Earlier this month, Ghost Recon Wildlands launched with a free update that brought back the Splinter Cell series’ Sam Fisher for a special one-off mission. Voiced by Michael Ironside – who didn’t appear in 2013’s Blacklist – Fisher seems to be back to his old self, and the mission got fans wondering if it was intended as a prologue to a full-fledged Splinter Cell sequel to be announced at E3.
Splinter Cell is hardly the only “dead” franchise we’d like to see make a comeback. From long-running series that ran out of steam to the sleeper games that failed to catch on, here are the eight game franchises we want to see revived.
The Castlevania game series ended on something of a sour note in 2014 with the launch of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2. MercurySteam’s attempt to bring Dracula into the 21st century to cure his immortality and be at rest was plagued with nonsensical plot points, awful level design, and some of the worst instant-fail stealth sections ever put in a video game. It’s a shame, as the cliffhanger ending for the first Lords of Shadow set up what should have been an action-packed and exhilarating finale.
With the upcoming launch of the Castlevania animated series’ second season on Netflix, it’s clear Konami hasn’t completely given up on the brand yet. With the company focused far less on internal game development now than it did in the past, we wouldn’t expect a 3D open-world action game, but a return to the simple whip combat and platforming of Super Castlevania IV or Castlevania: Bloodlines – possibly on Nintendo Switch – would be more than welcome. The recently revealed Grimoire of Souls – announced for iOS in Japan while I was halfway through writing this – looks terrible and would be a pale imitation of the original games, should it ever actually release.
Many Xbox One console exclusives have disappointed since the system launched in 2013. Quantum Break failed to impress, with its simplified third-person shooting not playing to developer Remedy’s strengths. Sea of Thieves delivered an enormous world, but without much to do in it. ReCore was a two-hour game stretched into nearly 20 with very little thought into whether or not that was a good idea.
Insomniac Games succeeded where the others failed. Its action-adventure Sunset Overdrive is a whimsical game that is packed full of the attitude and humor we’ve come to expect from the studio, with a traversal system that’s among the best we’ve ever seen. The game released early in the Xbox One’s lifespan and Microsoft doesn’t appear interested in a sequel. That’s a shame, as with just a few kinks ironed out, Insomniac could make one of the best games of the generation.
When Fire Emblem: Awakening launched on Nintendo 3DS, it saved a series that may have been destined to appear on this very list. In the following years, we’ve gotten two more Fire Emblem games on the handheld, as well as a brawler spin-off for Nintendo Switch. But Nintendo seems to have forgotten its other turn-based strategy series: Advance Wars. Producers at the company wish to take another stab at the military-focused tactical game, but question how they can work in newer mechanics from the Fire Emblem series.
We’ve seen attempts to fill the Advance Wars void in the decade since Days of Ruin released on DS. The most recent of these is Tiny Metal, intended as a sort of spiritual successor, but it failed to attract the same reception as Intelligent Systems’ original games. With the Switch’s touch screen, there has never been a better time to make a new one. We’d even settle for a new Battalion Wars game – the GameCube and Wii originals combined the strategy of Advance Wars with third-person combat, and delivered a nice alternative to the ultra-violent shooters on the market.
MMA is all the rage these days, and Electronic Arts followed the crowd as it shelved its Fight Night boxing series in favor of the kick and grapple-heavy UFC games. They didn’t scratch the same itch, however – the strategic and relatively simple punching mechanics of the Fight Night games were no longer the star of the show, with flashy maneuvers getting the attention.
Boxing is still a high-profile sport, with UFC star Conor McGregor even jumping into the ring in a showdown with Floyd Mayweather. The power of the current-generation game consoles could lead to a boxing game with unprecedented attention to detail, and the return of Fight Night Champion’s story mode would be icing on the cake. Electronic Arts recently featured stories in its FIFA and Madden series, so this isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
It might not have ever had a hardcore following among older players, but there’s no denying that Humongous Entertainment’s Backyard Baseball games had charm. With a colorful and inclusive cast of kids to choose from, the games were years ahead of their time, and the control scheme was simple enough for anyone to grasp.
Later entries made the mistake of transitioning from the cartoony 2D style of the original games into 3D, and redesigns of characters for mobile games later on put a big nail in the Backyard kids’ collective coffin … or so we thought. With a film currently in the works, it’s the perfect time to introduce Pablo Sanchez and the gang to a new generation of kids.
Team Bondi’s L.A. Noire was a flawed gem. Its simple investigation and interrogation mechanics made for some of the best narrative moments of the last console generation, and the ongoing tragic story of Cole Phelps was believable, thanks to brilliant acting from lead Aaron Staton. Combat, however, was mind-numbingly boring, and the game’s open world gave you little reason to explore it.
Though Team Bondi is no longer with us, the game’s recent port to new systems like PS4 and Switch suggests that there is still some interest in a follow-up game, and in the hands of a studio more experienced in third-person action, it could rival Grand Theft Auto. That is, of course, if Take-Two is willing to fund it without loading it full of microtransactions.
Stealth games have fallen out of popularity in recent years, with series like Thief failing to attract an audience and Konami euthanizing Metal Gear Solid in order to replace it with a mutated imposter. But stealth games aren’t just for mature players, and one of the other forgotten series, Sly Cooper, is ripe for a comeback. Combining simple 3D platforming and stealth mechanics with animal characters straight out of a Saturday-morning cartoon, the games were some of Sony’s best exclusives.
By all accounts, the most recent game – Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time – didn’t sell all that well, but the reason behind the series’ hiatus could come down to developer resources. Original studio Sucker Punch has moved onto high-profile PlayStation exclusives, while Thieves in Time studio Sanzaru Games has thrown itself into the VR ring. With the right team, there’s no reason Sly and his pals couldn’t come back.
DmC: Devil May Cry
The rumor mill has been swirling for months that Capcom is planning to release a fifth entry in its original Devil May Cry series. That’s great in its own right, but it would be a huge shame if the publisher were to abandon Ninja Theory’s alternate-universe DmC: Devil May Cry. Ditching some of the corny elements of the first games in favor of a darker, grittier tone, DmC still managed to work in some humor, and its combat system rivaled PlatinumGames’ best work.
It could have existed as a one-off title, but it wasn’t meant to. DmC ended on a cliff-hanger in both its main campaign and Virgil’s Downfall expansion, leaving fans without closure. It’s unlikely Ninja Theory would be willing to break away from its new independent publishing strategy given the success of Hellblade but there’s always a chance.