In the wake of the seismic news that Microsoft will be acquiring Activision Blizzard and all its subsidiaries and IPs, many are naturally talking about the latter’s heavyweight franchises – Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Candy Crush Saga, Overwatch, Diablo – the ones that most people immediately think of when they think of Activision Blizzard. But what about the lesser-known games in the Santa Monica based company’s impressive catalog? There are many to be sure, and within that lengthy roster there may just be a few surprises waiting in the wings.
One of those surprises may just be Tenchu. Younger gamers may not be familiar with this stealth action ninja game series, which goes all the way back to the PS1 era, but they likely know of its spiritual successor in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, which was initially conceived as an installment of the Tenchu series (Sekiro developer FromSoftware did publishing honors for many of the Tenchu games, and had a development hand in others). Could the Tenchu franchise be resurrected to compete with its critically acclaimed scion? Only time will tell, but it's hard to argue that the notion of a Tenchu comeback holds a lot of promise.
Seventh Gen Retro Games
For many of the potential future hits to come from this deal one may want to look to the past. Retro games enthusiasts may (emphasis on may) have reason to get excited. While a Pitfall revival may be too much for old-schoolers to hope for (or who knows, maybe not?), there are a couple of exciting scenarios that could play out under Microsoft’s new ownership. Open world action-adventure game Prototype became something of a cult hit back in the PS3/Xbox 360 era. A sequel was released a decade ago, and the series has been MIA since, though there are many who remember the first installment fondly. Could a remaster be in store for the future?
Blur is another of those great games that never really got their just due, though the internet has been loudly clamoring about it throughout the 11 years or so since its release. The arcade racer was developed by Bizarre Creations, the same studio behind Microsoft Game Studio’s own Project Gotham Racing, so it’s really no surprise that Blur has left behind a lasting legacy. Perhaps all the YouTube hubbub could finally come to fruition in the form of a Blur revival.
An Xbox 360 launch title (as well as releasing on sixth-gen systems) Gun is yet another Activision title that made an enduring impression only to be left behind. In many ways a forerunner to Red Dead Redemption – the previous year’s Red Dead Revolver notwithstanding – Gun is another retro game that many feel deserves a remaster if not a remake.
A few other Activision titles from this era that may just come back in a big way are the first person shooters Singularity and Timeshift. These two games, which both share a novel time manipulation gameplay mechanic, have each become cult classics in their own right and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see either or both make what would surely be a much-applauded return in the form of remakes or remasters.
True Crime, Spyro, Crash Bandicoot
Another Activision series that could come back in a big way is the long defunct True Crime franchise, which hasn't seen a release in more than fifteen years (Square Enix’s Sleeping Dogs ditched the True Crime license as well as any narrative connection to the series). A few other noteworthy new feathers in Microsoft’s cap are Spyro the Dragon and Crash Bandicoot. It would be surprising if both these classic platformers didn’t make a return; in fact, they might even retrieve something of their former glory if Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer chooses to direct enough focus into seeing such a scenario come to fruition.
Microsoft ultimately may or may not show an interest in resurrecting sixth and seventh generation retro games, but the retro gaming community is a vocal one and not to be ignored.
It would be a shock (not to mention a huge disappointment, quite frankly) if Microsoft doesn’t end up doing something big with Starcraft. While this is a legendary series and hence hard to justify as a “hidden gem,” it's hard not to imagine that it won’t become a household name to a new generation of gamers under Microsoft’s wing.
There’s no denying that Microsoft’s purchase of Activision Blizzard will change the console gaming landscape in ways we can’t even foresee. But it is safe to say that within that changing landscape there will be winners, there will be losers, and sometimes, there will be those games that come along and surprise us.