By: Chris Hodges, editor-in-chief
With less-than-stellar review scores coming in for Keiji Inafune’s Mighty No. 9, a lot of people are quick to jump on the “See, Kickstarter doesn’t pay off” bandwagon. But when a game like Pillars of Eternity is a creative success, the pendulum swings back toward “See, this is why Kickstarter needs to exist.” As far as when games don’t even get funded, or do but end up getting cancelled, well that sparks a whole different discussion entirely.
I’ve decided to compile a list of all of the notable spiritual successors, official sequels, and remakes/remasters that have ever been crowdfunded just as a way to have them all in one big, easily-referable place. And, where applicable, how the final versions of those games ended up being received critically.
If there is enough interest/demand for it, I may consider perpetually updating this list and keeping it as an up-to-date reference rather than just a one-time article. Comment below and let me know your thoughts on that.
Developer: Harmonix Music Systems
Status: Funded via Kickstarter, released Jan 2015 for PlayStation 4 and April 2016 for PlayStation 3
Metacritic score: 74 (PS4 version)
Music game developer Harmonix looked to return to its pre-plastic instrument rhythm game roots by creating a sequel to its original PlayStation rhythm franchise FreQuency/Amplitude (a style they had also revisited recently with Rock Band Blitz and Rock Band Unplugged). Amplitude is noteworthy for being one of the few successfully crowdfunded games to be a console exclusive, with many crowdfunded games only having console versions as stretch goals (if at all). Reviews were positive, and were comparable to the company’s 2015 Rock Band sequel (which was considered a commercial disappointment). Given that neither Rock Band 4 nor Guitar Hero Live reignited the peripheral-based music game genre when they released last year, the success and positive feedback of Amplitude could hopefully lead to a renaissance of the classic style of rhythm games.
Developer: West Games
Status: Kickstarter funding goal was reached, but campaign was suspended by Kickstarter
One of the stranger stories in video game crowdfunded history. West Games claimed to be comprised of former members of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. developer CSG Game World, and were looking to make a spiritual successor to that series. Well, not only did CSG deny West’s claims of having any former CSG members on their staff, but the work-in-progress Areal footage was said to use S.T.A.L.K.E.R. assets without the original company’s permission. The shady project was eventually suspended by Kickstarter despite having already reached its funding goal. Astonishingly enough, the West Games saga to make a S.T.A.L.K.E.R. successor doesn’t even end there as they then tried to fund a game called Stalker Apocalypse through questionable crowdfunding site “World Wide Funding.” Nothing has yet come of that campaign.
Developer: Pencil Test Studios
Status: Funded via Kickstarter, released in September 2015 for PC with PlayStation 4 and Wii U versions planned (release date TBD)
Metacritic score: 57 (PC version)
Pencil Test Studios was founded by Doug TenNapel, Mike Dietz, and Ed Schofield, who worked together on creating Earthworm Jim and later formed developer The Neverhood. Armikrog is a claymation-styled adventure game in the same vein as The Neverhood’s self-titled 1996 adventure game and platform sequel Skullmonkeys. The game’s hero is almost a spitting image of protagonist Klayman from the previous series, even though he is supposedly an entirely different character. Reviews were lukewarm, suggesting that the game shares much of what make the Neverhood’s games endearing but also carrying over the negative quirks that kept them at cult hit status while never replicating the success of Earthworm Jim.
Developer: Night Work Games
Status: Kickstarter campaign was launched and subsequently cancelled by developer in April 2016
The words “A New FPS from Romero & Carmack” definitely perked up the gaming community’s ears when the Kickstarter campaign for Blackroom was first announced as a spiritual successor to the earlier Doom and Quake games. Sure, the “Carmack” in this case was actually Adrian and not more famous brother John, but Adrian did plenty to sculpt id Software’s legacy. Then, on April 29th, only a few days into the intriguing project’s campaign, the developers put the funding “on pause” and cancelled the Kickstarter as they decided to put their full efforts towards creating a playable demo of the game (why the Kickstarter campaign needed to be cancelled while they did that is unclear). As of this writing, no further information on Blackroom has been announced, but as it has only been a couple of months there is no reason to fear the worst…yet.
Developer: Inti Creates
Status: Funded via Kickstarter, with a planned Q1 2017 release for PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox One, and Wii U
Koji Igarashi may not have created Castlevania, but he led the franchise through its extremely popular and prolific “Metroidvania” era and has been the brand’s most prominent ambassador. He left Konami after being frustrated by not being allowed to create more Castlevania games in the classic 2D style that he had helped to perfect, and brought spiritual successor Bloodstained to Kickstarter in a campaign that raised over five million dollars. Igarashi and his team have just released a video with nearly seven minutes of gameplay footage that should help to ease any fears that the project is headed for a Mighty No. 9-type fate. There are a lot of games on Kickstarter that are “Metroidvania-style,” but this is the only one being led by one of the key people who pioneered and perfected the genre. No pressure or anything, IGA.
Developer: Toy Ghost LLC
Status: Failed to reach Kickstarter funding goal in November 2013
A platform game called Boogerman: A Pick and Flick Adventure had no right to be any good, especially if you weren’t an 8 year old boy. And while it certainly was gross and often contained cringe-worthy snot-related set pieces, the game was a really solid 16-bit platformer that had surprisingly gorgeous (for what they were) visuals. Original Boogerman designers Chris Tremmel and Mike Stragey wanted to do an HD reboot to the game for its 20th anniversary, with one of the more intriguing backer rewards being a co-op mode featuring fellow Interplay (and ClayFighter) alum Earthworm Jim. Despite some beautiful concept shots, the campaign barely reached 10% of its funding goal, though it should be noted that $375K was probably a bit ambitious of an ask for a new Boogerman game. Tremmel and Stragey announced plans to scale down and retool the project a bit and launch another campaign for a new Boogerman game in 2014, but that has yet to materialize.
Developer: Revolution Software
Status: Funded via Kickstarter, released in two episodes between 2013 and 2015 for PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, and mobile
Metacritic score: 72 (PS4 version)
After “Double Fine Adventure“–later renamed Broken Age–became one of the first games to bring Kickstarter to the attention of the gaming mainstream, a number of other classic adventure game developers sought out crowdfunding to revive some of their dormant franchises. While Broken Sword hadn’t really been “gone” all that long–the most recent new installment released in 2006 and was followed by HD remakes of BS and BS2 between 2009 and 2011–the series had long since strayed from its “2D” roots, which is where The Serpent’s Curse was promising to return. The Kickstarter campaign was a huge success, doubling the funding goal. Buzz has been largely positive, with most of the complaints from Episode I being rectified for the stronger Episode II. Revolution has stated that the series will continue and that they aren’t opposed to going back to working with major publishers for future installments.
Developer: Stainless Games
Status: Funded via Kickstarter in June 2012, released for PC in May 2015 with an updated version (titled Carmaggedon: Max Damage) coming to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One expected in July 2016
Metacritic score: 54 (PC version)
Stainless Games released the original Carmaggeddon trilogy of vehicular combat games between 1997 and 2000, a much gorier and more violent alternative to the Twisted Metals and Interstate 76s of the world. Twelve years later they took to Kickstarter to develop the franchise’s fourth installment after a decade of porting classic games to PSP and Xbox Live and developing a few video game versions of Magic the Gathering. Reincarnation had no trouble reaching its funding goal and hitting several stretch goals, and Stainless initially promised the game the following February (2013). It would be delayed for over two years before releasing to poor reviews. However, a series of patches and updates since the game’s release have improved fan reception to the game somewhat, and it remains to be seen how much more improved the Max Damage version is going to be over Reincarnation (and if it comes out in July as promised).
Developer: Snapshot Games
Status: Funded via Kickstarter in April 2014, released for PC in October 2015
Metacritic score: 85
Julian Gallop is one of the key figures in pioneering the strategy genre, founding Mythos Games and having a hand in creating the X-COM and RebelStar franchises, among others. One of those “others” is his 1985 ZX Spectrum game Chaos: The Battle of Wizards, which he decided to remake nearly 30 years later. Chaos Reborn successfully reached its Kickstarter funding goal, and Gallop–along with developer Snapshot Games–released the game just 18 months after the campaign ended. Reviews were very strong, and added to the recent resurgence of Gallop’s classic franchises alongside the well received modern reboot to his X-COM series (though he wasn’t involvement in that game’s development, which he has since admitted was probably to its benefit).
Developer: Descendent Studios
Status: Funded via Kickstater in April 2015, Steam Early Access version made available in October 2015 with final version release TBD
In 1994, the original Descent took first-person shooters off the ground and gave players six degrees of zero-gravity movement. Though not involved in the original, Eric ‘Wingman’ Peterson–who is heading up development on Underground–is an industry veteran with roots going back to the 80s and most recently made news for leaving his role as President of Production on the highly anticipated Star Citizen. Underground is being billed as a prequel to the first Descent and is going to be a multiplayer-focused game. There are some issues with the IP rights to Descent being split across multiple parties, leading to Descendent Studios only being able to use certain aspects of the franchise for the new game (though they obviously can use the title). As for the actual people behind the original Descent games, well…stick with this list for a few more scrolls and you just might find that they have their own plans to revive their classic series.
Developer: The Oliver Twins
Status: Failed to reach its Kickstarter funding goal in December 2012
American gamers may not be familiar with the Dizzy video game series, but it was one of the most popular game franchises in Europe during the series’ initial nine-game run from 1987 to 1992. The action/adventure series starred an egg named Dizzy who wasn’t initially intended to be an egg but was simply made round for ease of animation and rotation–by the third game, his egg-ness was officially embraced by the developers. In 2012, 20 years after the last new Dizzy game was released, original developers the Oliver Twins–who had since founded two different developers that released nearly 100 games–wanted to create the 10th installment in the Dizzy series. Only about £25,000 was pledged out of a £350,00 goal, and the Oliver Twins announced on the day of the campaign’s end that Dizzy Returns would be ceasing development. All was not lost for Dizzy, though, as last year the Oliver Twins came upon the source code for the unreleased–but finished–Wonderland Dizzy from 1993 and decided to make it available for free download and in-browser play.
Developer: Frontier Developments
Status: Funded via Kickstarter in January 2013, released for PC in December 2014 and Xbox One in October 2015, with the PlayStation 4 version’s release date TBD
Metacritic score: 80 (PC version)
The Elite series may not be as well-known as Grand Theft Auto, Wing Commander, EVE Online, or the upcoming No Man’s Sky, but it was hugely influential on all of them (and many more). The franchise’s combination of space combat and the ability to earn money and clout through a multitude of different avenues–trade, piracy, bounty hunting, and more–made the franchise ahead of its time, especially considering it started in 1984, barely removed from the era of Pac-Man. There were only two official sequels to Elite, and didn’t come until nine and eleven years later, respectively. The planned fourth game began development in 1998 and would eventually serve as the basis for the 2012 Kickstarter campaign for Elite: Dangerous, directed by David Braben, one of the two men behind the original Elite. The campaign was not only fully funded, but it has been one of Kickstarter’s biggest success stories, with Elite: Dangerous releasing to strong reviews and profits surpassing $30 million.
Status: Funded via Kickstarter in May 2016, with a planned Q1 2017 release for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One
The Fear Effect series was very popular and had a third game well into development, but a financial restructuring of publisher Eidos led to the cancellation of the that game and the entire franchise being put on the back burner. Which is exactly where it stayed for nearly 12 years until developer Sushee received current rights holder Square-Enix’s blessing to crowdfund a new Fear Effect. The indie team is small at only seven in-house people, but the story is being written by two non-Sushee employees, one of who is John Zuur Platten, who penned the original Fear Effect. So while longtime Fear Effect fans have expressed worry over the direction of Sedna, being an isometric tactical strategy game rather than a cinematic action/adventure game like its predecessors, they can at least rest assured that the story and characters are in good hands. It should also be noted that Platten did not write Fear Effect 2 and has expressed his dissatisfaction with how it oversexualized Hana and her relationship with Rain, so depending on how you felt about FE2‘s story and Hana’s role in it, you either just got a little less or a little more worried about his vision for Sedna.
Developer: Black Forest Games
Status: Funded via Kickstarter in August 2012, released between 2012 and 2014 for PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and Wii U
Metacritic score: 77 (PC version)
One of gaming’s most repeated myths is that 1987’s The Great Giana Sisters was legally banned after a lawsuit by Nintendo due to the game’s similarities to Super Mario Bros. Such a lawsuit never happened. However, the legend is based in fact as Nintendo has admitted to contacting publisher Rainbow Arts and “urging” them to stop selling the game as it was obviously infringing on their intellectual property, to which Rainbow Arts complied. So the game was pulled, but it was done so voluntarily and was never officially deemed illegal. It is probably due to never having legal action brought against it that the game was able to be reimagined into Giana Sisters DS and released for–ironically enough–Nintendo DS in 2009. That renewed interest in the Giana Sisters brand led to the Kickstarter campaign for a brand new entry in the series, called Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams. The game was fully funded, and met all of its goals to release console versions. The $10,000 pledge tier, which included an extremely rare (and unopened) copy of the original The Great Giana Sisters, went unclaimed.
Developer: Nigoro/Playism Games
Status: Funded via Kickstarter in February 2014, originally planned to be released in December 2015 but was vaguely delayed to “2016”
It seems that Western indie devs aren’t the only ones who make games in the style of the retro games of their youth. Japanese developer Nigoro released La-Mulana for PC (Japan-only) in 2005 as a love letter to 8-bit MSX action games. Despite how many layers of niche-ness the game is wrapped up in, La-Mulana was remade–and localized–worldwide in 2012 for PC and WiiWare (and later, PS Vita). Apparently, these remakes were popular enough that when developer Nigoro (with assistance from Playsim games) took to Kickstarter to fund a full-fledged La-Mulana sequel, it easily cruised past its $200,000 goal. Unfortunately, the game didn’t meet its target release of December 2015, and thus far hasn’t been released, with the developer only willing to narrow it down to sometime this year. And, as pretty much all updates Nigoro have posted to Kickstarter are only visible to backers–of which I’m not one–if any recent developments have come to light about the game’s progress, I’m unable to see them.
Status: Funded via Kickstarter in October 2013, released in June 2016 for PC PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Wii U, with versions for Xbox 360, PlayStation Vita, and Nintendo 3DS due sometime in 2016
Metacritic score: 55 (PS4 version) [Note: As of this writing, this game and is a brand new release and therefore might still receive additional press reviews that may alter its Metacritic score.]
After years of frustration by Mega Man fans at Capcom’s apparent apathy towards the series, having Keiji Inafune announce that he was developing a 2D spiritual successor to the MM series was cause for celebration. Excitement was so high for Mighty No. 9 that the campaign absolutely crushed its funding goal, bringing in more than four times that amount. Unfortunately, hype quickly began to sour for Mighty following a series of delays, gameplay footage that didn’t look anything like the target renders, and Inafune’s decision to try and launch a second Kickstarter campaign for a another MM successor right in the middle of Mighty‘s already troubled development cycle. Inafune and his team certainly had a lot to prove by the time their game actually came out, and the review scores suggest that they didn’t live up to expectations (with or without the added damage to the game’s reputation leading up to the release). With the actual gaming public still slowly digging into the game, it remains to be seen if fan reaction will prove any more positive than press reaction, but it’s not looking so good for the one-time savior of the Mega Man legacy.
Developer: Michael Mendheim
Status: Failed to reach Kickstarter funding goal in October 2013
One of the things we’ve unfortunately lost in modern gaming is more lighthearted, arcade-style sports games. Michael Mendheim, the lead designer of the classics Mutant League Football and Hockey, also felt that this was an under-served market in today’s gaming landscape and sought to resurrect his monster football series through Kickstarter. With original publisher EA still owning the rights to the name Mutant League Football, Mendheim needed only rearrange it to Mutant Football League in order to keep it legal (which resulted in the more satisfying “MFL” abbreviation anyway). MFL was going to use the engine for Football Heroes–an NFL Blitz-inspired football game–with the promise of a quick turnaround time since a new engine didn’t have to be developed. Unfortunately, MFL earned a mere 18% of its funding goal (which had to hurt since Football Heroes was fully funded on Kickstarter with the same spirit but none of the name recognition). But Mendheim didn’t give up–he rounded up friends, colleagues, and fans of the original game to form Digital Dreams Entertainment and continue working on MFL. The release date is unknown, but development is still active on PC, PS4, and XB1 versions and you can read more about it at the game’s official website.
Developer: Night Trap, LLC
Status: Failed to reach Kickstarter goal in September 2014
This can’t possibly be that Night Trap, can it? The notorious FMV game starring the late Dana Plato that earned way more attention than it deserved because of its supposed depiction of young women being assaulted (which ended up being completely exaggerated and misrepresented by the mainstream media)? Yep, it certainly is that Night Trap, and in 2014 a developer set out to remake the game in HD. The campaign was immediate plagued with skepticism when the target platforms were only vaguely referred to as “PlayStation” and “Xbox” at a time when that could’ve easily meant PS3 and/or PS4 and X36o and/or XB1. There was also the uncertainty as to how the game would be able to be created and thousands of retail copies printed within the campaign’s $330,00 asking price. Producer Tom Zito also did little to ease doubts about the project, hanging up on a WIRED journalist in the middle of an interview because he had a “sick child.” I can only assume it was morbid curiosity that actually got 664 people to pledge money to the project, but it doesn’t matter anyway as it fell far short of its already questionably low funding goal.
Developer: Playism Games
Status: Funded via Kickstarter in February 2015, released for PC in March 2016
Metacritic score: 47
The Clock Tower series never quite reached the height of popularity of a Resident Evil or Silent Hill, and it was likely because of the success of those series that Clock Tower‘s “Scissorman” has been dulled since 2002. Some believe 2005’s Haunting Ground to be a spiritual successor to the series, but that’s only due to a few gameplay similarities and not any other confirmed connections. However, with NightCry‘s Kickstarter campaign going under the name “Project Scissors” and being led by the original creator of Clock Tower–with help from the creator of The Grudge thrown in for good measure–there is no mistaking its place as Clock Tower’s rightful heir. The funding goal was met, and the game was looking promising, even having famed horror director George Romero publicly rooting for the game. And although reviews were poor, Clock Tower fans largely praised the game and how well it captured the classic feel of the series, accusing reviewers of “missing the point” and trying to take the game too seriously for what it is. This makes NightCry fall right in line with the rest of the Clock Tower series, which has always been met with mixed reviews but garnered a cult following–and multiple sequels–nonetheless.
Developer: Cyan, Inc.
Status: Funded via Kickstarter in November 2013, with a planned July 2016 release for PC
Myst spent years being called “the best-selling PC game of all time,” and even though it was eventually dethroned by The Sims, it is still among the top selling games in history. The entire five-game Myst series has sold over 12 million copies, putting it in the same sales league as franchises like Half-Life and StarCraft. Needless to say, there are a lot of Myst fans out there, and it wasn’t a huge surprise when its developer took to Kickstarter to develop a spiritual successor to the hit series and it had no trouble exceeding its funding goal. Other than spending a few years making educational mobile games, Cyan has only ever really done Myst, with CEO Rand Miller even authoring several novels set in the world of Myst. So it’ll definitely be interesting to see the team finally take their expertise at building immersive, mysterious worlds and take that to a whole new universe after living exclusively in Myst‘s world for so long.
Developer: Revival Productions
Status: Funded via Kickstarter in March 2016, with a planned Q1 2017 release for PlayStaion 4, Xbox One, and PC
So here’s that other spiritual successor to Descent that I teased earlier. Unlike Descent: Underground, Overload is being developed by a team that’s headed up by the original game’s creators and a number of other former Descent artists and designers. Of course, it isn’t lost on them that there’s a rival Descent game concurrently in development, as Overload‘s Kickstarter page points out that it’s being created by “the people who invented the genre” and calls the game “the ultimate six-degree-of-freedom shooter.” Not to pick sides, but between the original team’s involvement and their putting a lot of effort into building a full single player story mode–the original had multiplayer but it was never the star attraction–I would say that Overload is looking more like the true successor to Descent, even if they didn’t get to use the name. Also, it’s coming to consoles, something that Underground hasn’t announced any plans for yet.
Developer: Fresh3D, Inc.
Status: Failed to reach Kickstarter funding goal in May 2014.
Outcast was a critically-acclaimed action/adventure game released for PC in 1999. Among the first 3D open-world games (two years before the release of the groundbreaking Grand Theft Auto III), it even won “Adventure Game of the Year” from Gamespot that year. Sales were strong enough to begin development of a sequel, but not enough to keep the developer from going bankrupt and being forced to abandon it. French developers Appeal and Fresh3D weren’t heard from again until they took to Kickstarter in 2014 in hopes of making an HD remake of the original game. Renewed interest in the franchise had been drummed up a bit in 2010 when the original was brought to GOG.com, and the game had a small but passionate fan community who had continued to patch and update the original game. There either wasn’t enough of them to fund the remake, or they just didn’t show up for the campaign, because it didn’t even reach half of its goal. As a thank you to the fans who did support them, Fresh3D continued to provide patches and updates to the GOG release through the end of 2014
Developer: WaterMelon Co.
Status: Funded via Kickstarter in December 2012, released for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and PC in September 2014, Wii U and XBox One in Novembver 2014, and Dreamcast in October 2015 (planned versions for Xbox 360 and PS Vita were later cancelled)
Metacritic score: 73 (PC version)
Beginning life as what was meant to just be a simple RPG based on the members of an online Sega homebrew community, Pier Solar eventually grew much more ambitious. The 64-megabit game is actually the “biggest” Sega Genesis/Mega Drive cartridge ever made, a pretty impressive record for a homebrew game. After numerous delays, it was finally released in December of 2010. Two years (and several reprints and additional versions) later, developer WaterMelon announced plans to release an HD version of Pier Solar for PC and every major current console. The game was fully funded and hit all five of its stretch goals, and within three years it released for all but two of its promised platforms (Vita and X360) including–in keeping with its Sega roots–the Dreamcast. So a homebrew, self-funded Genesis game eventually became an official release for the PS4 and XB1, and a pretty well-reviewed one at that. Go homebrew!
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Status: Funded via Kickstarter in October 2012, released for PC in March 2015
Metacritic score: 89
Obsidian has a very impressive resume, including such critically acclaimed games as Star Wars: KOTOR II, Neverwinter Nights 2, and Fallout: New Vegas. Even more impressive is that Obisidian is made up of former Black Isle employees who have games like Icewind Dale, Fallout 2, and Planescape: Torment under their belts. So when a group of designers responsible for some of the best-loved PC games in history create a Kickstarter for a spiritual successor to those games, nobody is surprised when it brings in nearly $4 million in pledges and leads to a game that is extremely well-received. In fact, Pillars of Eternity is currently one of the best-review Kickstarter-funded games in history (according to Metacritic), surpassed only by the PS4 and Vita versions of Shovel Knight. But not so fast, Planescape: Torment fans–just like with Descent, Obsidian isn’t the only company looking to carry on that game’s legacy, as we’ll be seeing farther down this list.
Developer: Uber Entertainment
Status: Funded via Kickstarter in September 2012, released for PC in September 2014
Metacritic score: 62
Planetary Annihilation is actually the third in a sequence of spiritual successors. First there was 1997’s Total Annihilation, which was only supported for two years before developer Cavedog closed its doors. Then, lead designer Chris Taylor went on to Gas Powered Games (now called Wargaming Seattle) where he worked on his idea for a TA spiritual successor, Supreme Commander. Finally, ex-Cavedog employee Jon Mavor–who actually wrote the engine used for Total Annihilation–brought some other former Cavedog designers and artists to a new company called Uber Entertainment where they brought their vision for TA‘s spiritual successor to Kickstarter in the form of Planetary Annihilation. It became the 11th Kickstarter video game campaign to surpass $1 million in funding. Unfortunately, reviews were mixed, with most of the criticism being leveled at the game’s performance issues, failure to execute on some of its overly-ambitious ideas, and overall lack of polish. In the ex-Cavedog employee battle for true TA successor, it’s hard not to give the nod to Supreme Commander, which earned a much stronger 86 Metacritic score.
Developer: Jim Walls Reloaded
Status: Kickstarter campaigned cancelled by developer in August 2013
Few series in video game history have taken a bigger creative left-turn during the course of their evolution than Police Quest. The series began as adventure games featuring realistic police investigative work, which is how it remained through its third installment. Parts four through six featured a different style and atmosphere, particularly the latter two which contained the subtitle “SWAT” and the sixth game being an RTS with a different engine entirely. The next two games dropped the Police Quest moniker altogether and were just called SWAT, evolving into tactical action games and its own separate franchise. In 2013, original Police Quest creator Jim Wall, who only did the first three PQ games, wanted to revive his original series and vision via Kickstarter. A week before the campaign for Precinct ended, with no possibility of coming anywhere close to reaching its funding goal, Wall prematurely ended it. He then made another independent crowdfunding attempt, but abandoned it after only two weeks. Walls has expressed that he still has hope for resurrecting Precinct/Police Quest in the future.
Developer: Double Fine Productions
Status: Funded via Fig in January 2016, planned for a 2018 release for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC
Tim Schafer and his company Double Fine helped to put Kickstarter on the map with Broken Age, so it was a bit surprising when he decided to use a different crowdfunding source–Fig–for his long-awaited Psychonauts sequel. It was only the third game ever brought to the service, and would go on to be the second that was funded through it. Since then, only a handful of other games have been funded via Fig, with most developers choosing to use the more established and well-known Kickstarter (despite Fig having Cliff Beszinski, Brian Fargo, and Harmonix’s Alex Rigopulos on its advisory board). Oh, and Tim Schafer is also on the Fig advisory board…so there’s that. As of yet, none of the Fig-funded video games have been released–with Psychonauts 2 being the farthest out of the games with an announced ship date–though the service has only been around for just under a year.
Status: Failed to reach Kickstarter funding goal in August 2015
One of the most mourned video game cancellations of all time has got to be Mega Man Legends 3. So when the “father of Mega Man” announced plans to create a spiritual successor to the MML series and finally give millions of gamers the closest they may ever come to seeing Legends 3, the fan elation must’ve been deafening, right? In reality, “falling on deaf ears” is a much more accurate assessment of the reaction to the Red Ash Kickstarter campaign, barely making half of its funding goal. So what went wrong? Not only did Comcept shortsightedly launch the campaign over the 4th of July weekend, when most American game journalists weren’t around to cover it, but it happened right in the middle of their embattled and long-delayed development cycle for Mighty No. 9. Even the hardest-core of Mega Man fans didn’t take too kindly to Inafune asking for money for–and putting time into–yet another game when they had already endured numerous delays and broken promises for Mighty. The final nail in the coffin was the announcement–during the campaign–that a Chinese company called Fuze was going to fund the game, leading many to complain that that went against the spirit of Kickstarter and that Comcept should’ve waited until the campaign was over to seek other investors. For those that are willing to look past all of that, Red Ash is still supposedly in development, so we might still get that Legends successor after all. It might be Inafune’s last shot to win back the affection of the Mega Man fan base so let’s hope he does them proud.
Developer: Conatus Creative
Status: Funded via Kickstarter in October 2013, with a release planned any day now for PC
River City Ransom is one of the NES’ most beloved games, and even though it’s technically part of the Kunio-Kun “series,” it’s really its own one-off game and has never had a true sequel. It was a no-brainer that the Kickstarter campaign to fund a sequel to the game–in the style of an 8-bit title–was a success. The road to the game’s release hasn’t been the smoothest, however, with complaints that the development team wasn’t keeping fans updated on the game’s progress. But more worrisome than that was when Arc System Works bought the rights to the Technos IP catalog during Underground‘s development–which includes River City Ransom–leading many to wonder if Arc would be able to legally shut down the game’s development. Turns out they haven’t/won’t, and are instead working on their own revival of the Japanese side of the franchise. As for Underground‘s release date, details are scarce. It was approved on Steam Greenlight nearly a year ago with no release date to be seen. Recent rumblings suggest a Q2 2016 launch, which we’re in the middle of as we speak. Here’s hoping that I’ll need to update this post very soon to reflect the fact that the game is now available.
Developer: DarkSeas Games
Status: Funded via Kickstarter in May 2013, with a Q3 release planned for PC and versions planned for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Wii U (release date TBD)
EA gets a bad rap these days as being one of the big, evil, billion-dollar game publishers, and that’s fair. But what’s unfortunate is that in the 90s, the company was known for some of the most creative and original games out there, and among their abandoned franchises from those days is Road Rash. Fans were elated to see a spiritual successor being brought to Kickstarter, although the title makes it seem like it’s related to Red Dead Redemption than Road Rash. The game is already available in early access on PC, but the final release has been delayed several times. The delays go so far back that an Xbox 360 version was planned, but has been cancelled because, well…it’s 2016 now. It makes you wonder if a Wii U version is still truly in the works, but they haven’t announced its cancellation so we can only assume that it is. Hopefully some version of the game comes out soon, as Road Rash has a lot of very passionate fans that would love to just play it already, no matter what platform its on.
Developer: Precursor Entertainment
Status: First Kickstarter campaign was cancelled by its creators in June 2013; Second Kickstarter campaign failed to reach its funding goal in August 2013
The most beloved game in outspoken developer Denis Dyack’s embattled career is most likely Eternal Darkness for GameCube. But a lot happened in the years following that celebrated game’s release: Denis Dyack publicly battling with forum users and the press, his legal battle with Epic Games (which he lost), the high-profile failure of his game Too Human, and being forced to have two of his games recalled due to said Epic lawsuit. Controversy just seems to follow Dyack’s career, and it probably shouldn’t have been a huge surprise when his Kickstarter campaign for a spiritual successor to ED was plagued with issues. The first campaign was pulled when it was clear its funded goal wouldn’t be reached, but he nonetheless starting a second one only weeks later (as well as another one via his developer’s website). All three campaigns were unsuccessful, as the damage to Dyack’s reputation and the mistrust the public had in him had way overshadowed any desire they had to play a new Eternal Darkness. The seemingly final blow was dealt to the project and its developer when founding member Kenneth McCulloch was arrested on child pornography charges at the height of Eternals‘ media blitz. The ever-undeterred and unfailingly ambitious Dyack emerged a year later with a new company and another round of promises to resurrect Shadow of the Eternals, even including turning it into movie and television properties. That initial October 2014 announcement was the last time Dyack–or anybody else–has publicly discussed the status of Eternals.
Developer: Big Deez Productions
Status: Funded via Indiegogo in May 2014, expected sometime in 2016 for PlayStation 3, PlaayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U, and PC
In the 90s, a few pro athletes decided that they were too good too simply be featured in the usual boring games based on their real-life sport, and they starred in their own titles. A couple of them even abandoned their sport entirely and made a completely different type of game, as Shaquille O’Neal did with the fighting game Shaq Fu. Though a lot of gamers claim fond childhood memories of the game, Shaq Fu is widely counted among the worst games ever made. Shaq himself is aware of this, and wanted to redeem his video game legacy. So he partnered with developer Big Deez to create a new Shaq Fu, one that he hopes will be a cult classic that’s actually a good game. They took to Indiegogo, where the $450,000 funding goal was exceeded and allowed for PC and multiple console versions. Wisely switching genres to a beat-em-up and featuring an art style reminiscent of the recent Street Fighter games, the game is definitely looking promising. The Shaq Fu “legend” will soon be reborn–we’ll see if it’s for the better of if it was better left to rose-colored childhood nostalgia.
Developer: YS Net
Status: Funded via Kickstarter in July 2015 (with further funding accrued via China-based crowdfunding platform Alipay), planned for a December 2017 release for PlayStation 4 and PC
By far one of the “biggest”–and least likely–games to ever be brought to crowdfunding, Shenmue 3 set a Kickstarter record for only taking 8 hours to hit $2 million, and at a final tally of over $6 million became the highest-funded video game ever put on the platform (and the sixth-highest project overall). The Shenmue series has always been a bittersweet one, as it was a labor of love for creator Yu Suzuki and released to rave reviews and fan adulation, but for its time it was one of the most expensive games ever made and was a commercial disappointment and recouped little of its production budget, which was a major blow to the already-struggling Sega and is seen as one of the final nails in the coffin of their days as a console manufacturer. Suzuki likely wasn’t going to find a publisher–Sega or otherwise–to take a chance on backing a third Shenmue game, long desired by fans as the franchise was conceived of as a trilogy. The incredible success of the Shenmue 3 Kickstarter is definitely a strong endorsement for the power of crowdfunding and the types of “dream games” it allows fans to help get made. Now, let’s all just cross our fingers that the game is as great as we’re all hoping it’ll be for the sake of possible future resurrections of major unfinished franchises.
Developer: Portalarium, Inc.
Status: Funded via Kickstarter in Apri 2013, with a planned 2016 release for PC (early access version has been available since November 2014)
Few single people can take more credit for laying the foundation of the entire RPG video game genre than Richard “Lord British” Garriot. His Ultima series was the basis from which most of the first RPGs took their design queues, and later, Ultima Online would be the first major mainstream MMORPG (a term he is said to have coined), beating Everquest to market by two years. When Garriot resigned from EA in 2000, he was forced to leave Ultima behind as they were the owners of the intellectual property. A decade later, he wanted to make a follow-up to Ultima Online, but unable to secure the rights from EA, he was forced to settle on it being a spiritual successor instead. Shroud of the Avatar makes no secret of its ties to Garriot’s former franchise, as “The Avatar” is the name of that series’ main protagonist. Shroud had no trouble meeting its Kickstarter funding goal, and has been in early access since November 2014 as the community has helped to design and craft the game. The final version is expected sometime this year.
Developer: Two Guys from Andromed
Status: Funded via Kickstarter in June 2012, with a planned release for Q4 2016 for PC
Space Quest might’ve sounded like the sci-fi counterpart to fellow Sierra adventure series Police Quest, but the similarities between the two end at the shared genre and second half of their titles. The Space Quest games were lighthearted adventure games starring a space janitor named Roger Wilco and the misadventures he goes on. Creators Mark Crowe and Scott Murphy made the first four installments together before creative differences forced Murphy to end their partnership, leaving Crowe to develop Space Quest V alone and Space Quest 6 conversely being made by someone else with help from Murphy and no input from Crowe. The pair reconciled in 2012 and went to Kickstarter to fund their spiritual reboot of the franchise. Fortunately, SpaceVenture fared far better than Precinct (the attempted Police Quest revival) and was able to reach its funding goal. Various family-related hardships of the development team would force the game to miss its original February 2013 release date, but an update from the team earlier this year confirmed that the game is well on track and should be released by the end of this year.
Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure (formerly Project Fedora)
Developer: Big Finish Games
Status: Funded via Kickstarter in June 2012, released in May 2014 for PC
Metacritic score: 68
While the Tex Murphy games (beginning with 1989’s Mean Streets) began as more traditional-looking digital games, by the third installment (Under the Killing Moon) the franchise had evolved to its now-signature look of live-action footage of actors over 3D computer backgrounds. Given the production budget of such a game, especially in the modern HD era, developer Big Finish Games set out to make the series’ newest installment in 2009 but wasn’t sure if such a relatively niche game would be with the cost. After seeing the success of Broken Age‘s Kickstarter campaign, like many other adventure game developers they followed suit and were able to get Tex Murphy’s newest adventure funded and answering the previous game’s cliffhanger that hadn’t been resolved for over 15 years. Reviews of the game were a bit mixed, though stronger positive opinions came from dedicated adventure game media outlets and fan communities rather than the weaker reception from general gaming sites.
Developer: Missing Worlds Media
Status: Funded via Kickstarter in November 2013, with a Beta planned for mid-2016 but no details on a final target date
Fan-made sequels/remakes/reboots of existing game franchises have been around almost as long as gaming itself. These projects generally go directly for the actual title/characters/worlds/etc of the originals, with the developers keeping their fingers crossed that they aren’t shut down by whomever actually holds the rights (which is exactly what happens a lot of the time). When beloved MMO City of Heroes was shut down in November 2012, the game’s extremely passionate community wanted a way to continue their adventures. So, instead of going the “direct” route and risk getting shut down, they decided to instead create a perfectly legal spiritual successor to City of Heroes, which ended up more than doubling its funding goal. It’s humbling to see the community for a game rally together like that, both in terms of the people who pledged money but also those who are actually developing the game. We like to sit around and complain when a game company quits making a game that we like, but City of Heroes fans are actually doing something about it. Kudos to them.
Developer: Humannature Studios
Status: Funded via Kickstarter in March 2015, release to TBD for PC and consoles (Also TBD)
Hopefully Sega will eventually get the hint that if they let their franchises lie dormant for too long, other people will keep resurrecting them. TJ&E may not be as epic as Shenmue, but among longtime Sega fans its probably more beloved. After two sequels that were generally well-liked but changed up the unique “rogue-like” style of the first game, TJ&E designer Greg Johnson wanted to make a new game that recaptured the charm of the oddball original and within a similar genre. The Kickstarter campaign for ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove, which was given the distinction of being a “Kickstarter Staff Pick,” was fully funded. Details on the game’s release date have been scarce, as have which consoles it will be coming to (even though console versions have been assured). But either way, it’s good to see one of the quirkier games of the 16-bit era finally get the sequel it should’ve gotten in the first place.
Developer: inXile Entertainment
Status: Funded via Kickstarter in April 2013, with a planned Q1 2017 release for PC
Another of Kickstarters many battles of the spiritual successors, this time taking on Pillars of Eternity for heir to the Planescape: Torment throne. Although, Eternity is a spiritual successor of other franchises as well, whereas Numenera is only claiming Planescape as its unofficial predecessor, directly referencing it in the title. Like Eternity, Numenera has an impressive development team, containing key creative forces behind games like Fallout, Neverwinter Nights 2, The Bard’s Tale, and of course, Planescape. The two games can’t be directly compared yet as only Eternity has actually been released, but it should be noted that Eternity once held the record for highest-funded game on Kickstarter until it was beaten…but Numenera. Of course, you could choose not to look at which game is better, and instead focus on the fact that if you’re a fan of classic PC fantasy RPGs of the 90s, it’s a really exciting time.
Developer: inXile Entertainment
Status: Funded via Kickstarter in April 2012, released for PC in September 2014 and PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in October 2015
Metacritic Score: 81 (PC version, though a later “Director’s Cut” for PC received an 89)
While Fallout might be a more well-known name, the original was actually a spiritual successor to Wasteland, which is the “original” post-apocalyptic RPG. Even though both games were from the same company and contained much of the same development team, Fallout quickly became the go-to series and Wasteland was left as a one-off predecessor. Bethesda eventually took over the rights to Fallout, and from Fallout 3 onward have created all of the games in-house without any help from the former Fallout developers. So Wasteland director (and Fallout 1-2 producer) Brian Fargo finally saw the perfect opportunity to not only return to the genre he helped create, but go directly to its actual first game, and make the first direct sequel that Wasteland never got. Like most games made based on properties from that era, Wasteland 2‘s Kickstarter campaign was a huge success, and eventually led to the release of a critically-acclaimed game. A nice coming full circle of the game–and the people–who started it all.
Developer: Playtonic Games
Status: Funded via Kickstarter in June 2015, with a planned Q1 2017 release for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii U, and PC
There’s a reason why Rare’s games from the last decade or so haven’t seemed to have the same magic of their classic titles: most of the actual people who made those games are no longer with the company. This is the case for the key creative heads of the Banjo-Kazooie series, who decided to finally give Rare fans what they want and create a spiritual successor not only to Banjo, but just a new game with the spirit of those great N64 platformers. Just how well-loved are those classic Rare games and how badly did people want a new one? The Kickstarter campaign for Yooka-Laylee hit nearly 1200%–and no, that’s not supposed to say 120%, it’s actually thousand–of its funding goal, that’s how. For a time, it held the record of fastest Kickstarter video game campaign to hit $1 million, doing so in under 24 hours (it still holds the record for overall highest-funded UK-developed game on the platform). And for all you old-school purists out there, the game is going to have an optional “N64 shader” mode (probably not the final name) that will make Yooka-Laylee look like a Nintendo 64 game. Finally, for those that backed the game, Playtonic is planning to release a sandbox-style playable demo for the game this summer.
Unless otherwise linked to, all information in this article came from the following sources: