Recently on the Puremood Podcast Erik posed a very interesting question: What do I feel about rebooting in movies and video games? I answered him but just barely so I decided to write an article about it. This article will only deal with the video game side but only because the movie side is very simple, movies should never ever be rebooted. I will be dealing with three game series that have all been rebooted for different reasons and I will explain if I agree or disagree with the choice to reboot the timeline of that series. I will also be explaining what made each series unique and good in their orignal timelines and if that serves as a good purpose to either rebooting or keeping the same, this article is my opinions only.
The First Game series I am going to talk about is Xcom which was rebooted in October 2012. The Xcom series was initially established in 1994 with a game called UFO: Enemy unknown, the game was a turn based tactical strategy game about a government organization trying to fend off an alien invasion in the year 1999; the game spun five sequels and was known for its extreme difficulty. After two games being cancelled half way through development the series was finally rebooted in 2012 with Xcom: Enemy unknown. The Xcom series is the perfect example of a series of games that is better off rebooted for a new audience and for an old fan audience, the first timeline changed and became easier with each new game making fans of the series upset, rebooting it to its former glory is a great way to bring back fans that might have left. The reboot did something more though it brought in new fans, but why was the reboot needed to bring in new fans? Why couldn’t the gamers of this generation just go back and play the first Xcom games? The answer is simple, the Xcom series is a tactics based system making the first games hard to play through and that means that new gamers might not want to play through six tactics games to catch up with the story. Not only that the old games are primarily for Windows and DOS systems, meaning if a person was able to get their hands on the games it isn’t a sure thing they could play it on a modern computer. By rebooting the games to their former glory the developers were able to grab old fans back that might’ve left the series and new fans, plus add graphic upgrades and fix any gameplay mechanics that the developers might’ve disliked. The old game also takes place in the late nineties, something that no longer seems so futuristic. After all this was it worth it? Did the game succeed with the new timeline? The answer is yes; both new comers to the series and hardcore fans praise the new game for its difficulty and simulation like gameplay. With a new game scheduled to come out sometime this year (unless it’s delayed) there is much promise and hope for this new timeline.
The Next series on the docket is the Castlevania series which was rebooted in October of 2010. The first game in the series was initially released in 1987 and has a long list of sequels and spins off that range over twenty years. The series star the members of the Belmont clan and every game deals with them hunting down and slaying Dracula, each game takes place in a different time (with some exceptions) and most games deal with the Belmonts never-ending battle against the villainous count Dracula. The Castlevania series of a perfect example of a game series that did not need to be rebooted, since besides the blood line very few of the games are truly connected and even the ones that are don’t have a complicated enough story that it would be confusing to new players. The original games were on various Nintendo consoles for most of the run and are very easy to come by now since the Wii has a built in virtual console. The majority of the series plays like classic action games, with more than a few being side scrollers, so it would not be difficult for most gamers to replay the games if they really wanted to fill in story gaps; The new games use a system that relies on over the top action and quick time events which have been compared to the God of War series. In the end the change was seemly well received and the games itself seem to make enough to warrant recent sequels but one can wonder if a reboot was necessary or could they have just made another installment of the already established timeline? With the new changes in gameplay story and mythos some hardcore Castlevania fans feel a little sad knowing that the universe they loved has been changed so much but others seem to accept it and even enjoy it. My opinion of the new timeline is open; its true I think they didn’t need to reboot the timeline I do think it opens up new possibilities for future games.
The Last series I will be looking at is the Mortal Kombat games which was rebooted in April 2011. Mortal Kombat was initially released in October of 1992 and is known for being one of the most controversial arcade games of its time; Mortal Kombat is a series of fighting games, with some adventure games as spin offs, and has generated a good number of sequels in the past 20 years. The story is simple, every generation a tournament is held to determine the fate of one of the seven survive realms, and is not really needed since it’s a fighting game so most people do not care about the story. With the story not important to most gamers was the reboot needed? This one is both a yes and no answer, the fact is that Mortal Kombat does have a story whether people know it or not and that means some fan favorite characters have died. Since Mortal Kombat is about a tournament where people die frequently most of the fan favorite characters are long since dead, with sales not doing as well as it should the creators made a final game in the first timeline giving long time fans who paid attention to the story a final chapter. With the series ended the creators rebooted the timeline allowing them to use old mechanics and better yet long dead characters without complaints from either side. With the new game being one of the most successful installments of the series it shows that the reboot worked and whether it was needed or not it worked out amazingly.
Overall I guess I wasn’t able to clear up what I think about the subject of rebooting a game series. In some cases reboots are very needed and very much a great idea, reboots are able to bring games back to their former glory and able to give them new elements that were never possible years ago. In other cases rebooting seems unnecessary and though good for sales one wonders if there is any heart in the idea to reboot a series. I am not a video game historian so maybe I’m wrong but I think rebooting a game like Castlevania is for a cash grab and nothing more, something as a comic fan im used to but don’t approve of, but at the same time I could be wrong maybe it was needed because the developers felt they told the story they could with the old timeline. If the story is done in a franchise should we just kill it? Or is a reboot preferred so we can have more fun and glory with old characters revisited? What are your thoughts internet, comment and tell me if you agree or if I’m just full of myself. Games are more mainstream so its amazing rebooting is even accepted, as a comics fan I’m used to it but I never thought I’d see the day when retconning and rebooting were incorporated into everyday media. I guess we should all just enjoy the games that come out and not try to wrap our poor heads around such confusing and complicated subjects.