The lights are on
As times and tastes change, some franchises fall out of favor – or become too niche to be economically feasible. Thankfully, digital distribution has given new life to games and genres that just wouldn't make sense at a $60 price. With Sony placing a big emphasis on both digital distribution and niche indie games on PlayStation 4, I think it's time the publisher went through its own back catalog and revive some lost classics as smaller scale downloadable games.
PaRappa the Rapper
While it's been years since PaRappa the Rapper 2 (2001) was released, Sony hasn't forgotten about its rhyming dog completely. A version of the game was ported to PSP in 2007 to celebrate the franchise's 10th anniversary, and PaRappa also appeared in 2012's PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale.
For these reasons, I'm hopeful that he can get another chance to rock the mic. For me and thousands of others who fell in love with the original, a moderately priced new PaRappa title released for PlayStation Network would be a no-brainer. I don't even want some bold reinvention of the game; just tighten up the gameplay a bit and get composer Masaya Matsuura to create a new batch of amazing songs. Throw in some colorful art and characters by original artist Rodney Greenblatt, and I gotta believe you'd have a downloadable smash.
Not many remember Downhill Domination, but I really enjoyed this over-the-top mountain biking game. Granted, it was made in the era when the success of Tony Hawk meant that any "extreme" sport from wakeboarding to in-line skating got its own game, but this one never really made a dent in the marketplace. Still, it actually got strong reviews on the basis of its intense speed and visceral biking action.
Sadly, this one is a bit of a longshot, as developer Incog Inc. (which also created the PS2 classic Twisted Metal: Black) was shuttered in 2009. It's a shame; it was a talented studio. However, I think that, on a small scale and a modest budget, there could be room for a great mountain biking game like this.
Here's one that I really hope happens. Tomba was a feral, pink-haired young boy who battled against wild pigs on the original PlayStation. This 2D platformer was never a huge commercial success (and developer Whoopie Camp sadly bit the dust way back in 2000), but it's got a strong cult following, and fetches strong prices on eBay to this day.
I especially liked the more ambitious sequel Tomba! 2: The Evil Swine Return, which added a lot of exploration, item use, and branching (though still 2D) paths to the mix. It also let Tomba use a variety of animal suits inspired by Mario, like flying squirrel and pig suits. It's a hell of a 2D platformer, a genre that I hopes continues its renaissance in the downloadable space. I think Sony's Japan Studio could do a great job with a new Tomba game, and it would be a great nod to some of its old-school PlayStation fans.
War of the Monsters
Yet another Incog, Inc. game – those guys couldn't catch a break after Twisted Metal: Black. Wars of the Monsters is one of the games on this list that wasn't properly realized at the time, likely due to the technological constraints of the PlayStation 2. However, I think it's one that could have a lot of potential as next-gen game that uses all its resources towards making the core elements of the game great.
Basically, this was Incog's nod to classic monster movies like Godzilla and King Kong (both of whom appear in unlicensed form as "Togera" and "Congar"). The premise was simple: Set these and other large monsters loose in an open-city environment and let them beat the crap out of each other and anything else that stood in their way. It was a fun, if limited, experience that I think could be much better today.
As a downloadable PS4 game, War of the Monsters could be reimagined as a multiplayer focused, online monster brawler. Even better, the horsepower of the PS4 could mean the game could actually have destructible environments and a huge city. Don't worry about a single-player mode, story, or anything else. Just build a big city and let us smash it (and each other) to bits.
First, a bit of trivia: Kinetica, developed by Sony Santa Monica, was actually the first appearance of the engine that would eventually power the studio's classic God of War. While the game never went on to the same success, Kinetica offered an extremely creative take on the futuristic racing genre, which has fallen fallow in recent years with the exception of the odd Wipeout game.
I admit: Kinetica was a bit odd. You didn't pilot a vehicle, rather a weird hybrid humanoid creature with wheels for hands and feet (perhaps it's not surprising that it didn't race up the charts). During some of the game's precipitous drops, you could do trick combos like in a snowboarding game. It's potential wasn't fully realized, but I think it would be another interesting game for PlayStation 4. Obviously, it's on this list because I realize that futuristic racing isn't the commercial genre it used to be. Still, I think there's enough of us left to make this successful as a downloadable game at a $15 price point.
Are there any other franchises from Sony's back catalog that you think would make a good downloadable game? Share your thoughts in the comments below.