The most criminally underused IPs in gaming
When it comes to movies, I’ve felt in recent years that the big wigs in Hollywood have nursed an over-reliance on using intellectual properties from other media to inform their blockbusters. Back in the day I was dead excited when a comic book film came out but nowadays I greet the news of yet another Spiderman movie with a good old-fashioned ‘meh’.
In video games, IPs from other sources aren’t so heavily relied upon with gaming’s own creations ruling the roost. Don’t get me wrong, Star Wars games and Batman games are plentiful and very welcome (in most cases…go sit in the corner ‘Jedi Power Battles’) but the real superstars are the likes of Mario, Sonic and Lara Croft. Original ideas will always be preferable in my mind and really showcase the sheer creativity of devs around the world, but there are occasions where I’ve encountered a world or idea that I think would really be at home in the video game space. With that in mind I thought I’d come up with a list of IPs in other media which I feel haven’t had a fair shot in gaming. If a dev happens to run across this post and is struck by any of the ideas… RUN WITH IT.
The cancelling of Joss Whedon’s seminal space western after only fourteen glorious episodes remains one of the great travesties of modern TV broadcasting. Firefly was great, truly great and though its subsequent DVD release garnered a big, loyal fan-base which led to a spin off film, there is still sadly no spin off video game. In the big Venn Diagram of nerd culture, Firefly and Gaming have a pretty large overlapping middle segment thingy so the fact that Browncoats (yes there is a collective term for firefly fans) have as of yet not been able to explore Joss Whedon’s rich universe in virtual form is baffling. Now there is a Firefly Video game in development at the moment from Spark Plug games but it’s described as a social, online RPG game for tablets and smartphones which smacks of a flighty, free too play affair rather than the in depth space RPG that Firefly fans really deserve. Here’s hoping that Spark Plug will find success with ‘Firefly Online’ and that this leads to Firefly projects with grander ambitions.
Just imagine a Firefly version of Mass Effect
Discworld is the setting for a gloriously endearing series of books by British national treasure Terry Pratchett. Set on a disc shaped planet traveling through the cosmos on the back of four elephants who in turn are stood on the back of a giant turtle, the books feature a number of protagonists in some of the most hilarious adventures committed to paper. There have been three Discworld video games in the past of the 2D point and click variety but the series itself is so deep and diverse that it’s a real shame that the world hasn’t been delved into beyond three titles. There’s so much you can do with the universe Pratchett has created: a third person adventure featuring Sam Vimes and The Guards roaming around Ankh Morpork, a exploration based puzzler featuring Granny Weatherwax and The Witches or perhaps a 3D platformer starring my personal favourite character Rincewind. What would be important about a Discworld game would be to fill the virtual world with as much Pratchett lore as possible so the fan could have a good old explore. The idea of a fully realised 3D Ankh Morpork already has me pining for a developer to take notice of this untapped resource.
Who wouldn’t want to play a video game set here?
This is an odd entry in this list as Doctor Who has had quite a few video games over the years but it’s a very sorry library of small IOS games, arcade shooters with a Doctor Who skin or very poorly executed 3rd-person adventures that hardly garner the sort of love for which Doctor Who fans are famous for. As the Doctor has been such a big part or British TV schedules for the last decade it’s shame that a big name dev hasn’t got its hand on the licence and done something really special with it. The trick with Doctor Who, its USP if you like, is the fact that one week an adventure can be an OTT sci-fi romp while the following week we can have a deep, emotional drama in a historical setting. A game would have to give us the freedom to travel to different time periods and let us really have a play with what the TARDIS can do. Combine that with the fact that The Doctor rarely resorts to violence and you have a big challenge for any dev. Perhaps it’s a candidate for a Telltale style episodic adventure with each chapter set in a different time period but whatever a good developer comes up with, it’s high time we had a Doctor Who video game we can be excited about.
This is a still from 2010’s royally panned Doctor Who game ‘Return to Earth’. Those are pretty poor character animations for a Wii game
There are plenty of Superhero games about, good ones and bad ones. For every disappointing Spider-Man game that hits the shelves we get an awesome Batman game so it all evens outs in the end. The most popular characters are ofcourse heavily represented but there are quite a few famous figures from comicdom that haven’t had a proper stab at cracking the video game market. I could have picked a whole host of worthy figures: The Green Lantern or Wonder Woman for example but perhaps the most interesting concept would be a Daredevil game. The Man Without Fear has been exceptionally popular in comics since an era-defining Frank Miller‘s run in the early 80s but has had a poor run of it outside of comics with his movie adaptation really fizzling into nothing and a small side scrolling GBA game being his only solo virtual outing.The thing with Daredevil is that it offers a unique opportunity to really try something new in portraying a blind superhero. It would be lovely to see a dev try to take on a unique challenge like putting the gamer in the shoes of a blind protagonist. As Daredevil sees the world around him through sound perhaps there would be a way of levels painting themselves around the sounds a gamer encounters during a playthrough: corridors springing to life as Daredevil’s footsteps echo down them or a talking guard causing the area around him to suddenly light up. I’d love to see the art direction around that sort of game. The Man Without Fear AND The Man Without a Video Game Adaption
The Trojan War
Does The Trojan war count as an IP? I don’t know….i’m counting it as an IP. As I was rounding off this post I was trying to think of historical eras that haven’t really been covered in video games: an Industrial Revolution based Sim City sorta of game? An early modern dating sim perhaps? There are a few but everyone knows the most awesome historical era was the sword and sandals period (technical term there) cause you can throw ancient myths into that which leads to wicked cool gaming. Now we have plenty of those types of games thanks to such titles as God Of War and Rome: Total War (no dating sims then) so I could hardly include it here but it occurred that one of the most famous stories of all time, Homer’s Illiad documenting the ancient Greek myth of The Trojan War is grossly under represented. There have been a few attempts like Battle For Troy , a 3D strategy game from 2004 and more recently Warriors: Legends of Troy from 2011 but that’s basically it for standalone Troy games. For such a huge, in depth story with heaps of gaming potential that’s a pretty poor haul. Come on devs, give us a kick ass Trojan War game – it’s certainly out of copyright and has a built in sequel in The Odyssey. No Brainer!
As you can tell this is a pretty eclectic, personal list of games i’d like to see made, but I’m sure you have your own ideas which we’d love to hear about in the comments. In a way I’m glad devs don’t rely too heavily on external IPs because the number of original ideas is one of the reasons gaming is so strong as an artform and remains a completely awesome past-time.
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