How to Reboot Your Franchise Properly
“When there’s a call and need, a reboot can work well. If not... we get terrible installments that dig graves and let the franchise fall right in.”
SPOILERS ALERT!! And remember, reviews, thoughts, and retrospectives are all subjective and based on opinion. Everyone is entitled to their own and do not harp on others for theirs.
Hello, I’m BreakSlash, breaking down media to reveal their flaws. I believe it’s time to talk about something that seems to be prevalent for 2013: Reboots. For the two of you who don’t know, reboots are retelling of a storyline or a premise to a game, movie, TV series, book, and the like. For the sake of today’s argument, I will be talking about video game reboots.
In the case of a reboot for a game series, it’s… more or less a very touchy subject matter. What makes video game reboots the heated arguments among fans is the fact that the medium is not all that old. Take movies, TV shows, and the like for example. James Bond has had a “technical” reboot five times (not counting how many Bonds there were but a new Bond instead). TV series get rebooted because the show might have started in the 80’s like He-Man and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and is updated to match today’s time.
Games, however, may have started their first game in late 80’s to early 90’s. And most of those are still running still. My point here is that a reboot is only needed when time has lapsed and it can be updated to make sense, or in the case of a few series get saved from destruction.
Take the Mortal Kombat 2011 reboot for example. Not only did it save the franchise from being forgotten to the age of time, they fixed a few things with the original story. It can be said that the reboot is actually a second storyline that works in context of the narrative. This reboot is in favor of a franchise reboot that was going to tank.
Then we have the… good intentions of a reboot but botched anyways because of age. You would think that a game series from the 80/90’s would be rather easy to adapt to the 21st century, right? Apparently not so. We have Splatterhouse and Syndicate to look at here. I hear that Splatterhouse was an average beat-em-up and the reboot was a slightly below average beat-em-up with technical problems. Eh, go figure. Then there’s Syndicate. EA, of course, turned a real-time strategy game in a first-person shooter. Yeah… no.
Then there’s the very special case of our friend Spyro the Dragon. Oh boy. The original three games were fantastic, which rivaled Crash Bandicoot (at the time, now… Crash isn’t doing all that good) on the same platform: the Playstation. Then came Year of the Dragon, which saw the first decline of the dragon. Then came The Legend of Spyro reboot, which quickly saw the second decline of the dragon. Lastly, we have Skylanders.
It seems Skylanders is a hot ground for discussion for the Spyro series. I hear that it is still continuing to ruin the original Spyro name. I hear it’s a great series that helped bring Spyro back on top. My take? Well, you should know that the series suffered a long term standing from shifting developers and publishers. I honestly couldn’t say where Spyro could have gone after Insomniac Games because of their own views on the characters and series. With the fact that Spyro is still around and doing successfully even without his original roots that made him famous, I think that this was a good reboot. I don’t plan on investing any time into Skylanders or the sort, but the purple dragon with a slight altercation is still alive and kicking, so I’m glad to say that. As for Crash Bandicoot… I think that’s for another discussion.
Now, in the case of Spyro, his owners just had trouble figuring out what to do with him, so it’s understandable why Spyro got a reboot. But as of January 2013, we have two reboots of two popular franchises: Tomb Raider and Devil May Cry (DmC, which is a stupid acronym by the way). As of this writing, these two reboots are not out. Today’s argument is to show how a reboot is properly done and how a reboot goes to shit quickly. I think you can see which reboot represents which category.
Let us start off the Tomb Raider reboot with some background info. This actually isn’t Tomb Raider’s first reboot. The first one was Tomb Raider: Legends when the first series dropped off the face of the earth with Angel of Darkness. The less known about that game, the better. The song to the game was pretty good though…
So we got Legends and Anniversary, a remake of the very first Tomb Raider running on the Legends engine. And both games were great. Then came Tomb Raider: Underworld. From what I heard, it wasn’t bad. Not a great game, but not too bad. I heard it wrapped up the Legends storyline so I guess it was all right to start a new Tomb Raider? I’m not too sure on that note, but I do remember that Underworld was the last full retail game until the Square Enix buyout.
Here’s the thing that probably sounds great for the reboot game Tomb Raider: it doesn’t look like Square is trying to push the game themselves. You may be thinking, “Wait, that doesn’t make a lot of sense. Square is publisher.” They are, but I don’t see signs of their involvement with the game. It’s something I would call “It screams [insert company here].”
If you looked at Tomb Raider 2013, would you call it a Square game? You can by name, but by design no. There isn’t the JRPG look that most Square games get labeled with. The game looks and feels like a gritty survival game. Lets put this as simply as possible. Can you blame Square for making the game look like this? No. This is Crystal Dynamics’ work foremost, and it looks beautiful.
Then we have DmC. There isn’t any information why a reboot is necessary. Devil May Cry 4 did well enough and is still considered quite good by fans (minus playing the game again as Dante). Good Dante (yes, that’s my way to label him against the… other one) is still being used in other games, such as Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and Project X Zone. There isn’t any animosity with the developers because Capcom is BOTH developer and publisher for the series. And the series is still young, as DMC4 left room for more sequels. So what purpose does DmC have to exist?
We get this Devil May Cry reboot by Ninja Theory, who brought us Heavenly Sword and Enslaved. Heavenly Sword tried to be God of War but just couldn’t live up to the standards and Enslaved was… all right? I can’t say for sure, but it seems to be forgotten outside being mentioned in the same sentence of Ninja Theory. So Capcom decided to let an American team take control of a stylistic action game created by Japanese. Even though I am American myself, I would say that is an insanely stupid idea. But I’ll hold the thought for later.
With the background info out of the way, let’s discuss how a story should unfold for a reboot. In order for a reboot to exist, it must deviate from the original series in order to justify being there in the first place. You would probably ignore a game series that kept rebooting but kept the exact same plot and did nothing new, no matter what.
Luckily, Tomb Raider 2013 doesn’t follow that trap. In fact, it didn’t do it the two times it was rebooted. Legends went into a different direction with the original plot (which is why it has some connections with the first game to begin with). And with the reboot, the game dives into a new origins story for Lara Croft. It tells us how she became this fearless adventurer who raids tombs like its no one else’s business. We see a scared girl growing into the role we know of Lara Croft, and that is the correct way of doing an origins story with an already existing take of a character.
Dante, on the other hand, doesn’t get this caliber of treatment. So apparently Twilight Fan-Fiction Dante shows us the beginning. There’s this girl, Kat, that Twilight Fan-Fiction Dante doesn’t know and she shows up to help Twilight Fan-Fiction Dante fight demons. Vergil, Twilight Fan-Fiction Dante’s brother, shows up with “good intentions” but will ultimately try to destroy humanity and fight Twilight Fan-Fiction Dante.
You know, this sounds awfully familiar. If I take off this ugly DmC lens, it looks like fucking Devil May Cry 3! In DMC3, we see how Dante in the beginning of all of this. There’s this girl, Lady, who Dante doesn’t know and she shows up to help Dante (and kick his ass a bit) fight demons. Vergil, Dante’s brother, shows up with relatively bad intentions, helps Dante for a few seconds, and wants to destroy humanity and fight Dante. Gee, it sounds like Ninja Theory isn’t even trying to do a reboot and are copying and pasting their source material!
Next is the design and flow of the two games. Before any of you say that the character design isn’t important or the like, piss off. I hate that argument. If I’m enjoying my soup but there’s a bandage in it, I’m pretty sure that one thing ruined my experience. Anyways, for a reboot design to be creditable, the character’s design should match up pretty well, but it doesn’t need to be precise.
Lara Croft isn’t supposed to be this extremely attractive woman in her thirties or forties for this reboot. She is a teenager (as what I have read) and is supposed to look younger. And it makes sense that she is timid and not so raring to jump into this experience in the wilderness. As I stated before, this is her journey in becoming the Lara Croft we all know and love. Oh, and this younger Lara actually looks like a young Lara Croft.
Twilight Fan-Fiction Dante… well everyone knows what I’m going to say here. He looks like a very ugly emo. His hair is black yet his Devil Trigger (which should make him into a devil looking creature at the least) turns his hair white, a hint that the developers are just incompetent with what they are doing. He acts like such a prick. And he looks like he came from Twilight fan-fiction. I will swallow my pride and say that Twilight, the books and movies included, have more dignity than this game and characters. Twilight itself doesn’t deserve harsh treatment by being compared to this game. Yet, people like Twilight Fan-Fiction Dante.
Go ahead. Say that all the girls love his appearance. Guess what? I haven’t seen a single girl go out of their way to defend Twilight Fan-Fiction Dante, considering they would be the first to try and do so. So what is this dipshit’s appeal then? I’m seeing more straight guys trying to defend the shirtless emo and trashing the cleaner, better looking Dante who isn’t a grade-A douchebag. Something is wrong here.
One of my biggest grips is that they somehow screwed up the origins of Dante. In past lore of Devil May Cry, Dante was half demon and half human. The best part of his character was that he was even more inclined to do malicious things, as his morality by law of nature dictates he would be more evil. There was more demon in his blood than anything else, yet Dante would still do good despite the odds. In fact many creatures in the games question why the son of Sparda would go against the demon world.
How does Ninja Theory fuck that up? Twilight Fan-Fiction Dante is half demon and half angel. Half demon and half ANGEL. First off, Bayonetta did it first, and it did that part miles beyond better than these idiots. A holy person and a dark witch, who isn’t evil by the way, produced a holy witch. A bet Bayonetta would kick this scrawny pansy’s ass to Pluto and all the way back to the Sun by just looking at him.
Second, their missing the bloody point of having a half demon and human. The human side is supposed to fight this stronger urge of being demonic and taking out humanity, just as Vergil shows the other side of the coin. By having Twilight Fan-Fiction Dante half demon and angel, he doesn’t have to. They are at equal terms. It’s like in cartoons when someone is thinking about doing a bad deed and the mini devil and angel pop on his shoulders.
My argument here is that in order for a reboot’s redesign to work, the character needs to be identifiable to the original. When you look at Lara Croft in the 2013 reboot, you see a young Lara Croft, but you know it’s her. When you look at Twilight Fan-Fiction Dante, you see some punk with black hair in Good Dante’s clothes. You don’t see Good Dante here. Oh, did I mention that Twilight Fan-Fiction Dante is more based off of Ninja Theory’s director himself, not Good Dante? I think my title “Twilight Fan-Fiction Dante” fits perfectly.
Back when Mega Man wasn’t getting the shaft shoved up his rear and through his helmet, the creator of the series Keiji Inafune was working on the what looked like reboot but actual sequel to Mega Man called Mega Man X. The new Mega Man, called Mega Man X, was supposed to be completely different character from classic Mega Man. But the design Inafune made turned into Zero, who got his own series anyways. Mega Man X looked like classic Mega Man, save for a few designs, but was a different character and is still identified as X, not Mega Man.
The same can be said for the different Mega Man incarnations. Mega Man Legends had Mega Man Volnutt, who usual had his spiky hair out in contrast to classic almost always had his helmet on. Mega Man Battle Network had another Mega Man, labeled MegaMan.EXE, being a digital friend to a human as opposed to a robot. And Mega Man Star Force had a kid named Geo fuse together with another person to create Mega Man. Despite being all different characters on their own, they act as a Mega Man would and have a identifiable appearance.
Why I bring up Mega Man? It’s sad to see that the franchise with at least five separate universes being ignored by Capcom has more creditability in terms of reboots than the one that has four steady games and still has the creator under its house. Just saying. That, and personally I think that the original creator of a character should be the only one to drastically change him. Capcom and Ninja Theory can go to hell for saying that the original creator’s design Hideki Kamiya was stupid and redesigning it themselves, then saying screw you to the fans. That is rather insulting. It’s like someone at EA saying the design of Mario sucks and tries to remake him so that he swears all the time and kicks little kids just for fun. Need I remind you guys of the realistic Bomberman game?
That brings me to the next point of how to make a good game reboot: the gameplay. Now, this is probably the most important thing to a reboot of a game. If there is a problem with the old series, the reboot must address it and differentiate itself from the original series. Take the Ninja Gaiden series for example. While it still is about Ryu Hayabusa and ninjas, the two are radically different series because the old one is on the two-dimensional plane and the new one is on the third-dimensional plane. The difference here is that Ninja Gaiden never went back (as far as I’m aware) to the two-dimensional plane so the new one is thus the reboot. I mention this as to say that the Mario and Sonic series are not reboots because a) they went back to two-dimensional planes after three-dimensions were introduced and b) they continued their own stories.
There hasn’t bee a whole lot in particular to point to for Tomb Raider, as a lot of it has been under wraps during development. We do know however that there’s more emphasis on survival mixed in the adventure side. Excellent! A new spin on the Tomb Raider legacy. And there aren’t a whole lot of guns either, though bows and arrows were shown. So there’s also a lack of emphasis on guns as well. Nicely done. Innovation.
Now, let me remind you what the most important thing to a video game reboot. It’s supposed to try something new while having some likeness to the original series. Again, take Skylanders for example. The game has a radically different style to that of the original Spyro and new gameplay to contrast. If the reboot’s gameplay is identical to the original, then the reboot is completely useless.
Oh wait. That’s exactly what DmC is. FUCKING POINTLESS!!! The gameplay is so far almost nothing different to the original. You slash at enemies and shoot them to rack up stylish points. Gee, if I didn’t know any better, that is exactly how the first four Devil May Cry games worked. And don’t give that air dash shit Twilight Fan-Fiction Dante can do now. One little move like that doesn’t change a game enough to warrant a reboot. Maybe a new move for a sequel, but that’s it.
Had DmC gone with a completely different direction for gameplay, this would have been slightly more acceptable. Only slightly, as the game itself still looks like shit the bad side of the 90’s would produce. I don’t know, maybe have the game as a fighter, an adventure game, or hell a racer. SOMETHING to justify being a reboot guys! By having the exact same gameplay doesn’t deserve anything close to a reboot. Again, need I remind you of Bomberman: Act Zero?
On our last stop on game reboots, now I have to talk about the negatives of both games. Oh, all I have to say about DmC is negative, but Tomb Raider 2013 is not perfect. Hell, nothing is perfect in this universe, but that’s not the point. I’m sure you guys know what I’m talking about. Controversy time!
The first batch of controversy for Tomb Raider was rather well known a while back. It’s the “rape” thing that popped up during one of the trailers. Look, I think that rape has been done to death for female characterization. Some refreshing please, like the other end of the spectrum. Males being raped by females! But seriously, rape is bad. Doesn’t need to be mentioned at all or hinted at.
Honestly, I think that the “rape” thing from Tomb Raider is overblown by double standard idiots. Remember the thing I just said above about the males? Yeah, well it’s overlooked because of the double standard. For females, the world comes to an end. But for male no one cares. This is a serious case on all sides of the coin my friends. Don’t let those idiots throwing the double standard book fool you. Rape is bad. Period.
And now the other bad thing to come off of Tomb Raider. The multiplayer aspect that was announced. This I will say is stupid. Developers and publishers, if you are reading and listening, HEAR THIS. Multiplayer doesn’t need to be shoved down any game if the gameplay doesn’t call for it. Mass Effect 3, the recent Resident Evil games, and Dead Space 2 and 3 called, and they want their single player statuses back.
Some games are built for multiplayer, like Halo, Call of Duty, Gears of War, fighters, and racers. But 3D platform/adventure, horror, and console RPG (MMO’s don’t count in this listing) games don’t need it. They just don’t. As far as I’m aware or concerned, DmC doesn’t, so that’s the only plus I’m giving to it. That, and Kat looks all right as a character. That’s all DmC gets positive wise.
Ok, back to beating the shit out of DmC again. Capcom is back to it’s greedy ass ways again and has already announced DLC. It’s for Vergil. It’s called Vergil’s Downfall. Anyone who doesn’t preorder DmC will most likely have to pay for it. This was announced at least two month’s before the game was finished and set for release.
Let me put it simply to you. IT SPOILS VERGIL’S MOTIVATES RIGHT OFF THE BAT!!! How the bloody fuck do you that?? We clearly see Vergil trying to do good, or appearing to be good in another trailer, so the announcement of the DLC fails just about everything that is holy. We now know Vergil will be bad at some point. What’s the point of this DLC? To scam you by showing something we already know. Great fucking Scott.
For those playing at home, time to announce the winner of best reboot for video game 2013 between Tomb Raider a- wait, I don’t need it. DmC fucking sucks on every level. Tomb Raider 2013 is by far the superior reboot.
To recap by points on what you should do for a reboot, you want to keep these facts in mind. In order for a reboot to exist, the previous series must either be close to going under or has gone under to begin with, bringing new life to the series.
The Legends part of Tomb Raider ended, there was no other direction it could take, and Tomb Raider 2013 was born. DmC… no reason. Devil May Cry 4 saw more interest in the old characters and no one clamored for a new take.
In order for a reboot to exist, the design can be altered with the frame of mind that the new has semblance of the old.
Tomb Raider has a similar Lara Croft, only now she is younger to show how she becomes the Lara Croft we know. Twilight Fan-Fiction Dante is far too drastic from Good Dante and shows elements of someone’s influence, not the original creator (whom still is living and hates the new one. Go ahead and look it up).
In order for a reboot to exist, the story should go into a new direction not previously treaded on. Tomb Raider follows the harsh and brutal survival of Lara Croft as she grows into an adult to survive. DmC repeats Devil May Cry 3’s plot with very small differences added in.
And most importantly, in order for a reboot to exist, the gameplay must offer something new to the original to constitute being different. Tomb Raider adds in survival tactics to the adventure side of the game style. DmC copy and pastes Devil May Cry’s core gameplay to a tee.
Well my friends, that is all. I hope you practice extreme caution when it comes to exploring these games with what I said. DmC will forever be a massive dump on the Devil May Cry series to me, and Tomb Raider is so far the only game I’m considering buying right away. This has been BreakSlash, and I’ll see you guys later.