cover art, goldeneye 007 for the wii

and by current evidence, all else has failed.  we’re getting to the point where the game industry is, for lack of a better phrase, enhancing their use of these three techniques in game development as much as or more than generating original intellectual property.  sometimes it’s pulled of very well, and the publisher gets a big thumbs up from gamers and critics alike.  but at others, the result is a tarnished franchise, unhappy gamers, and pure rage.  2010’s been a big year for all of these things, and brings with it a sort of strange shift in the industry.  and why?  my guess is the opportunity to get some revenue for a cost that is lower than new game development by millions.  so it’s what we’ve got to work with right now.

first, re-releases.  i’m actually a fan of this.  if you’ve been into video games for any extended period of time i’m sure you’d be too.  they bring back stuff i miss, unchanged, in standard definition, without tampering.  it’s the purest form of these techniques the industry now employs.  and there’s a reason.  what we have these days is a different era of gaming, where consoles have the connectivity and capacity to deliver games from past generations for old school fans to relive and younger fans to see for the first time.  and it servers a purpose.  there are sequels and part 3’s and 4’s of games that are being released, where their target audience couldn’t even grip a controller when the original was released!  let’s look at street fighter IV as an example.  the series is a classic, and i played street fighter II on the SNES for the first time in 1992.  for those keeping score, that was 18 years ago, and i was a wee lad of 11.  now yes, i know, some of it is just a marketing ploy that plays on the nostalgia of older gamers (myself included) but it in addition to bringing in new fans it does provide gamers my age something we want.  sometimes i just don’t want to have to go digging through the basement to find a PS one or SNES.  it’s much easier to be able to download it online and play it through the same next-gen console you already have hooked up.  right now playstation’s doing just that, and is re-releasing parasite eve and parasite eve II through digital download on the playstation network.  now granted, the next parasite eve game, the 3rd birthday, is coming out for the PSP soon and this is serving as a lead-in, but it works.  when 3rd birthday was announced my first thought was that i kind of wanted to play the first parasite eve game.  and i will indeed be downloading them when i can.

now a re-make is a little bit different.  it’s where you get into a grey area, and try to find balance between quality and how true to the original the remake is.  some have been warmly received by the gaming community, but there have been some that are critically panned and anger-inducing.  as an example of the bad, let’s look at metal gear solid: twin snakes, which was a remake of the original metal gear solid.  konami completely retconned play style of the newer games to the remake, completely destroying the feel of the original and removing a lot of the challenge.  it featured added cutscenes and voicework as well.  critics universally lauded the game as wonderful but destroying the original made it a failure in my eyes, and i believe there are more than a few people who would agree with me.  but there is a lot of good in remakes, and nintendo’s leading the way.  recently on the wii for example, donkey kong country returns and goldeneye 007. the original DKC was a huge hit on the SNES, and goldeneye dominated shooters and local non-networked multiplayer on the n64 (that 4-way split screen made it extremely fulfilling when playing in golden guns mode, by the way).  neither of these games are identical to the originals back in the 90’s, instead they’re the original games reimagined.  for example, daniel craig is the model for james bond in goldeneye instead of pierce brosnan, who played him in the film and original n64 game, and most of the other models have been changed.  maps and areas are different as well.  DKC returns is pretty similar to the original too.  except the kremlings are gone and they’ve been replaced by new antagonists called tikis.  oh, and it’s a lot harder.  it’s almost like parallel universes (i must be watching too much fringe) where everything is juuuuust slightly off.  both have been graphically restyled with the power of wii’s hardware, but still retain the pure fun that both of these games brought in their original releases.  they’re impressive in how they keep the same feel as the originals, but give the player something a little different as well.

and then the last realm…

promo art, ninja gaiden 3

the reboot.

yikes.  it’s a word loathed by people on the wrong end of helpdesk calls, windows network admins, die hard comic book fans, and of course, video game enthusiasts.  it’s something usually uttered in pure rage or fear – as it pretty much represents a last ditch effort to make right something that could go horribly horribly awry.  go ahead, install an exchange server or watch x-men origins: wolverine (not x3: x-men united, thanks rob miller for catching that HOWLING typo) and take note of the disgust you feel.  i mean deadpool with cyclops’ optic blasts and wolverine-style swords? it was so offensive i nearly wretched.

rebooting is the scariest one out of all of these – and again becoming more prevalent than actual new intellectual property development.  i touched on this a little bit when i talked about capcom and ninja theory’s upcoming devil may cry reboot a little while ago, and made my doubts clear then on how i felt.  now team ninja (not to be confused with the aforementioned ninja theory), is planning the same to follow suit, hinting that their upcoming release of ninja gaiden 3 is going to be released as a reboot of the series.  this is a game franchise that started (for me) back on the NES in 1989, and has never failed to deliver a solid action game through every console and every iteration of ryu hyabusa’s adventures.  but my opinion on this reboot is a little different than my fears for devil may cry.  a lot of that is the reasoning and presentation.  the dude on the right still looks like ryu hyabusa.  it’s got the same feel as series is famous for.  and the honcho at team ninja, yousuke hayashi, says that they want to bring the franchise back to basics, and trying to start from the beginning without being hindered by the past… yeah those game studio heads definitely have a way with words over in japan.  if you want more on that story along with some other news from team ninja, check out andriasang.  check i’m really hoping for the best here – anyone who’s played the reboots of classic games like rygar and golden axe will understand what i mean.

now on this topic, i have to end this with a question to square enix.  when the playstation 3 was released, a demo of the final fantasy VII animated on a ps3 engine was released to showcase the ps3’s power.  that being said –

where’s my damn final fantasy VII remake for the ps3?

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3 Comments

Rob November 15, 2010 at 7:24 pm

One of my soccer teammates and I were talking last night about how necessary a FF7 remake was. And tactics, for that matter. Both games were absolutely perfect.

To your citing X3 as an example of a reboot gone wrong, I have a few things to say. First, it wasn't really a reboot; it was a new director hijacking an in-progress trilogy. A real reboot is the new Batman trilogy (brilliant), the upcoming Spider-man film, or either of the two Punisher movies that released after the 1980s Dolph Lundgren gem.

Second, I think that games suffer from the same weaknesses as comic book franchises – the fans attach themselves to the voice, atmosphere, and experience delivered by a specific group of minds. When that group is changed – whether it be a change of who is delivering or a change in how they choose to deliver – the fans feel left behind. I'm sure Batman comic fans were insulted and appalled by the travesty that was the former movie series; those same fans are rejoicing in the commitment and stylings of Christopher Nolan. (Inversely, X-Men and Spider-man fans were each pretty pleased with their first films, but suicide rates skyrocketed after the third iteration from each franchise.)
Now let's take it back to video games. If/when FF7 is re-released, it needs to be perfect. Any changes made had better be an absolutely essential change. If there is even one moment of "meh"dom while playing, I will go berserk and burn all of New Jersey to the ground. Do I have high hopes for Goldeneye? Of course I do. My buddies and I *still* play it on my N64. I just hope that they don't go the way of the Perfect Dark sequel (which was, for all intents and purposes, a giant deuce dropped on my face).

Part of the problem is that we, as self-proclaimed "true fans" demand too much. We come in with expectations that are sky high – it's almost an unfair bar to set.

I'm at work and I lost my train of thought, so I guess I'll wrap this up. Keep up the strong posting, T.

tushar November 15, 2010 at 11:11 pm

i tried SO hard to leave perfect dark out of this. and reading it back i agree with your assessment of X3. i am in fact a damned idiot and meant x-men origins: wolverine, which did alter an origin story. i'm making that edit right after this.

totally agreed about FF7. i will probably demand perfection from a remake if/when it happens. but in my head perfection is leaving everything untouched and enhancing it with graphics and sound the ps3 has at its disposal. the original FF7 had story and character development enough to hook me. but fans do feel left behind. it's how i feel about devil may cry based on how it looks so far. what angered me was major changes. but in reality, any shift from canon would have irked me to some degree.

every franchise is going to have a very dedicated core of fans that accept the stories as mythologies that we almost want to believe in. i understand the need for sales to continue a franchise – which requires some level of content dilution, but a lot of those core fans don't, and demand purity even if it kills a franchise. in addition to american comics and games, japanese manga to anime conversions hold to that as well

Jason December 3, 2010 at 6:51 am

I never got into FF VII. The only Final Fantasy I had played prior to that was FF 3 (aka FF VI). What I liked about that game was the story and the characters, so when I looked at FF VII, I just couldn't get into. I didn't know who any of the FF wanna-bes were… and I didn't want to know…

As for X-Men Origins: Wolverine, I've seen it recently on HBO, and I have to ask? Why the hate? Because of that pseudo-Deadpool? Really? Who cares. Deadpool was a lame character anyway. Never liked him. In fact, the movie version was more memorable to me than any of the comic iterations I may have read (not that i can remember… he was that forgettable.)
I'm not saying I thought Wolverine was one of the best Marvel movies… but it's hardly the worst, either.

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About Tushar

Author and creator of Technical Fowl. IT/Tech hero. Jiu Jitsu purple belt. Enjoying the venn diagram intersection of tech, gaming, business, and politics.

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