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.
On December 12th, 1999, Black Isle Studios and Interplay released a game for the PC. This game would go on to win nearly every “RPG of the Year” and/or “Game of the Year” awards in video game journalism. It is still considered not only one of the best Dungeons and Dragons games ever made, but one of the best RPG’s regardless of system or generation. The Nameless One, the protagonist of this game remains one of the most compelling and interesting characters ever to grace a video game and the story of this game is both surreal and yet Descartian in its theme of “What can change the nature of a man.” In honour of this game’s 10th anniversary, the Diehard GameFAN staff that has played Planescape: Torment looks back at the game and debates that should be done with the franchise.
Dave Olvera – Stay Dead
What can I say about Planescape: Torment that has not been said better or more in depth somewhere else? A masterpiece in PC role playing games that takes the idea of decisions in a game and takes it off the simple nice or bad outcomes, has amazing writing/scripting for a video game, a fantastic voice line up (oh how I love you Sheena Easton), tries to eschew standard fantasy game clichés (goblins, swords and dragons) and does not deal with saving the world. Truly, a still underappreciated game that should be rediscovered.
No remake, no sequel, no spin off. Let this game be made to work on modern systems and clean up a few more of the errors but leave it alone. The game is too good to tinker with and should be made more accessible to new folks. Let us bask in Black Isle Studio’s goodness one more time.
Alexander Lucard – Stay Dead
I’m going to be honest here. Since the game was re-released for XP and Vista on November 20th of this year, I’m ecstatic. Of course, since it’s only for the UK and we can’t get it here in the US yet (if ever), I am saddened. Planescape: Torment still holds up ten years later and remains of the of the best role playing games ever made.
As happy as I am that the game was re-released to run on modern systems, there’s no way in hell I want to see this game being remade as Black Isle Studios is sadly long dead. I also don’t want to see a sequel, simply because without Black Isle, there is no way it could measure up. Now, a sequel is possible as The Nameless One would now be fighting in the Blood War, but again, without the original team, a sequel would only sully the good name of the original. A spin-off also isn’t that possible because Planescape itself is a spin-off of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, which no longer exists.
The real reason I want Planescape: Torment to stay dead save for the occasional OS update is because I have no faith in Wizards of the Coast. Not only did they completely bury the Planescape setting once they got their grubby mitts on the rights to Dungeons and Dragons but they have been absolute idiots with the franchise, from an unbelievable score of atrocious D&D themed games based on the 3.0 or 3.5 edition of the tabletop game to burying the most popular variants of D&D such as Dragonlance, Ravenloft and Planescape in favour of their own god awful creation of Eberron. They allowed horrible movies to be made with the license’s name included two horrible live-action films and a god awful Dragonlance animated movie. The only thing that WOTC has done right since buying Dungeons and Dragons from TSR was the miniatures game, which they then stupidly stopped making at the height of its popularity. Wizards of the Coast has shown absolutely no intelligence or respect for the D&D franchise, which can be seen even to this day with 4th edition and the termination of the Dragon and Dungeon magazines. The thought of WOTC doing a 4th edition version of Planescape: Torment disgusts me to no end and I hope someday Hasbro cracks down on their inept asses and puts people in charge that can do the license proud and restore it to its 2nd Edition/SSI golden era. Until that time, I’d rather Planescape: Torment be kept as far away from the minds of WOTC as possible and just let the game be re-released so it can be played on MAC and PC operating systems as they change with each passing generation.
Ashe Collins – Sequel
Don’t mess with the first one. The world and D&D game setting is rich enough you could easily make a sequel, or even a new character to put into the setting. That’d be like Bethesda going in and instead of making Fallout 3 just, completely remaking the first Fallout game. It doesn’t need it. Planescape had a lot going on and I think any gaming company out there would want to build on it and not just scrap it and start over. The better question is how many people out there really remember this one? I mean we’re talking about a Dungeons and Dragons game setting that hasn’t been touched on at all since before Wizards crapped out 3rd Ed and then polished it to 3.5.
Stay Dead: 2
Start Over: 0
As editor-in-chief of this site I was really distressed to see how few of my guys had actually played Planescape: Torment considering how it was unanimously praised a decade ago and how gaming historians still consider it one of the best games ever made. That’s all the more reason to get the original re-released over here or to import the Vista/XP update from Great Britain. It would be a sin against video gaming itself not to experience this wonderful title and it’s still better than 99% of what’s been released in the past decade. Do whatever you can to track this down; you won’t be sorry.
Next week we’re looking at one of Sega’s first releases here in America. It was also the first game to use axonometric projection, but does that even matter twenty-eight years later? We’ll take a look next week.
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Alexander Lucard was the Editor-in-Chief of Diehard GameFAN and Director of Operations for the InsidePulse network. He has since retired from writing, but clearly shows up now and again. He has worked in video game journalism since 2002 and was also a paid consultant for Konami and The Pokemon Company. Alex has previously written for Tips N Tricks, Gamespot, White Wolf, TSR, Wizards of the Coast, Eden Studios, 411mania, Not a True Ending and more. His writing could also be found in the monthly periodicals Massive Online Gamer and Pokemon Collector Magazine.