Happy 21st Birthday PS2! Celebrating Ten Long Lost Franchises That Need to Return on PS5

On March 4, 2000, the PlayStation 2 was released in Japan. Most people would have a party when celebrating a 21st birthday, but with many areas still in lockdown thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, people are left wondering when they’ll see their friends and family again. There are some franchises from the PS2 era that make us feel the same way. They are completely absent from any of Sony’s newer consoles, but it’s high time we saw them again. Without further ado, these are the ten franchises we would love to see make a comeback on the PS5.

PS2 Franchises That Need to Return on PS5

10. Kessen

 

PS2 Franchise Revival

Historically, console real time strategy games haven’t done too well, but the PS2 launch title Kessen fared better than most. Producer Kou Shibusawa created the title when he wanted to put his own twist on feudal Japanese history but felt that film was too restrictive. The result is a romanticised but mostly realistic retelling of events towards the end of the Warring States period in Japan. Two more sequels followed but added magical elements and focused far less on realism.

While KOEI’s other franchises set during the same era have flourished, Kessen never made it past the PlayStation 2. The series was quietly discontinued with no reason why. We’d like to assume this means there’d be no reason why it couldn’t be resurrected either, especially as the games are available for PS3 as part of the PS2 classics collection. With turn-based strategy making a comeback on consoles, surely real time strategy can do the same?

9. True Crime

With Grand Theft Auto dominating PS2 software sales, everybody wanted a slice of the action. True Crime: Streets of LA was Activision’s attempt at cashing in, and they didn’t do too badly at first. Their spin on the genre was that the campaign took on the perspective of an elite Los Angeles police officer investigating a series of bombings in Chinatown rather than the criminals. After selling more than 3 million copies, the sequel True Crime: New York City followed two years later. Amidst claims of rushed development, the game sold far less than its predecessor and a direct sequel to NYC was cancelled.

Activision tried to revive the franchise with True Crime: Hong Kong for PS3, but development on this was halted in 2011 when the publisher decided it wouldn’t be able to compete against the best games in the sandbox genre. The title was later picked up by Square Enix and its remnants were incorporated into Sleeping Dogs. Since then, Activision has abandoned the True Crime trademark and developer United Front Games has closed down. A genuine miracle is needed for this franchise to ever get a new installment, but one can hope.

8. Shadow Hearts

PS2 Franchise Revival

Not to be confused with Kingdom Hearts, Sacnoth’s turn-based RPG series originally began with Koudelka on PlayStation. The franchise didn’t acquire the Shadow Hearts moniker until PS2. Set during an alternate World War I and inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft, protagonist Yuri Hyuga can transform into monsters to protect his friends as they battle a family of vampires and demons. Two more games followed, with Shadow Hearts: From the New World acting as both an end to the trilogy and a spinoff.

However, that wasn’t the end of the story. Former director Matsuzo Machida has since stated in an interview that he doesn’t consider From the New World to be the true Shadow Hearts III, nor was the bad ending to Shadow Hearts II the real conclusion. Whether the RPGs will ever get a true conclusion remains to be seen now that Sacnoth, who later changed their name to Nautilus, were absorbed into Aruze and have since moved away from game development. I think we’d all agree we’d prefer a proper sequel to a pachinko machine anyway.

7. XIII

PS2 Franchise Revival

Southend Interactive’s first-person shooter XIII took its distinctive cel-shaded comic book style from the Belgian graphic novels of the same name. These source material followed a man who is found on a beach suffering from a gunshot wound. He has no idea who he is but he has a tattoo of the Roman numeral XIII on his shoulder. While trying to recover his memory, he finds himself caught up in a conspiracy to overthrow the US government.

The game has since become a cult classic even though it sold poorly. A planned sequel was cancelled and the franchise promptly disappeared from consoles, although there’s been a side-scrolling shooter on mobile and even a hidden object game too. With the IP now in the hands of THQ Nordic, the final insult came in the form of an abysmal HD re-release on PS4. Meanwhile, the comics fared much better. They continued for several years and have provided plenty of new source material if the IP’s new owner decides to do justice to XIII and create a completely new title.

6. The Getaway

PS2 Franchise Revival

Inspired by British gangster movies like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, The Getaway was Team SOHO’s answer to the Grand Theft Auto franchise. The sandbox title was split into two halves, the first following ex-con Mark Hammond as he’s dragged back into the lifestyle of a London gangster, and the second taking the role of dirty undercover cop Frank Carter who had to clean up his mess. The game sold 3 million copies and was successful enough to spawn a sequel, The Getaway: Black Monday, which had a similar cops and criminals split campaign.

Now known as London Studio, the team began development on The Getaway 3 for PS3. Unfortunately this was cancelled in 2008 so the studio could “focus on its strengths, EyeToy and SingStar” according to London Studio’s Nicolas Doucet. Ironically, none of the three franchises seem to exist anymore and the closest we’ve gotten to The Getaway is Blood & Truth on PSVR. Hopefully the studio’s next project with “HUGE potential” is that long-awaited sequel.

5. Dark Cloud

PS2 Franchise Revival

Level-5’s Dark Cloud is an interesting blend of genres, combining action-RPG with roguelike and city-building mechanics to make something that seemed fairly unique at the time. Players assume the role of Toan, who joins forces with other adventurers to take down the Dark Genie that has destroyed the local villages. Using the magical power of the Atlamillia, Toan can collect resources from procedurally generated dungeons to rebuild those villages. Despite selling poorly in Japan, the game took the west by storm and sold over 1 million copies in total.

The sequel, Dark Cloud 2 (known as Dark Chronicle in Europe and Japan), introduced new characters and the ability to travel through time. This title fared far better in the developer’s native Japan, but for some reason the franchise disappeared without trace, except for re-releases of both games on PS4 as PS2 Classics. Despite repeated calls to make Dark Cloud 3, Level-5 claim the decision is out of their hands as the IP is part owned by Sony. For now, you’ll just have to cope with the PS4 ports of both games to tide you over until the powers that be make that decision.

4. TimeSplitters

PS2 Franchise Revival

TimeSplitters is another franchise with a troubled history. Free Radical’s first-person shooter took travellers through different eras as their actions changed the course of human history. The PS2 launch title was successful enough to create two sequels, TimeSplitters 2 and TimeSplitters: Future Perfect, but then things went wrong. TimeSplitters 4 only reached the very early stages of development before Free Radical went into administration and were bought out by Crytek.

The new developer put the project on hold, with excuses including issues with marketing and the poor reception of Free Radical’s most recent project Haze. Fans later tried to revive the franchise with TimeSplitters Rewind, but this is yet to be released despite nine years in development. The good news is the IP has since been acquired by THQ Nordic, who is apparently looking to bring TimeSplitters back from the dead. They’ve not done anything with it for three years, but at least there’s a chance.

3. PaRappa The Rapper

PS2 Franchise Revival

Considered to be the very first rhythm game, NanaOn-Sha’s PaRappa the Rapper tasks players with hitting buttons in time to raps, all while PaRappa learns a series of valuable life lessons. The game sold over 1 million unit in Japan alone and garnered critical acclaim despite its short nature. A spin-off titled Um Jammer Lammy was released on PlayStation, while a direct sequel landed on PlayStation 2.

Despite timeless gameplay that has lived on in several titles since, this was the last we heard of the franchise. The games have been ported to PSP and PS4, controversially using the same version in the case of the first game, but there are no signs of a sequel. No PaRappa’s cameo appearance in PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale and more recently in Astro’s Playroom on the PS5 doesn’t count, but at least we know Sony hasn’t forgotten about the franchise completely.

2. Bully

PS2 Franchise Revival

Rockstar’s most famous franchise-that-never-received-a-sequel is undoubtedly their tale of a delinquent schoolboy Jimmy Hopkins who causes chaos at Bullworth Academy. Bully took the Grand Theft Auto formula into the schoolyard to great success, selling 1.5 million copies on PS2. A Scholarship Edition was released on Xbox 360 and Wii with extra content, while the PS2 edition was later ported to PS4. A sequel has never gotten beyond the point of rumors, though.

Studio insiders have previously claimed the sequel has been greenlit and then cancelled several times. The first of those ended development in 2009 and was due to tell a tale of Jimmy’s new life with his stepfather and step siblings. It was cancelled for unknown reasons but was due to be released on PS3. The latest PS4 version was reportedly cancelled in 2017 to make way for development on Grand Theft Auto VI and Red Dead Redemption 2. Whether Rockstar can ever find time to create the long-awaited sequel remains to be seen.

1. Jak and Daxter

PS2 Franchise Revival

Naughty Dog may well be achieving great success with Uncharted and The Last of Us, but their renowned platforming duo Jak and Daxter has fallen by the wayside. Jak and his sidekick ottsel friend Daxter received three games in the main series and three spinoffs, five of which released on PS2. The main titles were ported to PS3 and Vita as the Jak and Daxter Collection, while they were then ported to PS4 alongside Jak X: Combat Racing too.

The last of the six titles, Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier, was being developed by Naughty Dog before being cancelled as they struggled to cope with the demand of creating the title alongside Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. Development duties then passed to High Impact Games to get the game over the finish line. There’s been nothing since 2009 and Naughty Dog doesn’t seem too keen to return. The studio now prefers to tell tales that are a “little bit more grown up” and “really are grounded in realism,” neither of which is an accurate description of Jak and Daxter. With any hope, they’ll reconsider or once again pass the franchise over to somebody else so fans can get the new game they’ve been craving.


Let us know in the comments what you think of our list and if there are any long-lost PS2 franchises we missed that you would love to see renewed on the PlayStation 5.