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Hollywood has been running on fumes for years now.  Sequels and remakes–that is the current climate of film, with only a few good ideas getting through the cracks, and only then from the power players in the industry.  For every Inception [pushed through by Chris Nolan after attacking the box office with Batman the way he was always supposed to be] there is another Transformers abomination.  Creatively worse than sequels are remakes of movies you’ve seen dozens of times before.  Or reboots, like Star Trek [and the aforementioned Batman].  I loved JJ Abrams’ tale of Kirk, Spock, and the USS Enterprise, but originality and creativity were not the driving forces behind the movie, using a basic story that Gene Roddenberry crafted almost 50 years ago.

This should not have been made...

Hollywood has been creatively bankrupt for some time.  Video games, however, were the shining beacon of interactive media that still bred engaging plot lines and characters worth talking about in the same breath as Kirk, Spock, and Batman.  Master Chief, Link, Mario, Solid Snake, Kratos–these are characters that have been developed on a level that makes them well-known and well-loved.  They aren’t Don Corleone or Hamlet, but they are characters with substance.  Be leery, though.  Are video games going down the same road that Hollywood paved with recycled ideas and sequels?

Video games have always run on sequels, which is why The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario are still top-tier franchises after 25+ years.  The franchises  managed to keep things fresh, though, improving upon gameplay, environmental interaction, and even storylines.  What is more concerning is the recent trend of remakes, all in the name of HD, cropping up.  Firstly, to make myself clear, I like the idea of HD remakes on certain games–those that never saw the appropriate amount of attention over the years or those that a younger audience may not know as well as they should.  But shouldn’t there be an unspoken statute of limitations on how recent a game is before it gets an HD facelift?  Is God of War really in need of 1080p so soon?  The franchise is only a little over five years old.

HD remakes of the Metal Gear Solid series and the Team Ico collection are nice, and I’ll enjoy playing them again, but is it any more than an easy way to make a buck?  That’s what Hollywood has been doing for the last 10 years, and its easily-seen how it has turned out.  I fear video games are treading the same path.  Some show less creativity than others, like Capcom.  In 2008 (arcades) and 2009 (consoles), Capcom released their long-awaited sequel in the most-storied fighting franchise in video games:  Street Fighter IV.    A year later, 2010, Capcom released Super Street Fighter IV followed by Street Fighter IV: Arcade Version, Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Version, and Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition.  In two years, Capcom has put out five versions of the same game–and I am not even including various SKUs (like collector’s editions).

The 500th Street Fighter game of the year is...

So Capcom must have run its course with Street Fighter IV, because now they are making Street Fighter X Tekken.  Again we’re talking the same basic game but with characters from another franchise; a reason for you to spend another $60.  Capcom also revived its wonderful Marvel vs. Capcom franchise in February 2011.  A mere five months later and Capcom is already teasing Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, a “completely new experience”.  Beyond a couple of new characters and a few new environments to fight in, what the hell is the reason for releasing this game?  Why can’t these new characters and environments be offered as DLC?  Because Capcom knows that someone will buy it at retail.  Probably the same poor sap they leaned on when the game first came out in February.

Beyond Capcom’s efforts to dumb down the video game market is Activision, the king of market saturation.  The company that may have single-handedly killed the music genre with 4,000 Guitar Hero titles in the span of five years is now doing their best to kill off first person shooters AND online multiplayer by shoving Call of Duty down our throats every holiday.  A well-constructed, fun-to-play series, but when these titles overlap each other more and more the demand eventually decreases.  Give them credit for striking while the iron is hot, but this is absurd.  Just ask anyone who once upon a time thought Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 was a great game if they give a shit about Tony Hawk games now?  CoD is facing the same shortened future, all because the franchise had the audacity to earn $1 billion in sales.

I love video games too much to see it spiral into obscurity like Hollywood has done.  I like the nostalgia factor, making HD remakes fun for a while.  But in the end, I want to see ingenuity in video gaming.  A game like Mass Effect was a breath of fresh air, as was Bioshock.  Each of those franchises is preparing to release their third installment.  As long as they remain quality, people will continue to flock to them like Zelda and Mario.  Like the Chris Nolan Batman films, as long as they remain good, people will revisit again and again because the characters are intriguing and the stories are well-crafted.  Twice-yearly roster updates to fighting games using the same engine and annual Call of Duty iterations retard creativity in video games, unfortunately, and titles that should be played (Enslaved, Borderlands, Lost Odyssey, Demon’s Souls) find only word-of-mouth success, which too often ends with the franchise dying.  Publishers want to make money, and sequels of an established franchise are the easiest way to do that.  It doesn’t make them evil or even wrong, but it certainly doesn’t help a once-flourishing medium stave off creative stagnation.

**UPDATE: 7/20/11 @ 1:04PM**  Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 has officially been announced for November (9 months after initial release).  Fifteen dollars worth of DLC for $39.99.

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5 Comments

  1. avatar Steve says:

    Fresh = collect three things and fight the same boss we’ve been fighting for 25 years?

    And and don’t forget the Halo HD remake.

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  2. avatar Dave says:

    Zelda keeps it fresh. The core gameplay is the same but the puzzles get more creative, as do the labyrinths and overworlds.

    And a Halo HD remake is still too current. The game still looks good on its own.

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  3. avatar Giada says:

    that Spectator Mode is the only extra mode they are adding.-He falied to mention that characters are getting more colors.-He didn’t know that the current characters were getting new moves, which is why they were being shown off at the beginning of the trailer since you could clearly see those moves being displayed.-He didn’t bother to mention that the netcode is being revamped.-He complained that Capcom should poll fans in regards to who they want to see in the game which they did, and if you go back and check, a majority of the new characters being added are from those polls.-I find it hard to believe that he is not aware that Marvel ultimately decides who gets added from their side, especially when Capcom reps repeatedly beat this fact into our heads whenever the topic of character selection comes up in any interview or article. If he’s upset by the inclusion of Marvel characters like Hawkeye, he should at least point his anger at the right people.-He falied to realize that Capcom DID patch vanilla MvC3. Granted, it wasn’t anywhere near as often as we would have liked but it is not as if they didn’t do it at all.-Capcom already stated that they halted DLC plans due to the tsunami in Japan that forced them to temporary close down their offices and send employees home. I’m sure a lot of skeptical people out there are going to call BS on this, but considering that other companies also had to temporarily close down their Japanese offices, it is HIGHLY likely that this is true.He is right that the only way to change this type of business strategy is to not buy games like these, but in order for that to happen, enough people have to clearly be put off by games like these. But they’re not, because some of us believe that 40 dollars is a reasonable price for a game like this. 40 dollars for 12 characters is less than 3.50 per character, seems fair to me, and that’s not even including the other things they’re adding.

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  4. avatar Fsjmf says:

    You know whats interesting. A year ago poplee went bat-shit crazy for this game. Now? Now they mock it as an example of bad buisness practice. Are we all really that bad at math? Here is the deal. Capcom was selling these character at $5.00 per character. so with 12 new characters thats what $60 alright so theres the characters but they also added 8 new stages.Now I dont know about you but now company sells ANYTHING for free, shit COD maps will run you $5 a piece, but this is just background stuff, but Capcom also sells battles against the AI for a buck (which is the real bullshit culprit here) so im guessing $1.00 per stage. $68 is our current total, oh and spectator mode along with other wanted online features. As if they were listenting to their community or something. Do you expect the artists/designers/programmers to work for free on this stuff and patch it for you?Any other company would gouge the SHIT out of this way worse then Capcom. I dont think they should have released this stuff till they had it all ready, but hey, you guys were foaming at the mouth for the return of MvC3. It should be $25 for woners of MvC3 and $40/60 for all others

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  5. avatar Krishna says:

    So next we’ll see one in the style of Sonic the Fighters, right?I have always tghouht Classic Mega Man would make for a good fighter. It would best fit in an arena-based setup like Smash Bros. or Power Stone.

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