Thursday, June 18, 2009

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

Sometimes you get the greatest ideas for stories from third-parties. Take this article, for instance. We've seen a lot of games that were the originators in its particular genre, and then had games that imitated said originator yet came out better for it. This article deals with just that: imitators that outdid the originators. With that, let's start with the first pair of games.

Saints Row 2 > Grand Theft Auto IV

Grand Theft Auto IV (PC, 360, PS3)

GTA IV sold millions of copies on release. It has one of the most fleshed-out worlds I've ever experienced. It's just mind-boggling the attention to detail Liberty City possesses. That said, GTA IV had its share of problems. For one, many of the missions had little variety-- drive to point A, chase after car, kill everyone in sight. The unfortunate part of all this is that none of these missions had checkpoints, so if you failed a 20 minute mission, you had to start all over from the beginning again. The downloadable content, The Lost and the Damned, however, felt like what GTA IV should have been, and it's a fantastic experience.

Saints Row 2 (PS3, 360)

One of my favorite open-world games is Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. It had a plethora of variety, a kickass soundtrack, and a lot of side-missions and content to do. Saints Row 2, although very juvenile in its humor, feels like the spiritual successor to San Andreas. There were a myriad of clothing options available, bigger variety in mission types, a grander amount of side-missions, and yes, checkpoints!

EA Sports Active > Wii Fit

Wii Fit (Wii)

Another originator, Wii Fit is packed with the balance board peripheral which can also be used for games like Shaun White Snowboarding and Skate It, for example. Armed with yoga, jogging, and strength training exercises, plus several inventive mini-games, Wii Fit is a great way to start shedding pounds or at least starting feeling healthier.

EA Sports Active (Wii)

Simply put, EA Sports Active gives the user a much greater work-out than Wii Fit. While both are great ideas for those interested in getting or staying in shape, EA Sports Active will burn the calories much more.

Banjo-Kazooie > Super Mario 64

Super Mario 64 (N64)

Nintendo has a habit of innovating and having a motley crew of followers take the basics and expand on them for a better game or experience. As you'll see with the following examples, Mario gets one-upped a lot, but that doesn't make the originator any less fun or historic for the gaming industry. Super Mario 64 brought 3-D platforming to consoles, and boy, did it knock one out of the park utilizing the brand-new analog stick that was never before standardized for a console.

Banjo-Kazooie (N64)

Using the same formula of Super Mario 64, collecting a special item to open new worlds and areas of the hub world, Banjo-Kazooie was Rare's answer to Nintendo's first 3-D Mario game. While Super Mario 64 knocked it out of the park, Banjo-Kazooie knocked it out of the city. Banjo and Kazooie acquired more moves, had ten wide-open levels to explore without having to restart once a Jiggy was collected, impressive visuals, a cute story, great humor, and a wonderful soundtrack makes Banjo-Kazooie more entertaining than Super Mario 64, and already near-perfect game.

Sonic the Hedgehog > Super Mario Bros.

Super Mario Bros. (NES)

The Nintendo Entertainment System hit U.S. stores after a hubbub with retailers. They were weary of selling another video game system after the famous video game crash. Nintendo opted to have them sell the NES as a toy instead. Then a little known title called Super Mario Bros. hit soil all across the world, and the rest as they say is history. I must say that the original Super Mario Bros. is too difficult for me. I must be getting old, but it really sapped my enjoyment of the game.

Sonic the Hedgehog (GEN)

SEGA's answer to Nintendo's Mario came about a little after the launch of SEGA's new console, the Genesis. It was none other than Sonic the Hedgehog. The argument from SEGA was that Mario was a slow pudgy middle-aged man while Sonic was fast, full of attitude, and had blast-processing. What is blast-processing? Well, it's pretty much a made-up term for marketing the game back in the day. Sonic was more enjoyable to the original Mario because as SEGA said he was much faster. I also liked how there was an optional quest of collecting all the chaos emeralds. The levels were larger, more colorful, and-- well, of course they were. One was on a more powerful system! But that doesn't stop Sonic from being a more entertaining game to me.

Diddy Kong Racing > Mario Kart 64

Mario Kart 64 (N64)

In January or February of 1997, Mario Kart 64 hit the Nintendo 64, and it quickly became THE multi-player game on any console-- and for good reason. It was one of the first games to support four-player split-screen, it had a bounty of ridiculous items, well-designed courses, grand prix and battle modes, and immense personality to it. Surely no title would ever beat this!

Diddy Kong Racing (N64)

While Mario Kart 64 only had grand prix, time trial, and battle modes, Diddy Kong Racing had a full adventure mode where collecting golden balloons opened up new tracks, worlds, and boss battles. Yes, boss battles. It was very similar to Super Mario 64 in this respect. Compared to Mario Kart's respectable sixteen tracks, Diddy Kong Racing boasted twenty included its own time trial, battle modes, and two unlockable characters bringing the count to ten.

Hot Shots Golf Fore! > Mario Golf

Mario Golf (N64)

During the SNES years but most abundantly during the N64 years, Mario spinoffs became more pronounced and popular. From Mario Party, Mario Tennis, and yes, Mario Golf. Mario and the gang took to the links for some light-hearted fun with six courses, characters like Mario, Luigi, Peach, Bowser, DK, and more, and several bonus modes such as ring golf, mini-golf, and speed golf.

Hot Shots Golf Fore! (N64)

While previous Hot Shots Golf games came close to or surpassed Mario Golf, none were as great as the fourth installment, Hot Shots Golf Fore!. With a multitude of characters unlocked through a VS mode with more improved characters able to earned through facing off against hard versions of said characters, a larger amount of courses spanning the globe, online play, and various bonus modes such as mini-golf, Hot Shots Golf Fore! truly takes the crown as best cartoon golf game around.

Perfect Dark > Goldeneye

Goldeneye (N64)

In 1997, a year after the original Goldeneye motion picture hit screens all across the world, Rare's Goldeneye video game sniped Nintendo 64's. This was the game that brought first person shooters to consoles and revolutionized them forever. Forget your Halos, Goldeneye and the game that trumped it are still king despite their low frame-rates and primitive-to-today's-standards of graphics.

Perfect Dark (N64)

Goldeneye was a single-player and multi-player masterpiece. Perfect Dark was single-player and multi-player perfection. More guns, more modes, sophisticated bots each with their own personalities-- something people to this day STILL don't copy for some odd reason, a bounty of multi-player arenas, modes, the most in-depth player statistics around, player creation, a caseload of innovative and impressive weapons, and so much more. Perfect Dark is still my favorite FPS period.

Final Fantasy > Dragon Warrior

Dragon Warrior (NES)

Essentially the game that started the Japanese role-playing game genre, Dragon Warrior was released by Enix. Enix is now a part of Square-Enix. Who would have ever foreseen that? Regardless, it lit Japan on fire in a feverish frenzy to save the world from evil with all of the typical early JRPG action and mechanics you'd expect to find.

Final Fantasy (NES)

Another who knew is who knew that a company struggling to survive would put out a last hurrah and have it save their company? That is just what happened with Squaresoft who named their game Final Fantasy for the reason that they believed that would be their final game. Since then the series has become a worldwide sensation eclipsing Dragon Warrior in all regions save for Japan. While Final Fantasy is more technologically-advanced in theme, Dragon Warrior- now Dragon Quest sticks with the quaint medieval setting.

What do you think of this article? Post your feedback in the comments section to discuss this and many other articles.

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