10: Chaos Engine
Run and gun co-op gameplay a full decade before Gears of War, an imaginative and exciting steam punk narrative, monsters, robots and dinosaurs to fight…Bitmap Brothers’ Chaos Engine has them all. Above and beyond all of that though, Chaos Engine was incredible fun. Six different main characters, each with their own unique styles, weapons, strengths and weaknesses, intelligent AI that progressed as the player did…to say the game was ahead of its time is a bit of an understatement. A modern remake could up the co-op slots to four, keep the same alternate time-line setting and crank the action up a notch or eight. The node-control gameplay of the original could translate into some epic multiplayer modes, and the setting and aesthetic are just begging for some HD-ifying.
As this is being written, somewhere in the world, the good people at Starbreeze Studios, the developers behind The Chronicles of Riddick games and the excellent The Darkness, are busy making a new Syndicate game. For those of you unfamiliar with the series, Syndicate was an isometric tactical action game, where you ran your own Syndicate, a corporation willing to use any means necessary to achieve their goals. The gritty cyberpunk setting and intelligent squad-directing gameplay made the original a classic. If Starbreeze chuck in a decent multiplayer mode, where you can battle against other people’s syndicates, expand on the already massive scope of the first two games, then they’ll be on to a sure-fire winner.
8: Alex Kidd
Sega’s other home-grown mascot, Alex Kidd, was much more than the Mario clone he appeared to be. Owners of the Master System 2 were treated to the pre-installed gem Alex Kidd in Miracle World, a bright and often infuriatingly difficult platform romp, with boss battles handled via the medium of paper, scissors stone. Other titles included Alex Kidd in Shinobi World and Alex Kidd in The Enchanted Castle, all of them effortlessly playable and criminally forgotten. Unlike Sonic, who’s been beaten and abused by a decade of shoddy games, an annoying supporting cast and some unbelievably stupid design choices (Were-hog? What in hell were you people thinking!?!), Alex hasn’t starred in his own game for almost two decades. A cameo in Sega Superstars Tennis could be the springboard that the massively eared, monkey-boy needs to catapult him back into the pantheon of platforming greatness.
7: Desert Strike
In the olden days, helicopters were all the rage. It probably had something to do with Airwolf.
Desert Strike and its sequels; Jungle Strike, Urban Strike, Soviet Strike and Nuclear Strike, cast you in the role of a helicopter pilot, tasked with a variety of rescue, destruction and kidnap missions in deserts, jungles and… well, you get the point. With the current resurgence in popularity of the flight sim, Desert Strike is in prime position to bring helicopters back into the public conscious. The originals are very much a product of their political time, so adding a bit of Tom Clancy-style intrigue to proceedings would work nicely. A globe trotting 3D remake with extra choppers, next gen graphics and a more grown up story could be awesome.
6: Cannon Fodder
War. What is it good for? Well, Sensible Software thought it was good for making addictive videogames that pitted squads of up to eight tiny soldiers against an evil army. Tactical, outrageous and at times hilarious, Cannon Fodder was a much more complex game than it first appeared. The soldiers may have been small and bobble-headed, but the tactics and imagination required in the later levels were anything but childish. Cannon Fodder could be the game that finally brings the RTS to the console generation. Rumours abound that an almost complete 3D update exists somewhere, and a PSP version seems to be on the way, so perhaps we won’t have to wait too much longer for another slice of satirical slaughter,
5: Operation Wolf
The archetypal light-gun game, an arcade classic that was, to all intents and purposes, a Rambo simulator. You’re a lone soldier, out in the jungle, rescuing hostages and gunning down the enemy with aplomb. There haven’t been any great gun-based shooters for a while now, with Time Crisis losing its sparkle and Virtua Cop lost in the wilderness, the stage is set perfectly for Taito’s soldier ’em up to make a grand re-entrance. Perhaps the best home for a new Operation would be the Wii, delivering the sort of hardcore action that Nintendo’s fan base have been looking for.
The youngest of all the games on the list, MDK was a third-person action adventure with a wicked sense of humour and a fine line in ridiculous weaponry. The original was developed by Shiny, with the sequel handled by Bioware. It’s been more than nine years since a full MDK release, and that’s a fact that needs rectifying quickly. The first game casts you as Kurt Hectic, a janitor thrown into the midst of an intergalactic war, with the sequel introducing two new playable characters; Max, a six legged gun-toting dog, and Dr Fluke Hawkins, Kurt’s boss and Max’s creator. Everything’s already in place to make another MDK; amazing shooting gameplay, a raft of unique selling points and an excellent cast of characters, it’s a mystery why this hasn’t happened yet.
3: Micro Machines
The single greatest game series based on tiny toy cars, Micro Machines was one of the purest multiplayer experiences out there. Taking control of miniature vehicles on themed tracks, such as a pool table, a bubble bath or a rockery, the racing was nothing less than a joy. Add in some tanks with comedy pew pew cannons and you’re in gaming heaven. It’s been a couple of years since the last entry into the series, and none of the more recent games have quite managed to capture the zing of the original 8-bit and 16-bit titles. A next gen edition could handle 16 player races, crisper graphics and more tracks and vehicles. Loathe though I am to mention it , but this could be a merchandisers dream, and if it gets us a new MM game, that’s a pill I’d be willing to swallow.
2: Beneath A Steel Sky
The point-and-click adventurer’s point-and-click adventure; a dystopian, post-apocalyptic Australian drama full of humour, action and suspense, Beneath A Steel Sky is a true classic in every sense of the word. A new game could expand on the universe created in the original game, not necessarily following the same template or gameplay structure, but anyone who’s played BaSS would devour any return to Union City. Most of the original development team have spoken of their desire to work on a sequel, and whatever form that takes, it will be welcomed with open arms. If you’re never played the original, you can pick it up as freeware from Scummvm.com.
1: NBA Jam
Basketball as it should be played, with sparkling shoes, insane dunks, trash-talking commentators and the legendary catchphrase; “He’s on fire!”.
Sports games have been getting more and more po-faced in the modern era, heading towards simulation rather than game, and a new NBA Jam could just be the shot in the arm that the genre needs. NBA Street Homecourt came close to the madness of Jam, but was criminally ignored by most of the game-buying public. The two vs. two full court games and fully licensed players and kits would transfer well into 3D, and the simple gameplay would be perfect for online matches. The 2004 edition did its best to capture the magic, but fell short, giving the players massive heads for no particular reason, but a new version, with emphasis placed firmly on the gameplay, would be a mouth watering proposition.