With the games industry in a downturn, the time is right for publishers to bring back forgotten games or return long-running franchises to simpler roots. Indeed, the lure of the reboot was strong at E3, with classics such as NBA Jam and Mortal Kombat making comebacks.
But how true do these games stick to their 8-bit, 16-bit and 64-bit roots? Do they preserve the feel of their ancestors, or merely capitalize off name recognition and cheap nostalgia? Here are my impressions:
NBA Jam: The game felt a little funky with the Wii remote and Nunchuk combination, but once I flipped the remote on its side and used it as a classic controller, I was back in the 90s. Bonus points for bringing back Tim Kitzrow, voice of the original game’s signature boomshakalakas. Faithful.
Goldeneye 007: Better referred to as Call of Goldeneye. Activision’s Wii remake looks like the Nintendo 64 classic, but feels a lot like the Call of Duty series, with twitchy instant kills instead of drawn out gunfights. On that note, the original GoldenEye’s distinctive red health and blue armor indicators are gone — who needs them with action this fast? — and the demonstrator had no idea what I was talking about when I asked whether they’d appear in the final game. Unfaithful.
Mortal Kombat: The gory fighter went astray in recent years with 3D arenas and a tedious system of lengthy combos to memorize. The new Mortal Kombat returns to 2D with sky-high jumps, crazy uppercuts and sone truly gruesome fatalities. the addition of a power meter for extra special moves doesn’t sit well, but otherwise this is the MK you remember politicians screaming about. Faithful.
Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Sega’s been churning out Sonic games for years; the number 4 signifies that we’re picking up from the last old Sega Genesis platformer. The physics are way off — there’s a jarring lack of momentum when you turn Sonic around in mid-air — and a new ability ball up and home in on enemies when falling takes some the danger out of moving too fast. But it looks like old Sonic games, and I’m told physics are subject to change. Somewhat Faithful.
Rush’n Attack: Ex-Patriot: Why Konami is rebooting this forgettable platformer as a downloadable Xbox 360/PSN game is a mystery to me. The old game was like Contra with knives, and the new one is more of a stealth game in 2D. There are some homages, like the occasional blaring siren and gun pickup with limited ammo, but otherwise the game feels nothing like the original. Unfaithful, but probably for the best.