Oftentimes its hard to stay original in any creative industry, most especially gaming. What play-style can you create that no one has seen before, or what new story can you use to hook an audience? Oftentimes, big-developers will put stock into these new innovations, however for the most part they will push remakes or sequels as they are sure-fire ways to get profits. And why wouldn’t they? These are franchises that we love and we want to see continue. Oftentimes, if a particular sequel is met with in-adequate sales or critical reception, then most likely the next number will be forgone in favor of a remake. Fans could be asking for a sequel for years while others think it would be best to try and start from scratch. And then there are times when a franchise that has no desire from the community to continue.
This can be seen in games such as Dead to Rights Retribution, which was meant to revitalize the franchise after the mediocre Dead to Rights 2. Ironically however, the remake didn’t do much better in either sales or critical reception. The franchise tried to stay relevant, but with a hap-hazard remake coming out four years after the its popularity went stale, there was so little interest in what was done different that it seemed to be the final nail in the series’s coffin. But there are cases where the fans can end up being blind-sided by a remake when what they really wanted was a sequel. Fans of Devil May Cry know this feeling all too well, as the outrage soared over the announcement of its grittier reboot.
The remake of Devil May Cry, or DMC: Devil May Cry, was a complete overhaul of design and tone for the series. The once cheesy and anime-like setup and style for the Devil May Cry characters were replaced with more gritty and modern styles that more reflected the hipster and internet activist crowd. While it kept the supernatural elements of the old series, such as the main protagonist Dante being the son of the demon lord Sparda and fighting demons to protect the world, it darkened his backstory at the same time making his attitude more rebellious. Instead of wearing a red trench coat with white hair, he instead sported a modern-punk faux hawk with a tank-top and a black jacket. Fans were bashing this design the second it had come out, and while Ninja Theory, the new developer on the game, tried to tweak it to fit the fans’ tastes more, it still was bogged down by hatred of change. But did that make it a bad game? Not at all. I even felt it was an interesting change. Don’t get me wrong, I still revere Devil May Cry 4 as one of my favorite games for the Playstation 3, but while this new game made a lot of changes, I felt the changes worked. Although there were of course some eye-rolling lines as well.
But what of the gameplay? The game was very similar to the old, having players utilize a variety of different guns and swords against different types of demons in the general hack-and-slash style. However, fans didn’t like some changes to it, such as the update to the style system. The system used to reward players for attacking enemies in different combos, dodging hits, and doing so in short amounts of time. The new system however just allowed a player to rack up points until they got hit, which for some felt overly simplistic, losing the reward for skill the game once had. Another factor was the lack of lock-on targeting which had been essential in every game so far. Thankfully though, Ninja Theory included it within the remastered DMC: Devil May Cry Definitive Edition for the Playstation 4. But all things considered, the story remained very similar, if only re-updated. Dante and Vergil are still brothers, and are still trying to take down the Demon king Mundus. However, while trying to keep the game fresh, it only turned off more people than it pleased, which is unfortunate because I consider it a great game,and I’m a huge fan of the series. And much like how this remake won’t be expanded, neither will the out-of-left field Prince of Persia from 2008.
When I read that a remake of Prince of Persia was being made for the Playstation 3 in Game Informer, I was confused. I had Two Thrones on PS2, and I thought it was great. Only later did I find out that it did the most poorly out of the three Prince games, Sands of Time and Warrior being the previous in the “Sands of Time” trilogy of the game. The game wanted to branch off of the original trilogy instead rather than continue the current. Now the game was based around a completely new character, having no name and not even called “The Prince”, as the previous protagonist had been, and his main goal is to help mystical princess, Elika, free the land (which has several Persian aesthetics and motifs) of corruption. While a lot of focus was on acrobatics and platforming, the game was now an open world game wherein the player could go after any of the four bosses in any order. After beating one, the player would be given a new ability to explore the world better. Erika also helps the player in acrobatic platforming. However a noticeable departure is the loss of the time reversing mechanic, relying more on a variety of gained abilities to make up for it. These abilities weren’t as powerful as time-reversing, but each was gained from a boss and allow the player to explore the world more.
Another interesting note is the use of cel shaded graphics which helped set it apart. Unfortunately, the game received a luke-warm reception. Fans of the game series felt it was too easy and disliked the one-on-one QTE based fights that were based off of the original trilogy. The game would get an epilogue in DLC, however it only prolonged the gameplay a little bit while not furthering the story nearly at all. Prince of Persia would again be rebooted with The Forgotten Sands. However, with the most it could tout being the ability to run up frozen water, it seemed a desperate attempt to once again revitalize the franchise, but sadly enough it may have been the final nail in the prince’s coffin. At least for now.
So in summation, what can be said about remakes and reboots, and can they really work? It makes a lot of sense why someone would try to re-energize a series. It helps to bring them back into the limelight and possibly be improved for the modern times. For instance Far Cry seemed to get a complete tone shift in the third came which made it one of the best selling games in 2013. And while Ratchet and Clank may not be old, the new reboot released helped it break away from what a lot of fans saw as being a stale formula from titles sushi as All 4 One and Full Frontal Assault. However, there are times when people aren’t ready for the change and aren’t as receptive, such as with Prince of Persia or Devil May Cry. And even then, some franchises may seem only the more dated when being brought back such as Duke Nukem Forever or Star Fox Zero. The remakes and reboots that work do so because they know what made the original great, and instead of copy it, change it just enough to be interesting, but still be recognizable, getting the same emotions from fans as well as possibly some new ones.