Video game development is a funny business sometimes; often erratic and unpredictable. Fans clamour for new iterations of their favourite franchises like Beyond Good and Evil or Perfect Dark, but are instead left with the unfortunate creation of Naughty Bear and Naughty Bear 2.
With all that in mind then, we thought it would be fun to get together and pick five games we desperately want, but will probably never see.
1Daniel: Shadowman HD
When I think back to the games that dominated my childhood, one title stands above all others. Shadowman. Sure classics like Goldeneye, Ocarina of Time and Banjo-Kazooie are in there as well (weird, they’re all Nintendo 64 games) but none can really hold a candle to Shadowman in my eyes.
A dark and depressing tale seeped in Voodoo lore, Shadowman single-handedly introduced me to the concept of `adult’ entertainment. (The gaming kind. You can thank Sylvia Saint for the titty kind. Boosh!) When the kid next door was bouncing on Goomba heads and jerking about trying to get a perfect shot of Pikachu in Pokemon Snap, I was swimming through a river of blood and ripping the souls straight out of serial killers with my bare hands.
Not a day goes by where I don’t smile or shudder whilst reminiscing on some aspect of my Shadowman play experience. And not a day goes by where I don’t wish I could relive the morbid escapism, through the magic of HD! A HD remix OR a respectful modding of Shadowman, ala the Black Mesa mod of the original Half Life, would be banaynays. But it ain’t gonna happen.
Why? Well, despite being a critical success, Shadowman bombed sales. No one knows about the game and, if and when it does get brought up, people assume it has something to do with Megaman. The fanbase is so eclectic, so minuscule and so handsome that the game is likely to just…fade into obscurity. All those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain. Time to die.(I know the game had a sequel but it sucked, so no I didn’t mention it.)
2Martin: Killer Instinct 3
It was a fighting game for people who didn’t want to spend weeks mastering its mechanics yet still be able to pull off ridiculous combos. And it existed in a world dominated by the likes of Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. For those who wanted a pick up and play experience where they could feel awesome in a game, Killer Instinct had no match.
Then in 2002 something terrible happened. Killer Instincts developer, Rare, was purchased by Microsoft and doomed to a lifetime of crappy kinect-only titles. Rumours of a sequel popped up late last year after former lead designer and programmer for the series Chris Tilston offered his expertise if Microsoft decided to do a 3. Earlier this year Ed Boon posted on Twitter he’d just got the ok to start work on Mortal Kombat vs Killer Instinct. Unfortunately his tweet landed on April Fools Day, a sick joke to say the least. And most recently Microsoft attempted to renew the patent of the series name but was rejected because a failed tv show already held the rights.
It’s unlikely we’ll ever see a sequel to the beloved franchise considering all the legal issues and scattered development team. So here’s to KI, the greatest fighter there ever was!
3Phil: A proper sequel to Def Jam: Fight for New York
Def Jam Fight for New York is one of my favourite games. In a world of underground tournaments and fight clubs; thugs, pimps, players and gangsters all threw down with some stylish and brutal moves. And many of those characters were portrayed by actors, rappers and models. Crazy I know.
Players could also use wrestling, martial arts, street fighting, kickboxing and submissions, as well as combining as many as three of those five styles to form some sweet new fighting styles. Each style had their own moves, advantages and distinct visual flair. But it wasn’t just fighting styles. As befitting the gritty world of underground fighting, weapons were plentiful and environmental attacks were encouraged. Slamming enemies into walls, ramming their faces into a nightclub speaker, cracking a two by four over their head, throwing them in front of an incoming train. All fair game.
Fight for New York combined incredibly flashy moves and brutal street fighting techniques to result in something that was ridiculously fun to play and watch. I will forever have memories of throwing Snoop Dogg out of a window to his death, after having gotten my ass kicked by his mad kung fu skills, all while solemn rap music plays in the background … I told you it was a crazy game.
Alas EA Chicago soon took over development of the Def Jam series. Def Jam Icon, while ambitious was pretty bad. With the rights to the license no longer in EA’s hands and the developer of the good Def Jam games having more or less stopped making games for the West, my dreams of a true sequel to Fight for New York will remain sadly unfulfilled.
4Alex: Evil Genius 2
Evil Genius is perhaps my favourite game of all time. It was ambrosia to my 14-year-old mind; a perfect marriage of Dungeon Keeper to goofy 70’s James Bond clichés and delicious cel-shaded graphics. It was remarkable for making the player the criminal mastermind, tasking them with constructing an evil lair on a desert island and building a doomsday device to hold the world to ransom, all while avoiding the forces of justice. The game was successful and plans for a sequel were in place.
Unfortunately, that was never to be. In 2006 developer Elixir Studios announced its closing, due to a “risk-averse publishing climate”. Another British company called Rebellion bought the rights to the Evil Genius IP. Following this, Alex Thompson, the lead programmer on Evil Genius, confirmed that Rebellion were “very keen on doing something with it”.
In a saddening twist and a true sign of the times, the only thing that has come from the acquisition to the chagrin of fans everywhere has been a Facebook game, called “Evil Genius: WMD“.
Essentially a Mafia Wars clone, WMD involves recruiting minions, acquiring loot and performing increasingly evil acts to move up in the criminal underworld. While perhaps a method of testing the popularity of the IP to determine the performance of a sequel, it quickly revealed itself to be a sickening cash-in, micro-transactions galore.
While presented well and featuring the trademark grand orchestral music, this basterdisation of a classic lacked all the charm and depth of its namesake. Rebellion truly do have a goldmine on their hands, but it seems the company has no further plans for developing a sequel. It’s possible they view the IP as toxic; perhaps the reason Elixir was also unwilling to risk another investment in the IP. Thus, Evil Genius 2 was to become another casualty of the war for profits.
5Mark: Dawn of War III
The Dawn of War series was far, far more than an RTS. For many like myself, who had since grown long in the tooth and could no longer justify the expense or the time needed to play a game of Warhammer 40K, DoW offered a chance to dive straight back into the universe. Hell, I’d even argue that the game provided a better experience than the real thing.
For some, the changes in pacing and game mechanics between the first and second instalments were unwelcome, but as a fan of both the tabletop game and Company of Heroes, I felt as if Warhammer 40K had found its home. It was never about how fast you can build troops or what facilities you made; it was about what units you chose and where you positioned them, what armaments you gave your commanders and the limitations and strengths of different weapons.
THQs nosedive into near non-existence has eradicated nearly any chance of gamers seeing a Dawn of War 3. The recent announcement of a partnership between Games Workshop and Sega to produce a Warhammer series seems to indicate GW is looking to push its video game market with someone else in mind. Looking at the sheer leaps in quality that both the Dawn of War and Company of Heroes made, Dawn of War III had the potential to be genre defining. As it stands, we’ll probably never see a DoW 3, but we’ll be blessed yet with a title not wholly dissimilar to ‘Total War: Warhammer’. Oh yeah.
Is there a game YOU want, but will probably never see? Let us know in the comments section below!