Now that we've crossed over to 2010, we're officially living in the future!!!. After getting so much of what I wanted last year (such as a New Super Mario Bros. sequel and great Ghostbusters and Bionic Commando games among other things), it's time to look ahead to what the gaming industry has in store for us this year. There are a lot of things worth conjuring up some excitement and a few unannounced things that I continue to want, so this seems like the perfect time to outline my wishes for the next twelve months just in case the heavens are listening while I shout.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow (PS3/X360). 2009's Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth satisfied my hunger for a 2D Castlevania adventure, so now I'm ready for the Belmonts to go 3D. With fresh talent at the helm (including Hideo Kojima of Metal Gear Solid fame) and some talented voice actors such as Patrick Stewart and Robert Carlyle set to bring the world of protagonist Gabriel Belmont to life, I really want this adventure to be a major step up from the previous 3D Castlevania adventures that, frankly, were pretty lackluster. As long as Shadow combines solid action, an engaging story, and some of the franchise's iconic music, I'll be pleased.
Mega Man 10 (Wii/PS3/X360). Coming out of nowhere, this latest adventure for the blue bomber has been revealed for a March 2010 release. Done in the beloved retro Nintendo Entertainment System style and featuring a Robot Master based on an electric sheep (what does he dream about?), it's difficult to imagine how this one could go wrong considering how well 2008's similar Mega Man 9 turned out. Capcom can keep cranking these out until the end of time as long as they're done well.
Dante's Inferno (PS3/X360/PC). I've taken a lot of heat from my Kombo Breaker podcast cohorts for looking forward to this loose adaptation of the classic epic poem, but I really believe that there is potential for a fantastic action game here. The nightmarish imagery and over-the-top gore and nudity aren't usually something that I actively seek out, but considering that developer Visceral Games has a knack for creating games that mix that sort of content with solid gameplay (see The Godfather II and Dead Space for proof of that), I think this could be something special. Or it could be just as hellish as its source material. I'm gambling on the former.
Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii). Some people are doubting that Nintendo can capture lightning in a bottle twice with this sequel to 2007's flagship core-oriented Wii game, but let me tell you that when this game was revealed back at E3 2009, all I heard from the audience were cheers. I'm confident that Nintendo will not let this one out of the gate unless it's thoroughly entertaining, and what does it matter that it's more of the same? I had a big smile on my face the entire time I played the original Galaxy and I'm looking forward to revisiting that with the sequel.
Batman: Arkham Asylum 2 (PS3/X360/PC). Is this sequel to last year's surprise hit coming this year or not? Some people seem to think so thanks to the sudden announcement and teaser trailer revealed last month, but whether it comes in 2010 or 2011, I want the development team to take their time and make Batman's next adventure just as engaging as his last one. Line up the stellar voice cast, up the storyline stakes, and smooth out the few rough spots that slowed things down in the original Arkham Asylum.
Saints Row 3 (PS3/X360/PC). I only recently discovered 2008's Saints Row 2, an over-the-top Grand Theft Auto clone from Volition and THQ that refuses to take itself seriously and is all the better for it. Even though I'm still working my way through the game (and haven't even started on the extra downloadable episodes), I'm eager to hear about a sequel. Word has it that Saints Row 3 is set for an E3 2010 debut, so I'm hopeful. Let's just be sure that some of my favorite aspects from the second game continue onward. I want more awesome '80's music (Hall & Oates! Tears For Fears! A-ha! They all had more than one hit, y'know), more character customization options, and a visual upgrade would be nice.
Metroid: Other M (Wii). This was another surprise from E3 2009, and despite my love/hate relationship with the Metroid Prime trilogy, the fact that this new adventure for Samus Aran features some third-person perspective gameplay has me hopeful. Developer Team Ninja's involvement is the wild X-factor here, but I'm eager to see what the Ninja/Nintendo collaboration has produced no matter what the end result.
Back to the Future (PS3/X360/PC). Now that Ghostbusters: The Video Game has shown that it's possible to take a beloved popular inactive franchise and make it great once again, it's time for some talented and ambitious developer out there to start on a proper Back to the Future video game for modern consoles. It doesn't matter if the game rehashes the trilogy's storyline or continues onward, but the creative talent from the original films must be involved, both on the writing and acting sides. That means luring Robert Zemeckis, Bob Gale, Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Tom F. Wilson, and Lea Thompson back for one more trip to the future and past. I want to drive (and fly!) the DeLorean, ride a hoverboard, and send Biff Tannen careening into a manure truck all set to the music of the Alan Silvestri soundtrack (plus a little Huey Lewis & the News for good measure).
More official art books. The recently released English translation of Mega Man: Official Complete Works has revived my interest in official art collections from my favorite franchises. So much fantastic artwork has been created over the years for franchises such as Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Castlevania, and Sonic the Hedgehog. Let's see it compiled in book form along with some commentary from the artists.
And now a little unfinished business from last year's wish list:
Mega Man 2: Powered Up (PSP). I still really want to see this one developed and released. Capcom has released some of their legacy UMD material to the Sony PlayStation Network over the past year including the original Powered Up, and Mega Man maven Keiji Inafune still wants to produce the sequel, so why not make it happen this year? Cutesified Quick Man is waiting!
PS3 firmware updates. Sony added some new features to the PS3 last year, most of which are inconsequential. Sparkly backgrounds? Extra PlayStation Store icons? Facebook integration? No thanks. I want still want 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 (even if we have to buy PS2 games all over again from the PlayStation Store as part of the deal). If wishes were horses, right?
Star Fox (Wii). I've said it before, but 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). As I said last year, let the casual crowd continue to enjoy 2008'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 still isn't prepared to do this one properly, then let's just skip it rather than waste the opportunity. So far, it seems that the company is taking that last bit of advice.