Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption have brought Rockstar Games plenty of success, but a lot of franchises were abandoned in the process.
By Liam Ferguson
Published 3 hours ago
Rockstar Games is known for publishing some of the most lavishly produced games in all of the industry, and this has given it no small number of fans. According to May 2021 financial results from its parent company Take Two Interactive, the Grand Theft Auto franchise has sold over 345 million copies, making it easily one of the most successful game franchises of all time. Not to be outdone, the Red Dead Redemption franchise has itself shifted over 60 million copies in total. These numbers aren¨t even accounting for the amount of money Rockstar has raked in through GTA Online and Red Dead Online.
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In the midst of all that success, however, some things had to be left behind. A lot of franchises owned by Rockstar Games, including Midnight Club, Max Payne, and Manhunt, have been relegated to the realm of sparse re-releases or ignored entirely. It¨s rather unfortunate when one considers how many winners there are amongst these old franchises. A number of them are arguably worth releasing now, along with some of the older Red Dead?and GTA?games.
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One of Rockstar¨s better known IPs, Bully is essentially a GTA game entirely set in a town hosting a distinguished school. It was originally released on October 17, 2006 for the PlayStation 2, having been developed by Rockstar games. A remastered version of the game called Bully: Scholarship Edition was developed by Mad Doc Software and released on March 4, 2008 for Xbox 360 and Wii, and on October 21, 2008 for Microsoft Windows. The game became a cult classic due to its unique take on an open world action game and its fun, relatable delinquent narrative. A lot of fans would really like to see Rockstar take another crack at Bully, but that remains to be seen.
L.A. Noire is a neo-noir detective action-adventure game developed by Team Bondi and published by Rockstar Games. It was released in May 2011 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, in November 2011 for PC, and in November 2017 for the Switch, PS4, and Xbox One. A VR version of the game proceeded to roll out on several systems over the next couple years. Taking control of Los Angeles detective Cole Phelps, players solved several cases and took on every aspect of investigation (including the occasional shootout or otherwise action-oriented scene) over the course of a varied campaign.?L.A. Noire is?beloved, and it’s not hard to see why.
Manhunt is the first series on this list, and shows a unique side of Rockstar that is not typically seen in its games. Manhunt 1 and Manhunt?2 are stealth horror action games developed first by Rockstar North and then by Rockstar London. The first game was initially released in 2003, and its sequel came out during 2007. They?ran into troubles with being banned in some regions, but that only served to make them more noticeable at the time. These games became cult hits due to their well executed horror and extreme violence, and fans of the first can still get it on Steam and PS4.
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The Max Payne trilogy holds a special place in many fans¨ hearts, and represents the surprising crossover of Remedy Entertainment (now well-known for its work on Alan Wake and Control) and Rockstar. The first game was developed by Remedy and published by Gathering of Developers in 2001. Rockstar published the second game in 2003, and Rockstar Studios ended up developing the finale in 2012.
The whole trilogy is still beloved due to its compelling narrative, engaging characters (including Max Payne himself) and slick Hong Kong action?with?The Matrix-inspired bullet time and dodging. The whole trilogy is available on Steam for those who want to check it out, and newer Remedy fans definitely should.
Midnight Club: Street Racing is a racing video game developed by Angel Studios and published by Rockstar Games, and it¨s the first?entry in a four-game-long series. These games focus on competitive street racing, and only the first was developed by Angel. With various releases spanning the decade after 2000, this was Rockstar¨s premiere racing series, and the one it used to compete with others like Burnout and Need for Speed.
After the driving game scene shifted largely over to simulation racers and kart racers, Midnight Club didn¨t really have a place anymore, especially beside the car-dominated GTA. These games are unfortunately not available on modern consoles,?although Rockstar did briefly list and delist?Midnight Club 2 on Steam.
This is where things get weird. Oni is a third-person action video game developed by Bungie West, a division of Bungie, and the only title that team released. Gameplay consists of third-person shooting with a surprising amount of hand-to-hand combat. Released in 2001 by Gathering of Developers for Mac OS and Windows, a PlayStation 2 port was concurrently developed by Rockstar Canada.
The game’s art style and story were largely inspired by Ghost in the Shell and Akira, and it¨s set in a similar cyberpunk world. This stands out as one of the weirdest games in Rockstar¨s catalogue, not only due to the strong Japanese influence but also because it was developed by Bungie. Fans have kept the PC version alive and playable with an Anniversary Edition, which is the recommended way to experience this fascinating little moment in gaming history.
Smuggler’s Run Rockstar
The final series Rockstar has left behind is currently the Angel Studios developed Smuggler¨s Run 1 and Smuggler’s Run?2. The first game was published by Rockstar Games as a launch title for the PlayStation 2 in October of 2000, with the second following in 2001 as a PS2 and later GameCube title. In these games, players controlled smugglers who could use a wide variety of vehicles to smuggle cargo past enemies in large, open levels. They were humble little games, but certainly had their fans.
State of Emergency is an odd, little-known game from VIS Entertainment. A beat ’em up published by Rockstar Games for PlayStation 2 and Xbox, and by Global Star Software for Microsoft Windows, it takes place several years in the future and focuses on a group of freedom fighters trying to retake the USA from the militarized ＾Corporation￣. It is an odd duck to be sure, and even got a sequel made by a different publisher and developer. It¨s hard to find these days, and could really use a remaster, but the curious will have some luck with abandonware sites.
The Italian Job is a game based on the 1969 film of the same name, developed by Pixelogic and first published for PlayStation in Europe by SCi and Sold Out in 2001, and in North America by Rockstar Games in 2002. A port of the game for Microsoft Windows was released by SCi Games and Global Star Software in 2002. This is another humble little racing game, though it does feature a story mode based on its source film.
The final franchise Rockstar has left behind is another movie game, though it¨s a fair bit more ambitious and well-known. The Warriors is a 2005 beat-’em-up video game based on the 1979 film of the same name, and was developed by Rockstar Toronto and published by Rockstar Games. It was released in October 2005 for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox, and?was popular enough to receive PSN re-releases all the way up to the PlayStation 4.
The gameplay revolves around large scale brawling in 3D environments interspersed with other game types and minigames. It expands on the film¨s plot, starting three months earlier. While some of the licensed songs have been stripped out, this game may actually still be worth experiencing due to its quality. Few could have guessed that Rockstar had one of the best movie games sitting in its back catalogue, but here it is.
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About The Author
(115 Articles Published)
Liam is a Features writer for Game Rant. He has been a passionate game enthusiast since a young age, and graduated from Brock University with a BA in Interactive Arts and Sciences. He has a preference for melee-focused action games, and loves to analyze mechanics. He combines that with his interest in writing, and uses his broad industry knowledge to talk about a wide variety of games.
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