The Best Upcoming Fan-Service Games of 2008

January 31st, 2008

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Many gamers would agree that 2007 was a landmark year for video games largely due to a momentous barrage of quality software releases throughout the second half of the year. But this momentous line up of games would have been nothing without a set of strong ‘fan service’ games.

‘Fan service’ games are games designed with the intention of one thing; to feed the loyal fan base of a particular franchise or brand. Now sure, 2007 had some great games of this nature such as Halo 3, Contra 4 and Resident Evil Umbrella Chronicles but 2008 looks to blow the lid of the all previous expectations of fan service games. So let me present to you ten of the best, hitting your favourite systems in 2008:

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Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo HD Remix

Capcom knows their fans and understands exactly how to please them which is why this game is arguably the most important game on this list. SSF2THDR HD Remix is as it sounds a reworked, high definition version of Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo. Don’t be fooled by previous fake HD games though HD Remix isn’t an upscaled version of the original game rather all of the sprites are being redone by the legendary Udon Comics.

street fighter hd remix

The high definition aspect is only one part of the deal though HD Remix’s also contains a slew of new content and modes several of which have been included by fan requests. I’m talking wide screen support, a remixed soundtrack and a training mode. But all of these pale in comparison to the online features that Capcom is planning to dish out.

Voice chat, spectator matches and indepth statistics are a few of the key features of this new oline mode. An example used by Capcom’s Christian Svensson on the game’s online statistics is that you will be able to find the best Cammy player in Canada or the person who has thrown the most projectiles in the world. So its not hard to see why Capcom are leading the way for fan service games of 08.

Super Smash Bros Brawl

Nintendo fans are arguably the most loyal and dedicated bunch of gamers around so when Nintendo announces a new installment of its franchise heavy fighting game message boards everywhere light up and fans clench their Wii-motes with new found pride.

smash bros brawl pit
The inclusion of Kid Icarus’ Pit pleased fans of the NES classic

Knowing this, Nintendo has added to the almost out of control anticipation by dishing out the fanboy love in droves. Cameo characters such as Solid Snake and Sonic now join the extended character roster, a new level editor is included and content is filled to the brim. But much like Street Fighter the most anticipated new feature for the new Smash Bros is online play. Every since the broadband (and dial up) adapters were released along side Phantasy Star Online on the Gamecube Nintendo has been dodging the prospect of true online play. So Super Smash Bros isn’t just an important game for the fanboys, its also a time for the industry to see if Nintendo will finally step up to the plate and deliver on a true online experience.

Sega Superstars Tennis

Much in the vein of Mario Tennis, Sega have decided to develop a tennis game set around the expansive Sega universe. With a release date set for early March, Sega have already shared plenty of interesting details including a list of playable characters. The list of characters is what particularly has sparked a sudden stronger interest among fans as characters include Alex Kidd, Beat (Jet Grind Radio), Ulala (Space Channel 5), Amigo, NiGHTS as well as your typical set of Sonic characters.

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This stage is from Jet Grind Radio

Sega Superstars Tennis is set to come out on all major consoles excluding the PSP. Each game will feature its own console specific strengths. For example; the Wii version will take advantage of the motion controls while the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions will have online play.

DP’s Random Note: Notice how the first three games all have the word ‘Super’ in the title?

Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core

The long awaited PSP entry in the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII looks to finally be hitting western shores. Crisis Core is a prequel to the original Final Fantasy VII set around Zack Fair and the events of the Shinra corporation preceding FF VII. What makes Crisis Core such a standout title (beyond the typically gorgeous graphics, sound and cinemas) is it’s unique action RPG battle system. This system fuses the menu command options of FF VII with a new slot machine-esque Digital Mind Wave System. It all sounds like another part of Square’s attempt to evolve the Final Fantasy series into a more action orientated, real time experience.

final fantasy crisis core

Crisis Core has been a much anticipated title for the PSP even before it was released over 2 years ago. Judging from critical response out of Japan Crisis Core appears to be living up to all expectations. Final Fantasy VII Crisis Core spearheads the strong second wave of quality PSP software following on from a strong 2007 line up.

Duke Nukem Forever

Sure the Duke man ain’t looking so crash hot right now with a flakey December teaser trailer but we still ought to be mega excited that he is finally on his way back to the PC. You know, there isn’t a lot to say about this game other then its being developed on the Unreal Engine.

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Duke, I wish you weren’t such a joke

I would have said that Duke Nukem Forever looks awesome judging by the E3 2001 trailer but unfortunately all of that has been scrapped and we’ve been told to forget all about it. So all I can go on is the latest teaser and that looks like ass. Still 3D Realms has plenty of time to fix this before the game’s release. ^_^

N+

I was never a fan of the original N game but I had a lot of friends that loved it. Basically N is a super slick, uber popular freeware Flash game. You take the role of a ninja who has to traverse X amount of levels of a secret robot labyrinth in order to save the future of civilization. Basically N+ is N on the portable consoles and Xbox Live Arcade.

N might sound like a fairly ordinary Flash platformer but what makes N so popular is its ridiculous physics and ultra smooth controls. The simplified user interface might make N appear basic on first glance but the downright brilliant level design has always been N’s biggest strength. Check out the trailer of N+ to get an idea of what I am on about:

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N commands a loyal online community of players dedicated to creating their own custom maps and beating each other’s high scores N+ is set to be released in March.

Starcraft 2

With the crazy buzz that Starcraft has generated over in Korea it seems only logical that Blizzard would announce a follow up to one of the most competitive games of all time. Starcraft 2 is basically designed to be the ultimate in competitive gaming and you can already see how Blizzard are trying to accomplish this. A lot more focus is being placed on the multiplayer such as improving match making and options for capturing replays. Feedback from players is used to perfect the game’s overall battle system to ensure that it is 100% fair and equal. The graphics, sound and presentation also are extremely pretty, everything has a fantastic hue of colour and animations very smoothly.

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It looks even better in motion too!

All of these different factors tell me one thing; that Blizzard want to get this one just right and ensure that Starcraft 2 is THE ultimate competitive strategy game for a long time to come.

Bionic Commando series

Capcom have announced two upcoming Bionic Commando games that should hopefully revitalize the series for the next current generation consoles. Bionic Commando (same name as the NES classic) is a sequel which takes place tens years after the original. Not much is know about how the game will be played out but it is suspected to play similarly to other open world based super hero games like Hulk: Ultimate Destruction(LINK) where you traverse an open city looking for main and side objectives. Bionic Commando’s main selling point is Spencer’s (dude with the dreadlocks) bionic arm which can be used to swing from buildings and grab objects for combat and such. Its a very intriguing gameplay concept which should provide some avenues for some unique play scenarios.

bionic commando rearmed

The other Bionic Commando game is Bionic Commando Rearmed which is a high definition remake of the original NES game. New stuff such as a co-op mode, new weapons and abilities look to increase the appeal among newer gamers. Personally I think that the game looks like something ripped out of a Pixar movie, its all very plushie and soft. I love the whole ‘camp’ feel to the game as well.

Lego Batman & Indiana Jones

The Lego Star Wars games showed us that everyones favourite building blocks have a long time to go yet. The series injected new life and interest in the simple little blocks and there is much more on the way with two new upcoming titles; Lego Batman and Lego Indiana Jones

Firstly there isn’t a lot to say about Lego Batman other than that it will be based off the original TV series rather than the sweet Batman movies. A teaser was put out sometime ago but there been not much more than that.

lego batman

Lego: Bent on movie tie-in doination

Its a similar case with Lego Indiana Jones, not much is known about the title. Although we have been told about some new whip gameplay mechanics. The game is also set around the first 3 Indiana Jones movies. I get the feeling that these games will play and feel very similar to Lego Star Wars except themed with the respective franchises. So expect more fan based humour and jokes to come out of these titles.

House of the Dead II + III Return

There are no doubt a lot of awesome games on this list that I am looking forward to but none more than this one (its those retro compilations again). House of the Dead II + III Return is as you’d guess a compilation of the respective Dreamcast and Xbox House of the Dead games. These games can also take advantage of the Wii Zapper although personally I think that I’ll have to split 2 Nyko Perfect Shots with a mate to get the more authentic arcade experience.

saturn house of the dead

Classic arcade brilliance, we saltute you House of the Dead (Image: Moby games)

If I were ranking these games from 1-10 then I’d have to put this one right at the end. The omission of the original House of the Dead game is almost inexcusable, it is one of my favourite arcade and Saturn games. Understandably a lot of fans (like me) are infuriated with this but hey, its still cool to be seeing more rails based shooters.

Honorable Mentions: Halo Wars (Xbox 360), Ikaruga HD (Xbox Live Arcade), Rez HD (Xbox Live Arcade), King of Fighters Orochi Saga (Wii/PS2), Final Fantasy IV (DS), Dragon Quest IX (DS), GTA 4 (Xbox 360 and PS3), Mario Kart Wii (Wii), Death Spank (PC), Sonic RPG (DS), Soul Calibur IV (Xbox 360 and PS3)

Conclusion

I think that I handled that one pretty nicely. Chances are that I have probably missed a game or two that you think should be on the list. So be sure to let me know by dropping a comment below.