Half-Life is not one of the most voluminous franchises in existence. It consists of the original game, a smattering of expansions for that game, the sequel, and two-thirds of an episodic follow-up to that sequel. Oh, and a whole lot of talk, which puts me in the mind of paying money for an idea, but so long as there’s no Kickstarter my carefully cultivated rage gene doesn’t get activated by pretentious talk by people who cannot get a video game to launch.
Then again, I may be a little harder on Gaben & co. than they deserve. I’ll snark endlessly at the fact that it has taken seven years without so much as a peep about Half-Life 3, but when you think about it, it’s a hard project to start on. Not because of lack of money or licensing rights, but because the game has some pretty huge shoes to fill, and a whole lot of baggage that’s weight the hypothetical down.
I like Front Mission a lot. Except I don’t, not really; I like the tiny amount of it that I’ve played a lot, which amounts to two officially localized games, two other games handled as a fan translation project, and a whole lot of carefully researched side materials. It’s possible that there’s something within the other chunk of the games and supplementary materials that would change my entire viewpoint, I don’t know, but you’d think that there would be more than a fragment of the 11-game-strong series over here.
The entire franchise appears to be consigned to die the death of a small yappy dog now, and while I’m sad about that, I can kind of understand it. Sure, the people in charge had ideas about where to take the franchise next, and that’s a good thing. But the overall scope of the thing is a hard project to take on, and after the by-all-accounts-execrable Front Mission Evolved, perhaps the challenge was just too great for too little reward.
If you haven’t seen Adventure Time yet, go do that now. The first two seasons are on Netflix, you have no excuse. Do what you have to do. Shove someone down a flight of stairs if you have to! Except probably not that, because that’s kind of an awful thing to do, and Adventure Time is a show that is generally against doing awful things like shoving people down flights of stairs. Unless they really want you to and they’re cool with it.
Where was I? Right, Adventure Time, which is absolutely wonderful. It’s a fun show. It’s got fun comics. It’s got a few games, and only one of those has produced a non-tepid response. That’s a bit weird, seeing as how the show has been running for long enough that there’s lead time for some development and a lot of creative people really like this show. There’s every reason for it to be successful, and yet the games just don’t stand up. So why is that? What’s keeping us from having a totally sweet Adventure Time video game?
Calling the original DOOM anything short of a game-changer would be underselling its importance. It was a polished, unique experience, more or less creating the first-person shooter experience in the eyes of many players. It was a shareware title, which made it easy to learn about. It was violent for its time, another feather in the cap of a game that was already laser-guided to reach the hearts of a very definite audience. It was beautiful. It was stunning. It let you blow demons up with a shotgun or carve them up with a chainsaw.
Best of all? It was modifiable by users with minimal effort. Which was pretty important.
In the early days of the Internet, DOOM and its functionally almost-identical sequel, Doom II, were a big deal. Doom 3 – the first actual sequel the game had in a decade – met with positive reviews and it was a success, but it sure as heck wasn’t a success like its predecessors. Heck, it didn’t even match those games in tone, being far more concerned with the idea of sneaking through darkened regions and navigating linear stages. But that’s kind of to be expected. Making Doom 3 was always going to be a difficult proposition, and there’s a reason why the next installment is languishing in development hell. This is a hard project.
At the heart of everything lies the Tower. The Beams lead to the great Tower, the heart of all worlds, the spoke upon which the wheels of existence turn. The tower is the heart of the battle between the White, the Red, and the Black, a conflict between forces that would preserve life and those that would see it serve more sinister powers or even cast off into nothingness. It would make, I think, a pretty great video game.
I don’t need to point out that we’ve never actually gotten a proper game based on The Dark Tower, do I?
Stephen King’s sprawling story about Roland Deschain has seeped its way into a lot of his other books. Several comics have been made chronicling the time between Roland first becoming a Gunslinger (essentially a paladin with revolvers) and the quest outlined in the books, tromping across the world to seek out the source. It’s been in development hell for an adaptation for years. And it’d make a pretty satisfying game… but I don’t think we’re ever going to get to play one. For some very good reasons.