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Ten Long-Dead Series Dying For A Revival

No One Lives Forever

Released in 2000, The Operative: No One Lives Forever had more of a voice and unique vibe than the vast majority of games. Set in the 1960s, this first-person shooter put you in the shoes of spy Cate Archer as she tried to save the world. Highly stylish, it emulated the James Bond-styled spy story, while putting a comedic twist on things. While often compared at the times to the Austin Powers films, the tone is quite different. Both were comedic takes on the spy genre, but No One Lives Forever wasn’t a parody. While consistently funny, it still had a somewhat more grounded approach.

After the original title won a number of awards, Cate returned in a sequel just two years later, which was possibly even more acclaimed. A disappointing spin-off followed in 2003, but that was the end of the road.

There’s been wide interest in at least a rerelease of the first two titles over the years. Complicated rights issues seem to have prevented this. Vivendi Universal purchased original publisher Fox Interactive, who later merged with Activision. Some portion of the rights may still lie with the original developer Monolith Productions. A sale of certain IP may have sent the right outside of even that chain of companies. With no one even clear on who owns the series, it is very hard to get them back on the market, let alone have a long-desired third game release. Nonetheless, this is the sort of series that has such a strong voice that there would still be a place in the market for a revival today if only someone would figure out who we should be bothering in order to get one.

 

Panzer Dragoon

Sega shows up again, which is no great surprise. Few companies have a longer list of old IP which is sitting untouched. Panzer Dragoon sitting idle is a shame, though, because there are two possible branches of the series. Both of which could use a new installment.

The last game in the series was the wonderful Panzer Dragoon Orta in 2002. A rail shooter, it may be the pinnacle of its genre. Even nearly twenty years later, it still looks beautiful and thankfully is backwards compatible on the Xbox Series X. Series creator Yukio Futatsugi made a spiritual successor for the launch of the Xbox One called Crimson Dragon. It met a chilly reception.

If rail shooters aren’t your thing though, you still may have a stake in this series due to Panzer Dragoon Saga. Adapting the series into an RPG, PDS is an incredibly unique beast. Its narrative is strange and claustrophobic but deeply intense and emotional. The world of Panzer Dragoon expands greatly into a stunning scorched landscape. The combat system is incredibly unique, taking elements from a shooter and adapting them into a turn-based system.

It’s one of the least accessible, truly great games ever made. Released late in the life of the Saturn, an extremely limited number of copies saw print in the United States. Various reports have suggested it may have been briefly available on early streaming service OnLive, but no other releases have followed. With the source code lost many years ago, the only ways to bring it to a newer platform involve either a full Sega Saturn emulator or a full remake. Hard to justify for a title that barely sold during its initial release.

The Panzer Dragoon series isn’t completely dead and gone. A remake of the original rail shooter entry was released last year. Another remake of its sequel is on the way. Perhaps if that does well, we’ll see a chance for a revival of Saga, or even a new entry.

 

Power Stone

revival

There’s nothing else quite like Power Stone. An overhead, arena fighting game, it kind of plays like a 3D version of Super Smash Bros, though that doesn’t quite capture it either. With unique, transforming stages, a wide variety of weapons, unique characters with tons of personality and varied abilities, these are fantastic games to break out in a crowd. Despite the last original title in this series releasing in 2000, there was still a Dreamcast running this game at the last comic convention I attended in 2019. People were pretty consistently playing it.

Since the release of Power Stone 2, the series has had little impact on new releases, however. A 2006 collection bundled both games on PSP, but there has been no talk of a sequel. A few characters have appeared cosmetically in other Capcom titles over the years, but even that has been rare. There were rumors that a representative of the series might appear in one of the recent Marvel vs. Capcom titles, but that never came to pass.

Does the future hold bright things for this series? Of the series on this list, I would probably rank Power Stone as the second least likely to return. Even Capcom, who never let up on nostalgia, seems to have little interest, and it has been over twenty years since the last installment. Still, never say never. Everything about this series screams for a modern-day revival as an online party fighter.

 

Road Rash

Road Rash is the product of a very different time. In the 90s, these were some of the coolest racing games around. You worked not only to pass your competitors but also to kick the crap out of them. Using weapons, your feet, whatever, you had to do anything you could to get to the finish line before your competitors. With rocking soundtracks and a sort of grunge, very 90s feel, they were very much of a time and place.

In a world where everything old is new again, it feels strange that EA hasn’t tried to revive this series. The tight racing always felt great, and the somewhat limited but important combat aspect set the series apart. They weren’t just a standard racing game, but they also weren’t a full-on combat game either, even if they may have served as inspiration for later vehicle combat games like Twisted Metal.

I hesitated to include Road Rash on this list. There’s a part of me that wonders if its time has passed. The last game in the series was released all the way back in 2000 and received a mediocre reception even then. Road Redemption released a few years ago, largely inspired by the Road Rash series, and flopped. Yet there’s just something about the attitude and style of Road Rash that feels like it could work today. It would need a facelift, and you’d have to expand on the mechanics, but nothing today feels quite like it. I’d love to see a revival try to capture that magic again.

 

Star Wars: Rogue Squadron

The Rogue Squadron series had a brief moment in time where it really felt like a big deal. The second game in the series, Rogue Leader, launched with the Gamecube and received near-universal acclaim. It was beautiful, with varied missions, tight controls, and everything fans of the original could want it to be. A sequel a couple of years later had more excellent space combat but tried to provide on foot levels as well, which felt just awful and led to a less than stellar reception for the game.

Then it was gone. Reports years later revealed that a trilogy compilation was nearly completed for the Wii. Developer Factor 5’s struggles at the time stopped it from seeing release. Brief talk of reviving the project surfaced after the company’s revival in 2017. Nothing else ever came from it, and the supposedly reborn Factor 5 has been silent since 2017.

There’s nothing quite like the Rogue Squadron series today. Sure, there are other space combat games. Even a new Star Wars version came out last year in Star Wars: Squadrons. Most of them take a simulation-style approach, more focused on customizing your ship and a simulation-style experience. They’re often slower and less action-packed. The games which feel the most like Rogue Squadron arguably are dogfighting games. Titles like Ace Combat which don’t take place in space. There’s a hole in the market that a Rogue Squadron successor could fill. Perhaps the current development of a Rogue Squadron film gives the series its best chance in years for a revival.

 

Andrew Thornton
Andrew has been writing about video games for nearly twenty years, contributing to publications such as DarkStation, Games Are Fun, and the E-mpire Ltd. network. He enjoys most genres but is always pulled back to classic RPG's, with his favorite games ever including Suikoden II, Panzer Dragoon Saga, and Phantasy Star IV. Don't worry though, he thinks new games are cool too, with more recent favorites like Hades, Rocket League, and Splatoon 2 stealing hundreds of hours of his life. When he isn't playing games he's often watching classic movies, catching a basketball game, or reading the first twenty pages of a book before getting busy and forgetting about it.

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