Every year, more video games are released than people are born, and most of them are either derivative or horrible. Oftentimes it’s both, which proves the gaming industry has less quality control than the guys in charge of cleaning a North Korean prison camp.
So when an actual innovative game gets canceled, our fragile little minds basically go into shock. Granted, the innovation is sometimes goofy as hell, but we grew up on plumbers stomping anthropomorphic mushrooms to death, and blue hedgehogs sporting magic speed sneakers while fighting a morbidly obese scientist with chicken legs and a Dali mustache. “Goofy” is not difficult for us to handle.
So instead of adding to the endless sea of Call Of Duty clones that we get every other week, maybe some more interesting ideas could get another chance to thrive. Such as …
6. Christopher Columbus
The story of Christopher Columbus isn’t exactly game-worthy. He sails an ocean, bumps into land he didn’t know was there, spreads a bunch of smallpox, and then leaves. How to make that worthy of your button-mashing time? Simple: add monsters. Lots and lots of monsters.
Misawa Entertainment’s Christopher Columbus was a flying/shooting game based on the explorer’s trip to America, with some … well … liberties taken. Actually, “liberties” is a ridiculous understatement here. For one thing, the Santa Maria is now a flying warship, and the crew must battle aliens and monsters, both real and fictional, on their way to the New World. Dragons, tortoises, woolly mammoths, giant snails, and Lord-knows-what-else invaded your private space, as you strove to “find gold, free people, and restore peace.” We’re guessing the “find gold” thing was faithful to Columbus’s actual life, but not much else.
At one point, you fight a living building with a giant Chinaman’s head sticking out of it, just in case giant turtles and man-eating snails were a little too believable for your tastes. If the real Columbus had endured such trials, maybe he’d actually deserve a holiday named after him.
The actual gameplay appears to be your basic R-Type-style game, with full-screen, side-scrolling shooting galore. However, the premise is so damn trippy that it simply has to be brought back somehow. And really, other than making it 3-D, you don’t need to change very much at all. This premise is weird and wacky enough as is; it’s like one of those dumbass SyFy Channel flicks that exist simply to be laughed at (that is the only reason Sharknado was made, and we all know it), only in game form. It’s better actually, because there are no commercials, and your horrible living-room acting is likely better than the horrible on-set acting SyFy vomits at you.
Actually, maybe that’s how you improve Christopher Columbus; have the SyFy people write it. Imagine stages where Columbus has to navigate his ship through a violent Tigercane, or a Bearsunami, or a thunder storm made entirely out of killer bees. Drooling yet? Of course you are. Oh, and he dies from smallpox at the end, because everyone loves a happy ending.
5. Tornado Alley
So we can all agree that an overrated explorer battling SyFy’s versions of natural disasters is a great idea, right? But maybe you don’t want to be an overrated explorer. Maybe you want to be the natural disaster instead, like every other normal kid on the block. Well, that’s what Tornado Alley promised.
You wouldn’t be a guy who chases after a raging tornado and then acts surprised when a 500-pound piece of steel come flying at his car at 200 MPH, nor would you play some evil wizard who can control tornadoes and sic them on anybody getting in your way of world domination. No, you would be the tornado itself, just rambling along as tornadoes do, destroying everything in sight and causing untold billions in damage that you don’t have to pay for, because you are a bunch of wind, and wind has no concept of cash or moral responsibility.
Even better, all the budding science eggheads out there would have loved how you were supposed to keep your tornado alive. Basically, you would need to keep your strength up by searching for thermals and by balancing cold and warm air; too much of either and the tornado goes flat, much like in real life. Other than that, though, there did not appear to be much to this game beyond DESTROY EVERYTHING KILL EVERYTHING ALL THINGS MUST DIE. Works for us.
Likely, this game died once its developer realized forcing a large percentage of gamers to relive that horrible day when a twister swallowed up Grandma and spat her out 200 feet in the air, causing her to go splat on the metal weather vane below, might be bad for business. Well, dead Grandma or no dead Grandma, this game needs to return. And you don’t even have to change anything; it was already a new-school 3-D game, it was loaded with death, destruction and despair, and a rudimentary science lesson came free with purchase. Other than an expansion pack where you get to play as a series of giant sinkholes, how could you ask for anything more?
4. Hit The Ice
For the most part, Hit The Ice was your basic 8-bit hockey game: skate around, hit people, shoot, score, dance to happy bleepy bloopy music. But then you had the Quest Mode, which led to the ultimate oddball hybrid: ice hockey, crossed with an RPG.
Yes, an RPG. While fully clad in pads and skates (because stopping to change into street clothes gets quite cumbersome after a while,) you would wander around an overhead map until you found an arena. You would play the team there, defeat them, and earn money. You would then use the money to travel from town to town, buying better items and equipment. You would then travel to the next arena to play the next team, and so on and so forth until you won the championship. Along the way, smaller teams would serve as random field map enemies, challenging you to scrimmages that you must win to proceed.
Every last bit of this was real, and the game itself was close to completion before Taito turned chickenshit and cancelled it. The game was released on Game Boy and Super Nintendo, but without the Quest Mode. Ultimately, nobody cared, because it was the early ’90s, and even hockey players didn’t care about hockey back then.
But hockey’s making a comeback now, with old-school cold weather teams like Boston and Chicago winning the Stanley Cup again (we’re just going to pretend Los Angeles didn’t happen. Deal? Deal.) Therefore, it’s high time to revive Hit The Ice, Quest Mode and all. But, whoever makes it needs to go full-throttle. Instead of simply walking around playing hockey, we should be battling dragons and monsters and earning magic, all while making money by winning hockey games. Make it Final Fantasy with more ice, less teeth, and absolutely no pretty people whatsoever.
In the end, the main villain can be the commissioner of the league, conspiring to destroy your team with an army of vicious magical beasts, so a more marketable team can win and earn him enough money to RULE THE WORLD (he’s an RPG baddie, so naturally this is his goal.) Destroy him with your weapons, beat his favorite team with your sticks, and you win!
Then the league folds, because the commissioner was right, and your team isn’t marketable at all. Whomp whomp.
Pro wrestling’s fun and all, but that silly ring keeps getting in the way. How’s an oiled-up musclebrain supposed to truly wallop his opponent senseless if he can only do it while confined to 20 square feet of roped-in living space? Wouldn’t it be more fun to just watch these guys running around this place and that, beating the snot out of each other any place there was room to move?
Well, that’s what the good people at Rare were thinking when they developed WrestleRage. At its heart, this was a Double Dragon / Final Fight-style beat-em-up, only with pro wrestlers. In full wrestling gear. Just walking around and beating each other up on the streets, in the amusement park, and hopefully an old lady’s backyard, using both weapons and traditional wrestling moves. You could even slam your opponent into the scenery, in case piledriving them skull-first onto concrete didn’t kill them first.
Sadly, marketers and distributors balked at the game, as the idea was unproven as a money-maker, and nobody wanted to stick their necks out for it. Even more sadly, the idea was revived in 2000 … by World Championship Wrestling. WCW was every “how not to run a company” warning rolled into one, so it was no shock that WCW Backstage Assault sucked eggs, selling a mere 200,000 copies during the height of wrestling’s popularity.
A mere 200K? It’s safe to say this premise can be shamelessly hawked again, and made into something better. Whether you get WWE superstars or just create random dudes in tights, a Grand Theft Auto-esque sandbox game, where wrestlers run the town and can enforce (or break) laws as they please, sounds like an easy way to achieve peace and harmony worldwide. You wouldn’t even need a plot, other than wrestling anybody anywhere in preparation for challenging the champion, who can suplex you down a manhole cover and head-first into the sewer like none other.
Maybe the game could include a gym as an added feature, so you can work out and train to become even better. If you suck at that, you can always find a back alley, buy a vial or two of steroids, shoot up in the dark, and then pick a fight with the first sweaty guy you see. Remember, in this world, you’re a wrestler, and wrestlers are the law. Just the way Vince McMahon always dreamt it.
2. Kartoon Kombat
Sometimes, games have titles that don’t give their premise away: The Last Of Us, Bioshock, Tetris (like you knew what a tetris was before playing,) and so on and so forth. But Kartoon Kombat? Anyone with half a head would figure out that this was clearly a Madden Football ripoff. Unoriginal bastards.
OK fine, you clearly don’t believe us. How about if we told you this was a Mortal Kombat parody, featuring nothing but cutesy cartoon characters? That better? Good. A company called American Technos, who were likely just as good at making games as any other company that doesn’t exist anymore, created Kartoon Kombat as a takeoff on the blood-and-guts fighting genre spearheaded by Messrs. Scorpion and Sub-Zero.
No screenshots exist, save for one: a fight to the adorable death between a fox and somebody with hair over their eyes. The only other detail we have is a text-based list of character names: Clive (the fox), Scott (he’s big), Doug (a sheriff), Kev (a Russian chicken), Frank (a squirrel), and Monty (he’s small). Aside from the fact that the developers clearly named these things after regulars at the local bar, this idea could have gone places. Sadly, the only place it ever went was the trash can.
Well, somebody should go trash-picking and finish where Technos left off. Just two things need to be changed. For starters, the original was designed for kids – actual kids, not the overgrown manchildren that most of us have become – so the whole thing was more “adorable” than violent. Fuck that; cutesy-wootsy cartoon characters dying gruesome deaths is what our gritty reboot of a society wants and deserves. If nothing else, it’ll ensure a whole new generation of people who need massive therapy, thus creating important jobs in the lucrative field of psychology.
In addition, these made-up characters have got to go. A squirrel? A fox? Something that is big? How about actual cartoons, or at least thinly-veiled ripoffs of such, battling it out to the bloody end? Seasponge Sweatsuit vs. Nora The Scavenger would sell by the bucketloads, and the inevitable lawsuits would only drive sales higher, since we’d only have a limited time to buy before every remaining copy gets tossed into the fire.
1. Tyrannosaurus Tex
If ten-year-old boys could make games, they’d make this one. 1999’s Tyrannosaurus Tex was literally everything they find awesome rolled into one. In a nutshell: alien robots crash-landed on Earth 2,000 years ago. They decided to build a city below the deserts of Texas, discovering dinosaur bones in the process. They then cloned the dino DNA, bringing them back to life, and they all lived together underground until a bunch of cowboys discovered them while on a search for diamonds. They attacked the cowboys in retaliation, and so the battle begins.
OK, so that was a much bigger nutshell than we thought it would be. But really now: cowboys, aliens, dinosaurs and robots. If Eidos had released this thing, it would have replaced Britney Spears, Christiana Aguilera and that one guy from *NSYNC who was just a little too pretty as your nephew’s first wet dream. But they gave us Tomb Raider, so they ended up cornering that market regardless.
The game itself was a first-person shooter on the Game Boy, an extremely unique idea that could have influenced portable gaming for years to come. Don’t believe us? Here’s a 30-minute video of the game itself, pulled from a slightly-broken prototype card (stereotypical Wild West fiddlin’ supplied by the video maker, who thought it the height of knee-slappingly hilarity:)
Unfortunately, the expenses that came with such a game, plus one of the main developers leaving the country with the entire source code never to be seen again, doomed it to eternal purgatory. Of course, there’s no reason for someone not to take the basic idea and start again from scratch. WrestleRage’s “lack of market” excuse definitely does not apply here, not when your plot boils down to “here’s something kids think is awesome, now here’s another thing, and another, and another and that’ll be $60 please.” In other words: get to remaking this for today’s systems, and nobody gets hurt.
Whether you’re ten years old or 50, the idea of a vast world filled with cowboys shooting up robotic aliens and dinosaurs should be enough to make you forsake all other things. Not just all other games, all other things. Food, drink, sleep, bathing – all of which are very nice indeed, but they aren’t Tyrannosaurus Tex. This would increase tenfold if you improved the product by adding MORE things that ten-year-old boys love. Maybe a pirate invasion, only instead of ships, they’re riding on giant snakes with swords for tongues.
Also, halfway through you’re joined by an army of cheerleaders, all wielding machine guns. But in the end, the guns magically turn into chocolate cake. Did we miss anything? Kids still like baseball, right? Maybe the dinosaurs can play baseball.
Died 65 million years ago, and still better than anyone on the Chicago Cubs
Previous articles by Jason Iannone:
6 Hilariously Bad Attempts To Mix Pro Wrestling With Other Forms Of Entertainment
Eight ’90s Franchises That Shockingly Never Got A Terrible Tie-in Videogame
9 Gag-A-Day Comic Strips That Got Weird Once People Stopped Reading