Let’s Resurrect Some Dead IP With a Little Old-Fashioned Necromancy!

Earlier this month The Well-Red Mage asked the blogosphere “what IP would you bring back from the dead?”

So let’s put on our musty robe, grab the nearest athame and spellbook, and step into a hand-drawn occult symbol to work some good ol’ fashioned video game necromancy, shall we?

I initially wanted to say Fatal Frame because we here in the States haven’t gotten a physical release since the series’ third entry on PS2 back in 2005, unless you count the 2012 3DS spin-off Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir. The Wii’s Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse evaded a localized release completely (barring a fan translation patch and a modded Wii console), however, I often forget that we received a digital-only version of the Wii U’s Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water in 2015 — even with its stellar Nintendo-themed costumes.


Silent Hill is another questionable response, but the IP feels as good as dead in Konami’s hands right now. The last traditional release was Silent Hill: Downpour for the PS3 and Xbox 360 back in 2012, which received a lukewarm reception (currently sitting between a 64-68% review average). Later in 2012, Vita owners received a criminally awful Diablo-like set in the Silent Hill universe called Book of Memories (58% on Metacritic).

Back in 2014, acclaimed director Hideo Kojima announced that he’d be partnering with equally-acclaimed filmmaker Guillermo del Toro to reboot the series as Silent Hills. This venture began as a free first-person horror demo released on the PS4 called P.T., which wowed fans with its unsettling atmosphere and bizarre storytelling that only Kojima is capable of. As a terrifying slice of a work-in-progress, P.T. was phenomenal (despite a glaring late-game issue), but its true purpose was to hide a teaser trailer for Silent Hills at the end.

As you can imagine, this short clip featuring The Walking Dead and Boondock Saints star Norman Reedus had Silent Hill fans going bananas. After Kojima’s well-known falling out with Konami, though, the Silent Hills project was scrapped altogether. As you may know, Kojima then went on to form his own studio with Sony and continues to work with Norman Reedus and del Toro on the upcoming PS4 exclusive Death Stranding.

With Konami’s interest in video games waning, the next dose of heartbreak came in 2015 when the company confirmed that the newest Silent Hill would instead be a pachinko machine. Silent Hill 2’s iconic Pyramid Head character did appear as a free DLC character in Super Bomberman R on the Nintendo Switch, but it’s safe to say that it’s been far too long since the name Silent Hill has meant something.

So I guess the first *true* answer to Well-Red’s question would be the goth-as-fuck RPG series Shadow Hearts, which actually sprouted its wings from the tactical PS1 RPG Koudelka in December of 1999. Developed by a small team headed by Secret of Mana composer Hiroki Kikuta, Koudelka’s critical reception was largely negative but its signature look carried over to Shadow Hearts on PlayStation 2 in 2001.

The combat system of Koudelka was similar to that found in something like Final Fantasy Tactics or Fire Emblem, but it was poorly implemented and heavily criticized. This was done away with in Shadow Hearts in favor of a more traditional turn-based combat system, but with its own secret sauce thrown in. The “ring” attack method required more engagement from the player, instead of solely sifting through menus. Yuri, the game’s protagonist, also had the ability to collect monster souls and transform during battles.

Shadow Hearts had a pretty great story and took place in a gothic, demon-filled setting that was largely overlooked in the role-playing genre. Its sequel, Shadow Hearts: Covenant, is widely accepted as the best entry in the trilogy and, like its predecessor, took an unconventional storytelling path by being a direct continuation of Shadow Hearts’ “bad” ending. However, the trilogy ended on a bit of a sour note with Shadow Hearts: From the New World, which shifted its focus to a more uninteresting cast of characters set in 1929 New York. This spelled the end for Shadow Hearts, which is largely considered one of the most overlooked series of role-playing games in the PS2 era.

Another series I’d love to see make a return is Clock Tower, which began with a trio of point-and-click survival horror games. The first in the series was inspired by the horror films of Dario Argento and made its home on the Super Famicom (but never made it out of Japan). Two additional point-and-clicks were developed for the PS1, with Clock Tower (dubbed Clock Tower II in Japan) and Clock Tower II: The Struggle Within, but neither sold incredibly well. As a fan of all things horror, though, I fell in love with the series and its unique take on the point-and-click subgenre of adventure games. Rather than solving puzzles and romancing an exotic princess, you were being chased around by a maniac wielding a gigantic pair of scissors. It was rad.

The series took a dark turn in 2002 with a more traditional survival horror game on PS2, aptly titled Clock Tower 3. This entry abandoned the series’ point-and-click roots and instead placed direct control of its protagonist in the hands of the player. The spirit of the game largely remained the same, with 14-year-old Alyssa collecting items and solving environmental puzzles while being hunted by a comedic selection of murderers. However, it took a more comedic approach by turning her into some sort of “magical girl” anime heroine that ended each stage with a ridiculous bow-and-arrow boss fight — the last of which was agonizingly cheap and rage-inducing.

It’s definitely a “so bad, it’s good” kind of game and if the concept of a magical girl shooting arrows at dudes who normally dissolve people in barrels of acid sounds even remotely interesting then I implore you to watch Cryaotic’s Let’s Play in its entirety. Just listening to him struggle with the game’s absurdity is well worth the time investment.

Series creator Hifumi Kono left the team after the first (or second, depending on your geographic location) PS1 release, but released a spiritual successor to Clock Tower on PC last year with NightCry. Similar to Clock Tower, the player is stalked aboard a cruise ship by a maniac wielding scissors. Critical reception was mostly negative (currently “mixed” on Steam, according to a meager 117 user reviews) and it seems like its planned PlayStation Vita release will never see the light of day.

Shadow Hearts and Clock Tower are definitely my top picks for video game IP resurrections, mainly because I see them as being viable to continue on and please fans without their original creators (unlike, say, Chrono Trigger). Honorable mentions go out to SNK’s NEOGEO fighting series World Heroes (RIP’ed in 1995 with World Heroes Perfect) and Samurai Shodown, Nintendo’s glaringly absent Earthbound/Mother series of RPGs, SEGA’s stylish Jet Set Radio series, Panzer Dragoon, and the mostly terrific horror detective series Condemned.

I’d also (figuratively) kill for a new Darkstalkers, Power Stone, and Rival Schools because I have an apparent weakness for 90s Capcom fighters.

What about you, folks? What dead IP would you resurrect if given the chance?

23 thoughts on “Let’s Resurrect Some Dead IP With a Little Old-Fashioned Necromancy!

  1. Stellar picks! I only know Shadow Hearts by reputation but it’s a slice I’ve always wanted to try out. Good point on Chrono Trigger at the end. As you may know that’s my favorite game but even though I’d like a true sequel, it’s clear that it was a singular passion project and it was meant to stay that way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, if a new Chrono Trigger was announced right this second, I’d freak the fuck out. But I would have to get my expectations in check pronto, since the original team is long gone.

      Shadow Hearts, at least 1 & 2, are something special and definitely worth checking out. They’re insanely pricey, though.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Not gonna lie. I’d freak out too. But yeah unless the Dream Team came back to bring the dream to life, then it’s just a big business move and likely it’ll turn out like Cross. I liked parts of Cross for what the game is but it’s barely a Trigger sequel.

        Dern retrogaming market! But hey, I guess I’m a part of that since I sold off a few PS1 games for a couple hundred dollars :[

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Although there are just a handful of ways Cross connects to Trigger, it felt like an entirely different game for a number of reasons. However, I really loved the game — enough to beat it twice, at least. It doesn’t hold a candle to Trigger, but it was still a good time IMO.

          I’m right there with you! I think I sold my black label copy of Castlevania SOTN for $90 a few years back and had some rare PSP RPGs that I made a pretty penny off of in order to buy a PS4.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I think our opinions on Cross are pretty similar. I think it’s a beautiful game and I like the story but not the combat systems. I liked the game and I beat it through several times but it’s hard to think of it as more than a Trigger spin off.

            The nice thing with selling off the old retro stuff is a lot of times you can just download the game digitally for a fraction of the price!


            1. The combat took a little getting used to and ultimately made the game’s massive roster incredibly pointless once you narrowed down a good list of hybrid color users. But man, Lynx’s attacks looked so cool back then!

              If I can buy a game digitally and the physical version is going for absurd prices, I’ll always sell it. I’m not much of a collector anymore and I’m far more interested in just playing stuff. That’s why I didn’t care about selling off my PSP Persona games. I do, however, regret selling the Xenosaga trilogy on PS2.

              Liked by 1 person

  2. Some nice choices here. For me it would be a bit more esoteric than most. But in a perfect world, an amazing new entry to Forbidden Forest, Mail Order Monsters, The Last Ninja, Zeliard, Monster Bash, Berzerk, The Guardian Legend, Beach-Head, Airborne Ranger, are but a handful of examples.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Well those games were all amazing. If they did these franchises justice with hypothetical new entries, a lot of them would crush it. The Last Ninja trilogy did an excellent job of blending adventure, stealth, and combat into an isometric action game. Forbidden Forest gave us a Boss Rush Gauntlet game with gory fatalities long before Boon & Tobias did Midway a service by creating Mortal Kombat. Zeliard was one of the best, and earliest action JRPGs to hit American computers. Monster Bash was a highly underrated game by Apogee. It was a horror themed platformer, at a time when the company was slowly veering more toward First Person Shooters as stuff like Wolfenstein, and Blake Stone proved to be hits. Guardian Legend is one of the most unique games on the NES. It’s part adventure game. Part shmup. All awesome. Hard as nails though. Beach-Head II is an amazing head to head game. And who wouldn’t love an update of Berzerk? The last one was Frenzy, which somehow became even more obscure despite coming afterward.

        This was a great article though. It’s a great topic, and there are nearly 5 decades of amazing games that for one reason or another faded into obscurity. I think many of them could achieve a dedicated fanbase or maybe even newfound popularity if (and it is a big if) handled properly by whomever currently own the IPs. Bubsy showed that it’s certainly possible. On the other hand EA owns Mail Order Monsters, and they’ed probably screw it up with Need For Speed, and Battlefront Professorland Funbucks, and blind bags.


  3. The first two Shadow Hearts games are great so I would be very happy if the series returned. I think the company that owns the rights went bust though, so it’s unlikely we’ll ever get more sequels from that franchise.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, they were published in the States by Midway and nobody is clear on who (if anyone) obtained the rights. I’d have settled for an HD Collection or something during the PS3 era. Speaking of which, during the HD Collection craze last-gen I’m surprised we never saw the Onimusha trilogy, Xenosaga trilogy, etc.

      Liked by 1 person

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