The ability to surprise is something of an unknown talent in this era of the internet and social media. Chances are, somewhere, someone has theory-crafted a new game that is truly a pipe dream, but it’s good to think that one day, someone might just be bonkers enough to do it, like putting Nathan Drake in a kart racer, or Mario tackling tiddlywinks with the help of VR.
Not everything has to be about the experience either. The reaction of the fans is sometimes all you need to validate the announcement (outside making a game good, of course). Back in 2006, Rockstar Games teased their next-generation title. So many wonderful IPs they could pick from. A sequel to megahit Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas? A follow-up to charming tough schoolboy simulator Bully (or Canis Canem Edit in the PAL regions)? Or maybe a next-gen update to their criminally underrated racing series Midnight Club? So what did they make?
Rockstar Presents Table Tennis. Yes, the infamous developer/publisher of violent adventures such as GTA, Manhunt and Max Payne brought out Table Tennis as their first game on the Xbox 360/PS3 generation. Needless to say, the press and the players were stunned, especially when it turned out to be great.
E3 2019: Our Almost Impossible Wishlist
Unlike Table Tennis, this is our almost impossible E3 2019 wishlist, but lightning can’t strike twice, can it?
Jar-Jar Binks, Sithlord
Back towards the release of the first film of the new Star Wars trilogy in 2015, a Reddit user by the name of Lumpawarroo stirred the fan theory pot by offering an extensive post about no-one’s favourite idiot, Jar Jar Binks, predicting that he’d have a big part to play in The Force Awakens. His role? Sith Lord. His case was incredibly convincing too.
If you have any interest in the Star Wars franchise, then the thread is probably the closest we’ll ever get to justifying the hatred so many had for that character. And even if not, it’s an incredibly fun read to see just how much detail was put into it. You can find the post here.
Now, if Vince Zampella of Respawn Entertainment is great at one thing, it’s making a blockbuster story mode that is much better in quality than his resume would suggest. Titanfall 2 and his time with the Call of Duty games have proven this. Taking on a Star Wars game is unlikely to phase him. However, putting Jar Jar as your main antagonist? That would be probably the ballsiest move to come out of EA since they took a chance on Skate.
Will they do it though? Not a chance. While they have the license to make games, Disney is unlikely to afford them the types of decisions that only a maniac would make. A genius maniac it might be, but that wouldn’t cut it for a conglomerate who continue to surprise the world with how unsurprising they are.
Maybe Jar Jar will have his chance to shine for the evil jabbering buffoon he really (probably) is.
The Matrix Rebooted: Rocksteady Edition
It’s hard to understate the impact that Rocksteady Studio’s Batman Arkham trilogy had on video gaming. Not only were they dark, intelligent adventures full of Gotham’s finest and filthiest, but the free-flowing combat system helped to elevate the games’ atmosphere to incredible levels, leading to a visceral, highly enjoyable experience across all three games. At the series peak in 2011 with Arkham City, Rocksteady produced a game that stood out amongst a year of games that was probably the best in terms of the level of quality.
But since the release of Arkham Knight in 2015, the London-based studio has been quiet. While they also delivered Batman: Arkham VR in 2016, it was not on the same level of production as the main Arkham games. Rocksteady has made it known that they are developing a new game, but have been incredibly tight-lipped on the project. While it could simply be another Batman game, their talents to bring a big name franchise to the video-game arena could be used elsewhere.
Enter the Matrix. And we don’t mean the poor excuse of a Matrix game from 2003.
Actually, that’s fairly harsh. Enter the Matrix did something that Rocksteady have done with their Batman games, albeit in a much more shallow form, and that makes combat look stylish. The game was fairly easy to button mash to win, but what the game did well was use the current surroundings to adapt how your combat initiated, so if you attacked near a wall, your character would automatically wall-run or bounce off it to start a roundhouse. The game’s real problem was its complete lack of personality and coherent story despite including live action cutscene which included Jada Pinkett Smith. Its 2005 sequel The Path of Neo, where you play mo-capped lead Keanu Reeves, was marginally better but sold so poorly that we haven’t seen another one since.
The film franchise has been the inspiration for countless films and TV series since its original release back in 1999. So far ahead of its time in terms of style, action and use of technology, it’s concept lends itself probably better than almost any other to video games, and yet one has never done it justice.
Enter Rocksteady Studios. When it comes to games, they are excellent at the three things that you need to make a top Matrix game. A stylish, deep combat system, character, and relationship building amongst the last humans left alive and creating a sense of scale and atmosphere. They’re also pretty good at open-worlds. With rumors heavy since 2017 that the Wachowskis are looking to relaunch the film series, this would be an excellent opportunity to gauge exactly how much interest there is in it. Plus, who doesn’t want to be a badass martial artist in the Matrix universe crafted by a top games developer?
Sadly, it’s not clear who holds the license for the games. Atari published the two console games, but MMO The Matrix Online was a joint venture between SEGA and Warner Bros, so there technically would be a chance it could happen. If Warner Bros still holds a license (they distributed the original films), but with the franchise has been as dormant as it has for so long, Warner Bros. is extremely unlikely to want to risk their best developer on a gamble.
But one day, we may get this match made in heaven.
My Body is Ready for the Reggie Diary
One of gaming’s favourite personalities, Nintendo of America’s Reggie Fils-Amié announced in February that he was retiring after 15 years with the company. Cue the collective gaming community’s sadness as the man responsible for many of Nintendo’s best times, from his fun presentations, unmatched enthusiasm for video games, and the numerous memes that followed him, which he embraced so gracefully, bowed out. It was a sad time, though knowing that a man named Bowser was taking his place was probably the best parting gift he could give.
But what if Reggie is tired of being retired? What if he wants to keep giving to us gamers, but without the responsibility of leading Nintendo of America into the next generation? An ambassador, per say?
Cue the return of Reggie in a brand new podcast/vlog series, where we get to see a more intimate look into the life of a Nintendo employee while also showing off some new games now and then in a less serious setting, played by Reggie. No personal details needed, just Reggie (and his family if their not camera shy) enjoying their lives with the help of new Nintendo games and gadgets.
Based on his interviews, Reggie is a naturally funny guy who is very comfortable in his own skin, so he would be the only personality from one of the big developers I could see doing it (although I’m sure we’d all love to know how Hideo Kojima or Suda51 think) and enjoy it, while providing good entertainment for the audiences
That said, it’s only been a few months since he finished to spend more time with his family, so I can’t see that itch needing scratching any time soon. Which is a shame because I’m sure we’d all love to see just how wonderful his town is on Animal Crossing New Leaf for 3DS.
Activision Blizzard get a divorce
The PC gaming press conference has traditionally been about the smaller indie games that have their main home on PC but don’t have the backing of the bigger publishers. Aside from a select few, publishers generally try to cover all the bases when it comes to game releases so don’t tend to take anything to the PC gaming conference. Even RTS games have gotten more time on the console as he has gone through the years.
But there would be one sure-fire way to give the PC gaming press conference the attention that it deserves: Blizzard President J Allen Brack comes out onto the stage, and announces that after eight months of negotiating (about when he took the job), Blizzard is now independent.
It doesn’t take an analyst to see that Activision’s influence can be seen more and more throughout Blizzard’s work. Even under Vivendi, they had greater freedom to control their own releases, but it just doesn’t feel this way under Bobby Kotick. They are still capable of making great games as Overwatch proved, but passion and a staggering level of work and fan appreciation that the developer puts into its work before is just not the same as before their merger. Blizzard being independent again would finally break those corporate shackles and allow them to do what they do best: produce stunning video-games.
Doing it at E3 perhaps wouldn’t have the same impact as BlizzCon, especially after ending the show last year so abysmally with Diablo Immortal, but doing so sooner rather than later allows the fans to see just a little bit of the fruits of the split at Blizzard’s Convention, once again with their fate in their own hands (or at least not Activision’s).
Considering its size and value of the two, splitting up Activision and Blizzard again would be a seismic shift in the gaming space (assuming it was even possible), one that unfortunately looks like it would be harder for Blizzard to make a success of than Activision. World of Warcraft is not quite the money-maker it once was, and the shift in audience buying patterns to a more casual, sharper gaming experiences don’t exactly suit Blizzard’s back catalogue.
But anyone who thinks that Blizzard has become a better company since Activision is a stone-faced liar, and it would be a magic day should it happen. If Bungie could split from Activision, there’s always hope.