Well the Playstation VITA launches officially next week and whether it ends ups being the golden goose or just a fat goose egg for Sony is still to be seen. One thing to be sure though is that this machine will allow Sony the excuse to revive some of its dead franchises just as Nintendo has done with the 3DS. Which Sony franchises though should be given a second chance at glory and which should be left in the dust? Well read on and see our choices for five Sony second-placers that need another shot at the big time.
5. Dark Cloud
Before shifting to their current top-hat-related-puzzle-heavy-focus Japanese developer Level 5 made some of the best JRPGs on the PS2, one of which was almost a launch title for the PS2 and it along with its sequel were personal favorites of mine for that system. This series was Dark Cloud, a dungeon crawler that had a magnificent focus on town building, character interaction, and weapon evolution. They also sported a very calm and relaxed look and feel that made them incredibly unique among the other hyper-anime-to-the-gills JRPGs of the era. The games have a small cult following but are generally forgotten with the first game’s “almost launch title” status sadly shunting it off to the awkward time of early PS2 games on blue DVDs that kind of felt like a step between console generations. Now would be the time to bring it back though, a system focused on travel play like the VITA could use a good JRPG and the touch screen would be perfect for its world building system.
This entry is a personal hope for me; horrible misspelling aside, the MediEvil games are some of my best memories with the original Playstation and the fact the series seemingly evaporated remains a tragedy in my eyes. The dark humour, impossibly angled Gothic design, and a unique arsenal set this game apart; it was like a video game version of Nosferatu or The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari. A revival of this series was attempted once before on the original PSP but it was a softened remake of the original that left fans feeling flat. The only real way to revive this series would be just a new game entirely and make it rated M. Humour is great and all but it doesn’t need to be kid-friendly and it certainly doesn’t need a wacky middle-eastern stereotype genie sidekick (seriously that was in the remake). What made the originals great was the fact they were dark and kind of strange, the only reason those games didn’t get rated higher is because the gore is hard to make out in ugly PSX polygons.
3. Legend of Dragoon
Timing can be everything in the video game world and unfortunately that’s what killed this amazing “coulda been” JRPG star. A unique world, fun fast paced combat, epic story, and great characters were all on display here and despite looking kind of ugly (again let me reiterate, the PSX made close to everything horrendously ugly) this game was one of the best JRPGs to come out on the platform. Unfortunately it came out the same summer as a lot of other great Playstation JRPGs, Squaresoft’s (back in the days when it was actually Squaresoft) “Summer of Adventure” in 2000. Would it have done better if it came out when few other good big budget JRPGs were around (like now for example)? We’ll never know unless Sony mans up and tries it again with this awesome franchise… or at least finally releases it on the North American Playstation Store.
2. Jumping Flash
While I don’t have the fondest memories personally of this series it was certainly unique for its day. Crazy, first person, jumping, shooting, polygon insanity was rare in the early days of the PSX. What makes me say this needs to be brought back is the fact that a lot of what it tried to do could be done so well on the VITA. Augmented reality, motion controls, and the touch screen capabilities could be used to bring the game into the real world so to speak. You certainly wouldn’t play it on the bus but imagine chasing power ups and hopping around your living room (with the blinds closed of course). While I certainly don’t think it could support a full on retail release a nice little PSN game to showcase the VITA’s more unique features would be an amazing use of this property and a great nod to Sony’s past.
1. PaRappa the Rapper/UmJammer Lammy
The once-and as far as I’m concerned-now and future king of rhythm games, this NanaOn-Sha developed duo of melodic music masterpieces died off before their time. Despite a PS2 sequel and a PSP remake for PaRappa (and jack squat for Lammy) this series feels like it has been shuffled under the rug as more serious music games with their licensed soundtracks and plastic instruments came along. Now that the genre has died off for the most part though I think it’s time the flat but always colourful characters of Rodney Greenblat’s fabulous world come back for one more show. Whether it’s a swan song for the genre or the phoenix’s call that revitalises it I don’t care, I just want to it hear it.
Of course there are many other great (and not so great) Sony franchises that could/should be brought back and we barely touched on all the ones I’d personally like to see come back. There are still plenty of things in the Sony well for them to dreg up, like: Okage, Jeane D’arc, Wild Arms, Mark of Kri, Rogue Galaxy, Cool Boarders, Jet Moto, Arc the Lad, War of the Monsters, or hell maybe they’ll even buy back the rights to Crash Bandicoot one day and try to make an honest marsupial out of him.