Series that could have been

In my long quest for sustainable business in the game industry and comparison with Japan, Nintendo and Mario Kart I’ve been thinking of series in the West that could have become huge. But didn’t.

NBA Jam

An oral story at Sports Illustrated just came out. NBA Jam was the jam, obviously. The game was released in 1993 right when basketball was exploding internationally. But also the game was its own thing and not just a basketball computer game. It was way better than any other game in its category and there was no way that we wouldn’t see an awesome sequel and more.

Why it didn’t happen

Licensing. Midway the developer lost the rights to the name and the NBA was probably looking to get more money. I would love to see a new version with something the NBA 2K17 engine. BoomShakalaka indeed.

MDK

There was one mechanic that was just awesome: a sniper mode where you could zoom up to 100x. That and plenty of other cool stuff but this one in particular was dope and never really has been used in anything ever since. The game had flaws, some things were kind of corny but it run so flawlessly. MDK2 did a good job too but never really expanded on that one mechanic that was awesome. I wanted a MDK game were you would have to hide all the time because you’re kind of vulnerable and weak but you would have that crazy sniper/camera thing to observe and choose a path… Imagine that with titans. Yeah man.

Why it didn’t happen

Well it did for the 2nd but that was it. Greed was the reason the game didn’t expand. Interplay pushed really hard to have MDK2 asap. The dev team burned out and separated.

Re-Volt

Small racing game that was abandoned very quickly even though that RC car gameplay was really fun.

Why it didn’t happen

Platform madness (PC/DC/PS1/N64) and not lucrative enough I guess?

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater

Well, there is a series. But after the third one, it simply lost its soul. Story mode, walking around, customization all that was superfluous. THPS was like NBA Jam, perfect from the start. It needed to be about level design, not quests. It needed to be about real locations, it needed to be about flow and the coolness of finding new spots, not about questionable challenges and other artificial gameplay. I played with my own music from the beginning. I played an absurd amount of the DS one, watching TV on the side.

Why it didn’t happen

Too much, too fast. Throwing ideas at it and brute forcing things without trying to build a true legacy. It was about riding the skateboarding wave as much as possible. Skateboarding is kind of for life though and now the series is ruined. Tony probably doesn’t want to have his name used for that stuff anymore. I’m still hoping on a version that uses our beloved 3D maps that we have everywhere from our phones to our browsers so that I can make absurd tricks in cities, forever.

Crimson Skies

This one is a favorite to me. Jordan Weisman describes it as “pilots meet pirates” in an alternative 1930s US. First off, that’s the kind of back story that I really enjoy because it’s the perfect mix of novelty and familiarity. Second, the game was a lot of fun. We don’t have enough fun games about flying, disappearing in clouds, dogfighting and recognizing new territories.

Why it didn’t happen

A little bit like Re-Volt, it was a time when things were absolutely crazy and tech was jumping leaps and bounds every 6 months. The game sold OK apparently, people loved it but I guess that wasn’t enough to convince the guys in suits to order a new chapter or go for at least a trilogy. I think it would do very well today.

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