In this segment we will be discussing games that deserve another shot at glory, whether that is a sequel or a reboot. We’re not talking about the games that were commercial hits but remain without sequels such as Red Dead Redemption. We’re talking about games that had very good ideas but were not entirely well executed or received mixed critical and user receptions, and therefore weren’t commercially successful enough to warrant a sequel. We’ll also include games that were mostly considered good, but for some reason didn’t hit the sales targets to activate a follow up being developed.
In this issue we are going to discuss a couple games that have already been given sequels, but have not received any new iterations for just under fifteen years.
The first game we are going to discuss is from the publisher that originally brought us the Fallout series, Interplay Entertainment.
Shiny Entertainment developed the first version of MDK, which was originally released for Windows in May of 1997. The game also received a Mac version, developed by Shockwave in June of the same year.In November the PlayStation version, developed by Neversoft, was released in Europe. The North American market received the zany third-person shooter twelve months later, while Japan received the PlayStation release in August of 1999. The game’s reception was mostly positive, GameRankings has the PC version sitting on 89%, while the PlayStation version is on 76%.
MDK is a third-person, action-adventure series set in a futuristic universe, where the main protagonist, Kurt Hectic, is a janitor for eccentric scientist, Dr. Fluke Hawkins. Hawkins, after being ridiculed for a scientific discovery, bribes Hectic with Hungarian goulash to live with him on his space station, The Jim Dandy. He vows to never return to Earth until he invents something significant. During his exile he invents a six-legged robotic dog, known as Max. There’s also an alien invasion of Earth, and Earth’s defences are defeated by the army of Gunter Glut, chief alien. Hawkins decides that he can save mankind, with the assistance of Hectic and the coil suit.
The coil suit is Hawkins’s greatest invention; it’s also your primary apparatus throughout the game. The suit is equipped with a chain gun, that when attached to the face of the suit becomes a sniper rifle, which changes the perspective to first-person.It also provides protection from bullets, bees and small, but very hard sticks. Its further uses are for transport, whether it be gliding or parachuting.
The game is primarily a run and gun shooter, and the levels, known as arenas, consist of shooting a bunch of aliens while infiltrating a minecrawler and facing off against a commander for the boss fight. There are some puzzler elements, like having to lob mortars into tubes via the sniper mode, which breaks up the frenetic pace of the game slightly. Another cool feature is the atmospheric entry. Upon the beginning of each level Kurt is seen skydiving towards a minecrawler, if the minecrawler’s radar detects you it will fire missiles that must be avoided.
The game’s sequel was first released for the Dreamcast and Windows in 2001, and PS2 in 2002. The game’s developer was BioWare. In 2011 the game received a Wii version, developed by Beamdog. A HD version was also released for Windows in 2011, developed by Overhaul Games.The gameplay is primarily the same, except this time around Max and Dr. Hawkins are playable characters. Max’s gameplay is mostly combat focused and Dr. Hawkins’s sequences are primarily puzzle-based.
The story kicks off where the first game left off. After defeating one final minecrawler, upon making his way back to the Jim Dandy, Kurt is taken captive by Shwang Shwing (yes, these names are all real). Max attempts to rescue Kurt but is also captured, leaving the role of rescuer to Dr. Hawkins. A sequence of rescue missions occur, where the rescuer becomes captive until all three protagonists are detained and transported to Swizzle Firma, the home of Shwang Shwing and Emperor Zizzy Ballooba, the mastermind of the invasion of Earth in the first game. Ballooba plans to annihilate Earth once and for all, and it is your job to stop him.
What makes this series worthy of a recommendation? It is an excellent fusion of fun, first-rate ganmeplay mechanics and narrative hilarity. It is a series that did not take itself seriously, but managed to be taken seriously by gamers and critics alike. Its intended eccentricities separated it from games that simulated real-life warfare. Rather than placing you in the shoes of a soldier or a secret agent and giving you a false sense of what it takes to achieve success in these roles, it reminded us that video games are all about having fun, and kicking ass.
Given the time between releases, a full reboot would be the best option for the series. To capture the zany and eccentric tone set by the previous releases, there’s one developer that I can think of that would be a perfect match for this project: Insomniac Games.
Earlier this year Insomniac and Microsoft partnered together to release the equally fun and wacky, Sunset Overdrive, an Xbox One exclusive. For those that have never played the game, you should, it’s an exceptional game. Much like the aforementioned statement, the game puts you into the shoes of an everyday hero with an array of crazy abilities.Imagine playing as Tony Hawk where the entire game world is your skate park; you can grind on pretty much any surface, not to mention you can shoot explosive teddy bears and other ridiculous ammo at the game’s mutants. It is a reminder that not every shooter game has to be so serious.
If Insomniac were given the keys to the MDK house, I’d like to see them keep the linear world, but have semi-open world mission levels. Similar to how Dishonored’s missions could be completed through various pathways. The atmospheric entries, with the dodging of the radar and missiles are a staple and must be included. It would also be cool to have a looting/upgrade system, where you can loot items throughout levels and give them to Dr. Hawkins to invent equipment for your character. Most of all I have faith that Insomniac would capture the pure craziness that the original had. It’s a tough balancing act trying to make sure a game is fun enough while being engaging enough to keep players interested. Insomniac Games have the chops to pull this off.
If you’re wondering what MDK stands for, well too bad, you won’t find a definitive answer. An ad in an old gaming magazine for MDK had Murder Death Kill at the bottom, while another theory is that it stands for Mission Deliver Kindness, the title of your mission in the first game. Max Doctor Kurt is another suggestion, and there are more online if you care to look, but nothing official has ever been announced.
Nightmare Creatures was a third-person survival horror game. The first entry came to North America on PlayStation and Windows in 1997, and Europe and Japan in 1998. A Nintendo 64 version was also released in 1998. The game was developed by Kalisto Entertainment and published by Activision and Sony Computer Entertainment. It received mixed to positive review scores with GameRankings showing a 78/100 rating for the PlayStation version.
The game is set in London during 1834, yet the story backs all the way to 1666, when the devil-worshipping cult known as The Brotherhood of Hecate were trying to formulate an elixir that would grant those that consumed it superhuman powers. Naturally, these things never go to plan and instead of becoming superhumans, those that drank the elixir became monsters.
Fast-forward to 1834 and Adam Crowley, a mad scientist whois the current-day leader of the Brotherhood. Thanks to his scheme London has been plagued with monsters, and the entire city is in fear. There are two playable characters: Ignatius Blackward, who is a priest that travels the world to fight evil, and Nadia Franciscus, the daughter of a murdered Doctor who is a friend of Ignatius. Your mission is to find and stop Crowley and defeat his monsters.
The gameplay was pretty stock-standard and was similar to hack ‘n’ slash and beat ‘em up games. Each character had their own primary weapon, while secondary weapons such as guns, spells and bombs could be used to eliminate your foes. The game’s one unique feature was the adrenaline bar. Players had to maintain a certain level of adrenaline otherwise their health would decrease. This was maintained by killing monsters.
A sequel was released in 2000 for the PlayStation and the Sega Dreamcast. It was once again developed by Kalisto Entertainment, however the sequel’s publishing rights were held by Konami. The series continued its survival horror theme, but the quality of game seemed to worsen with GameRankings accumulating an aggregate score of 63%.
The gameplay mechanics were essentially the same, except the adrenaline bar from the first game was removed and finishing fatalities were included. The story this time focused on a patient of Adam Crowley’s, known as Wallace. Wallace is rescued by a girl named Rachel, after which the two of them go separate ways only to find their paths connected in pursuit of Adam Crowley.
Personally I never played the second game, but the original Nightmare Creatures was a lot of fun. I would definitely like to see a reboot of this series with PlatinumGames at the helm. They have shown they are more than capable of developing quality third-person titles, with gems such as Vanquish and the Bayonetta series. The style of their previous works and even those in the making (Scalebound) are well suited to the gameplay style that Nightmare Creatures could benefit from. Also seeing London back in 1834 on whichever engine they choose would look incredible.
What would I like to see? I’d love for Platinum to make both male and female protagonists playable. Even have a concept like Resident Evil 2, where you could play the entire campaign as either Leon or Claire. They could have slight story differences in both campaigns, so you had a reason for playing both, aside from getting that platinum (pun intended) trophy. Hopefully they do away with the adrenaline bar, it forces the player to seek out combat and doesn’t allow for exploration, which is something I’d love to see. Have heaps of lore hidden in the game world, and include puzzles that require exploration. Old neat tricks like finding a code on a flyer or an address on a letter you found, instead of just following a marker to the next waypoint.
A nice variation of weapons, like pistols true to the era would be fun, but if they’re going for survival horror, make ammo scarce.
While younger gamers have probably never heard of these series, these are games that I grew up playing. Gamers of this generation have become accustomed to seeing remasters of last-gen’s big hits. Instead of seeing cash grabs with pointless remasters, let’s see some real remasters, games that time has forgotten but gamers haven’t. Because remasters are here to stay, but at least give some golden oldies some love.
(Sidebar – Intermission image stolen fair and square from http://stanleykubrick.neocities.org/intermission.jpg, credit where credit is due.)