Thursday, April 28, 2016

Top Ten Franchise Reboots

With Doom on its way later this year and with players having experienced the beta, it seems like a perfect opportunity to delve into other franchises that saw impressive reboots. Sometimes the only direction a long lost franchise can go is just wiping the chalkboard clean and starting fresh. That's what these ten gaming franchises did, and they were quite successful in doing so. While the jury is out on Doom currently, I know for a fact that these ten reboots are some of the best within the industry. After you've checked out my picks, why not list some of your own favorite franchise reboots in the comments section?

Note: This list isn't to be confused with my Top Ten Franchise Revivals, which were about games from series that hadn't seen an entry in a long time, though some games on that list are on this one.

10) Prince of Persia (PS3, 360, PC)

Though not doing that fantastically sales-wise, Prince of Persia's 2008 reboot added a lot of personality, charm, and colorful cel-shaded visuals that did everything to impress. The game followed the Prince, using all manners of acrobatic platforming goodness to move through the various environments. Exploring the open world setting, granting players the ability to go anywhere in the game world, along with Elika, a helper AI character that will save him from when he falls, the Prince has the corruption of the land to heal. Prince of Persia (2008) showed a different side to the series while retaining many of the elements that made past games in the franchise so endearing and entertaining.

9) Star Fox Zero (Wii U)

While the controls are incredibly polarizing, Star Fox Zero happens to control really well in my opinion. There's nothing like flying on-rails, having an enemy escape the TV screen, and then using the GamePad to look to the side of the Arwing and shoot them down, something that would otherwise be impossible without this two screen setup. The many missions of Star Fox Zero are some of the franchise's best, particularly a mission where you take on a fleet of ships, have to slip between a battleship's shield when it fires its laser, and take down said battleship from the inside. Star Fox Zero is hardly a dumpster-tier title, and you'll see why later this week when I review it.

8) Tomb Raider (PS4, XONE, PS3, 360, PC)

I'm at a crossroads in my opinion of Tomb Raider. While I think the game is good overall, I don't think the darker, macabre direction the series took was needed. Then you have the story, writing, and characters that were horribly done and pretty much an embarrassment. Tomb Raider's 2013 reboot played more like a much more violent Uncharted than keeping in line with past games in the series. Still, the action is intense, the world is fun to explore, the combat is enjoyable, and finding secrets within the world is a wonderful experience. The things that hold Lara Croft's reboot back make the game only reach the eighth spot on this countdown.

7) Shadow Warrior (PS4, XONE, PC)

A reboot of the 1997 first-person shooter of the same name, Shadow Warrior released in 2013 to critical and fan acclaim. Possessing the same main character of Lo Wang within a present-day setting, Shadow Warrior put players against massive amounts of demons of all shapes and sizes in this fast and frenetic shooter. Levels had multiple secrets within them, including alternate routes, so multiple play-throughs encouraged exploration while filling the ground and walls with the blood of demons. In essence, Shadow Warrior is a retro-style shooter that gets what made the original and games of its ilk at the time so special.

6) Shinobi (PS2)

With a sword that eats souls, protagonist Hotsuma played through eight levels consisting of two parts and a boss encounter to get vengeance on a sinister sorcerer. This sword required Hotsuma to defeat as many enemies as quickly as possible or else the sword would start feeding on him. Shinobi, initially conceived for the Dreamcast before Sega went third-party, for PlayStation 2 saw the return of the franchise in all of its glory, this time with enough hyper-violence to quench anyone's blood lust. While now 3D, Shinobi managed to feel like its older 2D counterparts, making for a hack-and-slash action game that shined brightly like the edge of a shuriken.

5) Kid Icarus: Uprising (3DS)

This next title could be perceived as a sequel, as it mentions multiple characters from past Kid Icarus games, but I see it as a reboot, as Kid Icarus: Uprising is so far removed from its predecessors. Offering two types of gameplay: on-rails levels similar to that of the Star Fox series, though much more crazy, and ground combat and exploration, Uprising was a massive adventure full of high octane action, hilarious and self-aware dialogue, and amazing presentation in its visuals, story elements, and orchestral music. Uprising was like most of Masahiro Sakurai's creations, as it had lots of longevity and replay value, whether it was gaining new weapons and abilities, completing all of the in-game challenges for rewards, or battling it out online. Kid Icarus: Uprising is a personal favorite reboot of mine, making it one of the best Nintendo 3DS games in my opinion.

4) Killer Instinct (XONE, PC)

When Microsoft purchased Rare after Nintendo declined to buy up the owners' remaining shares of the company, many were quite excited to see how Microsoft would put Rare's many awesome franchises to use. To say that Microsoft has failed to capitalize as much as they could on Rare would be an understatement. However, with the 2013 launch title for the Xbox One, Killer Instinct, one of Rare's most beloved franchises is back and better than ever. Released in season format, Killer Instinct retained a lot from the Super Nintendo and arcade predecessors, but added enough to make for a fresh fighting game experience. The battle system is tremendous, still offering the fantastic combo-based action the series was known for. With its release on Windows 10, Killer Instinct now has an even bigger, deserved audience to sink their teeth into this fabulous fighter.

3) Mortal Kombat (PS3, 360, PC, Vita)

Taking the idea of a reboot to the max and retconning the entire Mortal Kombat mythos, this ninth installment of the killer fighting game franchise delivered all the hyper-violence that one had grown to expect from the Mortal Kombat name. The addition of X-Ray Moves showed just how deadly and brutal many attacks from MK characters like Raiden, Liu Kang, and Johnny Cage really were, displaying broken bones and copious amount of blood. The Challenge Tower mode added longevity to this Mortal Kombat reboot, offering 300 individual challenges each granting the player one reward for completing them. This edition of Mortal Kombat is one of the most packed and great feeling fighters within the franchise, and the reboot returned the MK name to its former glory after several lackluster prequels.

2) Ratchet & Clank (PS4)

The original Ratchet & Clank on the PlayStation 2 played wonderfully and introduced the world to the lovable pairing of a lombax and his robotic helper friend. Now, Ratchet and Clank's first adventure has been given the re-imagining treatment, holding several new words along with familiar territory, brilliantly creative weapons that this time can be leveled up, and additions like strafing that make the gameplay feel as great as ever. This reboot is one of the most beautiful games ever to be devised, offering a solid 30 frames-per-second, gorgeous Pixar-like visuals, and enough action and exploration to make players yearn for the series to keep on keepin' on.

1) Ninja Gaiden (XBX)

Taking five years of development time to perfect the game and its various mechanics, the NES classic Ninja Gaiden was given the reboot treatment by Tomonobu Itagaki and Team Ninja. What players got was one of the best character action games in the genre, filled with high octane sword-based combat, graphic violence, and a steep challenge. Ninja Gaiden's Xbox reboot was definitely not for the feint of heart. Its length, its depth, its amazing sense of swiftness and speed all added up to a brilliant action adventure game that demanded a lot from its players. That's why it's no wonder why Ninja Gaiden is still held to such a high regard and is viewed as a modern classic.

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