The purpose of this blog is not to claim one opinion is right or wrong, but rather to (hopefully) incite thought provoking conversation and debate. Have fun!
Over the past couple of years in the video game industry there seems to have been a large movement towards rebooting currently existing franchises. The idea behind these is to bring the franchise to a new audience and hopefully take a new spin on the games without alienating them from past entries. This is extremely useful for a franchise that has been out of sight for many years, as it helps bring an entry to both old and new fans without demanding that people have played the many years old entrees. This process seems to be one that many people dislike. People who love a franchise generally don't want to see all the lore and characters they've grown up with disappear or change into new unrecognizable forms. I suppose the real question when it comes to reboots is where do you draw the line between making a reboot to a franchise or simply making a new IP?
One of, if not THE, most infamous reboots ever created is Sonic the Hedgehog for PS3 and Xbox 360. Sonic '06 as it is commonly referred to is a game which, in the minds of many, sealed the franchise's fate as beyond redemption. The game was a reboot, which suggests that it was the representation of the direction that the developers wanted Sonic to take moving forward. The game was universally disliked with cited problems being long load times, poor camera, glitches, poor plot, and an overall lack of control. The game brought an overly cinematic approach to Sonic the Hedgehog. Some cutscenes in it could easily be confused with scenes from a jrpg because of the huge contrast between what you would expect from a Sonic world and what it offered. It wasn't until Sonic Generations that many started regaining faith in the franchise. But in this case we can probably assume that this was overall poor design as Sonic '06 was not the first 3D Sonic game, it was just the representation of all the things that could go wrong with it. The fact that it wasn't connected to the other Sonic games was the least of its problems.
So let's move to another rebooted franchise: Devil May Cry. DMC has long been a franchise that has prided itself on challenging, impressive combat that mixed gunplay and melee weaponry to fight demons in the most stylistic ways possible. The original Devil May Cry essentially created the spectacle fighter genre (or "Character Action" genre if you prefer that name) and its sequel turned around and did nearly everything wrong that it could. Devil May Cry 3 came around and succeeded in creating the pinnacle of that style of game while Devil May Cry 4 tried to continue it's legacy but things such as backtracking held it back from being all it could be. 5 years later DmC: Devil May Cry hits the scene, this time developed by Ninja Theory rather than the team who brought it to life. The new entry was a huge hit critically but received an immense
backlash from a large portion of fans who found it to be a stain on their favorite franchise. Things like the lowered challenge and streamlined combat displeased fans who found the hardcore nature of the former games to be their favorite part. Personally as someone who has always loved Devil May Cry I actually really enjoyed DmC, but even I will admit that it would have likely been better for Ninja Theory to have simply made this a new IP. Though to be fair, at this point (considering sales and fan backlash) it's extremely likely that this entry will be relegated to being a spinoff instead of the basis for a rebooted franchise.
So that's an awful lot of text about poor reboots you may be thinking to yourself. Are there any examples of reboots done well? Absolutely! Just have a look at games such as Prince of Persia. The Sands of Time trilogy revolutionized the Prince of Persia franchise, brought it to mainstream audiences, and did so with a great reception! The recent Mortal Kombat is probably the safest example of a reboot done right, it brought back the prolific fighting game franchise not just as an arcade style game, but as an example of how to properly include a story mode in a fighting game. The latest Tomb Raider entry is also an excellent example of a reboot done well, though there are those who have some valid points about the lack of actual tomb raiding done in it. Metroid Prime also springs to mind when thinking of well received reboots, and what a change that was from its 2D predecessors!
So where is the line? What are the specific requirements that should qualify a new game as worthy of being a reboot to an older franchise as opposed to just turning it into a new IP? Personally I enjoy reboots if they manage to capture what made me enjoy the originals, anything new from there is fine with me, but then I'm a person who enjoys seeing different takes on existing franchises and doesn't like to watch something I enjoy go stale. How about you dear readers?