Top 10 Tuesday: Franchises That Need a Re-Redesign
December 12, 2006 - Welcome to IGN's weekly countdown of the exceptional, fascinating, and absurd: something we like to call Top 10 Tuesday. Every week we'll feature the top ten games, characters, fashion statements or whatever else we can think of that in some way relates to gaming and its history. And just because it's called Top 10 Tuesday doesn't mean it's always going to be a list of the best -- we like to razz on stuff as much as praising it. From counting down the best consoles ever to revealing the worst use of fish heads in a videogame, this is where it's at.
We all love us some good ole' classic gaming, that's a given. But what happens when some jackass businessman out there gets a hold of your precious franchises, slaps on a restrictive budget or a new dev team, and drives the series right into the freaking ground with a pathetic excuse for a game? Well they make this list. This week's Top 10 list is focused on franchises that need a re-redesign. What's a Re-Redesign, you ask? Well it's simple.
If Joe-blow developer makes a game, that game is based on a design. If it's a good design, people love it. Give that same group enough time, however, and you might get what's called a "redesign." If the game was any good to begin with, this is never a good idea. Give the IGN crew a little too much free time, and they start making Top 10 lists. Eventually one comes around pointing out all the games that once were good, but now suck in some way/shape/form. Those games are now in dire need of a re-redesign.
Gauntlet was a pretty sweet game back in the day. You picked between a few eight-pixel characters, pumped in quarters that directly correlated to your characters health (that way all the rich kids could win), and you kicked a ton of ass. The game was awesome in the arcades, and has been just decent ever since. The game has seen numerous rebirths throughout the years, including the popular Gauntlet Legends arcade back in the N64 era, but there hasn't been an amazing redesign in quite a while. If there's one game that can pull off the Ninety-Nine Nights gameplay and get away with a ton of killing and mindless destruction without fearing redundancy, it's Gauntlet. Put it on Xbox 360, add about a million enemies, and let us link up with a team of eight to 300 allies and just kick the crap out of everything. It doesn't have to be the next Halo or Zelda to put it on the map. If Xbox Live Arcade and the Wii Virtual Console have taught us anything, it's that good things come in incredibly addictive little packages. Why not Gauntlet too?
9) Secret of Mana
Everyone owned a Super NES. Seriously if you didn't, you just don't count in the grand scheme of things. Taking that into consideration, everyone must have played Secret of Mana as well, right? Well despite the game's current price on eBay of $876.92, Square Enix has never gone back and made another killer Mana game in the true vision of the original. Yeah we've gotten Sword of Mana on GBA and Children of Mana on DS, but comparing the original game to those is like thinking the children's show "Mr. Rogers" is anything like his pre-PBS tattoo-ridden Korean War sniper "Mr. Rogers" days. It just isn't the same, and we all know it. The new games are still fun - just like a trip to King Friday's castle - but it's not quite as magical.
We need the old Secret of Mana back. Make it, and make it awesome.
8) Donkey Kong
DK, we've got a bit of a beef with you. We know we haven't been paying as much attention to you as we should have, and to be honest your DK rap is pretty freaking lame, but can we quit drumming about campfire melodies with our GameCube bongos and get back to stealing chicks, throwing crap at Mario, and possibly heading back out the country with Diddy and just kicking it? Obviously your first game was really fun. We liked being Jump Man, although you definitely should have gotten the push instead of Mario. Mario vs. Donkey Kong was pretty sweet in its own way, but then Nintendo went crazy again and made the sequel which basically screwed everything up. Oh, and Donkey Kong Country rocks, but your N64 game was a joke. Can we try again? See you're really fun to beat people up with in Super Smash Bros., and we're pretty sure that would work on a larger level too. Hit something for us. If not for yourself, then for the people that love you
Nothing says "old school" like coin-op Contra, and nothing says "uninspired piece of bargain-bin worthlessness" like the latest Contra port on Xbox Live. Come to think of it, the loyal Contra fans have had our asses kicked time and time again with worthless attempts at past glory. Look at Neo Contra, Contra: Shattered Soldier, and Contra Advance: The Alien Wars EX. Two PS2 games and a GBA game that by all means should be burned for warmth before playing. Sure, a few of them had a couple lucky high points, but none of them live up to the glory that arcade, NES, Super NES, and Genesis built. As far as we're concerned, the series died with Contra III: The Alien Wars on Genesis, and no weak-sauce GBA ports or wishful side-scrolling remakes will change our mind. Konami, our nostalgia is broken. Can we have a new one?
6) Mega Man
Capcom. We love you, but we've got a few issues to sort out. The Mega Man Zero franchise on GBA? Solid. The upgrade on DS? Pretty fun. The rebirth on PSP of both Mega Man X and Powered-up? Classic.
But what the heck is with the Battle Network franchise? If we ask really nicely will you please just let it die? The franchise was the first major spin from the formula on GBA, and we're seeing a ton of other changes being made because of it. All of a sudden the Zero series has Cyber-Elves. The GameCube gets a new Mega Man game and it's Network Transmission. And don't think for a second we forgot bout Battle Chip Challenge; possibly one of the biggest cash-outs in the history of gaming. Blegh. Can we get a classically-rooted Mega Man again? We'll pay you money for stage select, bosses that end in the word "Man", and a fire gun that decimates wood guys. We liked that part. That part was good.
5) Mario Kart
Just when you thought Nintendo was getting out of this one unscathed. Well, Mairo Kart we meet again. Remember when you doubled up the characters per kart and made the game amazingly kiddie, and then our knight in shining armor Fran Mirabella III dropped the 7.9 on it? Well, we're back. The franchise has seen one of its best iterations on the Nintendo DS since then, but it's now Wii time, and that has us a little worried. You aren't considering three characters per kart this time are you? How about Tingle as a playable racer? Mario Kart used to be about entertaining arcade racing, but over the years the game has turned into an on-the-fly handicap match that makes even the NBA Jam comeback AI blush just a little bit. How about chilling just a little bit with the blue shells and focusing on more of the entertaining racing again. Younger kids aren't bad gamers. In fact, if the legion of ass-kicking eight-year-olds on Halo 2 is any indication they are actually growing in intellect. Give us a few options for item use, and for the love of Miyamoto please bring it back to one person per car. We really hate seeing Toad and Wario hugging so much
4) Star Fox
Ya' know what was a sweet game? Star Fox 64. Ya' know why? Fox and his little buddies stayed in the freaking vehicles. In fact, we recall little to no Jurassic Park or Jet Force Gemini in our Star Fox design at all. Don't add dinosaurs, don't let Fox leave his ass-kicking little ship, and don't add 12 new characters to this new game. We want flying, shooting, bombs, and a little - not too much - "all range mode" on the side. It doesn't take a ton of innovation to bring the franchise back to its former glory. If Star Fox debuted with linear flying and only four buttons on Super NES, we're pretty sure it's possible on Wii as well.
Nothing more needs to be said.
Before you start emailing us with your complaints - but if you do, write them to Matt Casamassina, as he loves to read em - hear us out on the problem with Castlevania. First off, the 3D versions are an absolute joke, bringing a glory to the Belmont family that hasn't been realized since the joy that was Castlevania 64 (oh, and lets not forget the sequel). If the rumors are true about the series turning into Devil May Cry halfway through production, it's time to take the team back and make something Castlevania fans can cheer for on home console. And while we're at it, the DS needs some re-work as well. Sure the games are topping the 8-9 range on our site, but that doesn't change the fact that the once glorified franchise is now presented with poorly-written text and an obnoxious anime look. And just for the record, we don't mean poorly-written in a good way like "What is a man? A miserable pile of secrets!" from Symphony of the Night.
Isn't it ironic that a game like Bomberman can get such a solid revival on Wii's Virtual Console with the classic Bomberman '93 while simultaneously being absolutely insulting in the 360 vision of Bomberman: Act Zero? That's a sure-fire sign of failure right there. A TurboGrafx-16 game kicks ass while 360 can't deliver. Aside from killing whoever was responsible for the latest insult to gaming, Konami should make good on its age-old franchise and bring a re-redesigned Bomberman to next gen in style. We don't want character designs that look like they could play extras in the next Halo game. Time to rethink what makes the Bomberman franchise so appealing in the first place. If that means a whole new direction for the series, so be it. If it means forcing the oddly "mainstream/hardcore" crowd of the Xbox 360 to game with the classic no-handed super-deformed glory that is Bomberman, again we say so be it.
Ya' know what SEGA? We'd rather give everyone out there a direct email to your development team than try and sit here telling you what's wrong with Sonic for the next four hours, but we aren't quite to that point yet in our relationship. There's still a chance to grow, and with a little therapy we may even learn to love you again. But seriously folks Shadow the Hedgehog? Are you freaking insane? Rather than even bothering with the countless gameplay issues the game has, why don't we break down the mindset of the Shadow design for a minute. Take the Sonic well all know and love, give him a chopper motorcycle, and hand him a gun. We've got to assume you're out of your mind on that one, and completely dependant on stereotypes for your audience as well. Kids like violence and motorcycles, right? Make a good 3D Sonic, and hurry.