Welcome to this week’s, “Sequel, Spin Off, Start Over or Stay Dead?”Â Each week we’re going to look at a dormant franchise that was once pretty popular, but for some reason has disappeared into the sands of time. Diehard GameFAN staffers will have four options for what they want to have happen to the series and you can see them in the title of this piece. For a little more detailed description see below:
Sequel – A direct sequel to the franchise. This means if it used sprites and was in 2-D, that’s how you want the next game to be as well. This might involve putting the game on a handheld system instead of a console, but it keeps the nostalgia and classic feel alive.
Spin Off – This is where you take the characters or a specific character is a totally different direction from the established franchise. Examples include Luigi’s Mansion, Hey You, Pikachu!, Shadow Hearts (From Koudelka), and so on.
Start Over – This is a reimagining of the series from the ground up. Perhaps it’s time to bring the series into 3-D. Perhaps you want a totally different control scheme or to throw away the old continuity. In a nutshell, this is taking the brand name from the old series and that’s about it. Everything else is new and re-envisioned.
Stay Dead – This is pretty obvious. This is a toxic franchise that you don’t want to see return in any way shape or form. Let the dead rest.
Flash back to Devil’s Night, 1993. Trilobite and Virgin Games when the video game The 7th Guest was finally released to the public. It sported full motion video graphics, pre-rendered CD backgrounds and adult content, storylines and visuals. Seventeen years later it’s almost impossible to accurately describe how big this game was and the effect it had on not just PC gaming, but PC building as well. The 7th Guest almost single-handedly converted the PC world over from disc drives to CD-ROM’s, which was no small feat. Unfortunately, this was the only real success Trilobite ever had, as the sequel, The 11th Hour didn’t fare so well and their next two games were some of the biggest commercial bombs in the history of the industry. Still, The 7th Guest has a lot of name value and nostalgia attached to it, so would it be worth resurrecting the house of old man Stauf? Three Diehard GameFAN staffers take a look.
AJ Hess – Start Over
I love PC horror games. There’s something about the proximity to the screen that makes them so much more terrifying than console horror games. The 7th Guest is the type of haunted house, where something is happening and I don’t quite understand it that I’d be happy to see more of in gaming. I feel that this could be done with a lower budget, too. Maybe you don’t need to do FMV scenes every five seconds. Maybe you don’t need to have a house that is a stunningly modeled architectural achievement. For The 7th Guest to be brought back, we just need the three M’s: mood, music, and macabre. Keep the buckets of gore and dissection scenes, just fill me with a nameless, implacable dread as I try to survive being locked in with a maniac.
Mark B. – Stay Dead
The idea of resurrecting the 7th Guest franchise suggests one of two possibilities: bringing about games under the brand name that are similar to the originals, or taking the brand name and making new games under its banner, neither of which is a particularly appealing possibility. See, The 7th Guest and its sequel, The 11th Hour, were good games for their time, but much like other adventure games of their ilk, such as Myst, they don’t hold up well in the modern environment.
Put simply: A modern release of The 7th Guest would be a fucking atrocious idea, I don’t care how nostalgic the player was.
The 7th Guest was a cute horror-themed adventure game that basically made you solve a bunch of unrelated puzzles so you could see the events that led you to be in the mansion in the first place. As a modern game, this would be a horrendous idea for exactly the reason one would expect: playing a bunch of unrelated puzzles to unlock a story, especially when said puzzles are of the “Guide Dang It!” variety, is not something people are going to be tolerant of, period. Resurrecting this sort of concept in two-thousand-and-goddamn-ten is like resurrecting the Pet Rock and expecting people to buy it. No thanks.
On the other hand, there’s no benefit to resurrecting the brand name and slapping a completely different game on it, because 1.) The 7th Guest isn’t a viable brand name that would increase sales, 2.) you’re likely to piss off the ten people left on this Earth who DO want to play Soup Cans all day long when you make something completely different, and 3.) what would be the point? If you wanted to make a horror game, MAKE A HORROR GAME. Sticking a two decade old name on it and expecting this to do anything for a by-the-numbers horror adventure game is only going to result in disaster, and lord help you if you do anything else with it BUT make it an adventure game.
The 7th Guest, once upon a time, was a neat little horror/puzzle/adventure game, but time has not made it any better. Let it rest in peace, as it were.
Alex Lucard -Stay Dead
There have been several attempts to make another 7th Guest title. Trilobyte had one planned, but it never came to be, due to financial issues. The Collector was supposed to be released in 2004, but ended up going the route of Duke Nukem Forever. Trilobyte also tried two other releases in Clandestiny and Uncle Henry’s Playhouse but both were amongst the biggest flops in PC gaming history. Clandestiny sold only 2,500 games in North America, and Uncle Henry’s Playhouse sold only 27 copies and a grand total of 176 copies WORLDWIDE! That’s a far cry from their first title, The 7th Guest, which at one time was the best selling PC title of all time.
There is a fan attempt to make the third game in the series still going on called, The 13th Doll. However I’ve been watching this thing for four years and they’re still nowhere near completing it, so I doubt that they ever will.
Really the only way you could bring The 7th Guest back and expect it to do well financially is to take it out of the adventure game genre and put it into the more casual “Hidden Object” genre. Those games, which include titles like Becky Brogan or Cate West: The Vanishing Files tend to have excellent stories attached to them, but with puzzles that have little to nothing to do with the overall plot of the game. That disconnect seems to work really well with casual gamers. Just look at how well those Mortimer Beckett titles sell. However, the hidden object genre is already rife with a ton of mystery and/or horror stories, so why resurrect the 7th Guest when hidden object games are already letting casual gamers get fun stories without any baggage or having to rely on old IP’s?
Trilobite was a one-hit wonder. Not even The 11th Hour did well financially or critically. Now, it would be nice to get The 7th Guest in a format that can be played on modern systems, but that’s the only resurrection I’d like to see, if any.
End Result –
Stay Dead: 2
Start Over: 1
Well, we can see there is still some love for the original game, but we all seem to be in agreement that there would have to be some major retooling for the game’s brand to survive in 2010. Perhaps if The 13th Doll ever comes to fruition, we’ll be able to see firsthand if The 7th Guest‘s gameplay style still can hold up today.
Join us next week as we look at a Level-5 that doesn’t involve a Professor named Layton or a towering White Knight. Is there still interest in their original franchise? See you then!