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.
This week, we’re looking at a pretty unusual franchise in that it was a trilogy of games with each of the games ending up on a different system. The original game was only for the Xbox and later, a cleaned up and expanded version came out for the Nintendo GameCube. The second game in the series, Wayward was a Sony Playstation 2 exclusive and the third game, Redeemer was exclusive to the Xbox. In a sense, only a true fan of video gaming itself was be able to enjoy the entire series with its tight continuity and fleshed out characters as they would have needed to own all three systems from that console generation. The first and the third games were popular with critics and all three sold decently enough thanks to the level of quality in the titles and because of the large installed fan base that was came with White Wolf’s World of Darkness. Although the two Vampire: The Masquerade games for the PC are better known to the average gamer, this trilogy remains the most successful WoD video game product. Seven years after the last game in the Hunter: The Reckoning series has been released, is there enough life in the series to help it rise from the grave while Vampire: The Masquerade rests in peace? It’s time to take a look.
A.J. Hess – Sequel
I still have the World of Darkness setting memorized, so this game was always dear to me. Purist fans of the pen and paper RPG might have cried foul at seeing the Hunter archetypes turned into one-man-killing-machines, but the Diablo-style setting combined with a choice of ranged and melee attacks was very good. The game was suitably creepy as well, like the level where a grinning teddy bear turned into a vicious killer. Let’s have some more. Romping through this with three other friends would fit right into the Left 4 Dead mold, but with a top-down perspective.
Matt Yaeger – Sequel
For the same reasons I mentioned in the Double Dragon piece a few weeks back. Right now co-op video games are hot. Hunter: The Reckoning was a co-op game were you faced vampires and other things that went bump in the night. Instead of an overhead perspective, if they made the game more of a 3rd person style Diablo game, I think it would sell very well. Look at how well Borderlands sold after it came from out of nowhere.
Guy Desmarais – Sequel
I have played Hunter: The Reckoning on the Gamecube a total of two times. I may not be an expert on the game, but I do remember that it was a lot of fun, and that as a multiplayer experience, it didn’t get much better back then. I would have played more of the game, but its owner soon went back home and The Reckoning was never to be seen again. I couldn’t find it anywhere in stores in Montreal, which might be a good thing, as I might have failed college if I was allowed any more time with this little gem.
What I am saying here is that I want more. I don’t want a reboot, I don’t want a re-release on the Wii with updated controls. I just want MORE. Same gameplay, just with new characters, new levels, new challenges. I was left still craving for more nearly a decade ago, and I want to finally let myself go to an all-out Hunter: The Reckoning orgy. Make it happen.
Mark B. – Start Over
I liked the Hunter: The Reckoning games for what they were. They were essentially dumbed-down versions of Dark Alliance, or alternatively, upgraded versions of Gauntlet, and they were plenty of fun for what they were. I admit, I’m a fan of the pen and paper game the video games are based on, which may or may not improve my opinion of the games as a result, but I still stand by my assessment that the games were a good time for two people to play around with.
I just don’t think they went far enough.
I’d like to see a Hunter game, be it based on The Reckoning or The Vigil, with some more Dark Alliance mechanics tossed in. Given the choice, I’d prefer it to be based in the universe of The Reckoning, if only because the original games were quite good and I’m more familiar with that universe than the new one. Either way, the game itself could retain the same play mechanics as the prior games, and the game world could retain its Left 4 Dead style, but I’d like to see some more mechanical depth added to the experience. Let the player make a character and customize their Creed, stats, and inventory as they see fit. Let the player decide what skills and weapons they want to equip. Basically, make the game a console version of Diablo set in modern times and see what turns up. Sales-wise it couldn’t do much worse than the prior games, and there seems to be a market for this sort of thing now, so why not?
Dave Olvera – Start Over
By start over I mean the core game and its mechanics should be transferred over to a new game world. The World of Darkness, original version, is dead. The new World of Darkness is crap. Hunter‘s core is fine and has potential but the license is not needed. Who says you need WoD background to have a monster killing game. Heck, just take the premise and change the background story. Voila! Instant face lift.
Getting a few of your friends together and playing Hunter was a blast. The RPG elements were flavor; spice added to a plate of wanton destruction. The fast paced killing and overall mood of the Hunter games, I believe, are something that can be removed from the license. You can set it in space, set it in a world full of crime. The possibilities are numerous and quite varied.
I wouldn’t mind not having to buy games for separate systems. The GameCube-PS2-Xbox releases annoyed me something fierce. I really enjoyed the series and believe that the RPG/Top down shooter is still a viable genre. Give it another go!
Alexander Lucard – Stay Dead
Here’s the thing. I love the Hunter: The Reckoning series. I own all three games, one for each system. I really wish they would do a collection of all three games so that people didn’t have to own two or three systems to play them all, but hey, that will probably never happen. Interplay is dead and I haven’t seen Activision Blizzard even so much as mention Vivendi Universal in forever. Hell, you can’t even get Redeemer to play on the 360. These games were amazing. There were alternate ends, a ton of cheats and so many unlockable characters. The stories were great, the characters were ones you cared about and you had over a DECADE of continuity between the three games. Then after Redeemer the series was as done as the first World of Darkness.
I wouldn’t want a direct sequel to the game because the trilogy wrapped up so perfectly that a fourth game would be a disservice to the original three. Plus, you’d have to deal with needing four systems to play four different games on. Oy. I wouldn’t want a spin-off, in regards to Hunter: The Vigil as I absolutely hate the new World of Darkness as it’s basically simplified and retarded. It’s a pale mockery of the original and seeing a H:TV game would be even worse than a sequel to the original trilogy in my opinion.
That leaves only two options: Start Over or Stay Dead. Starting Over would probably be a legal nightmare in regards to who owns what these days and I strongly doubt White Wolf would even let them make a new game with the Hunter: The Reckoning title because it would be an admittance of what everyone already knows: that White Wolf severely screwed up by killing off the original World of Darkness and that the new one only has a fraction of the audience. Hell look what happened to the movie. White Wolf has gone from challenging Dungeons & Dragons as the biggest tabletop RPG out there to people barely remembering they still exist.
So that’s why I choose stay dead. If Hunter: The Reckoning was to come back it would only be because White Wolf needed cash to stay afloat and not for any true love of the original games or tabletop product. There would be no quality control behind the product and the original team wouldn’t be used, so it’s almost a guaranteed failure before it even begins. White Wolf turned from an indie RPG publisher that wanted quality and consistency in their products, but they let greed and insanity go to their heads halfway through second edition and it’s been downhill ever since. I’d like the original WoD products to be able to still exist with a modicum of quality and the only way to do so is by letting them stay dead.
Now Activision, if you’d be so kind as to make a Hunter: The Reckoning collection, I’d be eternally grateful as would many gamers. Make it happen.
End Result –
Start Over: 2
Stay Dead: 1
It’s been some weeks since we’ve had such a diverse vote amongst our staff. The one thing all of our participants in this week’s column did have in common is that we each loved the Hunter: The Reckoning series and enjoyed the games for what they were. Will we ever see the franchise revive or a compilation disc put out by Activision, who currently holds the rights? Not bloody likely, but we can always hope for it.
Next week we’ll be looking at the most critically and financially successful female character in the history of video games. No it’s not Lara Croft or Jill Valentine. We’ll be going from Nashville to Norway, Bonaire to Zimbabwe, Chicago to Czech and Slovakia AND BACK. See you then!