If the past couple of years have taught gamers anything, it’s that a franchise is never truly dead. Here in the year 2021, it seems anything is possible on the revived IP front. In just the past half-decade, the gaming industry has seen Crash Bandicoot, Fable, and Perfect Dark either have new releases or announcements for new releases in their respective franchises.
On the other hand, it seems nothing is ever completely dead and gone in the gaming sphere. There seems to always be a bit more water to draw from the proverbial well, it just takes a developer ready to innovate and a publisher looking to cash in on a known commodity.
With so many of these once thought-to-be-dead IP's being given a jolt of new life, there has been no better time to dream and put together a collection of gaming franchises that should receive the revival treatment.
Now before diving into the list, a definition of what a “dead” franchise is must be laid out. For the sake of this article “dead” will be defined as:
“Not having a new game in the franchise/series in at least five years. This does not include remasters, remakes, or spin-offs that would be considered a massive departure from the series’ mainline titles.”
Now with all that out of the way, it is time to go present The Direct’s “8 Dead Video Game Franchises That Should Be Revived”.
Last Release: SSX (February 2012)
Starting things off is a little franchise called SSX. This extreme snowboarding series was a staple on the Xbox and PlayStation 2, producing classics like SSX 3 and SSX Tricky. EA attempted to revive the franchise back in 2012 to lukewarm results, but now is the time to bring it back once again!
After years of fans clamoring for more in the extreme sports genre, now seems to be the time to cash in. Last year gamers got to put on their cargo shorts and jam to Goldfinger’s “Superman” for the first time in years with Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2. And EA themselves announced that they are bringing back Skate in the coming years.
So EA let the powder junkies shred again. Something like Steep tried to scratch that itch, but came off a little too simmy for most. That SSX arcade-down-the-mountain magic could be captured again, and now looks to be the perfect time to do it.
Last Release: Turok (February 2008)
For a lot of modern gamers, Turok does not mean a lot. The dino-shooter franchise only saw six mainline games, and the last was on the PS3 and Xbox 360 in 2008. It has never blown critics away, and its games do not provide the deepest of stories, but it could be something truly special.
In a world saturated with wave-based zombie killing games, it is baffling that someone has not taken the same tact but with dinosaurs. A 2021 Turok effort would ditch the bonkers story and just provide wave by wave dinosaur-killing action. Does that not sound incredibly fun? Think Left 4 Dead but with velociraptors.
Turok coming back from the dead is one of the most pie-in-the-sky ideas on this list, but it could be something incredibly fun, and it’s a name that would at least peak the tiniest bit of interest in a contingent of gamers of a certain age.
Last Release: ModNation Racers: Road Trip (February 2012)
ModNation Racers is the best idea that never was. Initially a PS3 exclusive released in early 2012, ModNation Racers brought the “Play, Create, Share” mantra of other PlayStation hit Little Big Planet to the kart racing genre. Players could put together their own characters, karts, and tracks, and then share them on a digital hub for others to enjoy.
After the series’ first installment on PlayStation 3, a spin-off on PSP, and a single-player only PS Vita entry, the franchise was gone. While Little Big Planet went on to only get bigger and bigger, PlayStation’s kart racer counterpart was left in the rearview.
But now is the time to bring it back. This game series never even got the chance to succeed. That first PlayStation 3 game was an excellent entry into the genre, but was plagued by close to three-minute load times every time players wanted to do nearly anything. Well with modern hardware, loading doesn’t seem to be the problem that it once was. If Sony were to revisit ModNation Racers on the PS5, it’s hard to imagine that it would be anything but a hit.
For years, Mario Kart has pretty well held the kart racing crown with no attempt to be usurped, and taking down this monolith would be no easy task. But ModNation could at least provide PlayStation fans with a similar experience, one that innovates on the concept that Nintendo has perfected.
Last Release: Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts (November 2008)
When forming a list of gaming franchises that need to see the light of day again, Banjo-Kazooie will be one of the first to come up. The bird and the bear hold a very special place in a lot of gamer’s hearts. The two Rare-developed Nintendo 64 platformers are considered classics by many, but ever since Rare was acquired by Microsoft in 2002, not a ton has come from the franchise.
After the critically panned Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts came out on Xbox 360 in 2008, nothing has really been heard of the adorable pair other than an appearance in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. So, Microsoft, it is time to bring back the two kings of the 3D platformer genre.
In recent years, retro 3D platforming fans have been treated to a revival of the genre. Crash Bandicoot came out of hibernation, Spyro reignited his flame, and new names like Astro Bot have come for the crown, so a Banjo game could work in this market.
The ball is in Microsoft’s court here, and the tech giant knows that the Banjo name has significant cache attached to it. Honestly, it would not be all that surprising if fans were to hear details on a Banjo-Kazooie reboot in the not-to-distant future.
TOM CLANCY’S SPLINTER CELL
Last Release: Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist (August 2013)
To start this one off, a definitive statement needs to be made. There are not enough secret agent games in the gaming world today. Plain and simple, it’s a fact. It’s a premise that just seems like it would work perfectly in an interactive medium, but is one that is rarely tapped into. So Ubisoft, bring back Splinter Cell.
The once-great franchise has been lacking in titles for most of the past decade, and while the series’ protagonist Sam Fischer has appeared in nearly every other recent Ubisoft title, he deserves another crack at the bat in a game of his own.
The stealth action series is adored by many, and the pop of audiences seeing those iconic night vision goggles light up in a reveal trailer would rival that of any major gaming announcement of the last 20 years. People want to get back into the world of Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell, and there seems to be no good reason why a revival has not happened yet.
Rumors have been swirling for about two years of a rebooted Splinter Cell title, so confirm it already, Ubisoft! It’s time!
SUPER MARIO STRIKERS
Last Release: Mario Strikers Charged (September 2007)
The only Nintendo property making the list is Super Mario Strikers. The edgy soccer game featuring Mario & friends originally released in North America on the GameCube back in 2005 and was followed up by a sequel on the Wii two years later, then after that...nothing.
The series took the game of soccer (football internationally) and gave it an edge, creating this arcade footy experience with super-moves, body checking, and an angry Mushroom Kingdom roster. It was spectacular.
Now, Nintendo has revisited most of its Mario sports spin-offs, like Tennis and Golf, but they seem to have forgotten the Next Level Games-developed soccer franchise, which is a travesty. A new Super Strikers would be an instant pick-up for many on the Nintendo Switch. Add in the online play that nearly every game warrants here in 2021, and it sounds like a winning recipe.
The sad part about this series is it is unlikely to ever happen, or at least in the angsty aggressive nature that it did fifteen years ago. Nintendo is very particular about how their characters are portrayed. So putting metal-plated armor on a pissed-off Mario before he takes to the pitch seems a little out of the picture for a modern-day Nintendo.
While the Big N may have let it fly in 2005, that almost certainly would not be the case today.
KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC
Last Release: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II – The Sith Lords (December 2004)
A new Knights of the Old Republic just seems like an easy call at this point. The two games in the Star Wars RPG franchise are considered by many as some of the best Star Wars stories told in the video game medium.
After the release of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II – The Sith Lords in 2004, the series took a turn into the MMO landscape, releasing The Old Republic MMORPG that is still alive and thriving today. But so many are clamoring for more of that single-player Star Wars experience.
While a KOTOR 3 does seem a little out of the question as Disney launches its new High Republic initiative, exploring stories from the era long before the movies across TV, books, and film. But why not a “Knights of the High Republic”?
With the launch of Lucasfilm Games earlier this year, anything feels possible on the Star Wars video game front right now, and a new KOTOR does not feel like it would be too much of a risk for Disney and co.
If anyone from the House of Mouse is listening, please just let gamers take the destiny of a new Jedi or Sith into their hands, exploring the galaxy, taking on various quests, and coloring in the details of their very own Star Wars story as they go.
Last Release: Castlevania Lords of Shadow 2 (February 2014)
And lastly, a list such as this would not be complete without mentioning Castlevania. The gothic action RPG/platformer is one of the all-time video game greats. While the most recent titles in this franchise have not reached the heights that classics like Symphony of the Night once did, there is no saying that a new Castlevania could not work in 2021.
Fans of Metroidvanias have not been starving for content in recent years; if anything they have been treated to some of the best to come out of the genre. Games like Hollow Knight, Axiom Verge, and Ori and the Blind Forest have satiated that hunger for gamers. But now is the time for Castlevania to come and reclaim the throne that was once unquestionably theirs.
A return to form 2D Castlevania reboot in the style of Symphony of the Night would have the industry ablaze in excitement. Though Konami seems to be on the verge of leaving the gaming space as a whole, why not let some talented developers have a crack at the IP and see what they can do. Give the Hollow Knight team a shot at Castlevania and it would be almost guaranteed magic.
Castlevania at one point was one of gaming’s biggest names, and now it’s only associated with a decent Netflix anime and some pachinko machines in Japanese arcades. The franchise deserves so much better and if a revival were to happen, now would be the perfect time.