Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

I’m Too Young For Reboots and Remakes!

Posted by Rampant Coyote on March 5, 2013

When movies I loved as a kid started getting remade, I started feeling old. Remakes, in my mind, were for old black-and-white movies or foreign films. I could barely tolerate them when they were movies from my childhood that I barely remembered.  Although, admittedly, by “tolerate” I often mean “enjoyed, albeit with grumbling.” But reboots of newer franchises? If it weren’t for the fact that Nolan’s Batman reboot was freaking awesome, I’d have been far more annoyed.  And the Spider-Man reboot? I haven’t seen it, but… WAY WAY WAY too soon, guys.  Toby Maguire still looks young enough to pull off the role as a grown-up Spider-Man.  And Star Trek? It was in desparate need of some fresh blood to breathe life into old stories and roles.

Thief_The_Dark_Project_boxcoverWhen it comes to video games getting the ‘reboot’ treatment, such as with XCom: Enemy Unknown, or the new Tomb Raider game or the upcoming Thief reboot…. I dunno.

I mean, on the one hand, video games have historically been pretty technology-bound – something that’s only recently entered the murky zone of diminishing returns. In some cases, it’s hard to even get these older games to run (though this problem has been mercifully alleviated thanks to the emulator scene – which GOG.COM and others use commercially).  There have been a lot of great improvements in UI design since the bad ol’ days, which can make some games with otherwise opaque interfaces a lot more fun to get into. And of course, who doesn’t appreciate prettier graphics, so long as they don’t detract from the spirit of the original? I love the idea of a new generation of gamers finally experiencing some of these classics in a new, improved experience – with a fresh take on an awesome story.

But there’s an ugly side too. A “reboot” or “re-imagining” can very easily obliterate the very thing that made the original so compelling or charming. I haven’t played the new Tomb Raider, but it looks like becoming “just another third-person action-adventure” game is a very real risk.  And the claim that the new Thief reboot is going to be a lot more like Dishonored leaves my blood cold. I don’t want classic game series to be more like modern games – on the contrary, I want modern games to be a lot more like their classic progenitors. Not that everything these old games did was made of platinum, but I find the modern (mainstream, AAA) gaming scene to be growing awfully homogeneous and boring  (If also very pretty).

There’s also the purely subjective side where I whine that I’m too young for my favorite games to become completely remade in someone else’s image. I guess it comes with the turf of being in such a rapidly-changing industry, but when one of my first commercial videogames, Warhawk,  was effectively replaced by the PS3 version, it did sting a bit. But again, it’s a rapidly-changing industry, and the only real value of doing a remake rather than a new property is that it’s still early enough to capture the attention of a generation of older gamers who fondly remember the original. I mean, let’s face it – the world and history of Ultima‘s Britannia is not exactly Middle Earth. Sure it was packed with some fascinating ideas (and retcons of its own), but really its value is in what we old-school players invested in it.  But it’s not like modern designers could be spared a ton of effort lifting Mondain, Minax, and Exodus rather than making up their own villains.

I guess overall I’m cautiously in favor of it, but I’d be much more enthusiastic if I really trusted the guys who are now handling the franchises.


Filed Under: Biz, Retro - Comments: 14 Comments to Read

  • groboclown said,

    I’ve lost nearly all interest in anything being considered a reboot these days. I only grudgingly watched the Nolan Batman stuff because too many people told me it was worth watching (I didn’t think so). Even my wife, a long time Tomb Raider fan (since the beginning), won’t touch the new reboot.

    It all makes me feel old.

    And, that image of Thief, combined with the news that there’s a plan for a Thief reboot, makes me terribly sad.

  • Xenovore said,

    . . . the claim that the new Thief reboot is going to be a lot more like Dishonored leaves my blood cold.

    What does “leaves my blood cold” mean exactly? Did you actually play Dishonored and you hated it? Please elaborate; I had nothing but a great time with Dishonored and I thought it was very well done. I really only have two complaints:

    1) It wasn’t as open as I’d like; i.e. I’d prefer a more sandbox-type game like Skyrim.

    2) There wasn’t more — I want more of that type of game-play! And I definitely want more of that world setting. I found it to be interesting and intriguing, with a lot of depth; I was left wanting to know more about the steampunk-ish tech, the lands, the magic, the people, the politics, etc.

    At any rate… Yeah, there’s a good chance the new Thief will be yet another dumbed-down, console-ified game — after all, that is the current trend these days — but let’s give it a chance before we start harrumphing in our beards and claiming how much it’s all gonna suck. =)

    (BTW, loved the new Spiderman; that new kid is much cooler than Tobey Maguire.)

  • Xian said,

    Some work, some don’t. I absolutely loved the King’s Bounty reboot, even more than the original.

    I think when the fundamental game play and style is changed is when I don’t care as much for it, especially if I was a fan of the original. I enjoyed Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas, but neither was the Fallout game I wanted to play – it looks like Wasteland 2 might be closer to what I wanted to see for that franchise.

  • McTeddy said,

    “I guess overall I’m cautiously in favor of it, but I’d be much more enthusiastic if I really trusted the guys who are now handling the franchises.”

    This is my feelings in a nutshell.

    I think that that introducing past classics to the modern age is a fantastic thing… but not by sacrificing everything that made the original unique.

    I mean, a Castlevania game without Dracula? **** that.

  • Robert Basler said,

    If you saw Spider-Man with Tobey McGuire, then you saw the The Amazing Spider-Man. It’s the exact same movie, only worse.

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    @Xenovore – Haven’t played it, watched vids of it, and it looks like a pretty fun game. But from what I saw (in spite of suggestions to the contrary), it sure ain’t Thief.

  • OttoMoBiehl said,

    I’m not a huge fan of reboots/remakes. Usually, with 2D games, I’d like them to re-release it where it can play on modern systems. I think there is a certain amount of charm and simplicity in the graphics of those old games. I saw the new Ultima game the EA is coming out with and the screenshots and game play video made me sad. It looks very generic to me.

    3D games I’d like for them to upgrade the 3D assets to look a little nicer and the engine to take advantage of newer graphic cards. I wish they’d leave the game play the same. Case in point is Tomb Raider. I really enjoyed the Tomb Raider games of the 90s so I was excited when they were going to re-release the anniversary edition…until I played it. The T-Rex fight in the original was very intense and and required a lot of jumping around and shooting (unless you knew where to hide) where as the anniversary edition version was almost like a quick time event.

    Also seems like reboots/remakes are a lot of flash but the game feels shorter.

  • CdrJameson said,

    As a regular retro gamer the thing that most annoys me about old games is the controls.

    Many of these games were developed before we standardised on control schemes and to try and play them now requires a large degree of unlearning.
    Try playing Car Wars CRPG Autoduel – you push the joystick in the direction you want your car to go, not the usual accelerate/left/right/brake.
    It’s maddeningly tricky.

    So, I’m all for remakes of old games that keep the gameplay intact, but get rid of the annoyances (few/no save points – Half Life, ‘wrong’ controls – Autoduel, Infuriating slowness of movement/levelling – Baldurs Gate).

  • Albert1 said,

    Generally I enjoy remakes as much as they’re faithful to the original – graphics not included, of course!
    Reboots, however, are a no-no: biz guys seem unable to realize that while, for example, RPG is a “platonic” idea, each of its implementations is deeply rooted in the period it was developed. This is stands also for those games that start new genres, e.g. Tomb Raider.

  • Albert1 said,

    P.S.: speaking of remakes, I must confess something terrible – The Night of the Living Dead… I think that the 1990 remake is better than the original! I know, I know, it’s such an embarassing thing…

  • groboclown said,

    @Albert1 – I agree with this. The fan remake of Half Life (“Black Mesa” using the Half Life 2 engine, sort of) was simply incredible. But, as you say, this was a remake, not a reboot.

    That said, Tomb Raider Anniversary was a descent game – except for the pyramid climb crap.

  • Xenovore said,

    @Rampant: Ah, ok. Well, Dishonored is one that videos don’t quite do justice to. Mind you, I didn’t play a lot of Thief back in the day, but I’d be inclined to say Dishonored is better than Thief. Seems to me that all the game mechanisms from Thief are there, plus a whole lot more on top of that. And with much better looking visuals. No way I could go back and play Thief after Dishonored.


    . . . upgrade the 3D assets to look a little nicer and the engine to take advantage of newer graphic cards. . . . leave the game play the same.

    I’ll agree with that. And if the UI is too wonky/old school, fix that up as well.

    @CdrJameson: Dunno what odd version you were playing, but actually you can quick-save at any time in Half-Life (in addition to the auto-saves).

  • CdrJameson said,

    Half-life pretty much forces you to quicksave every two paces because the checkpoints are sooooo far apart.

    I remember playing with two friends watching, with them whispering ‘save… save…’ every few seconds. I think I used the save button more often than the trigger.

    I’m pretty sure better checkpointing would have made this unnecessary.

  • Xenovore said,

    @CdrJameson: There are no checkpoints; there’s an auto-save at the beginning of each level, if that’s what you mean. Other than that, you can quick-save as needed. I guess if you really sucked at it and always forgot to save, then yeah, you’d be screwed. Otherwise, I don’t see the problem.

    I’d much rather have the option to quick-save whenever than rely solely on checkpoint saves. One game where that actually was a huge problem is Farcry. There was no option to quick-save, so you did have to rely solely on checkpoints (actual checkpoint auto-saves throughout a level, not beginning-of-level auto-saves). And more often than not, the checkpoints were in the wrong locations.