Franchises That Need to be Saved
Will Fairway / Sep 16th, 2002 No Comments
Corporations are kind of like our significant others, we can’t live with them, we can’t live without them. On one side of the argument, we have the Rage Against The Machine view on corporations, which is that they are basically creativity bloodsuckers, set up to regulate our thoughts, our dress, and numerous other personal traits.
On the other hand though, corporations can be very useful. While clothing chains do basically tell American teenagers what they should wear, they also supply inexpensive clothing to people who otherwise couldn’t have it. Wal-Mart goes into a similar path, while they do put many five-and-dimes out of business, they also are very convenient to the average consumer.
The same holds true for the game industry. Without industry conglomerates like EA, Konami, or Sega the game industry would have never grown to be as big as it is now. This growth of the industry has come at a price though. What once was an easily accessible form of entertainment has now become very hard to break into, as even the most compassionate of new developers still fail frequently while trying to become a good game designer.
Another after-effect of video games growing in popularity, comes when game companies try to keep it that recognition. Keeping this mentality, game companies have now begun to value profits far more than originality, thus inducing more sequels and copycat games to be released, and far less original games.
In the whirlwind of this new business sense, many series that started off as original ideas have been reduced to mindless sequel after sequel. The Twisted Metal franchise was a good example is a good example of this. When the series started, Twisted Metal seemed indestructible with its combination of strong sales and solid gameplay. That all came crashing down though, when developer 989 took over development duties in order to get a sequel out once a year. Under 989’s control, the Twisted Metal franchise faded in both profits, and gameplay quality.
The Twisted Metal franchise would of likely seen its demise had it not been for its revival in Twisted Metal: Black. So that got me thinking that maybe some other franchises need a spit shine as well. Like the Tomb Raider franchise. If the IDSA were to ever to make an instruction booklet on how to really kill a franchise, they should use Tomb Raider as its centerpiece.
Tomb Raider when it was released was a revelation in many ways. For one, games really presented themselves to the mainstream audiences when it was released. Another really big thing about Tomb Raider’s release, is that it proved once and for all that game’s featuring a female protagonist COULD succeed. I don’t know if we really wanted to prove this with Lara Croft, who strongly resembles a Barbie with much larger breasts, but what can you do?
Tomb Raider only got bigger with its second release. Numerous things wrong with the original were fixed, as the game featured better controls, a new save-anywhere system, and various other improvements. The series continued to grow in popularity, and the gaming community was just reeling for Lara Croft’s next playable adventure. In short, Lara Croft seemed invincible, unstoppable, and ready to take over the action genre in video games.
And that’s precisely when things went downhill.
Eidos, in a rush to get the Tomb Raider out in time, left much to be desired in their third installment. Things that had been improved in the sequel returned to their mediocre selves , and new additions to the gameplay felt unneeded, and useless in the grand scheme of things.
After this installment Eidos released two more Lara Croft games, each a little worse than the last. Tomb Raider faded away from the mainstream, as first-person shooters like Golden Eye and Perfect Dark soon took over the “normal” populations. The gaming community soon grew tired of Lara and here plus size breasts as well (surprisingly.) Eidos has promised a revival of the series with their newest game, Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness, but I’m not holding out much hope.
Besides series that just get run to the ground there are ones that are the exact opposite. Now, I’m all for creative freedom in video game, but sometimes it just gets ridiculous. Take Metal Gear Solid 2 for instance. The original was focused, it had a great storyline, great gameplay, great everything. Metal Gear Solid 2 on the other hand went in so many different directions it was scary. I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy MGS2, I just felt that Hideo Kojima didn’t stay focused, and because of that MGS2 kind of left a sour taste in my mouth after I was done playing.
What I’m basically saying is that in any entertainment form I think its important that creators should focus themselves every once in a while, or else we’re going to end up with many more Episode 1’s. Anyways, that’s my ranting for this week.