With the books now closed on 2008 it's time to look ahead to all of the potential that 2009 offers. Allow me to share what I hope the new year delivers from the world of video games. As I said last year, some of these projects are definitely happening while others are just wild pipe dreams, but if I had all-encompassing total power over the gaming industry, this is what would be coming up for this year.
- No LittleBigPlanet 2 (PS3/PSP). LittleBigPlanet has become the darling of the creative gaming world, but I'm not ready for a sequel or portable version just yet. LBP is packed with amazing community features that should be allowed to grow for quite some time before we see the next iteration of the game. Instead let's see some more level packs in the tradition of the Metal Gear Solid set that add new gameplay elements. If we have to have a new LBP retail item this year, then why not a special edition of the game with some of the downloadable content already on the disc? Oh, and we have to see the prices for costumes on the PlayStation Store come down. I don't mind paying a few dollars for new levels and gameplay objects, but $3 just to make Sackboy look like Ryu or Solid Snake is just ridiculous.
Mega Man 2: Powered Up (PSP). I still want to see this one developed and released. Capcom has indicated an interest in some original titles for digital distribution across the Sony PlayStation Network this year with both new games and some PlayStation Portable UMD legacy material. How about a one-two Powered Up punch?
Ratchet and Clank Future 2 (PS3). I'm confident that this next addition to the series will stand as a quality title, so I'm going to go ahead and assume that the story and gameplay does not need my advice. However, I would like to see the reward incentive for Ratchet fans to make a reappearance here. As you may recall, the PS2 Ratchet sequels could access memory card data from the previous game to reward returning players with extra weapons. Let's see that again here for all of us who enjoyed Tools of Destruction and Quest for Booty.
Castlevania (PS3 / 360). Speaking of franchises, there's a new Castlevania adventure in the works for this generation's powerhouse consoles. If it's a 3D adventure, I hope it turns out better than last generation's efforts. If it's a 2D adventure, I will be completely shocked, but thankful. Either way there are large expectations to meet across the board.
Ghostbusters (PS3 / 360). Bumped from last year, I'm expecting that the extra development time will make Ghostbusters extra good. Remember, this one has to be just fantastic. And I'm still hoping its success could springboard us into a modern quality Back to the Future game.
Bionic Commando (PS3 / 360). Last year's Rearmed remake introduced the franchise to a new generation of fans. Let's see this new 3D adventure succeed and establish Nathan Spencer and his bionic arm as here to stay.
Mega Man X9 (PS3 / Wii / 360). With Mega Man 9 and its retro goodness such a success there's been a lot of fan chatter for a Mega Man 10 to be released as soon as possible. There'll be time for that, but I'd much rather see a proper Mega Man X9 done in the 16-bit style first. It's time to recapture the Super NES aesthetic and simplify the gameplay down to just X and maybe Zero.
- PS3 firmware updates. Sony continues to add new features and capabilities to the PlayStation 3, so why not add a few things I want such as the ability to flip back and forth between games and web browser without having to completely exit from either, the ability to charge controllers when the console is turned off (but still drawing electricity in standby mode), and a first strike at PlayStation 2 emulation (you know they're working on it despite what the marketing folks say).
New Super Mario Bros. 2 (DS). Back again for another year on the wish list, I'd like to actually see this one in stores this year. Too soon, you say? Considering Nintendo's policy of running silent until a game is ready to go, I would hope they've been working on this one for a while and are waiting for just the right moment to strike.
Mario and Luigi 3 (DS). Here's hoping this third installment in the series sticks closer to the original game than its sequel. Superstar Saga had a certain joyful magic about it, while Partners In Time relied a little too heavily on the baby characters for my preference. Just stick with the adult plumbers (although I wouldn't look down on the use of Wario and Waluigi, particularly if the developers can flesh out the latter's character).
Star Fox (Wii). Can we please hear that it's in active development this year? The potential of the motion controls could help revive the series after the last few lackluster sequels, and goodness knows the core crowd could use a space shooter of a certain pedigree.
F-Zero (Wii). Let the casual crowd continue to enjoy last year's Mario Kart Wii and tune this one up for the core audience out there. The casuals will never embrace the breakneck speed, unforgivable challenge, and flashy lights that F-Zero is known for. On the other hand, if Nintendo isn't prepared to do this one properly, then let's just skip it rather than waste the opportunity.