Do Failed Sequels, Reboots, Remakes, and Movies 'Ruin' a Game?
Simply thinking about the myriad of issues surrounding our hobby means making connections.
Anybody else love Dumb and Dumber? That's where this origin story begins. While in the process of getting to know a young lady we both found that our favorite comedy of all time was Dumb and Dumber. When I asked the next logical question and it was answered I was once agrain struck by a common theme among gamers.
“Have you seen the sequel?”
“No, I didn't want to ruin it.”
So the question that arises even when we aren't talking explicitly about it is: do bad, sub par, or fan hated entries in game franchises actually “ruin” certain games or franchises? On the face of things I should think that no, they don't. The Dumb and Dumber sequel was funny but it certainly failed to reach the classic status heights and pop culture magic of its predecessor but I did laugh and it was nice to see two great characters back in action. Sticking to movies for a moment, when the likes of Tomb Raider, Hitman, and even Mortal Kombat came out they were considered pretty good films from the video game adaptation standpoint. Not all fared so. Look at Dead or Alive, or Super Mario Bros. Not great stuff, but did they “ruin” those games? No, they really just ruined a fantastic opportunity.
We Sony fans were all worried about casting and directing decisions for an Uncharted film because we didn't want the darn thing ruined. Were we really worried they would make a bad film or that it could besmirch the reputation of a generation and genre-defining franchise? I think we get over films more easily because they are easy to write off as having been put together by formulas from Hollywood rather than artists seeking freedom to tell their digital interactive stories. It could be different with games but I'm not sure. No sensible person can say that Final Fantasy hasn't been ruined as a franchise. The evidence that backs that up is self explanatory and I don't need to go into it here. However, will a very different version of Final Fantasy VII in its remake actually ruin the legendary status of the property should it be bad or disliked by fans? I'd like to say no, it is extra and thus you don't have to play it.
Gamers are fond of telling us fans to shut up and go play our old JRPGs. Well, we'd kind of like to experience new things too ya know? Destroying an opportunity to reignite the world's interest in a play style that shouldn't have been abandoned may truly besmirch the original.
Star Wars was said to be ruined by its prequels. It isn't as though that universe died though. If the dream of a true FFVII remake doesn't work out we will still have the good old days. An actual, more classic, high scoring and selling Final Fantasy of any kind should be able to un-ruin the franchise in my mind. And a new interpretation of FFVII shouldn't have much say in the spot for Final Fantasy VII as the best game in history.
That isn't the end of it though, what about franchises like Devil May Cry? I loved the reboot and the old games and I see a path forward for it. For fans though, that reboot which was critically acclaimed but a failure by sales and fan standards, could well be franchise ruining. We still don't know where the property will go next. Do they pretend the game didn't happen? In that case fans are going to be slow to forgive even with a great new entry and an old Dante. If it moves forward with Ninja Theory's vision then the chances of it ever getting back its fans or sales numbers are almost zilch. That could be considered the ruination of a franchise in the long run.
So I put the question to you all: does, when, can, and how will an unwanted entry be it game, spinoff, reboot, remake, or movie, actually ruin a game or property? If something is being ruined then what is it? A concept in our minds, a piece of nostalgia, or nothing at all?
1/30/2016 David D. Nelson