“Bioshock Infinite”…and 8 Other Games Well Worth the Wait

I hereby denounce any public or private doubts I had about “Bioshock Infinite.”

The game really is just that good, as you’ve probably gathered from nearly every review and impression.

It’s hard to not have had doubts at some point about the title though, considering the substantial development time and departures of major developers during which. There is, however, precedent for games surviving that type of ordeal, as an elite group of titles managed to survive long delays, and massive amounts of hype and expectations, to emerge as great games. I can think of 8 in particular that were well worth the wait.

 

Honorable Mention – “Fallout 3” – A definite candidate, but “Fallout 3” gets a lot of love on this site, so just once I wanted to give some other titles their dues.

8. Mother 3

I remember seeing the first blurry and ugly screens of the “EarthBound 64” project in Nintendo Power, and being ecstatic about the prospect to a sequel about my favorite game ever.

As time went on screenshots and other news releases became fewer and fewer, until many started to believe the whole thing may have been an elaborate hoax. Then around 2004-2005, word got out that a third entrant in the cult hit “Mother” series would finally see release…in Japan. Not content with letting the land of the rising sun have all the fun, a dedicated group of American fans released an incredible and thorough translation of the title, so almost everyone could finally play the long awaited sequel.

While admittedly not the best game on this list, the “abandon all hope” mentality was strong regarding this one, and the dedicated translation efforts go to show that you can’t get in the way between fans and the games they really want.

7. LA Noire

Not all long awaited game are continuations or sequels.

The only original property on this list, there were rumblings of a 1940’s noire style video game dating back to 2003 when developer Team Bondi was formed. Originally set to be published exclusively by Sony, as the years wore on the game would switch publishers to Take Two, and seemingly grew in ambition as the release date kept slipping and slipping. Until the game graced the cover of a 2010 Game Informer, many even believed it to be quietly axed.

While reception to “L.A. Noire” was somewhat mixed due to its polarizing gameplay style, there is no denying the technical marvel of the graphics, or the pitch perfect execution of its retro style. The first video game to ever be accepted as an entrant to the Tribeca Film Festival, “L.A. Noire” emerged from an endless development cycle quite possibly something greater than it was originally conceived as.

6. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

The only reason this one isn’t higher, is because it was somewhat inevitable.

Still it was 1991 when “A Link to the Past” had Nintendo fans the world over gushing over the series’ brilliance, and outside of “Link’s Awakening” for the Game Boy, it would be 1998 before the true follow up to the series would see release. In the middle was a whole lot of nothing, as Nintendo remained mum about their most anticipated theoretical title, only casually referencing it, and often speaking of only delays.

Of course you probably know how this one turned out, as “Ocarina of Time” is widely regarded as one of the best games ever, and shows anticipation is a benefit if you can capitalize off of it.

5. Ninja Gaiden

While not necessarily synonymous with the NES, the “Ninja Gaiden” series had a very loyal following that gutted through the game’s legendary difficulty and found some of the best 2D action games ever crafted.

Following the release of 1991’s “Ninja Gaiden 3,” the series disappeared behind the shroud of a smoke bomb, leaving only a trilogy re-release for the Super Nintendo in its wake. Despite a respectable outcry for more, no one seemed in too much of a hurry to continue the series, and loose talk about a new “Ninja Gaiden” in 1999 became just that in the eyes of many fans.

But in 2004 a re-booted “Ninja Gaiden” was finally released, and brought to the Xbox a modern day 3D action title that took cues from the “Devil May Cry” games that changed the genre in its absence, while maintaining the punishing difficulty and fluid style that made the series originally notable. The “Batman Begins” of the video game world, “Ninja Gaiden” is a case of 13 years being fashionably late.

4. Team Fortress 2

Boasting one of the longest active development times ever, “Team Fotress 2” and “Duke Nukem Forever” may be the poster children for the term “Development Hell.”

There’s hardly a “Team Fortress” fan who doesn’t remember the screenshots that emerged of “Team Fortress 2” around 1999 that showed a highly realistic and detailed military shooter. Based on the amount of details about it, and the polished looks of the game, a release seemed inevitable. However, years and years went by with only passing mentions of the game leading fans to believe that the once concrete title had cracked and fallen. The little remaining hope would unfairly be dashed even further when the game did eventually appear again as a Saturday morning cartoon looking shooter, attached as a pack-in with “The Orange Box.”

Of course, unlike “Duke Nukem Forever,” excitement reached an all time high once people actually played the game, and discovered one of the most unique, stylish, and well developed online shooters of the modern age. After an unbelievable 9 years in development, players were graced with a game that will likely remain at the top of the active server list for far longer than that.

3. Starcraft II

Nobody does delays like Blizzard.

It’s quite possible they gather their development strength from delays, much like Samson and his hair. It’s the only possible explanation for why years in Blizzard development terms is the equivalent to months for everyone else. Even still, it was 1998 when they released the worldwide phenomenon RTS game “Starcraft,” and 2003 when they first hinted at developing a sequel. Seven years from that date fans would finally get “Starcraft II,” 12 years after the original.

While “Starcraft II” didn’t set the world on fire with joy as its anticipation predicted, the game was a prime example of why not to rush a sequel, as it fulfilled the hopes of all but the most jaded of “Starcraft” faithful. Even then this remains one of the more extreme examples of delaying the inevitable.

2. Metroid Prime

While “Metroid” was a revolution for the NES (it even helped coin its own style of gameplay), it was the more fully realized “Super Metroid” released for the Super NES in 1994 that made the series a legend.

It’s not easy to follow up on one of the greatest games of all time, as many sequels have proven, but that has never stopped developers from at least trying. Many figured a “Metroid” follow up was unlikely for the then aging Super Nintendo, but no one guessed that the N64 would follow up on nearly every major franchise except “Metroid.” Instead it took until 2002 and the Gamecube’s “Metroid Prime” for the series to re-invent itself as a first person adventure title, and shock fans across the world.

The reason “Metroid Prime” places so high on the list is simple. An N64 “Metroid” should have by all rights existed, but internal reports cite that no one had any good ideas of how the game would work for the N64 and specifically its controller. “Metroid” didn’t get a sequel until a proper follow up that did justice to the series was possible, which to me is the definition of a worthwhile wait.

1. Half-Life 2

It wasn’t the longest development time ever by a mile, but the wait for “Half-Life 2” was, with few peers, the most heated.

Not satisfied that 1998’s “Half-Life” was one of the most revolutionary and beloved games ever, Valve also had to end it on a cliffhanger as befuddling as it was enticing. It wasn’t until the closing minutes of “Half-Life” that gamers learned there was a lot more to this series than anyone had thought, and the idea of some sort of resolution and follow up tore at gamers as “Half-Life 2” topped most wanted lists year after year.

In retrospect, its eventual release in 2004 wasn’t the eternity it felt like, but considering that “Half-Life 2” far outstripped even the most wild of expectations built during that time, and provided fans with a follow up that, while not conclusive, completely satisfied what was considered an impossible craving, it has to be considered the ultimate showcase of the virtues of patience.

  

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