Can these games strike gold again?
We’ve all been there at some point. You find the game, you play it all the way through, you’re riding that post-game euphoria, you hit the internet for news about the next installment and then… nothing. NO. SEQUEL. “How is that possible?!” “It was so much fun!” “What am I gonna play now?!” We feel that pain all too well, and that’s why we’ve put together a little list of our favorite one hit wonders that deserve a comeback tour. Of course, a few of the titles you’re about to see here have been remastered or ported to the newer consoles, but that’s just not the same as a brand part two.
Developer: Double Fine Productions
Coming from the mind of one the industries top dogs, Tim Schafer, Brütal Legend earned its mainstream reputation as “The Jack Black Video Game.” The aforementioned actor/musician voices protagonist Eddie Riggs, a roadie who finds himself thrust into a fantasy world straight out of a metalhead’s wettest wet dream, where he’s forced to use his trusty “battle axe” (his Gibson Flying V guitar that can access the world’s powers) to fight his way through hordes of supernatural bad guys to save the world. It sounds stereotypical, but it’s arguably one of the coolest blends of music culture and video games to date.
With a unique blend of hack-and-slash and real-time strategy gameplay elements, cameos and voice work from celebrities including Lemmy Kilmister (Motörhead), Lita Ford (The Runaways), Ozzy Osbourne (Black Sabbath), Rob Halford (Judas Priest) and Tim Curry (IT, The Rocky Horror Picture Show), and a soundtrack of over 100 iconic metal songs hand-picked by Schafer himself, Brütal Legend was a creative and carefully made game that made a big splash in the industry. Unfortunately, while Double Fine was prepared to ride this heavy metal wave into the sunset with an even grander sequel, all hope was squashed when big brother EA gave it the axe. There’s still hope, though: back at E3 2017, Tim Schafer promised that a sequel will eventually rock on.
If you’ve ever heard the saying “when it rains, it pours”, prepare for Vanquish to utterly drench you in bullets and explosions. The ambitious Sega title made some waves, shaking up the 3D shooter genre with a fast-paced style of gameplay while also proving that you can still make original content with a crazy sliding-boost mechanic. Set in the near future, where resources are scarce, crazy Russian terrorists threaten the free world, players are thrust into the shoes (and suit) of Sam Gideon, who straps into an Augmented Reaction Suit (or ARS) to fight back with an array of weapons and a sweet set of jet boosters, all of which are necessary to kick some major red ass. Although it did have some flaws in its length, writing and voice acting, the gameplay alone was enough to make up for just about any other conceivable failure. With bombastic boss-battles, engaging quick-time events, and unique controls and mechanics, Vanquish stole the hearts of millions, easily earning GamesRadar’s award for “Most Oh Shit Moments Per Minute.” Although neither Sega nor PlatinumGames have ever discussed plans for a sequel, we think we speak for most gamers when we say that we’d love little more than to boost-slide along the ground in slow motion again while millions of missiles try to kill us… Yep, in a heartbeat.
Bully (Canis Canem Edit)
Developer: Rockstar Games
Bully – also known as Canis Canem Edit – has a pretty simple premise: you play as the new kid in school, Jimmy Hopkins, navigating an environment overrun with cliques, cliches and of course, bullies, as you try to become top dog and bring a new age of respect. Of course, with that Rockstar magic touch we’ve all come to know and love, the game was an instant classic that brought with it plenty of controversy. With a good ol’ open world, Bully made attending high school classes seem just a little more exciting (predominantly due to the stink bombs and skateboards). Before Mass Effect and Dragon Age brought video game romance into the limelight, Bully gave players plenty of opportunities to get to know the opposite – and even the same – sex. Although Rockstar hasn’t made mention of a sequel despite fans’ pleas, a few birds have been chirping around the Interwebs. For now, though, at least we’ve got the PlayStation 4 port to relive.
Developer: Black Rock Studio
A personal favourite of mine, Pure has a pretty common concept. Players can choose from a number of characters as they race around the world in ATVs, pulling off insane stunts and tricks at extraordinary heights. Boasting a really rewarding trick system, intuitive controls designed to keep you on your toes and a fantastic, fitting soundtrack, Pure’s golden egg lies in its incredible level of customisation, truly allowing you to build your ride from the ground up. While it did make some headlines by winning the 2008 Game Critics Award for Best Racing Game of E3 2008, this one-hit wonder stayed as is. I’m always ready to Superman of my ATV at 700 hundred feet, though.
Developer: Black Rock Studio
If you didn’t get the chance to play Split Second, you missed out. Racing around the world as apart of a hot new reality show, lap after lap trying to be the best racer of them all, and the kicker? You got to blow your competition sky high at every turn. The game offered a “power play” system where executing stunts would build your meter up, eventually allowing you to throw out obstacles to mess with the opposition. Some of these obstacles were simple, like a well placed time bomb; others brought total destruction, blowing up bridges, crashing airships into one another and, well, the above. Black Rock capped off a fantastic vehicle lineup and some seriously jaw-dropping moments with a very well-executed multiplayer mode as well-. Unfortunately, although the ending left us with a sinister cliffhanger demanding a sequel, plans for it hit the brakes hard. Fans haven’t given up, though, and there’s even an active petition to get it that coveted Phoenix Down.
Developer: Polytron Corporation
Cute character? Check. Colorful world? Double check. Navigating a three-dimensional world? Triple check! Developed by Polytron Corporation and first released in 2012, FEZ is a puzzle-platform title that ticks all of those boxes and more. Playing as Gomez, you receive a magic fez that turns your 2D world into an 3D four sided adventure, as you quest to collect cubes and fragments to bring order to the universe. An absolute underdog in the indie scene, FEZ was innovative from start to finish, shifting from 2D to 3D to solve puzzles in various abstract ways. Despite going on to sell over one million copies within one year, become a major inspiration for other games down the line and clinch numerous awards, FEZ had its life cut short when creator Phillippe Poisson (aka Phil Fish) abruptly left the gaming industry, selling his studio and cancelling FEZ 2 only a month after it was announced. It truly was one of the games industry’s most significant losses.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
Developer(s): 38 Studios, Big Huge Games
This one hurts. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning had all the makings of a huge new RPG franchise for EA and the entire industry. Written with over 10,000 years of lore by legendary fantasy author R.A. Salvatore, Amalur brings the player into the Faelands, a rich fantasy world with comprehensive environments and brightly-written characters. While it did come with all the the classic RPG tropes, it delivered a satisfying combat system that you could really tailor to your style. It is very well balanced, allowing players to choose to go into battle constantly and hone their skills or take it easy and learn a lot about the world around them from the insightful characters they meet on their travels. It was a lovingly made game, but legal issues between 38 Studios and the State of Rhode Island forced the burgeoning developer to shut its doors just months after the game’s release and so this fairytale’s next life remained a fantasy.
Developer: Team Bondi
Wearing a suit never looked so badass. Flying under the Rockstar Games banner, L.A. Noire is a sweet, sweet love letter to your grandpa’s old collection of film noir. Hitting the streets of 1947 Los Angeles, you play as LAPD detective Cole Phelps, working to solve cases, capers and crimes by searching crime scenes for clues, following leads and interrogating suspects. L.A. Noire is a graphical marvel for its time: by offering players the chance to play in total black-and-white for authenticity and debuting the truly one of a kind MotionScan technology to capture every detail of the motion capture actors’ physical expressions, it really drove home the concept of full player immersion. A critical success, L.A. Noire received wide praise for its daring concept and even became the first video game to be screened at the Tribeca Film Festival. Although Rockstar recently re-released it on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, it’s about time we saw a sequel to this masterpiece of a game.
Developer: Genius Sonority
Released: 2003 (Japan), 2004 (North America, Europe, Australia)
Yes, this is technically a two-hit wonder, but the concept had far too much potential to have stopped in 2005. Pokémon Colosseum was Nintendo’s first attempt at a fully 3D Pokémon game. The game mechanics remained largely the same, and a few traditional Pokémon elements were present, but that’s where the similarities ended. Traveling throughout the Orre region, you play as Wes, a rogue member of the villainous Team Snagem looking to rescue and purify “Shadow Pokemon” using a new capture method called “snagging.” This is why Pokemon Colosseum makes this list; rather than a formulaic slog from gym to gym, badge to badge, it was an original story. There were also no random wild Pokémon encounters – instead, you had only one chance to literally steal an opponent’s Pokémon when the opportunity presented itself. This was a shake up in the usual Pokémon M.O., and a lot of fans were pleased to enjoy a journey that didn’t end in becoming the Pokémon Master. If a sequel ever did come out, we’d hope Nintendo runs with those same creative juices.
The Legend of Dragoon
Developer: SCE Japan Studio
Released: 1999 (JP), 2000 (NA), 2001 (Europe)
An RPG for the ages right here, folks. Released as a contender to Final Fantasy, The Legend of Dragoon sends players on Dart’s quest to find the monster that destroyed his hometown, avenge his parents deaths, and rescue his kidnapped childhood friend. While it sounds like every JRPG ever made, The Legend of Dragoon had a deep and beautifully touching story, improved on some of the genre’s most annoying trends and featured an in depth combat system, combining both reaction commands and basic attacks to really immerse you in each battle. Also down the line, you get to upgrade your colourful cast of characters with really cool dragon power armours. Given that The Legend of Dragoon reached cult status, fans are still wondering why Sony put the series to the wayside.
Developer: NuFX, EA Canada
This is a certainly a blast from the past. NBA Street was a favourite of mine and my brothers’ growing up. Since they were huge sport game fans it only felt natural to add this game to our roster. Combing the big names and talent of the NBA with the attitude of streetball, NBA Street took it’s less serious nature and ran with it. Featuring 29 playable NBA teams with superstars of the era and uniquely created stages based on real world locales from Venice Beach to Route 66 and even Harlem, NBA street was a hit, getting wide praise and even spawning several sequels that hit the mark just as hard. Although the last entry to hit consoles was back in ‘07, I’m sure that today’s generation of gamers would appreciate dunking on LeBron with a beach view.
Developers: Noise, Nintendo
One of the ultimate party battle series, Custom Robo took until its fourth entry to make its way to the West. Set in a near future where the sport of Robo Battling is all the rage, Custom Robo allowed players to pit their Robos against one another, which was just a hell of a lot of fun. The game offered plenty of customization options with dozens of weapons & parts ranging from guns, cannons and bombs, and those who progressed far enough could even unlock illegal black market mods for an extra boost. Although its campaign was short, Custom Robo became a huge hit amongst friends looking to settle a score or for genuine fun. Hopefully one day we’ll see another entry, because on top of it all… Can you imagine those graphics on this (or next) generation of consoles?
inFAMOUS: Second Son
Developer: Sucker Punch Productions
After two games with the rather-stale Cole McGrath at the helm, inFAMOUS: Second Son takes players into a fictionalised version of Seattle and the shoes of Delsin Rowe, a hot-blooded graffiti artist who discovers that he’s a “Conduit” with the ability to absorb and use other Conduits’ powers. Jaw-dropping visuals, a really heartfelt story line and an otherwise really fun combat system with epic finishers and combos made for an awesome experience. Fans were delighted to have inFAMOUS: Second Son as part of the PlayStation 4’s lineup, so it’s somewhat surprising that we haven’t heard anything about a sequel.
Disclaimer: Yes, we’re aware that inFAMOUS: First Light is a thing that exists, but that’s a spin-off; we’re hoping to see more of Delsin’s story in particular!
There are some truly fantastic games on that list, so while we run on home and eat ice cream by the gallon, trying not to cry about the games we may never have, hit the comments section (or our social media!) and tell us what games you loved and wish had a second chance to shine.