- Bionic Commando
Time between titles: 12 years
Bionic Commando was a 1987 action platformer that had a seemingly awful twist: You couldn’t jump. To make up for that limitation, your character had a mechanical arm he could use to grapple and swing across gaps, or pull himself up to high ledges. Once you got used to it, it proved to be loads of fun.
So it’s a shame that the series disappeared for ages until popping back into existence 12 years later in 1999 with Bionic Commando: Elite Forces. After that it vanished again for another nine years until the 2008 game Bionic Commando: Rearmed grappled the franchise back into the public consciousness, where it has remained ever since.
- Duke Nukem
Time between titles: 15 years
There was a time when Duke Nukem ruled the video game world. After the success of Doom and Doom II, fans of the newfangled first-person shooter genre were clamoring for more. And in 1996, developer 3D Realms delivered exactly what they wanted. Duke Nukem 3D was a fast-paced shooter that starred a tanned, muscular, quip-spouting hero who might have leapt off the screen of an ’80s action flick. The game was an enormous success, so the developers immediately began working on a sequel. To put it mildly, it didn’t shake out quite how they wanted.
Duke Nukem Forever was in “development hell” for over a decade, to be released (with a thud) in 2011. Not only was there an extended gap between installments, but the game was being actively developed for much of the time. Most companies can’t afford to pay a staff for anywhere near that long before releasing a game, but that goes to show how successful Duke Nukem 3D really was.
Time between titles: 15 years
The original Rygar was an game full of mystery, adventure, and strange turtle-like creatures. It starred a single warrior exploring a fantasy world, armed with an amazing shield/yo-yo thing for a weapon. The game came out in 1986 in arcades, and was ported the following year to the NES. Gamers loved it, but for years it seemed like that would be the end of the strange yet compelling world of Rygar.
That is until 2002, when the franchise sprang back on the scene with Rygar: The Legendary Adventure, an action game for PlayStation 2 that was very well received by a world that was ready to swing a giant yo-yo once more. Come to think of it, we’re closing in on another 15 years since that game came out. Isn’t it time we’re due a new installment?
- Killer Instinct
Time between titles: 17 years
Another fighting game that was knocked down and left for dead is Killer Instinct. Well, maybe “knocked down” is the wrong way to phrase it, because the game was fairly well received when it was released in 1994. It spawned a sequel two years later, but then developer Rare began focusing on other things, like the massively successful classics Donkey Kong Country series and GoldenEye 007.
Fast forward to 2013, and the apparently-dead franchise rose from the ashes in a new installment, simply called Killer Instinct, to coincide with the release of the Xbox One. As they say in Game of Thrones, “what is dead may never die.”
These games go to show that if a developer has a good game and they keep the copyright in good repair, they can bring it back, no matter how many years have passed since the last installment. So whenever you find yourself lamenting for the disappearance of a game you loved long ago, think of these games and hold on to hope. It’s all we have.
Time between titles: ???
Call it Half-Life 3, call it Half-Life 2: Episode Three — whatever you call it, it won’t change the fact that gamers have been clamoring for Valve to release this sequel ever since Half-Life 2: Episode Two left us hanging in 2007 with one of the most intriguing cliffhangers in gaming history.
Now that Valve is raking in money hand over fist with its Steam platform, apparently finishing the series and giving devoted fans closure is no longer a priority. Which is a shame, because Half-Life is widely respected as one of the best video game series of all time.