Every few weeks it seems another developer has shut their doors, often after being bought up by a big 3rd party publisher. There are far too many awesome developers that have disappeared to mention in one short article and a million more developers you won’t have even heard of even if you did play their games, so here is just a few that we miss. Why not leave a comment and post yours?
Bullfrog rose to fame creating some of the best god games out there such as Populous and Theme Park. Lead by Peter Molyneux they brought us tonnes of classic games, we’ve already mentioned Theme Park, the first title that gave you the chance to run your own Disney World, placing rides where you wanted, upping the salt on fries to make people thirsty. If you was smart you’d place a drink stall next door with lots of ice to make lots of profit. But they also gave us racing games on the 32 bit systems, the amazing Theme Hospital and Dungeon Keeper. They even did a port of Quake 3 to the PS2. But it is the Theme games we miss most, we love Roller Coaster Tycoon to bits but we want more Theme Park, more Dungeon keeper and all by the same studio. We miss you Bullfrog.
Westwood appeared almost out of nowhere with the release of Command and Conquer. Of course they had been around for a while before hand but this game changed the PC land scape. You controlled the war, controlling tanks and troops like never before. It is very similar to Bullfrogs games, offering the same sort of view point and gameplay so maybe this is why neither survived. Of course both being bought by EA who really didn’t know what to do with them is the more likely cause. Whilst Westwood never made much else than C&C they made some amazing titles in a genre which has slowly died a death over the years. Red Alert 3 and C&C 3 were great, but we can;t help but feel that the old West Wood would have pushed the boundaries more.
God how we miss them already. They didn’t even disappear that long ago at the time of writing but they brought us the fabulous F1 and F1 97 on the PSone, two of the best F1 games ever still. Realism mixed with arcady fun, they captured F1 races perfectly without making them too realistic. They then gave us the wonderful Metropolis Street Racer with its amazing graphics attached to F1 gameplay (only without the F1 cars). They are the team that gave us the whole PGR series but they still gave us other games like Fur Fighters and The Club to show they were not just an ace racing studio. But once again a big publisher bought them and killed them without giving them time to shine. One of the best arcade racer devs that ever lived and now gone. PGR5 will not be the same.
Yeah we know they are still around, but in name only. Sonic Team gave us the classic Sonic The Hedgehog games but they also gave us experimental games such as Nights, Burning Rangers and Samba De Amigo. Every Sonic Team game pre 2000 is a stone cold classic. They even gave us the first Dreamcast online title, Chu Chu Rocket which is one of the finest puzzle games there is. Sadly since then they have churned out crap Sonic titles and little else. We’ve gotten games like Nights 2 and remakes of games, countless remakes of Sonic games but Sonic team are not the same. Their games pushed boundaries as well as hardware, sure they were a little rushed and buggy because of it but that could be over looked. Now its just buggy crap games which are almost impossible to forgive.
Another Sega studio thats been under a few different names, AM3, Hitmaker, AM5 and Sega Rosso. They gave us games like Virtual On, Virtua Tennis, Crazy Taxi and Sega rally as well as a whole host of others. They made perfect arcade games that could be played for months. Arcade games by their nature are only meant to last a few minutes, yet every one of their games has depth to keep you playing for weeks and months. Every game they’ve made from Crazy Taxi to Sega Rally was perfect from the start, the sequels never living up to the originals. We need some fresh arcade games to challenge our mates at and only HitMaker knew how to make such a wide range of arcade games.
Okay Midway were never the best developer or publisher in the world but there was something about them we miss. Their games often had this grittyness to them that games often lack now. Like an 80s Arnie film, they were never the best at what they were doing but they sure were a lot of fun to play. From the likes of Mortal Kombat to the Wheelman they always took a risk and published games they were never guaranteed big hitters. They released a wide range of titles from Motocross games like Freestyle Metal X to fighters and every single one always had this midway touch. The games were never buggy or rough but full of action and fun at the expensive of polish.
Shiny are sort of still around. Well they are part of Foundation 9 but they haven’t made a game in yonks and Dave Perry isn’t even a part of them. They rose to fame mainly on the Mega Drive by offering such lovely looking games as Alladin and Earthworm Jim. The games are graphical showcases offering animation to rival a Disney film. Filled with tongue in cheek humour each game was a laugh a minute as you noticed all sorts of little details. The games played great too and we can only think of TellTale games who come close to offering the same sort of humour and fun in each game. Did you know they also made an RC Helicopter sim on the PSone which sold extremely well? Well they did but its Earthworm Jim we want back, in a brand new adventure.
Black Rock Studios
This makes us really sad. Black Rock have been under a couple of different names so you’ll only really know them for Pure and Split Second. Pure a quad racing game doesn’t sound too exciting but it is the best one out there by a long way. Lush graphics, lots of tricks and cool gameplay make it a title to check out. But Split Second is what we really love the most from these guys. Even better graphics, blisteringly fast and almost out burnouts Burnout. We love the energy in this game as bits of scenery come crashing down whilst cars try to dodge falling debry. The game even ends on a cliff hanger setting it up for Split Second 2. Which sadly will never arrive because Disney shut them down to follow ‘social’ games and other crap. Well why buy them in the first place if all you wanted to make was crap facebook titles instead of amazing games like Split Second? Its almost as bad as trying to release the game on the same day as its huge rival Blur from Bizarre Creations. Oh wait, they did that too so maybe Disney also had a hand in killed Bizare off too, funny thought that.