Over at The Well-Red Mage where I sometimes post words structured into paragraphs about video games, our leader and crimson king The Well-Red Mage himself is always asking the big questions. Last week, it was a short question with potential for some… tall answers, “tall” being an opposite of “short.” I don’t know.
Anyway, the question was: What IP would you bring back from the dead?
There are plenty of IPs that have come and gone, but “bring back from the dead” can mean one of two things to me – a franchise that hasn’t received a sequel in a long period of time, or, a “return to form” for a franchise that lost its way at a certain point in time.
I’m not a Sonic guy, but many have said that Sonic Mania was the first “true” Sonic game in years – a return to form of a game series almost as old as console gaming itself, that saw highly critical reception throughout the past decade, only to finally redeem itself in 2017.
However, today I’m going to be focusing on the former. There are a few games that I can think of off the top of my head that practically need a comeback. The funny thing about them is that they were all on Playstation 2.
The Playstation 2 was a big deal for me when I was a kid. While I grew up with the Super Nintendo, GameBoy, GameBoy Color, and later the Nintendo 64, the Playstation 2 had such a wonderful collection of games that broke all sorts of barriers set in place by the far more family-friendly Nintendo consoles, and introduced something games like I had never seen before, such as the action-RPG. As I never owned the original Playstation, which was home to many more violent games than your typical Nintendo system, there was a whole realm of games now unlocked to me, and I found plenty of great games that I immediately fell in love with.
Heck, I’ve got to give my parents credit, because while I had to wait for my birthday or Christmas for new Playstation 2 games, they took me to Blockbuster nearly every weekend to rent a new game. I rented dozens of them over the years, and to date, it is still in the #1 spot when you count how many games I own for it!
So anyway, what IPs would I like to see brought back from the dead? Let’s get to the name droppin’!
Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance series
One of the genres I’m most hopeful to see on the Nintendo Switch is a return to the hack n’ slash. It’s a blast of a genre and online play makes it so much better. Games like Diablo II, Divine Divinity, and Titan Quest sit near the top of my favorites of all time on the PC, but they would play wonderfully on a dual-stick console like the Switch.
Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance spent many times on my television when I was in my teenaged years. My best friend and I would go over each others houses and play for hours, mowing down hoards of monsters, finding sick new weapon drops, stealing potions from each other, and overall having a blast.
A sequel was originally planned for Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II, the sequel of the original which I managed to completely miss, but unfortunately it never came to fruition due to legal issues of some sort. The 2004 title Champions of Norrath used a revised engine of Dark Alliance, and while the game was also a bloody mess of hack n’ slash fun that my friend and I enjoyed, it never felt the same as the original Dark Alliance.
The thing with gaming trends is that they tend to return. While hack n’ slash games may have fallen out of the good graces of console gamers, there’s always good odds of a return. Some day, that is!
To this day, I have absolutely no idea how I came to acquire this game. I don’t care about samurais, and I’m not a big fan of Capcom control schemes. But for some reason, this game just stole my heart, and simultaneously creeped me out more times than I can remember.
I’ve spoken about this game before, and I’ll be damned if I can find the article where I did, but this sleeper hit felt exactly like playing Resident Evil 2, but with swords and Asian decor. What separated it was the simplistic yet fun swordplay mechanics that involved different swords with special moves and the potential to upgrade them.
There are a total of 3 games in the original series, plus a fourth title Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams, which have all been very well received. I’ve only played the first and third games, but the gameplay mechanics worked well and have been kept relatively in tact. The Playstation 2 was a prime era for “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” God, I miss those days.
Aside from the story, the cutscenes are not overdone and they follow the same style as earlier Resident Evil games with the computer-controlled camera. The focus is heavily on the action, and as someone who never really cared much for detailed storytelling, the games kept it simple and interesting throughout their generally short life span.
The games hold up very well to this day – if you have a Playstation 2 with HD cables, it looks terrific on an HD television. You can buy the games for dirt cheap as well! I mostly recommend playing the first Onimusha Warlords, however, as it’s a perfect blend of action and horror.
Dark Cloud 2
And here we are – the king of my three-part answer. What I personally consider one of the greatest and ambitious action-RPGs of all time: Dark Cloud 2.
While I loved the first game as well, Dark Cloud 2 took the original game, removed everything bad, and added dozens of great new gameplay mechanics so that it felt like the first game on steroids.
In short, you enter randomly generated levels with the goal of finding the key and moving on to the next floor. There is an intricate crafting system based on photographing things around the world to generate “ideas,” there’s fishing, a golf mini-game at the end of every level – let me just tell you straight up, I can go on for hours about this game. It’s so chock-full of content that it warrants its own mega-post. There are dozens of hours of content, easily over 100 hours if you want to try to grab everything not nailed to the floor.
The game was re-released on Playstation 4 in January of 2016, and it includes a trophy system and a full graphical overhaul to HD.
It’s this fact that they went through with the effort, paired with the partnership between Nintendo and LEVEL-5, and LEVEL-5’s support thus far for Nintendo consoles, that I foresee something good happening with the franchise of my favorite Playstation 2 game of all time. After all – why would you go through the effort to remake a 13 year-old game unless you wanted to drum up interest in a sequel? No, I’m not reading too much into this!
Think about it – it takes years to develop a game of this scale. An HD re-release in January of 2016 has to mean something for the future. And maybe, just maybe, it’s Dark Cloud 3. I am holding my breath and checking their Twitter page daily, hoping that one day I’ll get the good news I’m waiting for. Until then, I can bask in the fond memories of Dark Cloud goodness and hope and pray.
And there you have it! Three incredible franchises that I’d love to see risen from the dead. You may notice that they are all action-RPGs, and that must say something about me – I truly miss the genre, and think it’s long overdue for a comeback.
What franchise would you like to see brought back? Let’s hear about it in the comments below!