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The Most Startling Video Game Reboots

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow  - 870081

What’s old is new again.  A lot of video game developers and publishers are taking this to heart, taking classic game franchises and “rebooting” them to more modern-day standards.  Namco alone has done this quite a bit, between its countless Pac-Man games, last year’s extremely bloody Splatterhouse, this week’s release of Ace Combat: Assault Horizon, and next year’s upcoming Ridge Racer Unbounded.  Even so, how many of these reboots are actually effective?

Below, we have a list of some of the best reboots we’ve seen in recent times, as well as two that we can’t wait to see surface next year.  If there’s one you think we missed, by all means, sound off and let us know why it has a place in your heart.  For now, though, sit back and enjoy this list of some truly awesome “second wind” titles.

NBA Jam screenshot

NBA Jam: On Fire Edition (EA Sports)

To be fair, EA Sports really brought back NBA Jam last year, initially released for Nintendo Wii.  After the more serious basketball sim NBA Elite 11 was cancelled, Jam arrived on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.  However, this year’s downloadable enhancement, the On Fire Edition for Xbox Live and PlayStation Network, makes huge improvements over the original.  First off, it’s cheaper.  Secondly, the balancing is way better, with the option to switch between players and call for steals and alley-oops from your AI player.  There are also some new modes to play around with, online multiplayer, and hidden goodies galore, including the option to play with honey badgers and SSX snowboarders.  This is simply the best possible way to bring back Midway’s arcade hit.  Now, let’s see if the team can work their magic on NFL Blitz

Metroid Prime Screenshot

Metroid Prime (Nintendo)

When Nintendo first announced that the Metroid franchise was being handed off to Retro Studios as a first-person shooter, many fans balked at such an idea.  They felt that Metroid was best left as a side-scrolling action series, as the NES and SNES versions proved, and that to “fiddle” with formula was a huge error.  Little did they realize, though, just how awesome the game would be.  Metroid Prime was released for the GameCube and immediately became a must-have for owners of the system, with its razor-sharp gameplay, startling graphics and in-depth options.  Ever since then, the sequels have just gotten better, with the multiplayer-supported Echoes and the Wii release Corruption, which rounded out the series nicely.  Nintendo even went out of its way to release a limited edition Trilogy package for true fans of the series.  And, let’s be honest, it was way better than Metroid: Other M turned out to be, wasn’t it?

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time screenshot

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (Ubisoft)

The old-school Prince of Persia games are still among the best when it comes to the classic PC gaming era.  Their mixture of swashbuckling swordplay, tricky puzzles, and intricate level design make them unforgettable classics.  Leave it to Ubisoft to come up with a way to combine all these elements into a worthwhile 3-D adventure.  Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time had the best of both worlds, the designing savvy of Mechner and the programming prowess of Ubisoft Montreal, and it managed to keep the adventure-packed vision of classic games intact, all while introducing new acrobatic tricks, exciting new combat, and time-rewinding shenanigans.  It’s still a great game to play these days, and some folks think it’s even better than the most recent Prince of Persia game that came out in 2009.  You can check it out now on PlayStation Network, or you can pick up the whole Prince of Persia trilogy, which also includes The Two Thrones and Warrior Within.

Goldeneye 007 Activision reboot screenshot

Goldeneye 007 (Activision)

No, we’ll never see Rare work on a James Bond property again, as the company is currently knee-deep in projects for Microsoft, including the upcoming Kinect Sports Season 2.  However, we’re getting the next best thing from Activision, who released Goldeneye 007 for the Nintendo Wii with surprisingly good results.  The game includes the multiplayer that many fans have loved on the N64 over the years, including online support and, oh yeah, paintball.  It also has a revitalized single-player campaign, substituting Pierce Brosnan with Daniel Craig and not losing an edge on any of its excitement.  It’s a great game to check out, and you can get it for about $20.  If you prefer it on another console, don’t worry – Goldeneye 007 Reloaded will be available next month for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

Capcom Resident Evil 4 RE4 reboot screenshot

Resident Evil 4 (Capcom)

The Resident Evil games weren’t bad for their day, especially the original Resident Evil and the Dreamcast sequel Code Veronica, but they were getting to a point where characters were getting way too hard to control, turning left and right with the same maneuverability of a tank.  Capcom, realizing it needed to do something different, did just that with the thrilling Resident Evil 4, which came out for GameCube before getting enhanced for a PS2 release.  The storyline is definitely twisted enough, but it’s the frightening boss encounters and scrambling to stay alive that really make the game worth playing.  The visuals, for its time, are top-notch as well, especially when you find yourself being pursued by a handful of brain-washed citizens – and a chainsaw-toting freak.  If you somehow missed it the first time around, don’t worry – you can get it on Xbox Live Games On Demand or PlayStation Network for $20.  In high definition, no less.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow screenshot

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow (Konami)

To be honest, the peak of Castlevania’s greatness was reached when Symphony of the Night came out for the PlayStation.  Since that time, many games have tried – and failed – to meet that greatness.  While Lords of Shadow doesn’t quite reach that level, it does manage to produce an excellent 3D adventure – something the Castlevania series has been needing since the dreadful N64 games were released.  MercurySteam and Kojima Productions went all out with the game’s design, including monstrous boss encounters (think shades of Shadow of the Colossus), elegant level details, and the kind of epic soundtrack usually reserved for classy horror movies.  Throw in the voice talent of several AAA list actors (Jason Isaacs and Sir Patrick Stewart among them) and God of War-style gameplay, and you have a title that’s truly worthy of the Castlevania name…even if it’s not Symphony of the Night.

 

And now, two reboots that we can’t wait to play…

Twisted Metal reboot clown

Twisted Metal (SCEA)

Despite the fact it didn’t sell as well as Sony anticipated, we truly admired Twisted Metal Black and the “dark side” it brought to the series – something it’s been needing for awhile.  Since that time, though, we haven’t heard too much from Sweet Tooth and company.  That all changes this February when the series makes its comeback on PS3, complete with online play, vehicle transformations, dazzling new environments to destroy, and, best of all, that mature-rated flavor that we’ve come to expect from David Jaffe and company.  Early impressions of this game have been quite good, and the violence definitely hasn’t toned down from what we could see.  You can even run over furries in an amusement park.  Next February can’t get here soon enough.

new Tomb Raider reboot screenshot, Lara Croft, Square Enix

Tomb Raider (Square Enix)

There wasn’t really anything wrong with previous Lara Croft games that came out over the past year, as both Tomb Raider Trilogy and Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light turned out quite well.  However, Crystal Dynamics thought it was time for something new, and by this time next year, we’ll get it with Tomb Raider.  Instead of focusing on a hardened veteran, the game will instead revert back to the younger days of Croft, back when she was just beginning to grow her adventure legs.  She finds herself in a dangerous situation following a boat crash, relying on her survival skills to keep her in one piece.  The early footage from this game definitely looks promising, and the gameplay will involve players much more than any previous game could.

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Robert Workman
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