Today marks the beginning of a new era — one where washed-up Rare characters far and wide will rise up from the ashes to reclaim their FORMER GLORY. I'm of course referring to the release of Rare Replay, the remastered compilation package featuring 30 games from Rare's 30-year-long tenure, all for $30. It's pretty much the greatest video game deal to ever happen (as reflected by the fact that it was the most pre-ordered game announced at E3 2015), which means games like Grabbed by the Ghoulies and Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts might at last get the accolades they've deserved all along. And if Rare Replay establishes its contents well enough, perhaps even old-timers like Sabreman could come out of retirement.
Because for anyone who remembers the canceled Sabreman Stampede (formerly known as the also-canceled Donkey Kong Racing), our ol' pal Sabreman has some...unfinished business.
The world of Sabre Wulf was set to be the Xbox's Donkey Kong Country (animals, nature, David Wise), but like most other projects started at Rare during this decade, it just wasn't meant to be. Maybe it's because development grew directionless and the team was laid off/fired/summarily executed. Maybe it's because the last game in the franchise was one of the worst selling video games ever, ever ever ever, on any platform. (Thanks, THQ!) Or maybe it's because poaching was literally the game's primary mechanic, (darts, ropes, riding without consent, etc.) and someone at Microsoft realized that that probably wasn't the best idea. And with anti-poaching mentality at an all-time high in the wake of deaths like Cecil the lion's, one would think that'd be all the more reason to continue shying away from such controversy in the modern age.
But I say not so fast.
Concern for the environment was a hugely contentious issue back in 2002, but that didn't keep Al Gore's Super Mario Sunshine from making it the game's central theme. Sunshine embraced the cultural sensitivity and used it to its advantage, specifically illustrating just how serious threats of pollution were taken, and most importantly, what fate lied in store for those even suspected to be behind it. It was a two-way social commentary which on one level sought to tackle the issues of environmental disregard, but also the dangerous political alarmism that leads to things like Mario's justice-deprived experience in the Isle Delfino courtroom. (The trial lasted less than two minutes in length, his attorney was basically Princess Peach, and he was convicted based on incorrect eyewitness testimony rivaling that of the #HandsUpDontShoot people.)
|You almost want to feel bad for him.|
In the past week we've observed western society's response to a dentist's unlawful killing of a highly-protected beast, and it comes in the form of a psychosis-drenched bloodlust -- one leagues more terrifying than the actual behavior being decried. Yes, the lad did something bad and needs to face justice (assuming the misinfo wasn't 100% the fault of the Zimbabwean hunting guides, of course), but the position of those enraged is that nothing less than full-on life-ruination of the dentist and his dentistry will do. All to send a message to future poachers in true "the ends justify the means" fashion.
With enough cunning from evil Sabre Wulf mastermind Dr. Dolittle-Goode, it's feasible that Sabreman too could be cast into such a role. One day he could be on a quaint little Karnath Jungle hunting trip (and we know he hunts) when it turns out his hunting guides, in the form of a shoddily-disguised Dr. Doolittle-Goode/Sabre Wulf duo, craftily replace the target of his hunt with a hugely-respected animal from elsewhere. Maybe another lion, maybe a capybara, or maybe someone from DK Island so that Sabreman can be charged with copyright infringement on top of everything else. Whatever the case, instead of simply being sentenced to clean-up duty like Mario, Sabreman will instead be faced with the life-threatening vigilantism of the don't-stop-'til-he-drops Internet mob.
Rather than recovering treasure and being chased back through the levels by Sabre Wulf, Sabreman will recover pieces of evidence and be chased back through the levels by Internet mobsters. (This will gel perfectly with Sabreman's reliance on animal partners, since he sure won't be able to trust humans.) Then after the villainous duo is eventually found guilty of framing Sabreman, it could be revealed that the protected animal didn't even actually die, leaving the 'Doc, the 'Wulf, and the Internet mob people to all rot inside the same Blackwyche Village cell.
...Only for a few months, though. Because A) Blackwyche probably can't afford it, B) I'm soft on crime, and C) if the game sells well, then I'll be hungry for more. (And you can bet the Internet vigilantes will be too.)