Feature

10 RPG Franchises We’d Like To See Come Back

by Kimberley Wallace on Jan 26, 2016 at 09:12 AM

These days it seems like anything is possible in the gaming world, thanks to the growth of crowdfunding and social media. Series that were once relegated to memory are suddenly coming back. Did you ever think we’d have a chance at Shenmue 3? How about Square Enix reviving the Nier and SaGa franchises? This got us thinking about our favorite RPGs of yesteryear. While plenty of great series have vanished, we think many have potential to thrive again. Without further ado, here are the 10 RPG franchises we’d love to see return.

Note: This list is presented in alphabetical order

Chrono Trigger/Cross

The Chrono games remain cherished classics that still hold up well, and we’d love to see what the series could bring to a new generation. Trigger and Cross don’t have many direct links to each other, aside from both delving into alternate timelines. If a new Chrono game became a reality, it’d be smart to stick with this approach and continue in the tradition of the vibrant art style and fantastic music (More Yasunori Mitsuda, please!). The chance to recruit a slew of characters and travel to different eras again is just so tantalizing. This is one series that never wore out its welcome, but at the same time left us feeling like it still had so much more to give to the genre.  

Dark Cloud

This is another series that ended way too soon. Level-5 had topped itself with the fantastic Dark Cloud 2, but never moved forward with another entry. Instead, the company focused on making other great games, such as Dragon Quest VIII and Rogue Galaxy, but Dark Cloud still remains one of its most talked about franchises, and new fans are discovering it thanks to Sony recently making Dark Cloud 2 available on PSN. Hopefully, a new iteration would keep the bevy of customization, entertaining city building, and fierce hack-and-slash combat.

Earthbound (Mother) 

We can pine for this revival all we want, but its chances of happening are slim to none (all the key creators are either unavailable or have moved on). This is a shame because Earthbound had its own unique flavor and humor, coming off as anything but generic. The zany RPG series didn’t take itself too seriously, parodying plenty of popular culture in its real-world setting. Can you imagine a brand-new game that captures its essence? Earthbound has one of the most dedicated fan bases around, allowing its legacy to live on (just head to fansite Starmen.net for confirmation). That enthusiasm deserves something new to fawn over. Plus, it’s about time the characters and world got more love than Smash Bros. appearances. At the very least, we’re getting some re-releases of entries for now, and we're still holding out hope that the never-released-in-America Mother 3 will get localized someday.

Jade Empire

Jade Empire is a universe brimming with untapped potential. It focused on what BioWare does best: multidimensional characters, great dialogue, and creating a fascinating world. It stood out for its mythical China backdrop and how it was infused into every element of gameplay. Your orphaned main character sets out to save Master Li, your caretaker and teacher. You fight using traditional martial arts, but can also develop different weapon, magic, and fighting styles along the way. In addition, two moral philosophies rule the Jade Empire: The Way of the Open Palm and the Way of the Closed Fist (similar to Mass Effect’s Paragon and Renegade system). Seeing BioWare revive this IP and make it grow would be exciting, especially considering how much the team has learned in recent years with Dragon Age and Mass Effect. Not to mention, numerous people at BioWare have said they wanted to return to Jade Empire at some point.

Star Wars: Knights of The Old Republic

We all have Star Wars fever with the recent movie, so why not capitalize on that? Yes, BioWare devoted a whole MMO to Star Wars, but we want something more in line with the earlier Knights of the Old Republic games. This is the perfect timing to capture a new audience that didn’t play the first games and finally give fans of those games something new to dive into that’s not as exhaustive as an MMO. Choosing to align with the light or dark side is always fun, and being a part of new stories in the universe and meeting new intriguing personalities (like HK-47 or Jolee Bindo) makes the experience all the better. Lightsaber fights never grow old, and BioWare has proven time and time again it has a flair for science fiction. 

On the next page: recruiting stars, vampires, and Norse mythology...

Suikoden

No series captured blindsiding betrayal like Suikoden. War is ugly, and Suikoden never dialed back on the drama of politics. The series throws you in the middle of war campaigns, allowing you build up an army (up to 108 recruitable Stars of Destiny) to take on political corruption. Building up a base and seeing it grow is one of the most exciting elements, but Suikoden is also filled with intriguing characters and memorable double-crossing. Sadly, Konami owns the franchise, and looks to have shifted away from the series and console gaming in general. In fact, a 2015 article by The Nikkei said the development had been halted on the franchise. We can only hope that a miracle happens and somehow a new entry surfaces, but don’t hold your breath. 

Ultima 

We’re not talking about the spin-offs games that are only related by name. We want a true new main entry in one of the most influential RPG franchises. The series was known for its captivating worlds that made you want to piece everything together, and it never held your hand throughout the trek. These days open-world games are in high demand; we couldn’t think of a better franchise to make a comeback that could compete with the big dogs, such as Fallout, Elder Scrolls, and The Witcher. Ultima was doing the things that make these games captivating long before their existence, such as a living world populated by people going about their lives and having tons of side quests to keep you playing. Thankfully, Ultima mastermind Richard Garriott is currently working on a spiritual successor to the series, entitled Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues, but we’d still like to see a single-player experience that captures the wonderment and endless possibilities that occurred when we stepped into an Ultima game.  

Vagrant Story

Vagrant Story stood out for its dark storyline and intriguing gameplay. Creator Yatsumi Matsuno (Final Fantasy Tactics and Final Fantasy XII) has since left Square to pursue his own projects, but he has a knack for creating mature storylines that excel at setting a tone with visuals and sound. Vagrant Story captured all of this wonderfully, and wasn’t afraid to take chances like ditching the normal party interaction; your sole focus and perspective was from Riskbreaker Ashley Riot. Weapon creation and modification was of the utmost importance, while battles also had fun wrinkles, such as being able to use Battle Mode to target particular body parts on enemies and chaining together attacks by tapping buttons at the right time. Vagrant Story remains a treasured classic, and it’d be great to see if it could breathe new life into the genre and series.

Valkyrie Profile

The Valkyrie Profile games were anything but typical, which is why it’s a shame that the series is dormant. Inspired by Norse mythology, the plots center on Valkyries, who harvest the souls of mortals and turn them into soldiers in a celestial war. This means the people fighting beside you are deceased. In the first game, in particular, you would discover more about each soldier's death, learning about their somber last moments. Valkyrie Profile 2 placed less emphasis on the individual and more on the overall storyline, but it was just as engrossing to learn more about this world. Outside of an intriguing premise, the games are known for a bevy of customization options and intriguing combat systems based on timing and combining all your attacks. In fact, if we just go by the mainline subtitles, Lenneth and Silmeria, we’re due for a third entry, Hrist. Valkyrie Profile still has at least one more story to tell. 

Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines

Yes, you’re a vampire, but Bloodlines made it feel exciting and new thanks to choices around every corner. You got to pick which vampire clan to join, which all provided different dialogue options, abilities, and weapons. You even got to visit places like Santa Monica, Hollywood, Los Angeles, and Chinatown to roam the streets and use your vampiric powers in. The writing and degree of choice made Bloodlines stand out, but its technical issues prevented it from reaching its full potential. Still, dedicated fans have been releasing their own fixes to the game, supporting it for over a decade. Unfortunately, developer Troika Games had planned on a second game, but it shuttered before making it happen. This is another longshot, but choice is so popular in games that it’d be great to see a second game play out in an open world, where you make all the choices as a creature of the night.

From Skies of Arcadia to Shadow Hearts, not every franchise could make the cut. Which ones would you like to see return? Let us know in the comments below!