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Gaming: Telltale Games finds new life; HD remasters for SNES-era Lion King & Aladdin; more

By Benjamin Bullard
The Wolf Among Us via Steam

The game maker behind The Walking Dead may be coming back to life. Telltale Games, the defunct studio whose sudden shutdown last year brought the popular, episode-based The Walking Dead: The Final Season to a near standstill, reportedly is being revived by a new owner.

Polygon reports that Telltale’s gaming assets, including projects the studio had in the works at the time of its late-2018 shuttering, have been bought by LCG Entertainment, a company that plans to re-release a curated selection of popular Telltale titles, as well as restart work on some games that fans had feared would never be made.

One franchise that won’t be returning to Telltale is The Walking Dead itself. Robert Kirkman’s Skybound Games acquired Telltale’s TWD game license in order to rescue The Final Season, which still had two unfinished episodes in development at the time of Telltale’s closure. But other big names in Telltale’s critically acclaimed back catalog, including Batman, The Wolf Among Us, and more, are set to receive either re-releases or entirely new games, according to the report.

The future of other mega-franchises that had received (or were slated for) the episodic Telltale treatment still isn’t clear, including games set in the worlds of Borderlands, Game of Thrones, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Minecraft. Telltale also had a pair of Stranger Things games in the planning stages at the time of its shutdown. An LCG representative told Polygon that the rights for Stranger Things have since reverted to Netflix, adding that the company has faith in fans’ continued appetite for more games that unfold one episode at a time. 

“This is a viable business that went away due to market conditions and some scale choices [Telltale’s previous management] made,” said LCG’s Jamie Ottilie. “I like games that tell stories, and I think our industry should have a company that specializes in narrative-driven games.”

With both Aladdin and The Lion King now on Disney fans’ minds thanks to recent live-action (or almost live-action) movie treatments, there’s no better time than the present to add games into the mix — and if they just so happen to be HD upgrades of old-school 16-bit classics from the Sega and Super Nintendo days, that’s just nostalgic icing on the cake.

Developers Nighthawk Interactive and Digital Eclipse are teasing newly remastered, high-def versions of both Aladdin and The Lion King, bundled together in a single collection that also includes the original versions of Aladdin that appeared back in the 1990s on the Sega Genesis and Nintendo Game Boy — as well as Game Boy, SNES, and Genesis versions of The Lion King.

In addition to the core games (including those old-school originals), the bundle also will come with upscaled graphics, visual enhancement filters, mappable game controls, an on-the-fly “retry” feature that allows you an immediate do-over for any embarrassing flubs, an “explorable museum” of behind-the-scenes goodies, and more, according to IGN

Titled Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King, the collection will be available both in digital and boxed versions, and will arrive sometime this fall for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.

Believe it or not, the long-awaited release of Shenmue III is just around the corner, and publisher Deep Silver has a quick new look at the crowdfunded sequel to the Sega Dreamcast classics. The new clip follows protagonist Ryo for some goofing off in an arcade (yay! mini-games!) before getting serious about his kung fu training.  

Fan anticipation for a game that’s nearly 20 years removed from its landmark predecessors — considered by some to be on the short list of the greatest games ever made — has been high, especially after a handful of delays. Fortunately, though, the wait’s almost over: Shenmue III arrives for PlayStation 4 and PC on Nov. 14.