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.
Every so often when I pick a game for this column I get a surprise. Sometimes it’s because everyone on staff ends up choosing “Stay Dead” for a series I assumed they liked (like Vagrant Story) and sometimes it’s because of a unanimous outpouring of love for a series I thought would get bashed (like Carmen Sandiego) and sometimes it is because only one or two people on staff will have played a critically and financially successful series (like Planescape: Torment. With Dark Cloud and its sequel Dark Chronicle, this is one of those times. Only myself and Chris Bowen have played the first game and only Chris has played the sequel. Although that makes for a short column this week, let’s see what the two of us had to say about Dark Cloud and what we feel should happen with the franchise.
Christopher Bowen – Sequel
I can’t believe that another Dark Cloud game hasn’t been made Of course, seeing as how I’m the only other person here that seems to have played any of these games, maybe I understand why that’s the case now… The first one was pretty bland, but the second one is one of the top ten RPGs of the past decade. You heard me: top ten. Not only did it have a good action RPG interface and some interesting build mechanics, but it also had a great story, excellent storytelling, and two of the most charming main characters I’ve ever seen, simply because they don’t try to be angsty for the sake of angst like today’s JRPG protagonists. The graphics helped the charm in being somewhat ahead of their time as well. In short, Dark Chronicle is one of my favourite games of all time, and I think it’s a bit underrated compared to other great PS2 games.
They can definitely redo that style of game on the PS3, make it a graphical powerhouse, and not make it TOO big that it loses its charm. The one problem I had with Dark Cloud 2 was that it was a bit fetch-quest heavy, so if they keep that manageable and keep the charm that made Dark Cloud 2 so amazing, they’ll have another winner on their hands, and I’ll gladly fork out $60 for it.
It should be noted that Level-5 essentially did another version of Dark Cloud in Rogue Galaxy. It should also be noted that whileRogue Galaxy has become largely forgotten despite being a quality game, we’re still talking about Dark Cloud seven years after the last game’s release. Take that into consideration, Level-5 and Sony.
Alex Lucard – Sequel
I’ll be honest – Level 5 has always seemed rather overrated to me. Their games tend to have good ideas, but poor follow through. I find the Inazuma Eleven series to be inane, I didn’t like any of their Dragon Quest games that Square-Enix let them make, neither Aaron, Aileen, nor myself were that impressed with either of the Professor Layton titles (although we did think they were cute) and no one at all seemed to like White Knight Chronicles. The only two games they have made that I enjoyed were Jeanne D’arc and Dark Cloud and even then I find the former to be a poor man’s Ogre Tactics and the latter to be a poor man’s Actraiser. Level 5 always seems to drop the ball in some way and so I always wonder why they get such a positive reception from gamers when their games tend to be decent but quickly forgotten.
Dark Cloud has some great ideas though and although I never played the sequel (Dark Chronicle), Bowen loves it and says it is vastly improved so I’ll take him at his word. I had fun with the first Dark Cloud but it wasn’t a keeper from me. Hopefully after all the bashing Level 5 took for White Knight Chronicles they can revisit they first and most popular RPG project and really churn out something memorable.
Start Over: 0
Stay Dead: 0
Well, both Chris and myself would enjoy seeing a third entry into the Dark Cloud series as it wouldn’t hurt to see Level 5 go back to what originally brought them to the dance. Will it ever happen? Only time will tell.
Next week, we’ll be looking at one of the oldest trackball shooters ever made. We’re coming up on the 30th anniversary of the franchise so is there anything new or different that can be done with it? See you then!