Puppies die. Ice cream melts. Short-sighted networks cancel fresh and innovative shows in favor of the seventh different version of CSI (Who am I kidding? It's not like CBS has ever had any good shows to cancel anyways!) In short, the world's not perfect. But that doesn't mean we can't dream of reviving our favorite shows in our favorite medium. That's right, folks, I'm talking about a Point-and-Click Arrested Development here! Okay, maybe that wouldn't work out too well, but the following list offers up some potential candidates that could find a new home in the world of video games. Enjoy!
5.) Twin Peaks – I have to admit that I've never actually seen Twin Peaks (I mean, it did originally air in the year of my birth), but the fact that people are still talking about it today proves that the universe is exciting enough to return to. And on the off chance that David Lynch would actually be interested in overseeing the video game adaption, can you imagine what kinds of wacky Eternal Darkness sort of game mechanics we might see?
Now obviously, one problem with this adaption would be the fact that Twin Peaks was a plot-driven mystery-thriller. But if a developer wanted to retain that same appeal, they couldn't simply port in the series' story because then, anybody who'd seen the show (which just happens to be the market this game is going after) would already know what happens and lose interest. But if a new story were created, it would essentially have to shift the focus away from the characters that fans have come to know and love.
But I think the series' unresolved cliff-hanger provides the perfect opportunity to write a new protagonist and new story into the universe while maintaining a connection to the show's endearing characters. As you may know, the show's protagonist, FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper, SPOILERS***
becomes inhabited by the demon Bob at the end of the second and final season.
So the next logical step is to make the show's hero the game's villain. Or at least that's what fans of the show would assume when their new character came to town to investigate a series of mysterious murders. What follows would be an equally deranged mystery involving the white and black lodges, spirits such as Bob, and regular old human crime.
The Twin Peaks game would probably work best as a Third-Person Adventure title: a sort of mix between Heavy Rain and Alan Wake but with a greater emphasis on character interactions and puzzle solving. The rich world that David Lynch created really opens up tons of possibilities for the game, and I think fans would snatch this continuation of the story up, even if it has been twenty years since the show went off the air.
4.) Veronica Mars – Yet another series that I haven't watched myself (hey, maybe I would have seen them if they hadn't been canceled so quickly), Veronica Mars "stars Kristen Bell as the title character, a student who progresses from high school to college while moonlighting as a private investigator under the tutelage of her detective father" (Wikipedia). I was always under the impression that the show was aimed more toward teenaged girls, but after reading a little more about it, I'm having trouble seeing where that pre-conception came from; a neo-noir set in the unconventional trappings of high school and college sounds unisexually awesome to me.
But how to make a game of it? Honestly, the show's format lends itself pretty dang well to a video game. Each season sees Mars working to solve an overarching mystery while cracking smaller, stand-alone cases in each episode. But just because Mars is a high school student doesn't mean she's staking out the vending machine to discover who stole the lunch money; rape, murder, and conspiracy all allow the series to explore some pretty dark themes that give the sort of life-or-death tension expected of video game plots. The only difference with this IP is that we get some witty high schooler dialogue thrown in the middle.
That's why I see this game as a potentially game-changing (har, har) title. It's L.A. Noire, but in a setting that relates to a hell of a lot more people. It's funny and it's serious. It turns a noir cliche on its head by casting a female in the lead. Pretty much, I'm saying that Veronica Mars could make for a fun mystery Adventure, but it could also break some stubborn barriers in the process. And given fans fierce loyalty to the show and its characters, I don't think it'd have much trouble finding an audience.
3.) Jericho – You know that quip I made about CBS not having any good shows to cancel earlier? Yeah, well I take that back. Jericho told the story of a small Kansas town's struggle to survive in the wake of nuclear attacks on America. But rather than setting the action in the ruins of destroyed cities, it tells a more interesting story of a small community that's forced to become self-sufficient in the wake of a governmental collapse. Different factions vie for power and offer aid to the struggling communities, but at what cost? The decisions that community leaders are faced with touch on important themes of freedom vs. security, cooperation vs. competition, and the strength and strife found within family.
The way I see this game adaption playing out is that it'd be an Action-RPG that crosses the America's backyard aesthetic of Homefront with the individual and communal struggles for survival found in Fallout 3's wastelands. Players would step into the shoes of series hero Jake Green and find themselves leading stealth sabotage missions on rival communities, fortifying strategic choke-points for defensive shoot-outs, ambushing supply transports, and so on. Every mission would deal with helping the community to rebuild and survive, and town discussions with community leaders like the mayor, sheriff, etc would present the player with dialogue choices on which missions are worth pursuing. In this way, the player would have a major hand in shaping the community's future; should they risk raiding another community for gas so they can run generators at the hospital, or trade too much of their all-important food supply to get the gas fairly?
Of course, staying true to the IP's canon becomes a bit of an issue here. I think the best way to solve it would be by having the main missions stick closely to the show's main plot points and offering less room for choice on those, while filling out the rest of the game with completely new material that does allow the player to shape the town's direction. In this way, the core plot would ultimately get the player into the same conspiracy-revealing escapade of the series, but the town of Jericho itself might not physically, economically, or morally be exactly the same as in the show. All of the major characters would still play their roles, but some minor characters could be swayed in one direction or the other, or maybe even die.
I truly think that this property could make for an amazing video game and a unique one too. While there's plenty of Shooter action and RPG choice, the focus on day-to-day survival for a real community of people could introduce some innovative new scenarios not unlike what's been promised for I Am Alive. There's a great cast of characters to mine and a story that seamlessly flows from character relationships to governmental conspiracy. It's perfect for a video game!
2.) Reaper – Okay, so Reaper's a show about Sam Oliver, a loveable, yet slacking college drop-out who learns on his 21st birthday that his parents sold his soul to the devil. As a result of this, he is forced to become a bounty hunter for the big D (hilariously portrayed by Ray Wise) and capture souls that have escaped from Hell. Each soul is captured with a "vessel" unique to that soul, usually a seemingly ordinary day-to-day object such as a Zippo lighter or a Nerf gun. The catch is that Sam has to figure out how to properly use the vessel in order to capture the soul and return it to the local portal to Hell (the DMV).
So as you can see, this concept lends itself to a video game pretty well. Sam and his best buddies Sock and Ben spend a little time investigating where they might find their bounty, then there's a boss fight unique to each soul. An overarching plot that deals with Sam's mysterious origins and the quest to get out of his contract with the Devil would keep things moving forward while an essentially limitless variety of bounties keeps the gameplay interesting. Obviously, ghost-busting would be the bread and butter, but puzzles, stealth segments, races, and more could all make their way in. And of course, the consistently hysterical cast of characters makes it a fun world to be in the entire time.
Reaper is the sort of thing I could absolutely see the Double Fine team coming up with if it hadn't already been done. The delightfully friendly Devil, the bumbling screw-up friends, and the oh-so-cute love interest all fit Tim Schafer's penchant for funny and likeable characters to a tee. So come on, Double Fine: branch out into the world of licensed IPs and find a way to make this work!
1.) Firefly – You knew it, I knew it, everybody knew it: but there's good reason why there's such demand for a Firefly game. First of all, any universe created by Master Joss Whedon is inherently interesting, meaningful, witty, and unique, but this one also just happens to be an incredible fit for video games (well, any of his shows really seem like great fits, but this is the only one that was canceled before it had a chance to resolve its character's issues).
Captain Malcolm Reynolds is just too good of a character for us not to inhabit, so the game would have to be an Action-Adventure, so as to highlight the character and not allow us to do anything he wouldn't (because things would probably go far too smoothly if somebody else were thinking for him). Along the way, there'd be all sorts of hijinks and misadventures with the crew of Serenity that eventually culminate in a larger plot involving the Alliance and crime syndicates like Niska's. Of course we'd have to sacrifice River's mystery (maybe with the exception of some smaller background quests) because that'd just turn the game into the movie (and we don't want that to happen for various reasons), but I think there's plenty of room for other interesting plots, especially if any of the show's writers contributed to the game. Not to mention, the game may be stronger as a sort of collage of semi-related events that highlight the characters without the constraints of a driving plot…you know, like the show.
Anyways, there'd be plenty of Third-Person Shooting, lots of brawling, some Puzzling and Platforming, and even some space-battles (Serenity will have to get some guns installed…). We'd get to see lots of different environments through different worlds, and of course, we'd get to find ourselves in hot water with just about every wretched proprietor of scum and villainy in the known universe. Did I mention that we get to spend more time with the crew of Serenity? Just pitch this thing as Uncharted in space and publishers will be all over it!
And that's that. Please feel free to chime in with any more shows that have wrongfully been cast into oblivion. Maybe if we all dream hard enough, someday, one of these games might get made.