10 Dead Game Franchises That Should Return

Read on to take a look at 10 dead game franchises that deserve a comeback. From platformers, to RPGs and racing games, these are titles that have fallen to the wayside for one reason or another. Hopefully, they might get another chance sometime soon...

10 Dead Game Franchises That Should Return

Gaming has been around for decades. Throughout those decades, it stands to reason that there have been thousands of unique ideas thrown around. Some are poorly conceived, while others are fantastic but fail to gain an audience. It takes a lot of talent, and sometimes a little luck too, to really get something to resonate with people – and more often than not, one such game leads to another, and then we undoubtedly have a game franchise on our hands.

Unfortunately, many factors can lead to such a franchise coming to an end. It could be a declining audience, a loss of creative interest, or the dreaded legal disputes. One way or another, game franchises are always suddenly coming to a sudden end, often arguably before their time. So, here are 10 dead game franchises that are seriously overdue for a return. As a condition, these are game franchises that have gone at least 5 years without any kind of major console/PC release – while there are always exceptions, fans usually want more from their beloved series than just an occasional mobile game or simple ports.

Deus Ex

Arguably one of the most ground-breaking video games of all time, and one still revered to this very day. Deus Ex was a mechanically rich masterpiece with a roller-coaster ride of a story that holds up even now. Unfortunately, it tends to follow a pattern; releases a fantastic game, follows it up with a lacklustre sequel, and hibernate for years on end. This has happened twice now; Deus Ex: Invisible War was a massive step backward that stripped down mechanics for a console audience. 2011’s prequel, Human Revolution, was a lauded return to form, only for 2016’s Mankind Divided to sell below expectations. This led then-owners Square Enix to discontinue the series and put the studios to work on Marvel games instead. As I’m sure we’re all aware at this point, this didn’t work out well at all.

Deus Ex blended action and stealth in a sublime cyberpunk setting - and kept predicting the future...

Deus Ex blended action and stealth in a sublime cyberpunk setting – and kept predicting the future…

But there might be hope for Deus Ex yet, as Square Enix’s western studios and IP were sold to Embracer last year. It’s unlikely that Embracer would make such a large purchase and then continue to leave these series buried. Heck, they even mentioned the value of such IP when they initially bought them. There are also rumblings that a new game has begun development, though if this is true we’re still years away from seeing it. As one of the all time greats, and following the disappointment of Cyberpunk 2077, the world needs a new Deus Ex. We can only hope that they finally wrap up Adam Jensen’s story while the opportunity remains.

Chances of a comeback?
Looking pretty good right about now, I’d say a matter of “when” rather than “if”.


While we’re on the subject of properties acquired by Embracer: whatever happened to Thief? Metal Gear Solid may be the go-to when it comes to notable stealth games, but Thief was arguably much more impressive. Stealth was based off of light levels and noise from movement, not just line of sight. Combat was heavily de-emphasised as well. After two excellent games, the series suddenly disappeared after 2004’s middling Thief: Deadly Shadows. Ten years later, there was a reboot from Square Enix, but technical issues and bad ideas earned the ire of fans.

I get Thief was really good for stealth, but I think they've been hiding from us gamers for a bit too long now.

I get Thief was really good for stealth, but I think they’ve been hiding from us gamers for a bit too long now.

It was among the list of game franchises mentioned by Embracer after the acquisition of Square Enix’s western studios. That being said, Thief admittedly doesn’t have the same level of adoration that Deus Ex has. Not to mention, Bethesda’s Dishonored series has filled a similar niche – though that series has since come to an end itself. There’s arguably a gap in the market for Thief, but the question remains if it’s profitable to fill that gap. Let’s hope it is – Thief taught us that there’s more to being sneaky than being out of sight.

Chances of a comeback?
Not as bad as before, but don’t count on it.

Star Fox

Few Nintendo game franchises have had as tumultuous a career as Star Fox. Originally one of the most ground-breaking technical achievements on the SNES, the series lost steam soon after. Star Fox 2 was cancelled outright (eventually seeing release in 2017), in favour of Star Fox 64. Now, Star Fox 64 did well, but few other games are really talked about. Star Fox Adventures was shunned for veering so far from the space shooting the series was known for, and the DS entry Star Fox Command went under the radar. The last big entry was 2016’s Star Fox Zero from PlatinumGames, but it did poorly with fans. This is attributed mainly to the gyro control scheme, and also the fact it mostly imitates Star Fox 64.

Star Fox Zero looked great, but solidified that game franchises need to evolve, or die.

Star Fox Zero looked great, but solidified that game franchises need to evolve, or die.

Perhaps the best way to keep Star Fox relevant is to take another step in trying to branch out. If we’re comparing to other space-flight games, EA’s Star Wars Squadrons did very well. We got a taste of a modern Star Fox game with Ubisoft’s Starlink. While held back by a poorly thought out toys-to-life gimmick, the gameplay was warmly received. Switch owners even got an exclusive Star Fox campaign, as well as the iconic Arwing. A modern Star Fox game can work, but it has to stray from 64 without being too unfamiliar. In the meantime, there’s a pretty excellent romhack of the original game that’s well worth a look.

Chances of a comeback?
It’s really 50/50. Given that it’s Nintendo, they could be sitting on a brand new entry ready to ship for all we know.


I could probably make an entire article on abandoned Sega IPs alone, so here’s a personal one. Shinobi was a set of really great platformers during the 90s, with awesome music and…copyright-unfriendly bosses. It faded away during Sega’s waning years in the console market, before a tough-as-nails 2002 reboot. A disappointing sequel sadly killed that series, but not before one last game released in 2011, as an early 3DS title. It was a return to form, but critics weren’t overly fond of difficult games back then, killing any further hopes.

Visual design, music, gameplay - Shinobi had it all. Then like a true ninja, it vanished.

Visual design, music, gameplay – Shinobi had it all. Then like a true ninja, it vanished.

Revenge of Shinobi and Shinobi 3 are ranked among the best Genesis games out there, and the 2011 game was a good successor. The 2002 reboot also did a great job of bringing it to 3D. If a challenging 3D game about ninjas sounds familiar, it’s because Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice proved that the formula sure works when it scooped up Game of the Year. Sega could easily capitalise on this by bringing back Shinobi in some capacity. That being said, when it comes to competition, there’s few more intimidating than FromSoftware.

Chances of a comeback?
It’s Sega, don’t get your hopes up. But if Samba de Amigo could manage it…


Once a mascot of sorts for Ubisoft, Rayman has had a horrible time of it in the last decade. After a spout of solid platformers, he was vastly overshadowed by the villains of Rayman Raving Rabbids. The titular Rabbids were now the stars of the show, spawning their own game franchise, and Rayman was left by the wayside. There was hope in 2011 with the excellent platformer Rayman Origins, but after its sequel, Rayman Legends, failed to meet sales expectations, that was that.

The Ubi-Art engine turned Rayman into one of the most visually distinctive game franchises out there.

The Ubi-Art engine turned Rayman into one of the most visually distinctive game franchises out there.

Since then, Rayman has been relegated to a cameo guy, peering his head into other games without taking centre stage. He’s also had a couple of mobile games in the style of Origins and Legends, but that’s probably not what we want. Unfortunately, his creator, Michel Ancel, left Ubisoft in 2020, taking all hopes for Rayman 4 with him. As for the Rabbids? Oh, they’re doing just fine, what with the surprisingly excellent Mario+Rabbids series. Ubisoft should seriously bring Rayman back – the modern games were excellent couch co-op fun. Besides, it’d be a much-needed breath of fresh air in their continuously repetitive portfolio…

Chances of a comeback?
That depends. Do you guys not have phones?

Chrono Series

When it comes to legendary JRPGs, there are two words always poised on the tip of every fan’s tongue. Chrono Trigger was and still might be Square Enix’s finest work, and has seen all manner of ports since 1995. A successor in 1999, Chrono Cross, didn’t quite reach the same heights. Fans have warmed to it in recent years, but since then, there’s been no sign of a third entry. It’s a surprise, given how many ports Trigger has received. Chrono Cross was ported to modern systems very recently, however the quality left a lot to be desired. That having been said, an update is in the works that should address the many issues reported over the last year.

Chrono Trigger is filled front to back with iconic scenes; here's hoping a sequel could deliver even more

Chrono Trigger is filled front to back with iconic scenes; here’s hoping a sequel could deliver even more

Given the love for Chrono Trigger, the fact nothing new has been done with the property is perplexing. There have been all manner of spiritual successors, such as last year’s indie hit Chained Echoes. Masato Kato, the original writer, also made a successor of his own; Another Eden, a free-to-play mobile game. With all these attempts to emulate the success, surely a full-blown sequel is long overdue? At the very least, a remake shouldn’t be that far-fetched if it were made in the same vein as last year’s solid Live a Live remake, or the upcoming Dragon Quest III remake.

Chances of a comeback?
A remake surely has to be in the pipeline, but a new entry might not be happening.

Ridge Racer

“Riiiidge Racer!” Remember that one? Once one of Namco’s biggest game franchises and arguably the king of arcade racers, Ridge Racer seems to have vanished. Last seen in 2012, it was a memorable racing game series that seemed to have it all. Excellent graphics, immaculate music, and high-speed gameplay with a big emphasis on drifting. Instalments would typically be launch titles for consoles, and were of consistent quality for over a decade. With such a legacy, you’d surely think they’d be rubbing shoulders with Gran Turismo and Need for Speed to this day, but it was not to be. Unfortunately, things came to a screeching halt very quickly as it entered the 2010s. Ridge Racer Unbounded was announced, and fans were surprised with this:

Ridge Racer Unbounded - First Look Debut Trailer | HD

An edgier, street-racer kind of atmosphere? Crashes and destruction? What’s happened here? To explain: after the disastrous Ridge Racer Vita, Namco decided Ridge Racer had to branch out to survive. Thus came Ridge Racer Unbounded, which was essentially a Burnout clone. The change was met with confusion and apathy, and poor sales saw the series put on ice…where it remains to this day. Rumours have suggested that Namco were developing a new game at some point, but said game is certainly cancelled. There’s a bit of a gap in the arcade racer market being filled up with indies, such as Hotshot Racing. However, it begs the question; can a AAA arcade racer survive in a post-Forza Horizon world? I have my doubts, but I’d like to see them try one more time.

Chances of a comeback?
Namco love their legacy game franchises, I’m confident we’ll see something one day.


One of the most iconic platformers of the 8-bit and 16-bit eras, Castlevania’s absence has been rather conspicuous. The long-running story of the Belmont bloodline’s eternal struggle against Dracula came to a halt in 2014. Not long after that came the iconic Netflix anime series, which is seeing a sequel sometime soon. The original games are (mostly) ranked among the best of the NES library. It helped pioneer the genre that we refer to as “Metroidvania”. Beloved entries such as Rondo of Blood and Symphony of the Night are still heralded to this day, so what happened? Why isn’t this juggernaut of the action-platformer genre still pumping out new games?

Gothic horror just doesn't seem to hit as hard when it's not Castlevania.

Gothic horror just doesn’t seem to hit as hard when it’s not Castlevania.

Well, 2014’s Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2, sequel to a 2010 reboot, failed to meet expectations. After Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain burned a hole in their pockets back in 2015, it was reported that Konami would cease all AAA game development. Thus, all their franchises halted, seemingly relegated to an eternity of slot machines and mobile games. Indeed, Castlevania has had nothing but collections of classic games and mobile instalments since then. However, all is not lost. Konami dropped a bombshell recently announcing a ton of new Silent Hill projects. All of them are outsourced, of course, but it’s a huge step forwards from before. Perhaps a comeback is closer than we think it is…but in the meantime, there’s still the new Dead Cells: Return to Castlevania DLC to tide us over.

Chances of a comeback?
Honestly pretty likely at this point. Hopefully it’s a good one!


A standout pair of platformers on the N64 were all it took to keep Banjo and Kazooie in people’s hearts all this time. One of Rare’s biggest hits on the system, they were classic “collectathon” style 3D platformers. Lots of shiny things to collect, and not much else to it, but they had charming characters and energetic music that won people over. While many other 3D platformers came and went, many game developers continue to cite Banjo-Kazooie as an inspiration.

Nuts and Bolts may not have been bad, but it didn't belong in the Banjo-Kazooie game franchise.

Nuts and Bolts may not have been bad, but it didn’t belong in the Banjo-Kazooie game franchise.

When Microsoft bought Rare back in 2002, things changed quickly. Banjo-Kazooie’s next, and final game would arrive in 2008 on the Xbox 360. Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts would become infamous for switching focus to vehicular traversal, and poking fun at the original games rather than celebrate them. While the original games would see high quality ports, the sting of Nuts and Bolts never left the fandom. Rare have been adamant about not wanting to revisit the series, so that rules them out. Microsoft could still give the IP to another studio, as we saw with the upcoming Perfect Dark (another Rare classic). Former Rare developers have also tried their hand at a spiritual successor in the form of Yooka-Laylee – but it didn’t quite seem to stick the landing.

Chances of a comeback?
The 3D platformer is thriving right now, but it’s unlikely Banjo nor Kazooie will be joining them.

Golden Sun

As a brief aside: I originally was going to put Atlus’ Etrian Odyssey series in this spot. I’ve never been so happy to have to rewrite something before now. So lets talk about another under-loved JRPG series: Golden Sun. Camelot, formerly of the Shining Force series of RPGs, went from Sega to Nintendo for their next undertaking. After a lengthy development period that saw the game split into two parts, Golden Sun released to adoration from critics. A sequel comprising of what Camelot couldn’t fit into the first arrived soon after. Both of them rank among the best RPGs on the Game Boy Advance, if not of all time.

Golden Sun felt like a last echo of the Golden Age of JRPGs - a fitting name, in hindsight.

Golden Sun felt like a last echo of the Golden Age of JRPGs – a fitting name, in hindsight.

Golden Sun: Dark Dawn eventually released for the DS over 8 years later, but sales weren’t as strong, and reception more tepid. Critics complained that little had changed, and the design had become dated. Since then…nothing. Camelot was essentially relegated entirely to Mario sports games, most recently Mario Golf: Super Rush. Even reception to those has waned over time, and some worry for the future of Camelot as a studio. Golden Sun is their baby, but it would appear that they simply don’t have the time or money to spend tending to it. At the very least, Golden Sun will be added to Nintendo Switch Online’s Expansion Pack in the future, but we may never see a full sequel again.

Chances of a comeback?
Next to zero. Let’s just be glad that the games happened to begin with.


There you have it, 10 game franchises that need a comeback. Obviously, this is by no means an exhaustive list (I hear you, Knack enjoyers), so be sure to sound off if there are any you’d like to see make a comeback. Ultimately, studios and publishers may have fair reasons for retiring some of these game franchises…but it’s only fair that dedicated fans who think the opposite make their wishes known. Fan feedback has saved franchises before, after all!

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