If I know anything about popular culture, it’s that things that were once popular can (and should) be dug up and reanimated Frankenstein-style into something brand new.
So to help out the industry and keep this trend alive, I take a look at some long forgotten heroes of gaming past who have been left to gather dust. Somewhere in their history they glimmered like interactive stars and whatever their grievances, they deserve a second chance to capture a new audience. I mean, they remade The Karate Kid, right?
1. Earthworm Jim
Back in the ‘90s an intrepid earthworm named Jim graced the SNES and Mega Drive/Genesis in a unique and rather difficult platformer. Coiled within his super suit, Jim ventured through a completely nonsensical plot (honestly, the above image only makes sense if you’ve finished the game) filled with juvenile humor and races against space crows.
Both Earthworm Jim and its sequel were great, but unfortunately the series lost its momentum after the terminally delayed Earthworm Jim 3D for the Nintendo 64. Released three years after its initial announcement, it arrived as a subpar clone of its excellent contemporaries like Super Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie.
Jim succumbed to unfortunate circumstances and a new game hasn’t been made since. If there were any character who deserved a fresh start, it would be Jim.
How many times does it take for a bobcat sprinting headlong into a wall to get old? My younger self never found out that answer, but not for a lack of trying.
Bubsy was another colorful platformer of yesteryear, and one of the hardest. However, its challenge was just half the appeal. Playing Bubsy was like taking control of a Saturday morning cartoon character: He was hyperactive, had plenty of one liners, and shared the same bizarre fashion sense as some of his animated brothers. I still don’t understand why it’s OK to go pants-less if you're wearing a shirt.
Also, dying was hilarious. Falls from great heights squished Bubsy into a pancake, and on occasion he would walk off like an accordion. He shattered into pieces, melted into a sludgy orange puddle, and whooshed across the screen like a popped balloon after touching a sharp object. Despite its difficulty, it was really hard to get angry at the malleable feline when it was so damn funny to watch him die.
Like his earth crawling friend before him, Bubsy was a victim of terrible sequels, but the magic of the first game needs to be recaptured again.
3. Time Lord
No, this isn’t a Doctor Who tie-in. Time Lord is an old gem for the NES that sees the player taking control of the eponymous character as he is tasked with preventing an alien invasion through different periods of human history. Not an original premise for… well, anything, but Time Lord was a standout adventure on the NES (one of Banjo-Kazoozie creator Rare’s early games, in fact) and the concept still has potential.
A heroic voyage through the wormhole has limitless scenarios. Time Lord took gamers to England in the 1200s, the trenches in World War 2, and the good old Wild West, but there’s no need to adhere to those constraints. Why not jump to the days of the Holy Roman Empire or the vast battlefields of ancient China?
As long as Rare is involved, a continuation of Time Lord could be a fantastic experience indeed.
4. Buck Bumble
The first (and perhaps only) cyborg-bee game was an early generation release for the Nintendo 64 that threw the player into an insectoid war that threatened the very safety of the entire garden. Buck Bumble combined smooth flying controls with an addictive third person shooter, the likes of which still hasn’t been fully realized (Dark Void came close, but didn’t get the cigar).
An updated release of good old Buck with tighter controls that allowed you to seamlessly switch from ground to air battles would definitely coerce my coy dollars from leaving my wallet.
5. Space Station Silicon Valley
This is probably the closest my young self ever got to playing an Animorphs
-inspired video game, but with a kooky style all its own. A DMA Design creation (the predecessor to Grand Theft Auto’s
Rockstar North), Space Station Silicon Valley involved taking control of a de-shelled robot named EVO and plugging into the various robotic fauna that inhabited the artificial world. Each animal had a specific ability that allowed the players to progress through the puzzle-platformer. Rocket-firing dogs, floating sheep, heli-rabbits, ski-clad huskies, cannon camels…you can’t make up stuff like that.
Novelty and variety came together for an unforgettable time. Rockstar, make a sequel! Please?
What do you think? What are some awesome games from the past that deserve new life?