Over the past two weeks, the Internet has been abuzz about Tim Schafer’s Kickstarter campaign to fund a new Double Fine adventure game. With an initial goal of $400,000, the operation has now raised almost two million dollars, leaving many to speculate whether we had discovered a new way to fund niche projects.
While we’re certainly a ways away from eliminating the current game funding model, it did get us thinking. So we asked our writers this: if you could raise an absurd amount of cash to fund a specific title that would likely never be published by traditional means, what would it be? The response was a collection of abandoned franchises, desired sequels, and bizarre ideas that we all wish from the bottom of our hearts could see the light of day.
Hit the break and see what we would do with all that cash.
Jeroen Amin – Freedom Fighters 2
If Red Dawn had a video game adaptation, this would be it. The year was 2003 and IO Interactive were in their prime. The year before, they released the fantastic Hitman 2 to glowing reviews and quickly garnered a large fan following. In 2003 they released Freedom Fighters, an ambitious title that did everything just right. You play as Chris Stone, a plumber on the job, when the Russians suddenly invade New York. You escape from them and run into a small resistance group. Joining up with them, you lead a rebel force that grows from a few people in a sewer to a veritable army staging guerrilla warfare at every turn.
What really set the game apart was that instead of being presented to the player one mission at a time, you would instead get a few at a time and had to choose which one to do first. Completing one successfully meant a change in the other ones, anything from less reinforcements to no tanks or helicopters to no functioning alarms. It added a whole new dynamic to the gameplay and helped the player actually feel like they were in a resistance movement and not simply just breezing through a spoonfed story.
It also wasn’t a player versus the world type of game either. You could die as easily as any enemy you faced. What kept you in the fight was the squad you controlled, sending them to flank or to cover with you. Between missions, in the sewer hub, you could see your rebel army growing as you gathered more of them during the missions, transforming your little section of the sewer into a veritable mole people town. Everything about the game made the player feel like they were leading a rebellion, not just playing a story.
Sadly, IO Interactive passed up the opportunity to make a much-wanted and financially viable sequel, choosing instead to create a new series called Kane & Lynch. And then they made a sequel to that. That went well.
Lucas Smith – Jazz Jackrabbit
Nowadays, Cliff Bleszinski and Epic Games are known mostly for the Gears of War Franchise. However, if you grew up in the early 90s, they are probably more recognizable as the creators of Jazz Jackabbit.
Jazz Jackrabbit is the simple tale of how Jazz, a jackrabbit with an attitude, must save Carrotus’ princess, Eva Earlong, from the evil Devan Shell. The game was a 2D action platformer with a style all its own. The music consisted of a variety of techno tunes created by Alexander Brandon and the main theme will forever hold a special place in my heart.
Jazz Jackrabbit 3 was originally going to be released in 2000, but was scrapped when Epic was unable to find a publisher. However, with the success of Double Fine’s kickstarter campaign, not to mention Epic’s popularity, it could be totally viable to self-fund a new Jazz Jackrabbit.
Emma Atlas – Fund Peter Molydeux
Imagine carrying a radioactive baby in a pitch black environment, your baby would act as a torch. Rocking the baby intensifies the glow etc
No, this isn’t not an actual suggestion by Lionhead Studios game designer and super-hyper Peter Molyneux (Fable series, Black & White 2), it’s a tweet posted by @petermolydeux, a parody account run anonymously which lampoons Molyneux’s passionate and impractical game design ideas.
The real Molyneux, while best known for his work creating god-games of excellent quality and role-playing games of moderate quality, is also quite well known for over-hyping his design ideas for features within games, most famously with his canceled Kinect title, Project Milo. Project Milo, Molyneux boasted, would allow you to shape the personality a young, lonely boy named Milo by telling him to do his homework or preventing him from squashing snails. Molydeux aims to capture the designer’s sometimes naïve method of describing the potential of video games by pitching things no publisher in their right mind would fund. And, that’s exactly where Kickstarter should come in.
Molydeux has already had one title launch on Newgrounds based on his suggestion, “Game where an asteroid is about to hit earth, the aim is not to stop it but to say goodbye to every family member. You have 120 of them,” entitled “Goodbye, My Love.” Molydeux even joked on Feb. 9 that 400 thousand dollars could bring to life a new god-game.
But why conform to the boring, realistic, sensible games industry? Why not put that money towards a game in which “you lived in a world where all guns are required to be plugged into wall sockets?” I say, find a team of young, maverick game programmers, write up a game design document which covers as many of Molydeux’s ideas as possible, and ask Kickstarter to foot the bill.
Obviously, you need a recognizable face and a trustworthy source to reel in the big bucks. Well, we’ve got the Peter Molyneux, so… at least he’s recognizable. Until the day comes we can do something impossible like fund a Molydeux game on Kickstarter or get a game that is ever as good as Molyneux says it will be, just fill the free-thinking mold-busting hole in your heart by playing some Fable 3 and pretending that the goal of the game is to fill up a magical disappointment meter. When it’s full, you win! And then, you uninstall.
Patrick Davidson – A True Cool Spot Sequel
There was a great deal of anthropomorphism in the 80′s and 90′s era of gaming. It was all the rage to pick an animal, slap a cheeky smile on its face and call it a franchise. Some of these took off like Sonic the Hedgehog, Crash Bandicoot, Battletoads and many colorful others. However, soft drinks giant 7-Up realized that every animal ever had already been claimed and they needed something fresh to hook the kids, something… cool.
And so Cool Spot was born. A marketing genius slapped a pair of radical sunglasses, a tubular pair of arms and some bodacious sneakers onto the red 7-Up spot and made themselves a brand new character. This guy was nowhere near as one dimensional as his humble origins may have you believe however. Running around beaches, attacking crustaceans with blasts of delicious soda bubbles and climbing on balloons came easy for Spot – it was all in a days work.
Now you may be saying, “But Patrick, they did make a sequel!” Let me say this, the travesty that was “Spot Goes to Hollywood” does not count as a true sequel in my eyes. It changed everything that was fun about the original, namely the 2D platforming, in favor of a top-down isometric look. Wouldn’t you love to fund a real 2D addition to the series, in the vein of Rayman Origins?
Cool Spot was platforming at its finest. No princesses to save, no stupid animals hidden in machinery and absolutely no romantic undertones; just pure, unadulterated coolness. I imagine a sequel where Cool Spot wakes up in 2012 to realize that he is no longer culturally relevant and must venture forth into the streets to discover what is cool this century. I just hope he doesn’t come back with skinny jeans, sailor tattoos and the dream of being a DJ.
Derek James – No One Lives Forever 3
Before developer Monolith built up the incredibly popular, acronym loving F.E.A.R. franchise, they found success with a charming, hilarious, and (mostly) forgotten game called No One Lives Forever. A spy-centric first person shooter set in the swinging sixties, No One Lives Forever (NOLF, for short), was a fantastic mix of varied gameplay, compelling story, and most importantly, humor. The game lovingly lampooned the tropes and clichés of the popular spy movies of the 1960′s, and provided the world with some incredibly funny lines and scenes.
NOLF was released in 2000, with a sequel being released in 2002, which upped the bar further. Those who remember the games remember them with great fondness, as the humor, gameplay, wackiness (one level has you fighting ninjas in a the middle of a tornado ravaged home), and unabashed style created an absolutely fantastic experience. Monolith moved onto other, more serious jaunts such as the F.E.A.R. games and the Condemned duo. For some sad reason, NOLF has been somewhat forgotten over the years, though still burns brightly in the hearts of its fans.
In a world where most first person shooters are gritty, melodramatic tales of gruff men trudging through environments of brown and grey, another NOLF game would be fantastic. I would love to see Monolith return to the lighter world of No One Lives Forever, where the spies are sexy, the gadgets are fantastical, the henchmen are bumbling, and the world has been glossed over with a thick coat of vibrant sixties style. Please Monolith?
Matt Wells – Final Fantasy 7 Remake
If you just look at the popularity of RPGs before and after its release, it’s obvious that Final Fantasy VII is one of the main reason RPGs exist in the gaming world today. With the continued popularity and sequels, it begs the question: Why the hell hasn’t this been remade yet?
I am one of the last people who believes that a big budget and pretty graphics are requisites for blockbuster games but it’s hard for me to believe that updating the musical score ALONE wouldn’t help bring back a large amount of newly-departed fans who just don’t enjoy the current era of turn-based RPGs. At the same time, those that are into a more modern touch, can easily sit down and play a classic game that features characters that don’t look related to Popeye.
While Square-Enix is FAR from the role-playing behemoth that it once was in the 1990′s and early 2000′s, Back in E3 2005, they released a video of a tech-demo that was an attempt to show off the PS3′s capabilities. This inspired many fans to believe a remake was in the works. It’s hard to believe that remastering Final Fantasy VII isn’t one of Square-Enix’s top priorities, yet it isn’t.
Ol’ Square-Enix hasn’t been producing award-winning hits like it used to, it’s hard to believe that this is a project that they’d screw up. Considering that the story, script and dialogue are already completed, there’s no reason to fix what isn’t broke. While Square-Enix’s CEO did state that they would explore the possibility of a remake in 2010, nothing else has been said on the project in almost two years.
While the very concept of remaking a classic is tricky at best, I think it’s safe to say that there’s no way it could be worse than Final Fantasy XIV.
Mike Launay – A New Bubsy
With the most excellent Rayman: Origins turning a profit and proving that a full fledged 2D platformer can be successful and in lieu of the recent Kickstarter trend, I’ve found myself returning to the platformers of my youth. What game should I turn to but Bubsy. So much hype, so much potential. But alas, it was not to be. After a short life on the Genesis and Super Nintendo, Bubsy left the world on a sour note after his PlayStation debut tanked.’
Bubsy has everything needed for a successful game in today’s market. With the speed of Sonic, the platforming of Super Mario, and the wackiness of a Saturday morning cartoon, how could anyone resist? Did I mention the adorable kitty protagonist (well, bobcat. Close enough) who collects balls of yarn and only has nine lives? It’s so cute I might puke.
The thing is, Bubsy can absolutely not be translated into 3D. So many of our favorite platformers from better days have tried to make the transition and failed. Handhelds like the Vita and 3DS are the perfect medium for modern day 2D platformers. I know Accolade, the
studio behind Bubsy, hasn’t existed in years, but a guy can hope. Ya’know?
Dan Tallarico – Pocky and Rocky 3
There’s one series that requires the aid of Kickstarter beyond all others: Pocky and Rocky. Since Pocky and Rocky games ceased to exist, the industry has been a stagnant marsh. A downloadable Pocky and Rocky game in the style of those dime-a-dozen twin-stick shooters would pull the industry out of its downward spiral to FPS-ville and put it back on course to Magical Mystery Innovation and Fun Land.
Pocky and Rocky is poised for its return, considering it was so far ahead of its time. Imagine an updated Pocky and Rocky with RPG elements – you’d be able to upgrade your leaf/card power, buy armor, install new tails on Rocky, hire demon partners, and eat pocky (the candy, not the character). There would probably be a robot sidekick. Heck, maybe the premise is that Rocky contracted rabies and you are on a quest to find the cure, a leaf from the rare grape blossom tree atop Mt. Fuji. It’s not like I have an entire book of Pocky and Rocky fan fiction that would be published alongside this game.
This is a game that pulled off the twin-stick-shooter genre before sticks were standard on a controller. The world is ready for Pocky and Rocky 3 and I’m sure it would flourish in the downloadable space thanks to modern technology and raccoon lobbyists. Pocky and Rocky may not have seemed spectacular years ago next to hundreds of other games starring animals, but in 2012, when it’s compared to space marines and zombies, Pocky and Rocky will be the palette cleanser gamers need.
Chris Ullery – Blast Corps 2
It was the mid 90’s, and Rare was at the absolute top of their game. In the years before being acquired by Microsoft and beginning their downward spiral into irrelevance, England’s top game studio put out their fair share of clever, unique titles, not the least of which was the 1997 N64 hit Blast Crops.
Blast Corps put players in control of a wide variety of vehicles with the task of clearing a path through buildings and structures so that a defective, runaway nuclear carrier doesn’t collide with them and bring about catastrophe. It’s an absolutely absurd premise, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The game combined elements of driving, racing, puzzle-solving, and added in the panic-inducing anxiety of a strict time limit.
Sadly, despite a 90% Metacritic rating and placement as one of the best reviewed Nintendo 64 games ever, Rare never revisited the concept. And with the company now relegated to churning out soulless Kinect games, it doesn’t appear that they have any intention to. Which is a damn shame, as huge advancements in destruction and physics engines over the last decade and a half mean that a new Blast Corps could be… well, a blast!
But with most of the talent at Rare that went into this title having long since departed the company, maybe a Blast Corps fundraiser wouldn’t be about getting the game made, but buying the rights to give to a more willing and able development team. Retro Studios, perhaps?