Perhaps it is an inevitable rite of passage that when people reach a certain age, we become our parents and start harping on about how things were better in our day. Even so, I doubt that very few will argue against me when I say that, in many ways, AAA gaming was a lot better in decades prior than it is now… for numerous reasons.
There were fewer corporate sharks, for starters, people who couldn’t care less about the art of making a video game. Becoming a major industry was one of the best and worst things to ever happen to gaming.
But for this article, we’re going to be talking about one facet of AAA gaming of generations past that needs to make a comeback: variety. There was so much of it when I was a kid, and seemingly so little of it now. Most people will just tell you to check out indie gaming, and they are right. Indie gaming is picking up quite a bit of slack of the AAA side of gaming. But variety in the latter doesn’t fix the problem of it lacking in the former.
So, to all the AAA developers out there, this is a new generation of gaming, which means a fresh start (kind of). Let’s get on the right track right away, shall we? Here are five types of games that I’d like to see more of when the 9th generation finally hits stores.
Growing up, for better or worse, the Mario Party series was inescapable. For me, it was for the worst. I never hated the party game genre itself, I just wanted to stop seeing Mario Party.
Fast forward to 2020, and boy, the party game genre is looking pretty barren. Mario Party is still alive and kicking, but the rest of the pack isn’t looking too hot. Fuzion Frenzy, my all-time favorite party game, was a launch title for the original Xbox. I suppose asking for a Fuzion Frenzy 3 launch title for the Xbox Series X is asking too much?
Plenty of video game developers have a healthy cast of characters under their umbrella that they could just take the Sega Superstars route and create party games that take some of their fan-favorite characters and put them all together for a harmless bit of casual fun for friends and family (Looking at you Sony).
#4–Car games: And lots of them
By car games, I don’t just mean realistic racing simulators; there’s a decent amount of those in the 8th generation. But that’s kind of all there is, really.
Growing up, we had Twisted Metal, Carmageddon, Crazy Taxi, The Simpson: Hit & Run, Driver, and most recently, (But still 10 years ago) Blur. I don’t have a problem with racing simulators per se, but they’re almost like sports games for me. Sure, I enjoy them, but they’re not the types of games that I am going to play for hours on end for years to come. There is so much more potential in car games that just being standard racing simulators, and games like the ones I mentioned above were what kept the “racing” genre from getting stale for me as a kid.
We still get to see the X-Games every year, so at least there is that, but where the heck are the extreme sports games? BMX, snowboarding, skateboarding? Tony Hawk was a household name in the video game industry for years, and now? Well, let’s just say the most recent Tony Hawk game to be released is a free-to-play mobile game. Think that about sums it up.
In my opinion, one of the shining qualities of extreme sports games is their ability to be enjoyed by any kind of gamer, more so than standard sports games. I’m not much of a hockey fan, so I logged very few hours in any hockey video game. I think it’s fair to say that if you aren’t a fan of the sport in real life, then you won’t be too interested in a video game adaptation.
I’ve never touched a snowboard, let alone shredded down a snowy mountain, but dang it if I didn’t love Cool Boarders and the SSX games. From a gaming perspective, extreme sports are the more inviting of the two sports genres.
I’d be lying if I said I played much of Kelly Slater’s Pro Surfer as a kid, but if we got a new surfing game in 2020, I’d probably play it just to encourage developers to bring back more extreme sports games.
#2–Hack and Slash Co-Op
Sure, we’ve got Diablo 3, but I want more, okay? I’m a bit of a greedy fellow. And considering the current path that Blizzard is taking, I’m not sure if I ever want to play a game made by them ever again.
When it comes to hack and slash co-op games on consoles, there’s definitely a void that I would love to be filled. Back in the good old days of PlayStation 2, games like Gauntlet: Dark Legacy, Champions of Norrath: Realms of Everquest, and Hunter: The Reckoning – Wayward were my favorites. Hop on with your buddies, and just hack everything to pieces. No grandiose storyline to follow that needs multiple playthroughs to fully understand, just some good old mindless fun with the boys.
Given the current state of the video game industry, you would think that hack and slash co-op games would be something more pursued. After all, the only thing these kinds of games need is a solid and fun gameplay loop. That sounds pretty low effort to me (in a good way). Now, these games could potentially increase game developers’ inclination to make low effort in a bad way games, but it’s a risk that I would be willing to take.
Out of all the picks on my list, I have the most faith in platformers making a comeback in the ninth generation.
In the last few years, we have seen classic platformer franchises like Spyro the Dragon and Crash Bandicoot get remasters, and in 2016 the Ratchet and Clank series, got a well-received remake and re-imagining of the original game. So, there is interest in platformers. All we need now is for developers to capitalize on the opportunity.
The best part of it all is that developers don’t even need to brainstorm ideas for new platformer franchises. The platformer genre just sort of died off, and there are plenty of franchises that could be revived and brought back to glory. Sly Cooper is one of Sony’s most beloved franchises and could easily get a new entry in the series. And while Thieves in Time wasn’t a horrible game, it definitely didn’t live up to the standard set by previous Sly Cooper titles.
Perhaps the success of the Spyro and Crash Bandicoot remasters will encourage game developers to give each respective franchise new entries. Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee got a remaster back in 2014, and there’s another Oddworld game in the works (though it has seen multiple delays) that is supposed to be released this year.
It’s fitting to say that if developers took a few leaps of faith (kind of like what I did all the time in Jak 2), the platformer genre could make a huge resurgence in the 9th generation.