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Forgotten games that need remakes

Every year at Thunderbolt Towers we brush the dust off of our retro collection and see if there’s anything that we miss. Since developers have seemingly run out of ideas for new games, it’s surely a sensible plan to look back at what’s gone before for inspiration. What follows is a list of our favourite gems from this year’s scramble through the boxes; a set of titles which were forgotten long ago, but we’d love to see sequels for. Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments.

Religion Tycoon

The most controversial game of its time, this 1997 PC strategy game challenged players to profit from the public’s faith. Once you’d chosen your religion’s name and doctrine, you were presented with an overview of the country similar to Railroad Tycoon. As you built more holy buildings in cities, your following would increase until you could challenge the established, legitimate religions.

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One of the game’s highlights was undoubtedly the tax avoidance mini-game. Suspicious authorities would have to be convinced that your organisation was legitimate through a series of questions. Answer too many wrong and you’d have your presence shut down in that district.

Inspired by the 1994 revelations surrounding the Church of Scientology, Religion Tycoon is one game that desperately needs a remake. Perhaps the subject matter is too controversial for the larger publishers to handle, but if the likes of Grand Theft Auto are still around, then why not?

World Championship Croquet ’96

The least popular of the original PlayStation’s launch titles, WCC ’96 featured ground-breaking features, but failed to deliver when it came to gameplay. Although it included arcade, versus and career modes, developers Tice Interactive failed to present croquet matches as the exciting roller-coaster ride of emotions that they undoubtedly are.

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While the original failed to sell more than a few thousand copies, today’s market presents an unmissable opportunity: the Wii. Using the controller to swing much like Wii Golf, a Wii croquet title could be a great game to play with friends. After all, if Ninjabread Man can sell enough to break even, then surely there’s scope for a bit of croquet on Nintendo’s console.

Omega Circlet XX: Cascading to Tearfall

This PSOne SRPG from the mysterious Team Omega was the main inspiration for Disgaea, and it’s not hard to see why as it laid down many of the foundations that would return in Nippon Ichi’s popular output this century. The charming visuals and bat****-crazy storyline made it a truly unique experience at the time, with a superb battle system to boot. Though the level cap was a mere 999, there was a frankly ridiculous raft of content to discover, taking players by surprise as it surpassed even the mammoth Final Fantasy titles in terms of both scale and sheer hours of dedication required.

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It may not have been as cinematic as its contemporaries, and that probably explains the meagre unit sales outside of Japan, but it remains one of the most engaging and outright enjoyable SRPGs of the last fifteen years. Although there are now several successful series’ in the genre, none have quite surpassed the character OC XX: CtT packed in, and there’s never been a better time to return.

Daryl F. Gates’ Police Quest: SWAT – The Real Missions

This expansion pack for the somewhat maligned precursor to the SWAT series featured maps and missions pulled from the history of America’s militarized police force. Cancelled after the Waco siege in 1993, it only saw the light of day recently when the source code was leaked by an anonymous developer.

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Starting with simple missions like “Busting Rico The Middle Aged Pot Dealer” and “White Trash Wedding Gone Wrong”, players would eventually work their way up to levels like “Oops, We Shot The Wrong Person” and “Itching To Use Our Assault Weapons On Protestors”.

Few details were uncovered after the pack’s cancellation; however, it was confirmed that it would increase the in-game arsenal, with a lot of attention on pushing the boundaries of what counted as a “non-lethal” weapon.

Prison Escape!

This 2600 game had a fantastically innovative concept behind it, especially for 1982, and one that – other than a Splinter Cell mission – hasn’t been properly explored since. It lay somewhere between a point-and-click adventure game and stealth-heavy brawler, and the expansive environment was open to virtually any possibility.

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The player character, Jackie Three Thumbs, was dumped in prison amongst other gangsters for undisclosed crimes, and that was effectively all the preamble we got because after that, the game was ready for just about anything one could dream up. At the last count, there were eighty-seven ways in which to escape, and the freeform nature would perfectly suit a modern title.

Flopsy The Christmas Bunny

This seasonal Sega Saturn offering was intended to be a taster for Sega’s “next big thing”, and was given away free with bottles of OK Juice! in Japanese supermarkets throughout December 1997. A traditional 2D platformer, this was something of a knee-jerk reaction to Sonic’s disappointing 3D exploits. It garnered significant critical acclaim, but hopes of a franchise were cruelly dashed when reclusive Flopsy creator Ikitomi Nakanumurai refused to grant the use of his character likeness for any further games. However, with Nakanumurai’s untimely death from myxomatosis in June 2008, his estate have granted the use of Flopsy’s distinctive “cyber-punk bunny” look for a new trilogy of 360 and PS3 games.

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Thanks to Fraser McMillan, Bart Robson and Mike Akerman for their help scouring the shelves for hidden gems.

The author of this fine article

is the Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in November 2000. Get in touch on Twitter @PhilipMorton.

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