabid fanbase wanting a conclusion (myself included), all the resources already created, you have money to regain, and you don’t even have to try as hard this time: ever thought of giving us Shenmue III on the less-expensive-to-develop-for Wii? Well you should consider it.

As I said…chimps.

1. Pokemon MMORPG:

Wanna know what would resoundingly kick World of Warcraft’s ass in terms of MMORPG financial success?This. This would do it.

Nintendo has had the Pokemon license in its hands for well over a decade and despite being a perfect fit for it we have yet to see an online Pokemon RPG. TRU FAX: Nintendo’s greatest franchise in modern times is Pokemon. Pokemon has become so successful that it has eclipsed both The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario as the greatest asset Nintendo owns. A guaranteed way for Nintendo to make money is to have Gamefreak release a new Pokemon RPG; there is no question about this. Even the awful Pokemon Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald managed to sell better than most games that are considered “successful” by any gaming standards. And what does Nintendo do? Just rest on its laurels and pretend like an online Pokemon RPG is an idea they would never think of even in their wildest dreams.

Why doesn’t Nintendo go for it? Honestly, this is a guaranteed money maker, and I’m willing to bet an arm and a leg that if any game ever released could take the MMORPG crown away from Blizzard’s hugely successful World of Warcraft, Pokemon Online would be the best contender. Maybe it’s because Nintendo is so focused on creating a counter intuitive online gaming experience that they’re scared of actually catching up to Xbox LIVE after ten years and making a decent online network for its platforms. Maybe it’s that they don’t think it will sell; presumably because the head honchos at Nintendo live in a parallel universe where Richard Simmons is straight and Oprah is thin. Or maybe it’s because Nintendo gets lazy when the money flows, as proven by the fact that they did not even bother to make an effort at improving the Ocarina of Time 3D (because it sells regardless) and that, as the Wii has been printing them money, they took so long to get the console a decent game library. How does that affect Pokemon? Pokemon also prints Nintendo money, so why should they even bother to make any real effort? The series will continue to sell well and Nintendo, as usual, will not bother to try something new until it realizes that its money is running out. So maybe in 20 or 30 years we’ll see one, but by then, will anyone really care?

Get it together, Nintendo! I’m still waiting to be the very best, like no one ever was, and you’re stealing that away from me! *Hmph!*

3 Responses to “Top Five – Games That Don’t Exist But Absolutely Should”

  1. chris says:

    I disagree entirely with the pokemon mmo…. I see where everybody is coming from, but there are issues with pokemon being a mmo unless it is a real time fighting and strategies. Once you level up all your favorite pokemon to lvl 100, what do you do? you battle. you battle. you battle. thats it. It needs a battle mechanic similar to what you see on the show.

  2. Kharlo says:

    To be fair though, you could argue the same about any MMO. For example, once you hit level 85 in WoW, what do you do? There’s many options. Nintendo just needs to be smart about it.

  3. Gary says:

    Spot on about Shenmue.

    It astonishes me that Sega never ported the first Shenmue to PS2, Gamecube, and XBox (thus expanding brand awareness). Condensing it to a “movie” and packing it in with XBox Shenmue 2 was idiocy.

    Ah yes, Shenmue 2, which, instead of doing that dirty deal with Microsoft, could have been released on Dreamcast in the US in 2001, then released on Xbox, Gamecube, and PS2 (a tricky proposition, given Shenmue 2’s high texture detail), again making the game available as widely as possible.
    Hell, they could have ported it to PSP, or maybe made s pin-off game centered on Ren for the DS.

    Capcom does this and it works for them, why not Sega?

    But remember Sega is the company that never ported Streets of Rage to the Gameboy Advance, surely the biggest no-brainer in gaming history.

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