Last week we explored three gaming trilogies (Mega Man Legends, Too Human, and Star Wars: Battlefront) that may never be completed due to a few uncontrollable circumstances. Having seen the rise of Kickstarter, a crowd-funding website, the possibilities of games such as the proposed Wasteland 2 are within arm’s reach.
It comes to no surprise that the three potential game trilogies we are exploring today are dead in the water and haven’t seen the needle move with life in quite sometime, even with rumors and CGI trailers that provided a glimpse of what could be.
So while publishers such as THQ are attempting their best with their own proposed trilogy led by the one and only Guermillo del Toro with the inSane. Bilson told a gathering of press at GDC 2011 that “We [THQ] have to succeed on the first one. And then we have to succeed on the second one! And then you can make the third one. It's not really that arrogant, if you will, to plan a trilogy because we're very realistic."
With that evidence, it’s ever apparent that trilogies are increasingly popular with gaming publishers. Even if there’s push back from the gaming audiences, developers and publishers attempt their best to layout groundwork for profitable gaming trilogies. As Cliff Bleszinski stated, “I think if you come out and say, ‘This is the start of a trilogy,’ gamers get defensive, cross their arms and say, ‘We'll see…’”
Perhaps the most troubling trilogy of all time is Sega’s cult favorite, Shenmue. In 2005, rumors hit the net Shenmue III was already completed and waiting for an exclusivity agreement to be ported from the Dreamcast — crazy proposition, I know — to one of the current generation of consoles.
It wasn’t until GDC 2011 that Yu Suzuki teased Shenmue III with a few short words on the project: “I think Sega will let me make it.” At that same panel, he corrected the earth-shattering budget that Sega threw out to the public that Shenmue I & II cost $70 million in total to create by referring to a $47 million budget.
Even so, Shenmue in general is an expensive series to finance. It’s no wonder that Sega and even Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo are avoiding funding the third title’s rise from perdition. The third entry will most likely stay dead, similar to the fate of Shenmue Online.
The only whispers in the wind have been that Shenmue Town may make its way to the iOS and other mobile devices, but even that is a longshot. But alas, this past January, Suzuki echoed hope for fans that he may, in fact, be able to acquire the rights from Sega to finish the Shenmue series.
The year was 2005. It was an ambitious calendar year for Majesco. They had Psychonauts, a North American port of Phantom Dust for the Xbox, a comedic action-platformer in Raze’s Hell, and the hyped Advent Rising. In what could have been a stellar year that put Majesco on the map turned out to be a disaster.
Psychonauts failed to light up the sales charts. Raze’s Hell was ignored by both critics and consumers, as was Phantom Dust. Advent Rising may as well be the equivalent of drafting Kwame Brown before Pau Gasol, Jason Richardson, or even Tony Parker in the NBA. Or, hell, we could call Advent Rising the Ryan Leaf of video games. It was an absolute bust with critics panning it and consumers turning the other cheek when Majesco came crying for financial help.
Advent Rising was written by Orson Scott Card, the author behind the Ender’s Game series and literary figure behind the novel tie-ins and spin-offs of Epic’s Shadow Complex. The audio, on the other hand, was handled by Tommy Tallarico, best known for co-creating the Video Games Live concert series and his composing work on Earthworm Jim. These two alone brought a lot of street credit to Advent Rising, but it wasn’t enough to give the game a free pass from critics.
Outside of being overlook and overhyped, Advent Rising shipped with numerous bugs that caused freezing, falling off maps, and control issues. Beyond that, players complained about the incoherent and unoriginal plot, odd art style choices, a mishmash of game designs that gave no clear focus, and uninspiring graphics in comparison to its competitors.
Yes, Advent Rising was a pie in the sky. It wanted to be the talk of the town and, in turn, it became one for the wrong reasons. Donald Mustard, lead designer on Advent Rising now turn chairman at Chair Entertainment, still holds out for one day returning the series stating in August 2009, “It was designed as a trilogy and it’s an incredible story. I will always remain committed to the franchise and would be happy to finish the series if the opportunity presented itself.”
Beyond Good & Evil
Having seen the ugly sales results of Rayman Origins, even with Ubisoft standing behind the stats, it’s going to be like attempting to find the gold at the end of the rainbow to ever receive Beyond Good & Evil 2. The proposed gameplay trailer above looked beautiful in motion, but needing a large budget and already having poor sales with the original Beyond Good & Evil, it’s no wonder that Ubisoft is hesitant to push forward with the sequel.
Then again, out of all the titles we have taken a gander at thus far, Beyond Good & Evil 2 has the best shot of making it out of the gate. In June 2011, Michel Ancel, creator of BG&E and the Rayman series, gave hope to fans. “It is still alive and we are very far [into] development so we can't go back now, he said. “We are targeting the next generation of consoles.”
So while Beyond Good & Evil 2 may not be in the near future, it is still at the top of the priority list for Ancel, even with the disappointing sales of Rayman Origins.
Check back next week as we explore the top five gaming trilogies of all time. Until then, let’s cross our fingers that Valve finally pulls the trigger and unveils Half-Life 3 at this year’s upcoming E3. Or better yet, Square Enix gets the ball rolling on Kingdom Hearts 3 to finish the console trilogy.