We’re on a quest to find the best (classics)
After a long and arduous, albeit important, process, Microsoft has formally purchased Activision Blizzard King in one of the largest acquisitions of all time. The world has evaluated and put their two (billion) cents into the conversation enough so I won’t bore you with the details of the proceedings. You can read more directly from the horse armor’s mouth here.
It’s been an adventure, to say the least.
While the process and press have focused on some of the more obvious notes, like Call of Duty, eSports, Candy Crush, and Cloud streaming, we’re far more interested in what this could mean for some of our favorites classic games in the Activision catalog — IP and series that have gone by the wayside over the years. Perhaps now, finally, these properties and games can make their much needed comeback.
Now that Microsoft owns Activision, which owns Sierra’s famed properties, it’s time to get Roger Wilco back into the forefront. Sure, Quest for Glory and King’s Quest are perhaps more well acclaimed, but those first three Space Quest games are still some of the best space writing in the universe. We’d love to play these classics alongside some remasters and new sequels. Game Pass? Yes, please. And hey, I know a certain Psychonauts studio that may be perfect for developing a new adventure game in this series…
No one remembers the Manhunter games, but I do! They are a unique adventure game take on Sci-Fi noir in which humans are enslaved by flying eyeball aliens, and mixed a unique overworld system alongside the traditional Sierra point-and-click. And also some gross moments, too. The series was abandoned so we never got a third game to finish the story, but now that this genre is back in style perhaps we can finally get that closure that we all (read: I) desire.
One of the lesser known games of the Xbox 360 era that Activision published was Singularity, a time manipulation FPS from Raven Software. The game fit into the same genre that BioShock was piloting — the narrative fps — and included some entertaining powersets like the ability to affect enemies and structures individual time and space. Want an obstacle cleared? Reverse the native time to turn it back into the undestroyed building it once was. Neat concept, and a solid 7 — and one that several modern games have aped since then.
It’s hard to remember a time when Bethesda didn’t publish its own Wolfenstein games, but the modern direction actually started with Activision in the 90s & 2000s. Back in 2009, the company released a game in the series that the last few Wolf games are direct sequels to, and one that gave us some decent new gen (at the time) FPS experience. In fact, there are a few Wolfenstein and Quake games that Activision had under its wings that can now finally join the ranks of their brethren, bringing much bloody joy to fans.
Hey, guess what? Activision one tried their own take on the GTA open world crime genre with True Crime. It was a sure thing! Almost! The company made a game that sold above expectations, and was received with mixed reviews from both critics and consumers. It was fine! Just fine. Another 7. But perhaps a series that maybe deserves a nod with a Game Pass release.
Did y’all know that From Software created a series of card-based RPGs for the Gamecube? Lost Kingdoms and its sequel had some interesting concepts behind them at a time when the developer wasn’t as known for its Souls games. Activision was the publisher of these now lost-to-time games, but perhaps the recent excitement over remakes and reissues of the Gamecube era can lead to some nostalgia for these as well.
There were A LOT of edutainment games on PCs in the Eighties, but that didn’t mean that they weren’t fun. Math Blaster was one of those, and I remember fondly blasting math in out computer lab during 3rd hour in elementary school, trying to beat scores while secretly learning how to math better. It was about learning, sure, but focused on a series of minigames that had an arcade feel to each, tied together in a sort of spacey backdrop. It was developed by Davidson & Associates, which merged with Sierra, which was bought by Vivendi, which was acquired by Activision, which — you know the rest.
Edutainment will have its day again, and Math Blaster can lead us.
Yeah, yeah. You want Guitar Hero again. Sure. But DJ Hero was, IMHO, a fantastic SPIN on the plastic instrument music rhythm genre. Tapping to the beat a la its rock sibling is a part of the gameplay, but there’s also much more freestyling and ability to make music our own way in this. It was a novel take, with stellar gameplay that the sequel perfected. Sadly it never sold well enough because by the time it really hit its stride the genre was already winding down. But man, would it be nice to have another entry in the series.
The toys to life genre is dead, even though Nintendo is managing to squeeze the last few bucks out of amiibo, but the progenitor of it all was the Skylanders franchise. The games let us drop physical figures onto a portal and inject them into our experience, allowing us to carry them into future iterations for nearly a decade (the last physical Skylanders game actually released on Switch). Well, we’d love to see the series make some sort of return. The action adventure gameplay was solid, as were the multitudes of features, minigames, and sidequests. The pandemic made collecting physical objects hot again, and the mad rush for Pokemon and Lorcana cards continues to this day. Could we have that Skylands magic return? *stares at the box of old figurines* I sure hope so.
One of the earliest temple-finding, jungle-jumping action games was an Atari legend, and one of Activision’s earliest projects. While the series made a brief Temple Run inspired return in 2012, there’s never been a real foray into its legacy. It’s an easy one to bring over, too, and to iterate on. And the original game still manages to hold up! Microsoft, do us a solid, please!