A Retrospective on Vigilante 8: A Beloved Franchise Gone Silent

What happened to Vigilante 8

I first came across Vigilante 8 on a demo disc for the PlayStation 1 (PS1). Like many people at the time, I didn’t have internet access and lived in a place with limited exposure to video games. I didn’t know about Twisted Metal until much later. To me, Vigilante 8 was extraordinary to me! The 1970s charm made it a cool game, and according to Gamerankings, both games released on the PS1 were well-received (Vigilante 8). I wasn’t the only one who thought these games were fantastic. The excitement of unlocking a new car and eagerly awaiting the special weapon unique to that vehicle is a memory I cherish. For a franchise that is looked back on with such high regard, it’s odd that it just died off without a fight. What happened to Vigilante 8?

A Niche Market and the Shadow of Twisted Metal

There’s no denying that the market for car-based shooters is very small. In fact, there might not even be a market outside of those like me who are getting by on nostalgia. At the same time, the budget for a game like this wouldn’t be extraordinary. Vigilante 8 could be compared quite closely to the Twisted Metal franchise, which is still alive to some degree. There was a release for the PlayStation 3, and Sweet Tooth (the guy in the ice cream van) often makes an appearance in other games, like Rocket League. Twisted Metal is not what anyone would consider a AAA franchise anymore, but it is still around. Vigilante 8, on the other hand, is gone.

twisted metal van

A Failed Revival Attempt

In 2008, ten years after the release of the first game, a mediocre attempt at reviving the franchise was made in the form of Vigilante 8 Arcade for the Xbox 360. Back then, the idea of smaller, indie-sized games was just starting to become a thing, and in the case of Vigilante 8, they clearly tried to be one of the first and rushed the game into production. The end result was a buggy, clunky game with very little content and poor reception. I did not own an Xbox 360 at the time of this game’s release, but I remember emailing the developers and asking if it would be released for the PlayStation 3. They said they wished they could, but had no plans for it. The game ultimately flopped, and since then, there has been no further attempt at a revival.

vigilante 8 revival

Luxoflux, the original developers of the game, are no longer in business. Founders of this studio started up a new studio called Isopod Labs. Since I was unable to find any information about the current state of the franchise online, I decided to get in touch and see if they could fill me in on what they were up to. 2018 marked the 20th anniversary of the series, but there was no sign of a celebration or revival.

For those wanting a revival, I hear you. We can hold out hope and see where things end up in the coming years. Maybe there’s a top-secret project currently in the works that I was unable to find any information about. For now, here’s the theme song for the second game to bring back some memories.

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