A Tale of Three Reboots
Mark Gonzales / Dec 27th, 2012 No Comments
Franchise reboots. It is impossible to escape them. From Batman Begins to the baffling relaunch of Spider-Man and even the cult classic Total Recall, they are a part of our everyday vernacular. Reboots are not just localized to our favorite movies and are actively invading the gaming world. Once titles hit their peak and become proverbial cash cows, but invariably end up tailing off into obscurity due to many factors. The biggest reason a franchise goes sour is simply because of consumer fatigue. If the market becomes saturated with too many iterations and sequels of beloved games in a short time, support and enthusiasm fades away. No game can escape this, regardless of how amazing the series may be. Another reason is that the title has gone so far away from its roots that it is a completely different product from its critically acclaimed progenitor. The solution to this lies in the power of the reboot. Whether it’s fresh ideas, a new generation of hardware, or an unconventional approach. Tomb Raider, Devil May Cry and SimCity are receiving their just reboots.
[adsense250itp]Tomb Raider was one of those titles that was a victim of its own success. Tomb Raider jumped onto the gaming scene with a daring and confident heroine gamers had never seen before in Lara Croft. Although Samus Aran from the Metroid series was the original, Lara Croft redefined the concept of heroines in video games. Tomb Raider was a brilliant platforming game. With clever puzzles, vicious encounters and globetrotting appeal, it was destined to become a franchise with countless sequels. And countless sequels it did release. Having reached its fifth iteration, Tomb Raider began to exhibit behavior of games that capitalize on their own success. Rather than innovate, it provided more of the same. With each new title release feeling more like an expansion pack than a full experience, Tomb Raider was ready for a brief retirement. After a three year hiatus, the series underwent its first reboot with the Tomb Raider: Legend trilogy. Sporting a new graphics engine and focusing on the relationship between Lara and her late mother, more insight was given towards her character and the trilogy was a success once again, although it can be argued that consumer interest waned since the final game in the trilogy did not meet expected sales until well after its release. With that, Lara once again went into hiding with the exception of an offshoot in Lara Croft and The Guardian of Light. Four years have passed since the last major release and armed with an origin story approach akin to Batman Begins in cinema, gamers will now be able to explore the roots and experiences that molded the beloved English archaeologist into who she is. And just like Batman Begins, fans will receive a darker interpretation of Lara Croft’s experiences and open up a whole new narrative to explore. For more on why the Tomb Raider reboot may not be terrible despite controversy, read Tomb Raider: A Dark, but Much Needed Reboot.
While Tomb Raider fell into a category of becoming an over milked franchise, Devil May Cry was a bit of an anomaly in that it was still popular and viable even though it had reached its fourth game. The half-angel and half-demon Dante was hackin’ and slashin’ his way through living rooms with great success. Although Capcom surely could have put out a title almost every year much like with the Dynasty Warriors franchise, they made a wise decision to halt production on the series and avoid the consumer fatigue that plagued Tomb Raider. Despite there being so many negative first impressions about the appearance of the new Dante in the game, DmC: Devil May Cry is going to bring back all of the stylish beat em’ up glory that has long been absent since Sega’s Bayonetta. Armed with trusty Ebony and Ivory at his side and being able to use different triggers to activate insane combos, it won’t matter too much whether those jeans are too tight or if he is going to have brooding session. Gamers will have a hell of a time keeping up with all the moves while not having a seizure from all of the flashing lights. For more takes on DmC read the DmC: Devil May Cry Demo Impressions and DmC: A Devil May Cry Reboot?
The other games have garnered quite a bit of attention and SimCity is without a doubt the least talked about upcoming reboot, slated for Mar. 5 2013. SimCity did not flounder simply because it had too many sequels. Rather it fell off the map because of not only the success of the dangerously addicting The Sims, but also due to the fact that there were so many competing Sim games available. Roller-coaster sims, theme park sims, safari sims, there were just so many and the strength of the original game got lost in the mix. Luckily, Maxis is readying itself to reintroduce to the masses the game that started it all. With SimCity they approached the game as a true reboot in every sense of the word, rebuilding the game from the ground up with an updated graphical engine and sticking with its roots while improving upon time honored gameplay. SimCity is a city building simulator. And as such it is about time Maxis got back to it and retool the original. Simulator games typically have a cult following and SimCity is not going to be absent of its rabid fans.
Rebooting an enormously popular and lucrative series is not a particularly risky proposition. Given the installed fan base of these games, there is no jostling for market interest on its release. However, as it always remains, it will be the execution of the game that remains to be seen. DmC has put itself at risk by morphing its protagonist into an unappealing teenager with angst, while Tomb Raider’s risk lies in how far the direction Crystal Dynamics has gone from the strong Lara Croft of old (or future really) to a more vulnerable and unfamiliar heroine. SimCity is at risk not in concept but in the popularity of these god playing games, when high budget and marketable characters are the rage these days. Either way, these three games are going to be reinvigorated with new design and direction. And at the end of the day, despite having unoriginal titles, these three games are going to command the attention and wallets of anyone who has ever played the originals.
tags: capcom , devil may cry , dmc , ea , maxis , opinion , SimCity , square enix , tomb raider