From The Ashes

By Alec Meer on April 9th, 2008 at 5:40 pm.

We think he's mighty fine

A quick follow-up to the scurrilous speculation a little while back that Interplay was about to resuscitate most of its major franchises. Actually, they are. “The company will leverage its portfolio of gaming properties by creating sequels to some of its most successful games, including Earthworm Jim, Dark Alliance, Descent, and MDK,” says robot-press-releaseman right here. They’re also setting up a new in-house development studio to get all this done. Exciting!

This is all happening because last year’s Interplay earnings were up some 520% compared to 2006 – which is due almost entirely to selling the Fallout 3 rights to Bethesda. Part of that deal involved hanging to the MMO rights to Fallout, a game Interplay have also confirmed they’re going ahead with – though they are still at the securing funding stage.

So, good idea/bad idea? There’s certainly a gentle thrill to the prospect of most of those games clawing their way out of the grave, but with it comes a gentle terror that they’ll be rushed through production in the hope of quick bucks. Still, though – just imagine playing a new Descent game within the next couple of years. Crikey.

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37 Comments »

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  1. Roman Levin says:

    It will be interesting to observe them royally fucking this up.

  2. Jives says:

    Making so many games at once seems a terrible idea when the company’s primary income is from selling their rights off.

  3. Cigol says:

    Hey, if they do it right I’ll be there with money in hand but I’m around about 100% ultra-super-specially-sceptical about them pulling it off. Interplay also weren’t responsible for making these games either, they just published them didn’t they? That raises yet more questions, particularly in light of their more recent history.

    So as much as I’d like to return to these classics I have huge reservations and zero optimism in them ever living up to expectations – which means I’ll either be blown away or ambivalent on release. Best way to be!

  4. Roman Levin says:

    Shiny did MDK and EWJ, Bioware did MDK 2.

  5. Fedora.Pirate says:

    Well this could be interesting; MDK 2 was a great game as was Earthworm Jim (I’ve still got both of them lying around somewhere) but as the above I’m sceptical about how this will go. The stuff that made these games so good is rare in most modern games, so it’ll be interesting to see where this leads.

  6. Matt says:

    New descent would make my day… and then a few more subsequent days as I complete it.

  7. akbar says:

    Did I love Descent back in the day. Can’t imagine what they’d do with it now though. The most exciting thing about it was this wacky “3D” environment.

  8. etho says:

    MDK! Descent! Earthworm Jim, I guess! And Dark Alliance for some reason…

    Fallout Online! WHOO!

    I love seeing these great old franchises stir from their long slumber like so many Deep Ancients, hungering for souls and the gaming dollars of another generation, stretching their tentacles, preparing to…. Sorry about that. Where was I? Oh yes. It’s good to hear from these series again, but I share the concerns others have mentioned that Interplay may not be in the right position to suddenly begin development on several big games all at once. A more sensible course, it seems to me, would be to focus on one game (the Fallout MMO, of course) to start, then use the moneys from that to do MDK, Descent and Earthworm Jim. In that order. They should also start releasing any old games they still have the rights to on Steam, XBLA etc.

  9. Alex says:

    God, Descent. I used to play that at school with friends, over some primitive kind of LAN network.

    One of my friends tried to convert me to strafing, which I just couldn’t even conceive of mastering at the time (don’t worry, I’ve turned out alright), but which is quite handy for a game like Descent.

  10. Noc says:

    I don’t want to see more Dark Alliance. I’m still mad about the first one; when I found out that there was going to be a new Baldur’s Gate game, and then was given . . . well, you know what I ended up playing. It’s not strictly a bad game . . . but the title was a cruel bit of bait-and-switch.

    And I still haven’t forgiven them for it.

  11. Lars Balker Rasmussen says:

    I dunno. They tried that 3D version of EWJ that failed terribly, and I don’t think they have the balls to do a new 2D game. Some games just don’t work in 3D.

    (I played waaaaay too much EWJ in 95/96 when I worked on porting both games to DOS, the first without having access to the originals source-code, so we pretty much had to emulate the gameplay by hand… Still got the mental scars!)

  12. Acosta says:

    Sorry Interplay, but I can’t feel excited just with names, IPs may be valuable but what made them great in first place was the people behind those games.

    A new MDK could work if they manage to get a core representation of the original one, that is Project Moon (if I am not wrong, Nick Bruty and Bob Stevenson are still there, and only Tim Williams left for EA. I would be highly skeptical without them on board. Bruty was also art director of Earthworm Jim, so he could help with that too.

    And the possibilities to screw a Fallout MMO project are incalculable, I am not even sure if that universe is appropriate for an MMO.

  13. Rook says:

    The only way a Fallout MMO could ever succeed if it managed to pull off an Eve Online style world. Something that is completely new and unavailable elsewhere, where hardcore means something different. It’s just not a world that any sane player is going to want to invest any amount of time in.

    As for the other games, I imagine console versions of at least a couple of those might do well. Certainly an Earthworm Jim arcade/psn game similar to what Capcom are doing with Bionic Comando would be a good first step.

  14. Ozzie says:

    I’m not at all excited.
    Sorry, just names mean nothing to me.
    For a change, give us something new, okay?

  15. MindBrain says:

    Yea new Descent please!

  16. Dhruin says:

    No money = no games. They have no money for *one* game, let alone four and an MMO.

  17. Roflgoat says:

    I want a Descent sequel, but I don’t want them to screw it up.

  18. Rebbeh says:

    I actually worked for Shiny as a tester. I got my name in the EWJ2 videogame, and I have the ONLY signed copy of the instruction manual :D

  19. Caiman says:

    Well, Parallax Software (makers of Descent) split into Volition, who have stated no intention of working on a Descent game again, and Outrage, who did the underrated Descent 3 but have since been disbanded. A new Descent would need more than just the Interplay name on it for me to buy it.

    Besides, I’m playing Descent right now thankyouverymuch using D1X-Rebirth.

  20. malkav11 says:

    Interplay is so full of fail these days. So much so that the only possible thing I want to hear about them doing with their wonderful IPs is selling them to deserving owners. Also known as not Interplay.

  21. MeestaNob! says:

    They’ll fuck this up, no doubt, but here’s a few hints to at least give them a fighting chance.

    Re-code in HD and enhance Earthworm Jim and release through all DIGITAL means ie Steam/PSN/XBOX Arcade. MAKE MONEY.

    USE MONEY to make Descent # (are we up to 3 or 4). Spend an extra 8 months and do it right. Use most of your shameless new shiny Earthworm Jim money on it. Release on all formats (yes, Steam too) and make more money. Lots of it. LOTS.

    It’s VERY hard to fuck this up, but they inevitably will. Let’s hope they manage to fuck up fucking up.

    And heck, if you’re feeling daring, release the original Descent games through Steam/Xbox Arcade/PSN as well. You’ll be cashed up like all shit after that.

  22. Lu-Tze says:

    COW LAUNCHED.

  23. Sp4rkR4t says:

    I’d be quite happy to see another MDK game, the first one was great.

  24. Alarik says:

    Caiman: Yeah, D1X-Rebirth (D2X-Rebirth) rocks. I like playing those games in hi-resolution and widescreen. Hmmm, I still keep my old Descent Collector’s Edition box with all datadiscs somewhere near ^_^V Descent 3 doesn’t aged so well though (some engine port would come handy), haven’t finished it yet (I am still postponing it).

    Anybody here played another (yet “a bit” different) tunnel crawling game, Lander? Yes, that game made of awesome and win (and blood and cold sweat) which majority of reviewers completely spurned?

  25. wiper says:

    I wonder if they’re including Freespace under the ‘Descent’ label? I’m not to optimistic about this, it has to be said, but no point damning them before they’ve left the blocks. Good luck to ‘em (because I’d rather they not shit on the franchises)!

    Alarik: aye, I remember Lander. One of the first DVD game releases, a 3D Thrust-alike. Wasn’t bad, and was quite pretty at the time, but took some getting used to – it was one of those rare spaceship-em-ups where mouse control was actually the best choice. I wonder if it works in XP?

  26. Alarik says:

    Works fine in XP. There is even no-cd fix available. I got only CD version though and wasn’t able to play music (which is dissapointing, considering even the most spiteful reviewers were praising it). Apparently music isn’t even present on those CDs – nevertheless, I bought 4 copies (it was some bargain bin in discount store) and gave 2 of them to (or rather forced them onto) my friends :-)

  27. Caiman says:

    I ummed and ahhed over Lander when it was first released and, for some reason, never bought it. Now I’m regretting it because it’s impossible to find without subjecting oneself to the horror of eBay.

    It seemed to remind me of the control scheme for Virus (or Zarch if you’re so inclined) which was utterly frustrating until you’d mastered it and then utterly joyful – like flying a helicopter really.

  28. Coleman says:

    Blackthorne, FTW!

  29. KBKarma says:

    Wait wait wait… Interplay’s NOT dead? Wow. I feel vaguely surprised.

    They’ll probably cock this up. MDK in particular.

  30. scopie says:

    While shitty sequels are a disappointment for old fogeys such as ourselves, the bright side is that some kid who might not know better will buy the latest installment and then go back to experience the older ones. I’ve done this myself with many FPS’s and flight sims, and it’s always been interesting and rewarding to see how a series has evolved (and then subsequently de-evolved).

  31. Nick R says:

    Here is footage of that cancelled PSP Earthworm Jim game:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1VsSBEXTinM

    I love Earthworm Jim – the first game was a brilliant platformer, the second had more gimmicky levels but probably my favourite ending of all time, and the cartoon was one of my favourites as a child.

    Sadly, the blog of creator Doug Tennapel indicated that he is, well, a bit of a twit. :(

  32. KingMob says:

    It will be interesting to observe them royally fucking this up.

    Sorry, I don’t have much else to say about this. Do they retain any of the original talent from these titles? Is there anyone on their Fallout Online team with either Fallout or decent MMO experience?

    So far all the suits at Interplay have proven is that they can keep the shop open for another year. While this is a valuable skill, it hardly promises much for the games they’ll produce.

  33. hungSolo says:

    @Lars Balker Rasmussen

    Earthworm Jim 3D was the last game in recent memory to have made me throw a controller in frustration. Effing Psy-Crow and a pig-gathering contest or some such.

    But I suppose the field of shoehorning a 2D IP into a 3D world has come a ways since then. Still, I’m guessing these releases won’t make a ripple in the industry. Maybe Descent.

  34. Alarik says:

    Yeah, everybody just adores Psycrow :-D

    Physical strength: Has many large rayguns
    Physical weakness: Somewhat out of shape
    Intellectual strength: Relishes the destruction of other creatures
    Intellectual weakness: Not that good at anything else

    Psy-crow is demented, evil, and the ultimate bounty hunter. Despite his pudginess and odd accent, he is notorious for being efficient, ruthless, and viciously intelligent. Little is known of his background, nor is any information concerning his origins likely to become apparent. Another notable factiod is that he coined the phrase “maximum suckage” in the EWJ episode “Trout!”

  35. Down Rodeo says:

    2D ideas in a 3D world: Worms 3D. But let’s not go there.

  36. Vexor says:

    Earthworm Jim he is a groovy guy
    Eathworm Jim he rockets through the sky…

    I forget the rest. That aside, most of today’s generation doesn’t even know about let alone remember these classics. Not sure they would have a viable market. Besides we all know they will be sucked into the vortex that is EA.

  37. peewinkle says:

    Vortex of EA?

    I think you mean Activision Blizzard.

    And yes you are correct, how could the majority of current-gen players recognize these characters when the majority of 14 year olds I know haven’t even played a a console older than the ps2.