Microsoft has a good console with their Xbox 360. I personally enjoy Xbox Live and I spend hours using its service. While I own a Wii-U and a PS3 as well, I tend to play the Xbox 360 more than the other consoles. I’ll end up getting the next Xbox at launch, but right now, I’m liking what I’m hearing about the PS4 more and more. One of the problems that Microsoft definitely has is the fact that there are very few exclusive games. We have the Halo Series, Fable Series, Gears of War Series, Forza Series and we also have the Dance Central games. While I do enjoy that, Sony and Nintendo have so many more first party games. They have a lot of console sellers. If Microsoft really wants to stay in the console race for the next generation, they should start focusing a lot more on games. Kinect provides a lot of fun. Having Dance Central sessions with friends is always a plus, but it seems that they focused a lot more on that than games for people who don’t have Kinect. Throughout this article, I will talk about the Franchises that Microsoft should revisit for their next console.
The Rare Complex
Microsoft bought Rare in 2002. Before that, they made a lot of games for Nintendo. While Rare couldn’t bring Nintendo characters over to Microsoft’s console, they could bring the original IPs over to the console. The problem with Microsoft is that they aren’t taking advantage of some of the great games that Rare has made in the past. Since the Xbox 360 came out, the only two full retail games based off of their existing franchises were Perfect Dark Zero and Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts. They were just alright. While Perfect Dark Zero was a good launch game, I don’t find it as fun as I did in 2005.
The reason I think that Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts failed was because it deviated from the formula that fans of the series loved. This would’ve been a lot better if the game followed the same platforming as Banjo Kazooie and Banjo Tooie. Banjo Kazooie was a GREAT platform game on the Nintendo 64. While Nintendo had a lot of success with Mario games and Donkey Kong Country games, Banjo Kazooie gave a fun and very funny experience. The sequel also included multiplayer and a lot of different changes to gameplay when it came to changing Banjo’s appearance. It was a very original game that deserves a respectable next-gen sequel. In addition to the fans of the original series, if Microsoft really wants to attract a younger audience, bringing back Banjo Kazooie would be a wise movie
Rare also made an excellent launch game with Kameo: Elements of Power. It featured gorgeous and vivid visuals. While the game was easy, the gameplay was really fun and it had some good co-op moments. Kameo can use different Elemental Warriors as she unlocks them which allows her to unlock new abilities to advance. It would have made a great franchise, but unfortunately a sequel was cancelled. If Microsoft is smart, they would look into Rare developing a sequel. Microsoft needs to really get some power hitters in the next generation.
Two N64 games that Rare made also need to make a comeback. They are Conker’s Bad Fur Day and Jet Force Gemini. Okay, so technically Conker’s Bad Fur Day was remade in 2005 by Microsoft and it was called Conker:Live and Reloaded. It featured updated graphics and a class based multiplayer experience. Conker: Live and Reloaded was aimed at an adult audience just like Bad Fur Day, but Microsoft screwed up a little with this remake. They censored a lot of material that was uncensored in the Nintendo 64 version. Besides the fact that it was censored, Conker: Live and Reloaded kept most of the charm and pop culture references that the original game had. There are fun games for adults out there that aren’t shooters and certain RPGs. When you think of a platform game, you normally think of E- E10 rated games for children. If Rare were to bring our favorite foul-mouthed squirrel back in our lives, adults could have a fun platforming experience. Also, if Rare doesn’t want to be risky, they can always make a T rated Conker adventure. Conker is a character that deserves another time in the spotlight.
Jet Force Gemini was released on the Nintendo 64 in 1999 and it was very innovative. I remember that it was non-linear and very hectic. I was only 10 when that game came out and never finished it because finding some of the spaceship parts frustrated me to no end. What Jet Force Gemini did right was create a game that begged to be replayed. It had a great storyline and memorable gameplay. I always remembered venturing throughout the world with Vela, Juno and Lupus. With all of the innovations in gameplay and graphical improvements made over the years, A new Jet Force Gemini can push Microsoft towards success. It’s time to have a third person shooter out there that isn’t Gears of War. Rare once made some great shooters and they deserve to show the world that they can make a shooter just as great as Goldeneye 64.
The final Rare game that needs a comeback is Killer Instinct! Each Console has an exclusive fighting game. Sure, the Xbox 360 had Dead or Alive 4, but they could benefit from Killer Instinct. Throughout the years, gaming fans have been asking for a sequel to Killer Instinct. This was the first fighting game I had for the Nintendo 64 and I have fond memories from that game. Microsoft needs a fighter that will set them apart from the other consoles. I would say Microsoft should create a game that shares the concepts of Super Smash Bros. and Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale, but Microsoft doesn’t have that many exclusive characters unlike Sony and Nintendo.
There’s another game that needs a comeback and I will finish this section by just mentioning its name because I can write a whole article about it alone. This game is BATTLETOADS!
Microsoft’s Forgotten Games
Microsoft has had its share of exclusive games in the past that have seem to be forgotten in this generation. While some of the studios are now closed, Microsoft has had some pretty good franchises that need to be resurrected. Even though it was considered unpopular, Blinx was a pretty good. What Microsoft really needs is a new mascot to help attract a younger audience. I know that they tried using Blinx in the past, but maybe it’s time for Blinx to make a comeback. One of the criticisms about Blinx that I agree with was the difficulty. Blinx was aimed at children and for children, the game is so difficult. I played the game for the first time when I was 13 and I had a lot of trouble with it. While I can appreciate the difficulty of the game now, I understand that for its target audience, Microsoft really dropped the ball. They improved the difficulty with the Blinx sequel, but by that time I don’t think people really cared anymore. If Microsoft wants to bring Blinx back, they have to really advertise the game AND they have to make a game that’s accessible for their target audience!
MechAssault also NEEDS to make a comeback. While I liked MechAssault, MechAssault 2:Lone Wolf was the game that sucked me into the series. Late in Xbox’s lifecycle, Microsoft announced clan support for some of its games and MechAssault 2:Lone Wolf took advantage of this feature. Clans could battle together and it was fun. There was also a conquest mode that incorporated a lot of input from gamers all around the world. They chose a faction and all of the battles helped determine the outcome for the conquest. The Xbox 360 had a mech game called Chromehounds, but it didn’t have as much success as the MechAssault series did.
More Diversity Needed
Microsoft has given us diversity in the past when it came to exclusives. Even the Xbox 360 gave us some diversity when it came to the types of games that were released. We need more of this as Microsoft moves forward to the next generation. Two of Microsoft’s best games released this generation were Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey. A lot of gamers are big fans of JRPG games. There has been a lack of those throughout the years, but recently there have been a surge of JRPG games that have done pretty well. Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey are two games that deserve a comeback. A lot of people who play the Wii and the PS3 have a wide variety of exclusive RPGs to choose from while Xbox 360 owners are left in the dust.
How many racing exclusives and shooter exclusives are we going to have? There were 2 Project Gotham Racing games, 4 Forza games, 4 Halo games (not including the under-appreciated Halo Wars) 3 Fable games (Even though it was an action RPG series) and 4 Gears of War games. While some games could benefit from sequels, some games get TOO MANY sequels. Microsoft needs to tap into all of the games that they have the rights to and really change-up their strategy plan. Look at the diversity of franchises that they own. How many of those are actually put to use? Not many. There are many RPG and platform game fans out there that hardly get any love. Just like I talked about in my previous section, if they resurrected Jet Force Gemini and Killer Instinct, we would have a fighter and a third-person shooter. There NEEDS to be change and Microsoft has the properties that can bring these changes!
Microsoft was successful in this generation of consoles, but a lot of the criticism they received was about the lack of games and their focus on entertainment. I’m all for entertainment. I use my Xbox for a lot more than just video games, but I agree that they need to have more for their next console. I own a PS3 and a Wii-U as well and I thoroughly enjoy the exclusives on them. Sony and Nintendo really know how to show their players love when it comes to unique experiences. Microsoft on the other hand needs to learn from them. If Microsoft wants to win what people refer to as the “console wars”, then they will have to unleash the big guns. While some developers have shut their doors, Microsoft still owns the rights to all of these games. They just need to find a new home for them and we’ll be set.
Hey Microsoft: You own some great properties so you should get your act together and use them. If you want to do well this time around, think about the players and give us some awesome games and not the same shooters and racers ALL THE TIME!