Behold disappointments like Golden Axe: Beast Rider, which modernizes button-mashing fantasy swordplay by adding high-resolution graphics and expansive backdrops, but perilously little reason to keep mindlessly tapping buttons. Or the upcoming Bionic Commando retread, a title that trades precision arcade thrills for the ability to clumsily swing about open-ended environments or pummel generic foes with a robotic arm. These games not only fail to capture the essence of their predecessors. They also miss the point.
Triumphant resurrection is, apparently, as much about leaving what isn’t broke alone as trying to elevate one’s game to the next level. See Resident Evil 5, whose simple scares recall the series’ humble origins, yet are enhanced by haunting African settings and the ability for two players to simultaneously tag-team mindbenders and melees. Or Fallout 3, which elegantly reprises its predecessors’ focus on ’50s-style Americana and science fiction, while introducing a detailed combat system, customizable weaponry and a living, breathing post-apocalyptic world in which to play. Even Tomb Raider: Underworld, essentially just a PSOne adventure as viewed through today’s rosy HD lens, scores by leaving the brand’s signature action-packed approach to archaeology largely untouched.
With a bevy of repeat performances from Ghostbusters to Splatterhouse planned in the near future, the coming year promises to put game makers’ mastery of these concepts to the test. With nearly 30 years of mistakes to learn from, here’s hoping they’ve finally nailed the art of reinvention.
Get Rich Playing Games (getrichgaming.com) author and TV/radio host Scott Steinberg has covered technology for 400+ outlets from CNN to Rolling Stone. For more of his insights, visit www.gadgetexpert.net.single page
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