By this time next year there should be three next-generation consoles on store shelves. Games like Halo, Metal Gear Solid, Splinter Cell, Super Mario and GTA are certain to appear at some point in the lifetime of these consoles, but what about the games that we hope to see, but might not. What franchises do we want to see on next-gen consoles and how likely are they to appear?
The Oddworld universe has been the home to many great games over the last two videogame generations. The original PlayStation games were followed by two games on the Xbox: The quirky launch title Abe's Odyssey, and the brilliant, but poor selling Stranger's Wrath. Sadly, Lorne Lanning has had enough of game development and the Oddworld Inhabitants team are now working on TV and film projects. However, it isn't out of the question that another development studio could get the license to develop games based on future Oddworld projects. We hope this will be the case as the Oddworld universe on next-gen consoles could be a very beautiful thing.
Chance of it happening? 25%
9. Ecco the Dolphin
Ecco was a popular guy on the Megadrive and went on to appear on the Mega CD, Game Gear, Dreamcast, PlayStation 2 and GBA. However, the PlayStation 2 game was simply a port of the Dreamcast game, meaning that we haven't had an original Ecco game on any of the big current consoles. Ecco games are known for their unique gameplay, puzzles and brilliant music. A next-gen Ecco game could make the most of the hardware, combining rich underwater environments with stunning surround sound. The games were made by Appaloosa Interactive who are currently working on Jaws Unleashed for Majesco. While this will give fans a taste of sea based action, a next-gen Ecco title would be even better.
Chance of it happening? 35%
8. Magic Carpet
Developed by Bullfrog Productions (At the time run by Peter Molyneux), Magic Carpet was released on the PC by EA in 1994, and required ridiculously high system specs in order to run satisfactorily. Essentially an FPS, but in the air, Magic Carpet saw players control wizards who could use many magic spells to fight rival wizards and monsters scattered around the land. The PC saw an expansion pack and a rather rushed sequel, and the PlayStation and Saturn received ports. Despite being fondly remembered by many gamers, Magic carpet suffered from many bugs and rather repetitive level designs. A next-gen re-imagining of the franchise could utilise the hardware to create vast fantasy worlds populated by computer controlled and human controlled wizards. Unfortunately, since Bullfrog are no more, and with Molyneux now fronting Lionhead, the chances of Magic Carpet having a come back are rather slim.
Chance of it happening? 5%
7. UFO: Enemy Unknown
Simply put - one of the best tactical combat games ever made. Depth, subtleties and fun were all wrapped up in this true classic. A next-gen sequel would be something special, if it were to be done right. To be honest, nothing much would have to be changed, gameplay-wise. Maybe a deeper business model for the management sections, but otherwise nothing much. The chances of a spiritual successor? A certainty, with some of the creators of the series working on Rebelstar: Tactical Command for the GBA as we speak. Chances of a true sequel? Not high. It's a shame. Sort it out, chaps and chapettes. Just make sure you get it right. If it ain't broke...
Chance of it happening? 10%
Chance of a spiritual successor? 100%
Released back in 2002 for the PC, Mafia was a brilliant action game. It blended an open city environment with brilliant shoot-outs. The game told the story of Tommy Angelo, a young man who was trying to build up respect and power within the Salieri Family. Set in the fictional Lost Heaven in the 1930s, the game had everything: Great visuals, a developing story, third-person action, driving sections, and more. What it didn't have was a sequel; some three years later we're still waiting. The game was ported to the Xbox and PlayStation 2, but Illusion Softworks have been worryingly quiet over future games. They're currently working on Vietcong 2, which is due in October 2005, so what they do after that is anyone's guess.
Chance of it happening? 35%
Shenmue and Shenmue 2 are two of the most loved videogames ever made. Created by Yu Suzuki of Sega AM2, the games tell the story of Ryo Hazuki, a young man who embarks on a journey to solve the mystery behind his father's death and avenge his killer. The story and action RPG hybrid gameplay made the two games among the most popular on the Dreamcast. Shenmue 2 later appeared on the Xbox, but fans are still waiting for the conclusion to the Shenmue saga, with chapters 7-16 still waiting to be told. The series concluding on next-gen consoles is probably something that thousands of people are wishing for right now, and given the almost endless rumours surrounding the series, we'd bet it'll happen one day.
Chance of it happening? 60%
Before Volition sold out by producing the mass-market 'revolutionary' Red Faction games, they created two of the finest space simulation titles in history: Freespace and Freespace 2, released in 1998 and 1999, respectively. Freespace 2 easily rivalled the X-Wing franchise in brilliance. Whilst it didn't have the iconic appeal of the Star Wars space sims, it did provide something new: shock, awe and mind-boggling scale. Some of Freespace 2's set pieces - including an ambush in the middle of a dazzling nebula - set new standards for the genre, which remain to be surpassed. With the franchise rights in limbo after the closure of Interplay, the chances of seeing Freespace 3 seem as remote as a lone Hercules-II pilot being able to overcome a squadron of Shivan fighters, but we live in hope.
Chance of it happening? 0.5%
3. Panzer Dragoon
SEGA's Panzer Dragoon series is one of the most loved in videogame history. The SEGA Saturn was home to the original, its sequel and Panzer Dragoon Saga, the much loved - and pretty rare - RPG. Xbox owners were treated to the gorgeous Panzer Dragoon Orta, which continued where the first two games left off, offering more intense on-rails Shooting action. While a sequel to Saga was rumoured, nothing was ever confirmed, but a next-gen announcement would see hordes of fans jumping with joy, and a few extra sales for whichever console the game is released for. SEGA are looking into making next-gen games using older franchises, so this just might be on the cards.
Chance of it happening? 45%
2. System Shock
Few games have scared people as much as System Shock 2. Developed by Irrational Games and Looking Glass Studios, it's another great game that was released by EA that hasn't seen a sequel in years. Set onboard the Tri-Optimum starship Von Braun, you played a UNN soldier who is part of the crew on the Rickenbacker. The Rickenbacker escorts the Von Braun on its maiden voyage, but five months in things go badly wrong. You wake up in a cryo-tube onboard the Von Braun with no memory of what has gone on and a new cybernetic interface system fitted. Like in the first game, you must find out what has gone on and what needs to be done to sort things out. When Looking Glass studios went into liquidation the future of the series became very uncertain, with a true sequel now looking very unlikely. A spiritual successor, in the form of BioShock from Irrational Games, is due in 2006.
Chance of it happening? 0.05%
Chance of a spiritual successor? 100%
Syndicate (another Bullfrog game) was released in 1993, with its sequel, Syndicate Wars, hitting PC and PlayStation in 1996. Both games put you in charge of a corporation whose team of cyborg agents go on missions to take out members of rival Syndicates, rescue allies, persuade civilians to join your company, and more. You controlled these four cyborg agents in an isometric action game that was incredibly violent for the time. Both games featured great music and interactive environments, with many objects in the environment being fully destructible. If any game franchise could take on the might of Grand Theft Auto, this could be it. A next-gen cyberpunk world would be very, very exciting, but as with Magic Carpet, the chances seem rather slim.
Chance of it happening? 15%