In this weekly feature, CheatCC contributing writer Steve Haske explores the rich history of video games, from notable and memorable games to important events in the industry, as viewed through the lens of gaming's contemporary standards, design, and culture.
Whether it's because of the fans or a game's creators, those entangled with the game industry seem to have a hard time letting go of things. Street Fighter IV is on the verge of entering it's fourth iteration in two years; Call of Duty has been a yearly staple since 2004; Final Fantasy has been spread so thin as a brand the name (arguably) no longer has any real meaning. But what happens when a series that has long lay dormant—or that's otherwise been considered dead for years—is suddenly revived for a newer, modern generation?
It's a question I've been forced to look at a lot recently. The most obvious title to fit this description is Duke Nukem Forever (which I wrote about last week), but because of Gearbox's refusal to completely modernize what is essentially a franchise that can only thrive with a mid-'90s mindset, I'm giving that one a pass. There have been some other more puzzling examples as of late, however. The first (and perhaps most baffling, at least for me) is Square's would-be Parasite Eve re-visitation, The 3rd Birthday. The original Parasite Eve hit the PS One way back in 1998, with a sequel following a couple years later—starting out life as a Japanese cellphone game, I was pretty sure I'd never hear anything more about this third sequel in a series I figured Square had left for dead a long time ago.
And yet, at the end of last month, a full eleven years later, T3B made its U.S. debut on the PSP—one that was generally considered unspectacular by fans, suffering from narrative and design that had virtually nothing to do with the Parasite Eves of old. Another oddity is Konami's recently released Rush N' Attack follow-up, Ex-Patriot. This one landed on PSN and XBLA a full twenty-two years after an arcade-only sequel to the original Rush N' Attack was released, so long ago it guarantees that most gamers under the age of thirty, myself included, probably don't even remember when the series was new. Like The 3rd Birthday, Ex-Patriot half-heartedly attempts to change the game from a movement-based arcade shooter (despite the game's main combat mechanic revolving around melee) to a simplistic stealth game (albeit one whose core sneaking components are borderline broken).
As of late there are also a lot of fanboys up in arms over a re-imagining of Yar's Revenge—or more perhaps specifically, the changes made from the original Atari 2600 game. The original, basically an early single-screen horizontal shooter in an era before the shmup came to prominence, had you blasting away at enemy defenses while a projectile fired at regular intervals (the idea was to wear down the defenses enough to get to a point where the projectile would kill whomever you were fighting at the time). The new Yar's is a 3D on-rails shooter in the vein of Panzer Dragoon—it basically looks like a third-person Elemental Gearbolt for 2011—and fanboys aren't happy about it. What does it have to do with the original Yar's Revenge? Probably nothing. Should people be upset about it? That's debatable.