A short tweet was all it took to send waves through the gaming community. Minecraft creator “Notch” sent out a message into the Twitter ether, directed at Tim Schafer, suggesting that he would be interested in funding Psychonauts 2. As the two indie developer darlings came together, it was obvious we were witnessing the formation of something akin to the Super Friends.
Psychonauts: a romp into the ever awkward subconscious of strangers. If ever there were a game that deserved a sequel, it’s Double Fine’s Psychonauts. If you’re hearing the “why you should play this game right now” speech for the first time, I’m surprised. Psychonauts is a fantastic 3D platformer with Metroidvania aspects of gameplay, along with some of the funniest and most well-rounded characters in video game existence. Tim Schafer and Scott Campbell crafted an incredible world, and even almost seven years later, I still want to see more of that.
And I think that’s what the fans of the original really want. Gamers want more of that vibrant and beautiful world; the varied environments, amazing characters, and dialogue that sticks with you. In a vast sea of Call of Duty 2.5 and seriously depressing shovelware, anything produced by Double Fine tends to be an amazing breath of fresh air, but the swagger that Psychonauts has is in a league of its own. That’s why a sequel is so desirable. They managed to create a game that hit so hard and left such an amazing impact that the normal sales curve that applies to most titles released was broken in half. Most sales of the game occurred well after launch day/week/year, with word of mouth being the driving force.
Some gamers might wonder why this sequel hasn’t already happened. I blame it on the initial launch. Typically, when games are released, they make the majority of their sales on the first few days. After that, it’s just a curve that falls off into obscurity until everyone who will buy the game has already done so. Majesco lost a lot of money on publishing the game we now love and worship. In fact, a few months after the release of Psychonauts, they sent out a press release revising their projected earnings for the year, dropping projected revenue of over 50 million, and went from an operating income of $16 to $18 million to an operating loss of $16 to $19 million.
If we were dealing with any other studio, I would be waving the red flag and crying out against a sequel. But this isn’t any other studio. It’s Double Fine, who contains one of the most diverse and artistically successful portfolios in the whole of game development. I trust their judgment. They haven’t relied on sequels to push their company forward, so if they want to give this a shot, I support them completely. I mean, we’re talking about Tim Schafer. Oh and let’s not forget Ron Gilbert, who joined Double Fine back in 2010, but was originally part of the LucasArts dream team that created one of the greatest sequels of all time (Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge).
Even with a failed launch back in 2005, Psychonauts dug its creepy-but-lovable claws into the hearts of many gamers, morphing from cult classic to a must-play title. The bottom line is, we’re dealing with a title that lends itself to a sequel. The concept of psychic warfare; the environments existing mainly inside the deranged minds of those surrounding Raz; the obvious attitude that this game continues long after the credits roll; Double Fine did a fantastic job of making a game that felt like a glimpse into a world that already existed. Now it’s just a matter of plucking a new story from that universe. The whole project would still take loads of creativity to match up to the original, but, c’mon people, that’s what Double Fine is all about.