Lunchtime Discussion: Reinvigoration

This generation has seen a huge number of re-releases and HD updates, something that seemed far rarer than in previous generations. I guess the gaming industry is now sufficiently old that everything old is new again, although the prevalence of comparatively cheap, downloadable titles this time around has certainly helped to fuel this.

What’s a little less common, but still seems to be cropping up more frequently in recent times is the reinvigoration of series. Take the recent news on Tomb Raider, relaunching the series with a drastic re-telling of Ms Croft’s* first adventure. Hopefully the relaunch, going as far as to just calling the title ‘Tomb Raider’, will breathe life into a series that many felt has long been on a downwards slope.

Is starting over really a good solution though? I mean you’re essentially tossing away everything that’s come before, the world you’ve established and any game play mechanics that may have become synonymous with your series. Striking the balance between starting afresh and keeping the core element that defines a series is certainly a difficult, but if you get it right you can create something that feels both familiar and fresh at the same time. That’s something I absolutely love in a game, or in any media really.

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The argument can of course be made that if something’s started to fail you could just abandon it completely and move to a brand new IP, that it’s better to start something new than possibly taint something that people have fond memories of. With a series that’s on the ropes there isn’t even much of an argument for a new title being a safer bet than a new IP financially.

The thing is we shouldn’t automatically consign these series to the dustbin of history just because they’ve had a few weak titles. Give it a bit of a break, as they have with Tomb Raider, and come back to things with fresh new ideas. Fans get to see their favourite series revived and those who might not have been fans may well be drawn in by a new take on an old favourite.

So are you happy about old series being given another shot at the title? Or would you rather that developers moved onto fresh IPs when the old work horses begin to tire? Do the Tomb Raider reboot and the SSX rumours have you tittering with excitement, or do you think they’ll be damp squibs?

And yes today’s post was full of clichés. I don’t know why.

Thanks to cc_star for recommending this topic via Twitter.

* I know she was confirmed as a Countess in Tomb Raider: Legend, but that was a retcon and it’s unclear whether or not she’ll have the title in the new game, so I’ll refrain from Lady Croft for now. I know that’s not really relevant at all, but it took a 30 minute debate on Twitter and a lot of research to come to any sort of conclusion.

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35 Comments

  1. Rebooting a long running series like Tomb Raider makes sense, it’s been around long enough to need it. But games like inFamous that try a reboot in the next game of the series just doesn’t make sense. Well done on them on trying to make sure the game series doesn’t stagnate, but changing the whole character was a mistake.

  2. It’s the same with T.V series, Only Fools and Horse was up and down from start to finish but I’m glad they made all of them just so we did’t loose the good ones. Monkey Island is another recent example, the remakes bought a whole new audience to the series and Tales of Monkey Island wasn’t that bad was it? Not at £2.49 on a Steam Special anyway.

    • BlackAdder was brilliant at rebooting itself between series!

  3. I think it depends on why a game is being reimagined. Sometimes in a effort to produce sequels, games get further and further from the core idea that made them fun in the first place (Sonic and Lara Croft being perfect examples). Then a game may need rebooting rather than reimagining, and a return to the older game styles that made it fun (like the new Sonic has). Sometimes games do get stale though through a lack of any change (like the old Resi Evil games), in which case a reimagination of the mechanics can do wonders (like Resi 4).

    • Aye, stagnation is always the risk when your franchise has a decent sized fan-base and you tempt alienating a core crowd of day one purchasers to look after them. However, on the flip side, you deter others from (re)joining the franchise if you don’t show evolution and progression as each new title releases. It’s a tricky business.

      It’s the same situation in all media. Musicians stick to what they know best. Films are a variation on a theme. Hollywood blockbusters are usually as vapid as Katie Price.

  4. Ive never really experienced one of my favourite franchises being rebooted the exception being maybe sonics leap from 2D to 3D, that of course was horrible.

    The only upcoming title im worried about is the devil may cry prequel. Young dante looked über cool in the teaser vid, and the action seemed intense, but im concerned about how the gameplay will change, and whilst it may still play well if the change is drastic enough you might have to ask why not just plump for a new ip?

    • Devs and more importantly publishers are still running scared of new IPs these days. They seem to be getting more comfortable with the idea of taking risks but it’s still a concern. A new IP can ruin a studio potentially – just look at APB. I agree new IPs are often welcome but it’s just a basic case of economics I think.

      • yeah i know starting a new franchise is risky but so is potentially ruining an old one. if it drifts too far from the original concept or fails to keep a similar atmosphere you risk alienating a large section of the loyal fanbase.

        while it wouldnt hurt the sales of the “reboot” too hard, i think fans would be far more wary of buying further iterations, for instance after the massive shake-up regarding FFXiii im in two minds about 15 (barely considering 14 because its an mmo)

  5. I like the idea of re-releases or carrying on with the series in question. I would like to see more on Dark Cloud 3 because that is taking forever and another Maximo perhaps? For re-releases…Final Fantasy X and XII on one disc=WIN :D

  6. Wait. Tomb Raider (2011) is a REBOOT?!?! It’s not just a prequel?

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