Game franchises are similar to movie franchises. Some of them are critically acclaimed and loved by audiences, but for one reason or another fail to endure. Some of them are awful, and quickly fade into distant corners of our memory. The franchises in the former category all have vocal fans that demand another installment, and question the sanity and intelligence of those who decide to mothball a beloved franchise. The latter group has no fans, fail with each successive title, and have no one wanting their return. This list will examine five great game franchises that should be taken of the shelf and given new life, and five game franchises that need to remain locked away so they can’t hurt anyone else.
10 Bring It Back: Legendary Axe
The Legendary Axe series was one of the high points of owning a TurboGrafx-16 back in the 90s. The Legendary Axe series had two games that were both side-scrolling action/platformers. In the first game, the player controls the primitive warrior Gogan as he fights through six levels to save his beloved. The game was praised for its colorful graphics and responsive control, but many found the game a bit too difficult.
The second entry in the series was much different; with many features being removed – features that set the first game apart from the competition. This series needs to be revived and updated. A Legendary Axe 3 with a Metroidvania style level design would be most welcomed by the gaming community.
9 Don’t Bring It Back: Duke Nukem
The Duke Nukem franchise is getting close to thirty years old. The first two games in the series were side-scrolling platformers, and very ahead of their time. They gave PC owners a gaming experience that was typically only found with gaming consoles. Duke Nukem 3D was the first foray into the first person shooter genre for Duke Nukem, and it was one of the games that established the PC as a superior gaming system to the consoles of the day.
Then came Duke Nukem Forever. Duke Nukem Forever isn’t a bad game, but after over a decade of delays, there was no way it was going to be good enough to stave off the critics. The era of gaming that birthed Duke Nukem, also known as the ‘tude (attitude) era, is where this franchise should have remained.
8 Bring It Back: Mega Man Legends
The Mega Man Legends series brought the blue bomber to 3D gaming. Unfortunately, the games were released during a time when most game developers were still trying to figure out the formula for making a great 3D game. The biggest complaint about 3D action/platforming games from the late 90s and early 2000s were the control schemes most of the 3D games of the time used. The common phrase used to describe the controls for 3D games of this era are “tank controls”, and the Mega Man Legends games, unfortunately, used this method to control the character onscreen.
Capcom has had plenty of experience since then at making 3D gaming worlds, and with modern game controllers, the control problems that plagued the series are no longer an issue. It is time for Capcom to renew the Mega Man Legends franchise and give fans the next entry in this series they have been waiting almost twenty years to play.
7 Don’t Bring It Back: Pac-Man
Pac-Man was an extremely influential video game when it debuted in 1980. It gave the fledgling video game industry a mascot and helped embed video games into the global culture. It’s been forty years since then – forty years of very bad Pac-Man games. Truthfully, not all of the Pac-Man games were bad; the Pac-Man World games were enjoyable.
The problem with this franchise is that Namco is afraid to experiment with it. They instead simply rely on nostalgia and name recognition to sell derivative Pac-Man titles. It is time for Namco to retire the franchise and cease tarnishing the once good name of Pac-Man with substandard releases. Please, Namco…Just. Let. Go.
6 Bring It Back: Half-Life
The Half-Life franchise is the bedrock the online platform called Steam is built upon. This first-person shooter series is one of the most beloved franchises among gamers. The original Half-Life, released in 1998, was praised for its graphics (which still look pretty good), its level design, enemy A.I., and story. Half-Life 2 improved on the first game and is still considered one of the best first-person shooters ever made. The Half-Life franchise was stopped after the second game because Valve thought there was no future in story-driven single player games.
At this point, it seems like a long-shot that fans of this franchise will ever get the conclusion to the series they have been waiting for since 2007. Of all the franchises on this list that need to be brought back, Half-Life is by far the biggest commercial success; which makes it all the more frustrating that it appears to be on permanent hiatus.
5 Don’t Bring It Back: Guitar Hero
Guitar Hero is not all bad; it did get a generation of kids interested in learning to play music. It’s just too bad the Guitar Hero games didn’t actually teach those kids how to play a real musical instrument – the Rocksmith series did that. The games in the Guitar Hero franchise are basically nothing more than extended quick-time events put to music.
Similar rhythm-based games, like PaRappa The Rapper, at least included visual elements that made them more enjoyable. Thankfully, this series seems to be at its end. This franchise’s legacy will be the countless plastic guitars currently collecting dust in closets and pawn shops.
4 Bring It Back: L.A. Noire
L.A. Noire is one of those games people generally forget until it is mentioned, but when it is mentioned the next thought is invariably something like, “That was a great game, when is L.A. Noire 2 coming out?”. In L.A. Noire you play as a Los Angeles police officer, actually two of them, as they go about the city solving murders. The game is set in 1947 and does an excellent job recreating the city of Los Angeles from that time. L.A. Noire was praised for its realism in facial movement recreation; which is an integral part of the game. You use the facial movements of the people you’re interrogating to help determine how truthful they are being. There have been hints to the public that a part two is in the works, but there have been no official announcements.
3 Don’t Bring It Back: The Tony Hawk Series
These were great skateboarding games, but did we really need so many of them. At one point they were releasing more than one Tony Hawk game a year. This wouldn’t be so bad, except it seemed like every new Tony Hawk game had less content in it than the previous one. Also, these games were very well made at first, but over the decades the quality control got worse and worse.
By the time the last entry in the series, Pro Skater 5 (the 16th Tony Hawk game), was released for the Xbox One and PS4 the games were full of game breaking bugs. Name recognition and nostalgia are the only reason these games have been made since the PlayStation 2/Xbox era.
2 Bring It Back: Time Splitters
In the Time Splitters games you fight against aliens (called Time Splitters) who show up on earth at different time periods to cause destruction. These first person shooters are known for their smooth and responsive controls, colorful graphics, and unique plot. Despite the age of the game the graphics still look decent when compared to today’s games. This series is also known for not taking itself too seriously – there are many pop culture references peppered throughout the game. Fans of the series have been begging for Time Splitters 4 for over a decade, but after frequent delays over the years it doesn’t look promising.
1 Don’t Bring It Back: Bubsy
The original Bubsy was a side-scrolling platform game that sought to capitalize on the mascot craze that swept gaming in the ‘90s. Every company had to have a cute mascot full of attitude (or 'tude) to compete with Mario and Sonic. These mascot games were endless; Bubsy, James Pond, Rocket Knight, and Gex are just a few of them. Some of these games, like Rocket Knight Adventures, are fun games, but most, like Bubsy, are awful.
The series hit a low with Bubsy 3D. This game is widely held as the worst 3D platformer ever made. A new Bubsy game, Paws on Fire, was recently released; leaving gamers everywhere wondering what we did to deserve this punishment.