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Xbox Franchises That Need To Be Revived

Microsoft introduced fans to plenty of new universes, storylines, and characters as the Xbox transformed over two decades. While the company, as a relatively late entrant into the console wars, has struggled to define its own identity with the Xbox's few high-profile exclusives, franchises like "Halo" have become iconic in their own right. However, the brand's nearly twenty year history has also produced more than a few misfires. 

For every "Gears of War" that managed to stick the landing and establish a dynasty, there was a "Sunset Overdrive" poised for a sequel that fans will likely never get to play. Other series enjoyed a solid run before losing momentum and falling by the wayside, such as "Perfect Dark Zero," which may be on its way back thanks to a project from Microsoft's new game studio, The Initiative.

Just because a series doesn't continue indefinitely doesn't mean it isn't worth revisiting. Here are some of the Xbox franchises that Microsoft should revive for its new generation of consoles.

Crimson Skies

There were only two entries in the "Crimson Skies" series: "Crimson Skies," developed by Zipper Interactive for PC (via IGN), and "Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge," which was developed by Microsoft Game Studios for Xbox. They both made a positive impression on reviewers and fans, per Metacritic, and could be worth another go.

As described in an IGN interview with creative director Jordan Weisman, "Crimson Skies" took place in an alternative history in which the stock market crash of the late 1920s resulted in a splintered America. Factions such as the Nation of Hollywood, the Republic of Texas, and the Kingdom of Hawaii fought wars that took place mainly in the sky, and players assumed the role of independent air pirate Nathan Zachary, forming and breaking alliances while chasing down his fortune.

The game had a fun "Indiana Jones" vibe and a massive roster of fun to fly, physics-defying aircraft to pilot, as noted by Eurogamer. The deep backstory was used for the creation of a tabletop game of the same name, and newer titles like "Star Wars: Squadrons," which topped the digital sales charts the week it was released according to GamesIndustry.biz, have shown that there is a modern market for games that combine easy flight physics with fast-paced combat. Package all that with brightly colored barnstorming adventure from the 1930s for the Series X|S and fans would have more than enough of a reason to revisit "Crimson Skies."

Viva Piñata

The first "Viva Piñata" arrived on the Xbox 360 in 2006 as a part of Microsoft's efforts to establish a family-friendly franchise for the platform, as was relayed in an official press release revealing the title. The company even tried to support the franchise with a "Viva Piñata" TV show that ran for two seasons, and the game eventually spawned two follow-ups: "Viva Piñata: Party Animals" and "Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise."

While the series may have targeted a younger audience, it attracted fans of all ages. "Viva Piñata" found success with reviewers on Metacritic with its deceptively simple gameplay in which players designed a garden ecosystem to try and best appeal to roaming piñatas. Gamers who dug into "Viva Piñata" were rewarded with interesting challenges as they attempted to establish a functioning ecosystem, per VGChartz. Players had to understand the Doughnut of Life, in which some piñatas acted as predator and prey to one another, and make sure their world provided the specific requirements needed to create more piñatas.

The Doughnut of Life revealed aggression between the piñatas that GamesRadar+ called "both disturbing and decidedly hilarious to watch," a component of the game that was also apparent when Professor Pester would visit and crack open one of the cutesy creatures for his own consumption. While the "Viva Piñata" series was never a runaway hit on the scale of Nintendo's successful "Animal Crossing" title (via Bloomberg,) the games have remained cult favorites among fans on Reddit and the time might be right for Rare to reboot this unique part of Xbox history on the Series X|S.

Amped

When the original Xbox launched, extreme sports games were in high demand. Some of the best games in the "Tony Hawk's Pro Skater" franchise had just released, demonstrating the potential of the genre, and developers raced to get their versions of motocross, BMX, and snowboarding games to market.

As noted by GameGrin, "Amped: Freestyle Snowboarding" was an early launch title for the Xbox developed by Microsoft Game Studios that competed with EA's "SSX" series on the PlayStation 2. The game set itself apart from its biggest rival by focusing on tricks rather than just downhill racing, per Red Bull. The franchise would ultimately tap out with "Amped 3," an Xbox 360 exclusive, but each entry was mostly well received by reviewers and fans, as seen on Metacritic.

With the recent critical success of the "Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2" remaster and EA's revival of the "Skate" series, the extreme sports market is the hottest it's been for a while. If there was ever a time to bring "Amped" back to life on the Series X|S, now just might be it, and fans on Reddit have been asking for a return to the series for years.

Banjo-Kazooie

After Microsoft's acquisition of Bethesda turned gaming on its head, the company had seemingly doubled down on its efforts to brand the Xbox as the home for mature video gaming experiences. This approach largely leaves younger audiences to its competitors, much to the appreciation of Nintendo of America's former president Reggie Fils-Aimé, per the Toronto Star. Nintendo, of course, has spent decades crafting games in iconic family-friendly franchises such as "Mario" and "Zelda," while the PlayStation has always had a stable of games such as "Ratchet & Clank" that appealed to all ages.

It wasn't always like that, however. In its early years of the Xbox, Microsoft hoped its investment in Rare might capture some of the market that Nintendo and Sony dominated. The studio brought with them the "Banjo-Kazooie" franchise, and Rare studio head Mark Betteridge told Computer and Videogames that their ambition was to make the duo a mascot for the Xbox 360.

However, Rare would only release a single game in the series for Xbox consoles, "Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts," which arrived in 2008. In a surprising shift in focus, the game placed a heavy emphasis on vehicle construction alongside traditional platforming elements. While it received a generally positive reception on Metacritic, it would ultimately prove to be the final entry in the franchise, as Microsoft never released a "Banjo-Kazooie 3." Revisiting the series now, perhaps with a more classic approach, could finally help give the Xbox consoles a family-friendly mascot to reach even bigger markets.