Top Ten Sony Franchises in Need of Sequels

There are plenty of publishers out there with huge vaults of beloved IPs that sadly have no guarantee of ever again seeing the light of day.  Capcom, Konami, Sega, Square-Enix, and I think there’s a playing card company who makes games or something.  But there is one company who rarely gets mentioned when this topic comes up, but really should.  Yeah, the one in the title.  Sony actually has a vast collection of quality series, and their annoying habit of throwing series under the bus once they have three games has led to a lot of unjustly hibernating franchises from their camp.  Although not technically a Sony series, the recent revival of Crash Bandicoot has pushed this to the forefront of my mind recently. I’ve decided to rank the top ten absent Sony franchises that need sequels.  To qualify for this list, a game or series needs to have never had a new incarnation in its main series on an HD system.  Meaning HD remasters and cameos in Move mini-game compilations or Smash Bros. clones don’t count.  So, let’s jump in.  I’ll disclose that I’m not an expert on some of the lower ranked series, but everything on this list at least deserves a chance.

10.  Vib-Ribbon

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The only game on this list that I haven’t played, in large part because the original release never left Japan, I was still fascinated by this game simply from reading previews of it.  Vib-Ribbon is a very simple rhythm game, with its hook being that you can use music CDs to create levels in the game based on any song you want.  Now imagine being able to do this with digital music files or streaming sites, and you can see how much potential this concept has on an internet enabled system.  The original may have finally gotten a worldwide release, but there’s so much more a completely new game in the series could do.

9. Omega Boost

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To be honest I didn’t play this game very much (look, no one wants to do a top 7 or 8 list, I needed 10 dammit!), but the genre alone makes me want it to get another chance.  Rail shooters where you control a character instead of just a reticule are a rare breed, and Omega Boost is a well-liked entry in that genre.  I can’t give a huge amount of details on what I’d want the sequel to be like, but a flashy mech rail shooter with PS4’s power could easily be an enjoyable experience.  Give this game the second chance I haven’t yet, Sony.

8. Wild Arms

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Yes, I actually have finished a game in this series.  Of course, this series has several games, but still.  Wild Arms combines turn based combat with Zelda style items and puzzles, something I wish more turn-based RPGs would do, it does wonders for avoiding monotony.  With fantastic music and a fairly unique Wild West/steampunk setting, Wild Arms is one of the better RPGs on the PS1, and what I’ve played of the first sequel seemed even better.  Wild Arms managed to survive multiple generations in its true form, which already puts it ahead of the curve for Sony series, so I think there’s plenty of justification for giving this series another chance.  Maybe crossover with Wild Guns, no one can keep their names straight anyway.

7. MediEvil

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While this may seem like a generic 5th-gen platformer at first sight, MediEvil is actually an interesting genre hybrid.  Platforming, adventure game style puzzles, melee combat that’s pretty involved for a game of its time period and RPG elements, there aren’t many games exactly like MediEvil.  While it definitely shows its age in some places, the game is certainly playable.  But with melee action games having made colossal strides since the 5th generation, there is a huge amount of potential locked away in this game and its expensive sequel, which was never rereleased on PSN, unfortunately.  As long as it took inspiration from the right games, a new MediEvil could be a fantastic addition to PS4’s library, and fill a seldom used niche these days (horror themed game that isn’t bleak or ultra-violent).  Sony, we need MediEvil: Dan of the Third Day!

6. Alundra

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Back when almost all role-playing games on consoles were JRPGs, there was an obnoxious trend to call every single action-RPG a Zelda-style game.  These games often had clunky combat that was practically turn based and barely any puzzles, which meant I was usually disappointed when I played the “Zelda-style” game.  Alundra, though, has thoroughly earned the label of Zelda-like.  Alundra is intensely difficult in both combat and puzzles, has a sometimes crushingly depressing story, but is a huge and satisfying game.  The gameplay is very similar to the 2D Zelda games with the addition of a platforming element, and that is definitely a good thing.  I haven’t played the sequel, which is apparently vastly different and much less well regarded, so I’d say Sony should just give us a direct sequel to the first game.  Even without Working Designs around to translate it, a worthy sequel to Alundra would be a dream come true, and not the bleak, prophetic kind the game features.

5. Ape Escape

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I’m half convinced the right analog stick on the original analog/DualShock controller was added solely so Sony could claim it had more stuff on it than the Nintendo 64 controller.  I can understand why Sony didn’t want to use it much, it couldn’t be easily replaced by the d-pad on a non-analog PS1 controller like the left stick could, and no one wants to require accessories.  Still, waiting almost two years for anything to use the right analog stick (at least in a meaningful way) is pretty bizarre.  But at least the first game to require it was a good one.  Ape Escape is a fairly standard 5th-generation collection based platformer, with its hook being that you can aim your weapons and items while moving normally thanks to the right analog stick.  The collectables (escaped apes) all need to be caught by using a right analog stick controlled net, so the gimmick definitely gets used enough to justify the controller requirement.  The sequels never felt quite as tight in gameplay as the original Ape Escape, but they aren’t bad games and there’s no reason a new game couldn’t match the original.  This barrel of monkeys has been sealed too long, it needs to be opened again.

4. Skyblazer

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That’s right, even in an article entirely dedicated to Sony, the Super Nintendo still manages to crash the party.  The only pre-PlayStation game on the list, Skyblazer is a hidden gem on SNES that has needed more attention for decades.  Skyblazer can best be described as MegaMan, MegaMan X specifically, with melee combat and a magic based setting.  You jump, punch, and wall climb your way through levels, some of which you can choose the order of, and kill some great bosses to get special moves from them.  The game is begging for a modern big budget character action game/platformer hybrid, Skyblazer with the budget and scale of God of War could be absolutely amazing.  I’m not expecting this game to ever actually get a sequel, but that hasn’t stopped some other games I loved, so there’s always hope.  In the meantime, if you haven’t played this game, try to track it down, a growing cult following is the first step to a series getting a miraculous sequel.

3. Jumping Flash

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Is the robotic rabbit you play as in this a jackrabbit?  Was I missing a reference pun this whole time?  Either way, Jumping Flash was ahead of its time and holds up amazingly well considering.  Before Quake or Super Mario 64, Jumping Flash is a first person fully 3D platformer that showed up with PlayStation 1’s western launch in 1995.  Controlling a projectile and rocket equipped robotic rabbit, Jumping Flash and its very direct sequel (can’t say anything certain about the Japan only third game) are quality platformers that manage to still play well today despite how many opportunities there were to screw things up in hindsight.  With DOOM 2016 hopefully igniting a resurgence in non-realistic, action based first person shooters, now would be the perfect time for Jumping Flash to return.  The game’s signature gigantic jumps combined with dual analog shooting and current-gen draw distance make me salivate.  This is another long shot (well, most of this list is), but a new Jumping Flash would be a… no, I’m not making that song reference, it would just be painful.

2.  Parappa the Rapper/UmJammer Lammy

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See, not everything in the top five is a platformer!  In 1997, I was extremely loyal to Nintendo, the playground “my system can beat up your system!” kind of blind devotion.  Despite hating everything PlayStation related on principle, Parappa the Rapper was so unique and charming that I still wanted to play it.  I actually rented a PlayStation just to play it (the system or game was defective and I had to return it the same day, that didn’t help my system war issues).  By the time I got over my one company mindset and actually got a PS1 of my own, the sequel/spiritual successor Umjammer Lammy had been released, which I loved even more.  I didn’t love Parappa 2, but the PS1 games have some of the best music and characters of all time.  The gameplay needs some work, which is precisely why we need a new game!  Describing exactly what happens in the games feels like a disservice to anyone who hasn’t played them, but if you have played them before, I guarantee you remember them.  While I’d prefer Umjammer Lammy 2 (Parappa had his chance and I just like Lammy’s music style better), any return for these paper pop stars would be incredibly welcome.

1. Jak

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The newest game on this list, the Jak series got a decent amount of attention in its heyday, but I think it still deserved more.  For one thing, are you wondering why I said Jak instead of Jak and Daxter?  That’s because Jak 2 dramatically improved the series and never got the credit it should have.  Yes, it’s darker and clearly took some influence from Grand Theft Auto, that doesn’t change that the gameplay is dramatically improved from the original’s fairly generic collect-a-thon style.  Jak 2 and 3 have tons of variety, some of the best platforming of their generation, and great stories that are not just angsting.  Jak 3 may have resolved the story arc of the trilogy, but it also set up a new story arc that was never given any games.  Naughty Dog became obsessed with realism (which apparently makes dark tones okay while Jak is nothing but an edgelord) and auto-platforming while the Jak series got nothing except lower profile sequels of varying quality that never advanced the story in any real way.  I don’t know if we’re ever going to get Naughty Dog back to their platforming glory, but someone needs to make a real Jak 4, fans of the series have waited way more than long enough.  I’m still furious that Naughty Dog taunted fans of the series by saying they almost made a Jak 4 but canceled it to make The Last of Us (and that they planned to make it play like Uncharted), Jak is number one on this list not only because it’s my favorite series listed but because I feel that Sony genuinely owes its fanbase a new game.  People have been shown to still really love Crash, a 3D Mario platformer is getting more hype than anything in its genre has in at least a decade; it is time Sony, give us Jak 4.

So there you have it, ten Sony franchises that deserve their chance to shine and bloom in HD.  Who knows if any of these will actually get that chance, but it’s not impossible (Sly Cooper not qualifying for this list was a pretty big surprise).  I don’t know why Sony is so inclined towards throwing series away once their generation and/or trilogy is over, but they have a surprisingly rich staple of franchises that could give them the true exclusives needed to make their library stand out from Xbox and PC.  As Crash N. Sane Trilogy shows, PS1 era nostalgia has arrived and PS2 era nostalgia is around the corner, take advantage of this Sony, and give these series the sequels they deserve!

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Top 5 Games That Mastered Remaking

With the announcement of Metroid: Samus Returns and the recently released Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, remakes have been on my mind recently.  Now there’s quite a bit of a scale in terms of how much effort goes into video game remakes.  Sometimes you get simple remasters that basically just polish the textures so the game looks good in HD.  Sometimes the graphics are completely redone, maybe a few gameplay polishes.  And sometimes you get the holy grail, a game that takes the story, settings, and basic gameplay of an old game and makes what can basically be considered a new game.  These are my strong preference for video game remakes, but as you might expect from the amount of effort involved, they are the rarest type.  But these do exist, and so I’m going to listing my top five remakes that truly mastered the art of… re-ing.  But before we get to that, let’s look at some great game that I feel went just a little too far in their new features and have “condemned” themselves to be new games:

Punch-Out!! (2009)

Punch-Out!! on NES is a great game.  Super Punch-Out!! on SNES is better.  But Punch-Out!! on Wii annihilates the rest of the series.  With the same name as the NES game (and one of the arcade games) and almost every fighter from it, Punch-Out!! is almost a remake, but every fighter is changed so much (and almost a third of them weren’t in the NES game) that it feels more like a Mario game that uses the same level themes than a remake.

Mortal Kombat (2011)

I loved Mortal Kombat when I was a kid in the 90s, but it was more the violence taboo, dark fantasy tone, and seemingly endless secrets that intrigued me than the gameplay.  So the 2011 Mortal Kombat installment that brought back almost every character from the first three MK games (the nostalgia and image peak) and retold their stories, but this time with great gameplay, was pretty freaking fantasic.  However, it’s not really a remake, instead being a weird, nonsensical, but very entertaining in-universe reboot that continues the series’ story by changing the first three games.

Star Fox 64

Star Fox 64 has an essentially identical story to the first game, but aside from that (and the fact that doing a remake as the second installment in a franchise, only four years after the original was released would be really weird) it changes as much as any other direct sequel.  Star Fox 64 is an amazing game that aged very well for a fifth-gen game, but I don’t think it can really be called a remake.

Ys: The Oath in Felghana

I haven’t played this game (make a PS4 version, damn it!), but I’ve been assured it is a vast improvement over its basis, Ys III: Wanderers from Ys, and that it has the same essential story and is now considered canon in the series.  Having played both Ys III and Ys Origin (which has the same gameplay style as Oath in Felghana), however, I can’t really consider this a true remake when the basic gameplay genre has been changed so dramatically.  But I’m sure it’s a great game, and again, want a convenient version for myself released.

Okay, with those out of the way, let’s get to the actual list!  Five games that push the remake envelope to its max without breaking it.  Not much else to say, here we go:

#5.  Ducktales Remastered

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Everyone loves the NES Ducktales game, but I’m just going to come out and say that several parts of it aged badly.  The control for the signature pogo cane is stiff, the hit detection is noticeably off, and the game is really, really short.  Well in 2013 we got a fantastic remake that may not be perfect, but fixed all of the aforementioned issues and of course was promptly condemned for not matching the deified memories people had of the NES game.  Well screw that, Ducktales Remastered is vastly superior to the original.  In addition to things technology’s march made possible (gorgeous art and animation that looks just like the show, full voice acting), the game greatly expands every level from the NES game and adds two completely new ones, making for an experience that could almost pass for Ducktales 3.  With the Ducktales cartoon’s reboot about to launch (which I’m expecting to also greatly outshine the original, the previews have done a very good job of showing the Gravity Falls influence), now is a great time to play through this game.  It’s a fitting last hurrah for the 80s Ducktales as a whole, in addition to being a great remake.

#4. Ratchet and Clank (2016)

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Straddling the line between remake and reboot, I decided to place this game on the remake side because I’m always going to place gameplay first, and no matter how much the story of the original Ratchet and Clank was changed in Ratchet and Clank 2016, it’s obvious that the original game was still the near exclusive focus.  The advancements in control and quality of life that the later games made are intact, but the levels are almost all from the original.  But like all the remakes on this list, they aren’t just graphically upgraded copies, they’re new levels using the settings and elements of the original.  Ratchet and Clank 2016 does a great job expanding the classic levels it covers and makes them feel every bit as good as new levels would.  While having less levels is a somewhat painful tradeoff and prevents this game from placing higher on the list, R&C2016 is still a polished and satisfying action platformer that can serve as a great introduction to the series for 13 year olds who weren’t alive when the original game was released and are now making you feel old.  Let’s hope we get the Going Commando and Up Your Arsenal remakes that everyone wants, and that they’re as good as this one

#3. Mega Man Powered Up

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This game is criminally underappreciated.  Unlike Maverick Hunter X, which made minimal gameplay additions and was based on a game that aged too well to really need a remake, Mega Man Powered Up takes the very first Mega Man game and adds an absurd amount of content.  You get a ton of new playable characters, a level editor, and brand new chibi-style 2.5D graphics that can be placed over an exact gameplay replica of the original game.  But the crown jewel of this game is the “New Style” mode with brand new levels based on the themes and gameplay elements of the original, in addition to two brand new bosses with their own original levels.  This game just offers everything.  Want the original game with new graphics?  You’ve got it.  Want a better game based on it?  It’s there.  Want to play as Roll or a robot master?  Go ahead.  Impossible to please?  Then make your own damn level, you can even do that.  Mega Man Powered Up needs to be rescued from its relative obscurity, it’s a must have for every Mega Man fan.

#2. Resident Evil (2002)

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One of the most positively regarded video game remakes of all time, the GameCube Resident Evil (or REmake, as it’s commonly known) took the 1996 original, which had already aged pretty badly by 2002, and turned it into one of the best games to use the classic Resident Evil formula.  The flow of the game was shaken up, the puzzles were redesigned, new enemies and areas were added, the controls were updated, a colossal amount of secrets were added, the dialogue and voice acting were made competent, and the graphics were completely redone and looked truly amazing, they still hold up today, even without the long-postponed HD remaster.  This set the standard for video game remakes, and every re-release of a Resident Evil game since has been met with wishes that another Resident Evil game would get the kind of monumental remake that the original did.  While the lack of information has made it hard to remember, we do have the mythical REmake 2 announced, hopefully we can once again get something on the level of this, the runner-up master of remaking.

#1.  Metroid: Zero Mission

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I debated on the order to place the previous games in, trying to decide how much weight to give how much of an improvement over the original game each remake was versus how much I enjoyed the game personally.  Thankfully, Metroid: Zero Mission excels in both areas.  The original Metroid is enormously influential, but it did not age well at all, and the lack of features and quality of life improvements that Super Metroid standardized is glaring.  Metroid: Zero Mission merges the original game with Super Metroid, adding new abilities, areas, bosses, and story elements to make something that functions as both a new entry in the Metroid series, and a replacement for the poorly-aged original.  While the game is a bit short (despite all the expansions, the aimless wandering and cheap deaths really made the NES Metroid feel longer than it was), the gameplay is just as fun and satisfying as the legendary Super Metroid.  Zero Mission is everything a remake should strive to be, the best possible outcome.  After 13 years of wishing for Metroid II to get the same treatment, we’re just months away from that finally happening, and now seems like the time to recognize both Metroid: Zero Mission and the potential of remakes in general.  If more remakes had the effort and care given to Zero Mission, the world would be a better place and the galaxy would be at peace.

So there you have it, my picks for the top five games that show the full potential of video game remakes.  I’m not saying there’s no place for remasters that simply add some modern quality of life features to a classic game, but I consider games like these five to be the holy grail of video game remakes.  There are plenty of classic but questionably aged games that could benefit from full blown remakes, hopefully we’ll get many more remakes like these five games that mastered remaking.