Questioning the Necessity of Reboots in Video Games
In the video gaming industry, reboots exist from time to time, especially in very popular game franchises such as Armored Core, Castlevania and Mortal Kombat. In fact, I just finished one such reboot the other day, DmC: Devil May Cry, a reboot of the original Devil May Cry franchise, and with the new Tomb Raider coming out soon just around the corner, I had been asking myself, do these games even need reboots?
What is a reboot though? For those uninformed, a reboot is the act of restarting the settings and story of a series back to square one. Say for an example, a game had 6 main installments, all of them connected with a consecutive story. However, the studio decided they need to “reboot” the whole franchise so that they can build up a new, “alternate” story from scratch, and that, in hindsight, is a reboot.
To me, reboots are very risky moves, it’s like a gamble, especially if you’re rebooting games of legendary status. Game studios will be changing and “resetting” a franchise in which people are incredibly attached to, from the very oldest installment to the newest, they might even be “resetting” some of the characters who had already became an iconic figure in the original franchise. For reboots, they are no doubt difficult to achieve such level of success though I’m sure they are a few exceptions. Are reboots a catalyst of damnation? Or a salvation? We will have a look at two of these games I came across recently, DmC: Devil May Cry and the Tomb Raider reboot.
At the time when DmC haven’t been released, the fans almost went nuts after looking at some of the promotional pictures and teasers. For long time fans of Devil May Cry, we are all familiar with the badass, silver-haired Dante, taking down his foes with style. The new DmC reboot turns into an almost 180 degrees in terms of appearance; the new “Dante” has an appearance which looks like he’s part of a screamo band. He drinks, cuss, and others akin to a typical gangster while the old Dante doesn’t do all those things and could still managed to achieve a level of badassery none could easily attain. When compared to that, the new Dante’s awkward attempts at being badass looks like failed Dante wannabee instead. In terms of characters, the reboot had already ruined it even before the game started, and that’s sad, considering that the game actually had an interesting enough premise, a dark but oddly entrancing world, and satisfying battle mechanics (though a bit dumbed down).
After I finished the game, I thought that it wasn’t as bad as what most people make it out to be, but it’s still a shadow of it’s former self. It’s a good game, no doubt, but it’s horrid when compared in DMC standards. Besides, Devil May Cry aren’t an extremely old series, at least compared to other series like Castlevania and Sonic which had already reached about 2 to 3 decades long. It doesn’t even have as much releases compared to the others, so I had no idea why would they feel the need to create a reboot since their own original franchise are still so expansive; they even had a new character they could expand and develop on, namely Nero. In the end though, Devil May Cry is still a phenomenal series even though it isn’t as old as other popular franchises, and rebooting such series always led to heavy scrutiny.
Another example is the Tomb Raider reboot, the game haven’t been released yet so I haven’t had the chance to play it yet obviously, but so far, the “resetting” phase for it focuses on making the Tomb Raider protagonist, Lara Croft more “human”. Unlike the usual badass dual-pistols wielding Lara Croft we are so accustomed with, the new Lara starts in an isolated island with exactly no weapons, tools or even experience. Instead of defeating the cruelty of nature with firearms, the new Lara focuses more on survival instead of superiority. Interesting to note is that, last year, the upcoming game faced heavy controversy when a video of “attempted rape” on Lara was shown to the public.
Either way, rebooting a game is an incredibly dangerous move, and since chances are, the game in question already had so many supportive fans, just one slight wrong move with the reboot, and it will be faced with extreme criticism from fans. Whatever they do, the reboot will be heavily scrutinized by veteran fans and followers of the franchise, even including the slightest of details, like the Tomb Raider “attempted rape” scene. I understand that the maker was trying to highlight the emotional impact Lara felt when she kills a human for the first time, but their way of execution made the fans question something else entirely.
At that end, does reboots help a franchise? Do the games even need them? I would say it depends, both on the timing and the maker. Some games had grown stale over the years and it’s those games that need the reboot. Other games which are still expandable shouldn’t have a reboot, in fact, that might even spoil whatever good elements left in it. The creators behind the reboot should also definitely know what they are doing, since once their works are published, it will be met with the harsh judgement of the fans.
What do you think of game reboots?