Welcome to this week’s, “Sequel, Spin Off, Start Over or Stay Dead?” 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.
This week, I decided to have my staff look at a franchise that began in 1984 but hasn’t seen a release since April of 1995. I realize that when a franchise stays dormant for a decade and a half, there’s a chance a good portion of both gamers and our staff here haven’t played it, but due to the infamy of the first game in the series it felt like it would be fun to give this one a try. Now it’s time to see what the DHGF staff would like to see happen to the HYDLIDE series.
Alexander Lucard: Stay Dead
Although the first Hydlide was one of the very first console RPGs ever released, there were two big problems. The first is that the game started off as a third rate Ultima wanna-be on the PC. The second is that the port to the NES was god freakin’ awful. There was only one musical track and it made your ears want to bleed. It was simply one of the worst games on the NES and arguably the worst RPG for the console.
We never got Hydlide II: Shine of Darkness in the US. After the backlash for the first game, it was probably a wise decision.
Eventually the US would get a port of Hydlide 3: The Space Memories for the Sega Genesis in Super Hydlide. I adore this game. In fact, it’s one of my 30 favourite RPG’s of all time. Even now this twenty year old game did things we are just NOW getting around to with RPG’s across the board. It was at LEAST a decade ahead of its time and was nonlinear, offered multiple character classes (each of which played very differently) and had one of the best stories and some of the most intriguing puzzles for the 16-Bit era. Your characters had to eat and sleep regularly and how much your character could carry was a factor, so Monty Haul campaigns were right out. The game also featured sliding morality and the fact that there were good or even neutral monsters in the game blew my 12 year old mind. This was as realistic as it god for the 16-bit era and I adored it.
The fourth and final game for the series was Virtual Hydlide and I still own it for the Saturn. It was a mediocre RPG. The graphics were some of the worst in gaming history (below 5 frames a second!) but the randomly generated world and the very unique leveling up system kept me playing the game until I beat it.
As much as I loved the third game in the series, one out of four games being quality is a pretty poor ration and the Hydlide name is pretty radioactive with American gamers that can remember it. I don’t really see a need to bring it back. These days action RPG’s have finally caught up to Super Hydlide so there’s really no need to return to this series. Let the franchise rest in peace.
Mark B.: Stay Dead
Now, Super Hydlide was a fine game, by and large, and Virtual Hydlide had an interesting CONCEPT, even if it was borderline unplayable, but I don’t see any reason to bring the franchise back. Games like King’s Field, Shadow Tower and the Wizardry series occupy the “insanely challenging” niche that a game like Hydlide would have to fit its way into, and while the Genesis game was quite realistic and full of awesome concepts, that doesn’t necessarily mean we need another one. If someone out there wanted to make a really realistic RPG, they could do so without even using the franchise name, and frankly, the name carries next to no weight in the gaming industry, so it’s probably better off that the series just stay dead and someone who wants to make a game like Hydlide simply call it something else without the stigma of “crap” following it from day one.
Chris Bowen: Stay Dead
Hydlide? Really? What, was Akalabeth on vacation? I remember the original Hydlide. I HATED the original Hydlide, and I wasn’t the only one. Super Hydlide was an improvement, but it really wasn’t that great a game, even for its time. Not only do I not have high hopes for a proper Hydlide to do well, I think the name is toxic at this point. Why bother?
There is no point to bringing this poor series back.
Ashe Collins: Start Over
Hydlide started off as a PC title and made it over to the NES in ’89. Not many people have a fondness for it on the NES, blaming a complicated and almost non-functioning combat system. The story though reminds me of the Zelda series. A princess gets turned into three fairies, and our hero Jim has to go about getting them to save her. I think there could be a ton done with this title on new systems, hell even on the Wii, which isn’t my favorite platform by far.
Expand the story, give it a decent real-time combat system, throw in some humor for good measure and you might have a new franchise on your hands. Hydlide has several games that came after it originally but maybe it’s time for a new take on an old classic.
Stay Dead: 3
Start Over: 1
Not as much participation this week, but this is a fairly obscure series to be sure. Next week, we’ll look at a beloved puzzle game that HAL fans have been clamoring to be revived for decades.