Or, rather, should I label this the Top 25 One-Hit-Wonders of gaming? After glancing over the list, many of these are games that came and went but were also very well made titles. They might have never had a sequel or may not have one planned, but they were pretty damn good games in their own right.Below are the 25 titles that really could and probably should have been more than just one single installment. Perhaps their gameplay was unique or world engaging if not unfinished. My only rule is that the game can't have a precursor in any form (so no Shenmue 3 or new Chrono title), part of an established series but not directly linked (such as Zelda: Wind Waker 2) or have spiritual successors that, in some form, take up the banner (such as what Shadow of the Colossus did).
What I found so interesting is that I had a large list of games that, I thought, had no sequels. Including the likes of Tomba! and Mark of Kri. To my surprise, those games did have sequels after deeper research, those sequels were simply forgotten, apparently. This isn't just one-hit-wonders, however, it's also games that really could have been a launching point for a sequel or two, an entire series or, in some cases, were actually meant to be the first part of an entire arc that just never and probably never will be completed. Alas, some things weren't meant to be, so instead we enjoy what was given and hope that, someday, we'll see more.
MSX/Master System, Compile/Sega 1987
The original "Zelda Killer" although it has more in common with Zelda II than the original outside of wandering into a cave in the first moments of the game and being handed a sword. It was a simple game that took you on an adventure but was far overshadowed by the more popular (and admittingly far more refined) Zelda titles. Still, the developer was a solid one with a great track record for the time and for all sakes and purposes could have done even more with the series than the simple and fun game we were given.
Chances of a Sequel: Never. As strange and random as it is, Golvellius was ported for the iPhone just this past year and a whole new generation has rediscovered it for only $1.99. Still, though, DotEmu, the company that does the ports, isn't interested in making new games as much as they are in porting old forgotten ones. DotEmu, though, has apparently forgotten Golvellius themselves as the game isn't even listed at their company website anymore, although you can still get it for your iPhone in the Apps store.
24: Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth
Xbox/PC, Headfirst Productions/Bethesda 2005
A combination of a classic adventure title with survival horror elements, Call of Cthulhu is reminiscent of games like Alone in the Dark where you really only have your wits and cunning to get by through a majority of it as you try to unravel the mystery of a small town. It's known for having no HUD and your sanity often has an influence on what you see, hear and are able to do. Your health is noted by heartbeat and breathing. What's interesting is that you are playing a character with schizophrenia, and the game does a fantastic job relaying that aspect visually and auditory.
Chances of a Sequel: Low, however there's still a slight chance. Developer Headfirst Productions went bankrupt after the first game was released and liquidated all their assets including everything Cthulhu which is unfortunate because sequels were planned. It's more a matter of who owns the rights to it now and whether or not Bethesda and Ubisoft, two big names right now, would be willing to pick it back up and repackage it with a new developer (or reassemble the old team). There's a lot of mythos to explore here. A game redone of this caliber with current technology would be utterly fantastic and beautifully moody, though.
Playstation 2/Xbox, Criterion Games/EA 2006
One of the purest and just flat-out fun shooters on the Playstation 2 and Xbox really just came and went. Black was a stylish and visually impressive FPS of its generation, yet not many were keen to playing it as it became lost in the oversaturated FPS market. As great as the guns, explosions and sound design was, it still looked like a generic FPS even though it played better than a lot from the time. A sequel, especially with today's technology, could do it even more justice.
Chances of a Sequel: Good. Criterion, the developer, posted a calling to game designers for work on a sequel. Of course, this was back in 2008 and the posting was promptly taken down. There are still rumors that it's on their radar, just nothing in motion. The listing also noted a 2009 release, however it being fall 2009 of this write-up and nothing firm, that probably won't happen, but it being in the minds of the developers is a good step.
22: Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy
Playstation 2/Xbox/PC, Midway Games 2004
Imagine yourself with Jedi powers and a lot of guns. That is Psi-Ops in a nutshell, and it's probably one of the best games a lot of people have yet to play. Oh, and you can make people explode or control their minds and make them run a suicide mission into a group of their comrades and fire all over the place. Many ways to approach a situation, all resulting in a lot of fun and replay value.
Chances of a Sequel: Low. The game underperformed in terms of sales despite solid reviews (holding at a respectable 84 at Metacritic) and Midway Games seems disintersted in carrying it on, especially after the lawsuit in 2007 which lasted for a good year where a screenwriter claimed Midway Games stole his idea. The judge ruled in Midway's favor, but I have a feeling they may let sleeping dogs lie in terms of going further as a series.
21: Freedom Fighters
PC/Xbox/Gamecube/Playstation 2, IO Interactive 2003
I've always likened Freedom Fighters as "Pikmin with guns." If you are a hero, a real American hero fighting those Commies, then you can recruit more and more people to tag along and fight alongside you. It's simple and easy to tell them what to do and where to go while you blast those Reds back across the ocean. It also has the benefit of originality with its approach to revisionist history as the invading Russians come face to face with New Yorkers...and we know how that will probably turn out.
Chances of a Sequel: Low. There were mumurs of a sequel shortly after the release of Freedom Fighters, but since then there has been no talk from IO Interactive other than it still on the minds of the developers (ala Black). 2003 was quite a while ago, and it's not looking good.
20: Skies of Arcadia
Dreamcast, Overworks/Sega 2000
Although I am lukewarm to Skies of Arcadia as a whole, even I can't deny it's fantastic atmosphere and pure sense of adventure it exudes. It was a hallmark of the Dreamcast library and the best RPG Sega put out in years. Charming characters, an epic world and a fun story is what holds it high despite the poor pace and slow battle system.
Chances of a Sequel: Low. In 2004 the development team at Sega, Overworks, merged with Wow Entertainment to form...Wow Entertainment. In otherwords, it was a buyout. However, designer Rieko Kodama is still at Sega and WoW's release of Valkyria Chronicles at least shows some slight interest in RPGs, so there is a slight chance. Just remember though, before the merger, Overworks/AM7 cranked out the likes of Phantasy Star games, the Streets of Rage games, Shiniobi series, Alex Kidd series, and the Golden Axe games (and before as AM1 gave us Altered Beast and House of the Dead). Since the merger...well, Valkyria Chronicles, that's it.
N64, Rare 1999
At the time, some claimed that Jet Force Gemini was Rare treading water. I say if the water is tasty, then why not keep drinking it? It still had those distinct Rare elements and design, but it also had some unique gameplay added in that it was a 3D Mega Man game without being a 3D Mega Man game. It was also one of the best looking games on the N64.
Chances of a Sequel: Low, but it should be high, that's for sure. Jet Force Gemini is known for its focus on multiplayer and right now, online multiplayer is big. Real big. Rare, though, is a shadow of their former self and one little game that wasn't that popular isn't going to get a remake from them.
Xbox, Smilebit/Sega 2002
Full of potential yet, perhaps, not fully realized. Think of it this way: Take Devil May Cry and throw a jetpack on Dante. There you go, and does that not sound like a hell of a lot of fun? Well, piss-poor control kept GunValkyrie from really reaching its full potential, but it laid a groundwork that could be grown and expanded on to bring us something truly great. It already had the style, that awesome sense of "coolness" and all it really needed was a little more polish. Great concepts need a second chance and GunValkyrie is the poster child of a game series that just needs a little refinement.
Chances of a Sequel: Low. After the Sega-Sammy merger, Smilebit was disbanded and its members put back into the general populace of Sega. Guess that means a future Jet Set/Grind Radio game is on the fence as well.
17: Jade Empire
Xbox/PC, Bioware 2005/2007
Although not quite as "epic" as some other Bioware titles, Jade Empire offered players a unique world to play in and story to become wrapped up with. Great polish and presentation as per usual for Bioware, fantastic music and unique artistic design sets Jade Empire away from a lot of other RPGs. It quickly became one of the top RPGs on the Xbox thanks to its developer's notoriety and the idea of a brand new franchise (this was Bioware's first game since the hit Knights of the Old Republic in 2003).
Chances of a Sequel: Good. Rumors of a sequel have been abound for the past few years, some saying an Xbox 360 sequel just on the horizon. If Bioware doesn't do it, they can always give it out to their friends at Obsidian who had already given us Bioware sequels Neverwinter Nights 2 and Knights of the Old Republic II. As far as I'm concerned, it's just a phone call away. With Mass Effect trilogy taking off and The Old Republic taking up man power, I just wonder if anybody has any time to even do that.
16: Comix Zone
Genesis, Sega 1995
Chalk one up to Sega for true originality. Comix Zone is a side-scrolling beat-em-up but with a lot of style to go along with its original concept. Trapped in a comic book, breaking through panels and reading the game through speech bubbles and large sound-effect texts? How could they possibly make just one of these? Well, they did, and a new installment is badly needed.
Chances of a Sequel: Low, but only for one reason because otherwise I would say "never." If Sega, for whatever reason, looked to the rising popularity of PSN or Xbox Live arcade titles and remakes, you might see a new Comix Zone down the road (you can already download the original). It would never work in 3D, however, the entire gimmick is traveling through comic panels, but with the online community ever growing and Capcom taking a huge step with Mega Man 9, it's possible. Then I'm reminded it's Sega, which makes it only a slight possibility.
15: Stubbs the Zombie
Xbox/PC, Wideload Games 2005
Practically built to be a series, the first Stubbs the Zombie game, entitled Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse, gave players a slight twist to the old tried-and-true videogame zombie act. Of course, if you do this, you can't do it as a straight game to be taken seriouslly. Humor is a must, and the b-movie slock that Stubbs deals out will make any Evil Dead (or recently Zombieland) fan proud. Kill. Eat brains. Make more zombies. Repetitive, perhaps, but that's where the need for a sequel comes into play - just make sure you keep the awesome soundtrack.
Chances of a Sequel: Low. Wideload Games, which was founded by Bungie Co-founder Alexander Seropian, was bought out by the Walt Disney Company and put under the Disney Interactive Banner. While some of Disney Interactive subsidiaries do produce content not geared for kids and families, it's already been announced that Wideload first efforts will be producing content for kids and families. This is unfortunate considering that in a 2008, Wideload representatives said they really want to bring Stubbs back. I guess a cult following will just have to do.
14: Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem
Gamecube, Silicon Nights 2002
As one of the cornerstones of the Gamecube library (to many, not myself as I actually wasn't as huge a fan as some), Eternal Darkness was a fourth-wall breaking piece of psychological horror that was full of fantastic and ambitious ideas to screw with us dumb videogame folk. It didn't always come together well, but when it did, it was a memorable experience. Complex, moody and nicely gory, Eternal Darkness is one of the best one-hit-wonder titles and surely deserving of its own ongoing series.
Chances of a Sequel: Good. Dennis Dyack is quite passionate about returning to the land of Eternal Darkness with a sequel and has been noting that for the past few years. With the failure of Too Human, Silicon Knights might be looking to go back to the well.
13: Zak McKracken
Commodore 64/DOS, Lucasfilm Games 1988
Yes, if you can't tell Zak is holding a loaf of French bread and a goldfish bowl with live goldfish in his hands. That is why we love him so, and why Zak is one of the best adventure games to be made yet one of the best not to really be discussed. Trademark Lucasarts (or, then, Lucasfilm Games) humor and just smart writing really gave Zak, a poor-man's futuristic (as in 1997) Indiana Jones, an identity of his own and a game that was fantastic.
Chances of a Sequel: Low. Sadly, Zak was a game that really came and went and was under the radar for its entire existence. It's considered one of Lucasarts, then Lucasfilm Games, very best works and is often never brought up when discussing great adventure games - which is odd considering its the same group that brought us the likes of Maniac Mansion and Monkey Island. Its a great character that really could have had a franchise built around, but like a lot of those old adventure games, it just faded away.
12: Burning Rangers
Saturn, Sega 1998
For all sakes and purposes, out of all the games on this list Burning Rangers looked primed to be the next big thing and to have a long-running series launched from it. Then all sorts of things happened. New console for Segawas being released, the Saturn was faltering, Sega wanted the team to push Sonic more and eventually producer Yuji Naka left in 2006 entirely. The possibilities to expand Burning Rangers were really limitless. Can you imagine it? A fully open city for you to fly around and put out fires in a mission-based scenario in your awesome firefighting cyber-suit? Oh, I feel giddy at the thought of it.
Chances of a Sequel: Never. As mentioned, Burning Rangers suffered from poor timing on release. Now with it's creator, Yuji Naka, completely gone and Sonic Team really not relevant anymore (other key members leaving even before Naka did), a sequel will simply never happen.
MSX2/Sega CD, Konami 1988/1994
Many times remade and ported yet not once given a sequel, Snatcher was a genre-blending title that was ahead of its time. Say what you want about the Sega CD, but it was my and many peoples' first foray into Hideo Kojima's cyberpunk masterpiece. It's often compared to the film Blade Runner due to the same thematic principals and numerous (and I mean numerous) similarities. It combined role playing, classic adventure puzzle solving and shooter elements.
Chances of a Sequel: Low. Very Low, actually. A Snatcher sequel rests entirely in the hands of Hideo Kojima. He had a chance to do a sequel, but decided to do Policenauts instead, a game in a similar style that was only released in Japan. These types of games had their heyday over a decade ago, there's just no place for them anymore. However, Kojima is crazy like that and would probably do one if he just feels like it. Never say never when Kojima-san is involved.
Xbox/Playstation 2/PC, Double Fine Productions 2005
An imaginiative, mind-bending platformer from the mind of Lucasarts legend Tim Schafer (Maniac Mansion, Secret of Monkey Island, Grim Fandango). His sharp and witty writing and dialogue brings it all to life; an odd little boy with powers at summer camp who uncovers mystery after mystery as his powers grow. It was probably one of the best games of last generation, especially in the "best games nobody really played" category.
Chances of Sequel: Good. I would say it would be higher or even very high with as many great reviews the game received, but the fact is Psychonauts, despite the raves, didn't really do that well with consumers. However, Tim Schafer has gone on record saying he wants to do a sequel, so that's at least a foot in the door.
PC, Ion Storm 2001
Inspired by the likes of Final Fantasy VII and Chrono Trigger, Tom Hall (co founder of id Software) and his newfound company Ion Storm took a different route after their massive hit, Deus Ex. A two-part saga was planned and it was to be called Anachronox (and eventually Anachronox Prime). Over three years to develop and, still, the game was never completed. They released it anyways, and what we got was one of the more ambitious games to be released. An incredibly well-written story, wonderful characters and various planets and gameplay styles to get yourself lost in. Then it all ends, abruptly...not that I ever got that far myself (thanks, Vista)
Chances of a Sequel: Never. Ion Storm went defunct and with it Tom Hall and all things Anachronox. It's disappointing considering it was intended to be a multi-part saga and you're left with a massive cliffhanger. Unlike Deus Ex, which Eidos continued on due to its success, Anachronox simply didn't have any success to build off of and what we have is all there will ever be.
8: Batman: Arkham Asylum
Xbox 320/Playstation 3/PC, Rocksteady 2009
I only know of a few games that actually exceed expectations. Rocksteady now has a monster on its hands after their first major splash with Batman: Arkham Asylum. What's more, though, is that they simply can't end it here. You can't make a game that personifies Batman and his mythos so well just to leave it all on the table with one game. You need to take it and run because the look, gameplay, controls and presentation are just top-notch. Many would have been fine with just a straightforward beat-em-up, Arkham Asylum took many steps beyond that.
Chances of a Sequel: Very Good. Fantastic sales and universal praise? Not to mention an ending that leaves itself open for a sequel. Barring developer bankruptcy or an act of God, it will happen. Maybe not Arkham Asylum again, but something in the Bat-verse.
7: Gitaroo Man
Playstation 2, Koei 2002
They best way I can describe Gitaroo Man is that it's a fighting game, but instead of throwing punches and kicks, you're throwing awesome riffs and jams. It offers many variations of how you play, though, which set it apart from your usual music/rhythm game. That and it's strangely hypnotic and addicting with a distinct approach to campy style. The best way to get a feel for it, is to see it. It's a unique title that probably would find a larger following today thanks to the popularity of the genre, assuming Koei doesn't produce a limited number again.
Chances of a Sequel: Good. Gitaroo Man was recently ported to the PSP and regained acclaim once more. A possible portable sequel, perhaps? Here's hoping, although the sales numbers still weren't overly fantastic it's at least out there with a better possibility than most games and music titles are incredibly popular right now.
6: Panzer Dragoon Saga
Saturn, Team Andromeda/Sega 1998
Panzer Dragoon Saga is widely regarded as one of the best RPGs to ever be produced yet is raerly in the disucssion amongst all the Final Fantasys of the world. It pushed the limits of what the Saturn could do, perhaps coming out a generation too early, and offered up a short but sweet game that is really one-of-a-kind in the genre.
Chances of a Sequel: Never. If you haven't figured it out yet, there are a number of Sega titles on this list for one major reason: Sega just doesn't know how to run a business. Team Andromeda was disbanded after the release of Panzer Dragoon Saga (hell of a way to say "good job") and many members floundered around the industry finding homes elsewhere. The team that might have had a chance to revive Saga, Smilebit (which consisted of a few former Andromeda members) also went under in 2004. Designer/director Yukio Futatsugi is now working with Microsoft Japan.
Gamecube, Grasshopper Manufacture/Capcom 2005
Killer7 is an on-rails shooter that where you simple choose which direction to go, then you automatically go down it and blast people left and right. Oh, and you collect rings. "Well that sounds pretty lame," you might be thinking. What if I were to tell you it had one of the best storylines of the past decade? Conspiracies, assignations, Japanese world domination, terrorists groups, sex, blood and all in a highly stylized anime-noirish world. It's a love/hate game for many and reviews were mixed, but all were in agreement: it was definitely original. I think taking that ball and running with it is the logical choice.
Chances of a Sequel: Very High. Although time is running out, I should note. Killer 7 was already popular, No More Heroes from the same company made it even more popular despite the games having nothing to do with each other. Although designer Goichi Suda is currently working on the No More Heroes sequel, he still has the very popular Killer 7 on the backburner if Capcom wants it. Capcom isn't dumb, and Killer 7 was pretty well received. I figure it's only a matter of time.
4: Conker's Bad Fur Day
N64, Rare 2001
A game that doesn't need explaining or reasons for needing a sequel. People have been wanting one for years, Rare even teasing with a port to the Xbox, but the twisted and satirical adventures of Conker is thus far relegated to just one little title. Brilliant, and low-brow though it may be, it was a solid and comical platformer that is still popular to this day.
Chances of a Sequel: I honestly can't answer this. Rare is known for dragging their feet (Killer Instinct 3 being another game people are clamoring for) and I just don't know if that old Rareware "can do" attitude even exists anymore. This one is up in the air.
3: Grim Fandango
PC, Lucasarts 1998
"You can't hide from the Grim Reaper, especially when he's got a gun."
It amazed me that a beloved game the world over and world so utterly unique is all just done in one little title. It's a jazzy, noir tale of the Underworld and mystery that could really continue on forever. New stories in this world could occur, new characters (although Manny may be missed) and new places to explore. It's boundless in possibilities on where to take the concept.
Chances of a Sequel: Low. There's been a strange renewed interest in point and click adventure titles lately, and if Lucasarts had it in them, they could do a remake of Grim Fandango (ala Monkey Island) and follow up with some online sequels. Grim Fandango is probably their most celebrated title which also helps matters even though sales were lousy (the genre was dead by 1998).
2: Vagrant Story
Playstation, Square 2000
Vagrant Story combined and blended numerous game genres all into one polished package. I would say Vagrant Story is a perfectly fine stand alone title with no need for a sequel, that is before taking the rather open-ended and ambiguous nature of its ending which outright implies the story is still not yet over. Although a little heavy in the micro-management, Vagrant Story offered up a compelling story and unique gameplay that few other games really can match much less master to this degree. So much so that many consider it the best game on the Playstation and it was one of only three games at the time to ever get a perfect score from Famitsu.
Chances of a Sequel: Never. With the designer, producer, writer and director, Yasumi Matsuno, no longer with Square-Enix, and leaving in a rather bitter manner at that, it simply will never happen. Matsuno was the mind behind it, and it goes with him. Hopefully a spiritual successor of some sort from him will arise someplace else, it won't be from Square-Enix, that's for sure.
1: Vampire the Masquerade - Bloodlines
PC, Torika Games/Activision 2004
One of the best and truly unique PC RPGs to ever be made. There was a Vampire: The Masquerade game before it, although it was from another developer yet set in the same universe and really has no connection. It also got mixed, often below averages reviews and the idea of doing another game set in this world created by Mark Rein·Hagen and White Wolf for live-action role playing way back in 1991 was considered dead (or is that undead?). Four years later, Torika Games decided to tackle it and gave us just one fantastic, albeit buggy at times, game. The atmosphere, the writing, the decisions, the sects to be or not be a part of. It had depth, replayability and a fun-factor, just make sure you patch the hell out of it should you get yourself a copy that the first Vampire game from Nihilistic Software just didn't quite grasp. Bloodlines was like a "redo" in a way, many forgetting the game before it and loving the entire overhaul from the ground up.
Chances of a Sequel: Never. Shortly after the release of Bloodlines, Troika Studios closed its doors. Despite the popularity of Vampires the past couple of years, its not enough to raise the series from the dead. The game has become popular again since its release on Steam, but still, it's just wishful thinking.
Certain games you would like to see? What current series do you want to see more of? The list doesn't have to stop at just 25, leave a comment and let me know.