By: Chris Hodges, editor-in-chief
It seems that the bulk of Sony’s “first-party” PS4 lineup these days are sequels to franchises that debuted just one generation ago on the PS3, with a smattering of PS2 holdovers. One of the things that makes the PS1 my favorite console of all time is all of the great, original first-party properties that made their home there, and sadly, many of them never made it off of Sony’s debut system. “PlayStation” used to be a brand that conjured images of a wide variety of unique and creative games and characters. Now, much like Xbox, the PS4 mostly just feels like a recognizable company’s name was slapped onto a generic gaming machine that’s barely distinguishable from its (non-Nintendo) console peers and PC, with most of the more creative stuff shuffled off to Vita to be ignored or confined to small-scale indie games. They might as well just call PS4 the “Sony Corporation Video Game Machine.” Here are five franchises that could make the name “PlayStation” actually mean something again if they’re brought back to much-deserved life.
5. Motor Toon Grand Prix
Before Polyphony Digital became obsessed with approximating cars into video games as realistically as possible in their Grand Turismo series, they actually cut their teeth on Motor Toon Grand Prix, an over-the-top, cartoony racing game. With the state of arcade-style racing in sorry shape these days, it seems the perfect time to resurrect this overlooked series (yes it was a series. There were two installments in Japan). Being able to work on MTGP games in between Gran Turismo installments might help to keep Polyphony’s creative juices flowing, and hopefully prevent series lead Kazunori Yamauchi from pulling a Fumito Ueda.
4. Jumping Flash!
The original Jumping Flash! was a technological showpiece for the PS1 when it launched with the system. demonstrating the system’s ability to do large 3D environments. It was also a refreshing take on the 3D platform genre, taking place entirely from a first-person perspective and being about leaping hundreds of feet into the air as you navigate the game’s dizzyingly high platforms. As modern platformers – especially on the PlayStation – have begun to be more third-person shooters and hack-n-slash action games, it would be nice to have a platform game that is actually just a platform game.
Yes, technically there was a MediEvil game on PSP, but it was mostly just a remake of the PS1 original so I’m counting it as a franchise that lived and died on the PS1. Even though he never said much, protagonist Sir Daniel Fortesque had plenty of character and was – and still is – one of the most endearing characters under the PlayStation umbrella. His adventures through a Tim Burton-esque world full of graveyards and castles would really shine with the PS4’s graphical capabilities, and after teasing us by putting him in PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, Sony definitely owes us another MediEvil game. Get the team who did the wonderful Puppeteer to do it – they clearly know the exact type of vibe a new MediEvil game should have.
Tomba and its sequel try to be a lot of things – a 2.5D platformer, an action-RPG, and a Metroidvania – and against all odds, they succeed at all of them. Okay, so they aren’t without their problems, and aren’t the most polished games in the world, but most of the PS1’s truly best games aren’t. What they lack in polish they make up for in charm twenty times over, and Tomba himself – with his wild pink hair and propensity for jumping on pigs and biting them on the back – is a character that should never have to languish in obscurity. It goes without saying that a new Tomba! game should absolutely not be a fully 3D game, but luckily Sony has proven that it’s willing to put out top-tier AAA 2D games in recent years so that shouldn’t be an issue. Also, whatever team they put together to make it, they have to call it Whoopee Camp. That’s non-negotiable.
1. UmJammer Lammy
Yes, I’m aware that UmJammer Lammy was the follow-up to Parappa the Rapper, a series that later appeared on the PS2. But given that the next Parappa game was titled Parappa the Rapper 2, it’s acceptable to consider Lammy its own separate franchise. Especially because, among Parappa 2‘s many issues, perhaps its biggest sin was completely screwing Lammy over and relegating her to one or two brief cameos rather than sharing his game 50/50 with her as she did with him in hers. That said, UmJammer Lammy 2 should still do the brilliant thing that the first game did and allow you to replay the entire game as Parappa complete with hip hop remixes of the game’s songs. But beyond all that, there should be an UmJammer Lammy 2 before there’s a Parappa 3 simply because UmJammer Lammy was the better game. I love Parappa as much as anyone, but Lammy was better. Fact. I just wonder if Sara Ramirez is too big-time now to reprise her role as Lammy (or if she even remembers her role as Lammy). Even as few lines as she had it’s hard to imagine a different actor for the role.