We all love new IPs, but doesn’t it feel good when nostalgia kicks in? Maybe there’s a gameplay mechanic that was lost to time and now we get to rediscover it again. Heck, full-on rebirths of genres and sub-genres that have been missing from the scene are great to see as well.
And from Metroid Prime to Mega Man 9, we’ve seen plenty of great rebirths in the last couple console generations. As to which are our favorites? We get into just that, below…
Most “rebirth” games involve the revival of an IP. It’s not often that a game is a revival of an entire genre, but that’s exactly what DS’s Infinite Space is. In the heyday of the 1980s, the space RPG enjoyed a terrific run, mostly thanks to the then-fledgling Electronic Arts. Fans of Star Trek could immerse themselves in StarFlight and StarFlight 2: Trade Routes of the Cloud Nebula, games that allowed players to seek out new life and new civilizations. Fans of Star Wars could explore cosmic intrigue and even a little bit of “space magic” (much like the Force) in Sentinel Worlds and its spiritual successor, Hard Nova. Since then, however, there have been very, very few space RPGs to speak of… and no, space sims don’t count.
Platinum Games’ Infinite Space is a true revival of the ’80s glory days, and then some. It’s got space battles, it’s got experience points, and it’s got crew members with stats. Weapons and modules can be added to the ship, and while there isn’t a lot of space exploration in the Trek vein, there certainly is a lot of Star Wars-style galactic politics (minus the Gungans, of course). Infinite Space consumed well over 50 hours of my life, something not even the ’80s classics approached, and I can only hope that Platinum Games comes back to do more.
My favorite rebirth was one that didn’t go over too well with a lot of the gaming community at the time: Mega Man 64/Mega Man Legends. Despite still featuring platforming, shooting, and robots, the 3D version of Mega Man had more in common with The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time than it did with most of its previous iterations. Less surprisingly, this change didn’t go over as well as prior Mega Man games had, either. Part of the issue was that 3D camera controls had quite been perfected at the game’s release, although MegaMan’s strafing directional control was a step in the right direction.
Fortunately, MegaMan Trigger had forty-something good things working in his favor — the lovable Servbots and their creator, Tron Bonne. The semi-villainous sky pirate and her sidekicks were popular enough to receive their own spinoff, The Misadventures of Tron Bonne, on PSX. Sadly, the main series did not make it past a second installment before being consigned to virutal oblivion. On the positive side, MegaMan Trigger himself made a recent appearance in a Wii game early this year (Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom), proving the series hasn’t been completely forgotten by its creators. Once the current series have run their course, maybe it’s time for a return visit to the only 3D MegaMan series, just as the 8-bit universe recently was reborn with <>Mega Man 9.
To me, “rebirth” only applies to games or ideas that have missed out on an entire console generation. Therefore, Super Mario Galaxy is not a rebirth in my opinion, but New Super Mario Bros. Wii is, because there was no 2D side-scrolling Mario game on the GameCube. Nintendo fans have seen their fair share of rebirths, but in my mind, none of them can compare to Metroid Prime.
The Metroid series took a back seat on the Nintendo 64, with Samus Aran’s only appearance being in Super Smash Bros. The last console Metroid game before Metroid Prime was Super Metroid on the Super Nintendo, which was a 2D action/adventure. With Metroid Prime, Nintendo and Retro Studios brought the sci fi series not only into 3D, but also first person. The controls, atmosphere, and music were second to none, and Metroid Prime will go down as one of the best games in history. That is how you do a rebirth, my friends.
It would be really easy for me to say that Metroid Prime has been my favorite rebirth of the past few years, as the fluid controls meshed well with the switch to first person, especially with the tour-de-force that was Metroid Prime Trilogy. But I was never a huge fan of the series before Metroid Prime. I hadn’t even played the immediate predecessor, Super Metroid.
No, the best refresh of a franchise as of late would have to be the New Super Mario Bros. series. The games capture the addictive qualities of early 2D Mario titles– fluid controls and vibrant worlds– and add in new tweaks that make them even more enjoyable. Just playing New Super Mario Bros. Wii tonight with a group of friends was a blast, even when I was yelling at them for knocking me into lava pits. Truly, the New Super Mario Bros. series is my pick for the best rebirth of a series.
M. Noah Ward
Initially my response was going to be the Virtual Console. That’s a cop out answer, I know, but I really do appreciate how the service has allowed you young’ns to try games you’ve only heard your elders nostalgically crow about… and then after trying said games wondering what we were on.
That brings us to my real answer, which is only slightly more specific, but, thanks to the DS’s immortal lifespan, still totally allowed: the adventure game genre. Yes, I played my share of Atari games and arcade classics when I was little, but the first games to capture my heart were adventure games: games with a story! Of course RPGs barged in and just totally overdid that aspect to melodramatic excess, and I liked that, too, but it wasn’t until the DS helped usher in a new era of adventure games (and not those pretend adventure games your mom plays on Yahoo Games that are just glorified Where’s Waldo exercises) that my previously embalmed adventure affection was able to burst from its wrappings anew. Hey, just going with the “rebirth” theme here.
First we’ve had the wonders of Trace Memory, Hotel Dusk, and saving the best for last, anything Phoenix Wright-related. Let’s also not forget the brain-teasing beauty of the Professor Layton games, too, though some may think those tread near the aforementioned Yahoo Games territory. And now Wii and WiiWare give us even more, between Strong Bad, Monkey Island, Sam & Max and the Broken Sword remake. This is what I’ve been waiting for! Now if only those folks making that unofficial King’s Quest sequel can get it ported to Wii…
My answer will not be much of a surprise to Dojo-Show-Go! podcast listeners. Easily, the best rebirth goes to Mega Man 9 for WiiWare.
Instead of upgraded visuals, new characters or gameplay changes, publisher and developer Capcom actually threw the title back in time to seem like its NES predecessors. The outcome was sheer brilliance. Mega Man 9 felt like a true successor to outstanding Mega titles like Mega Man 2 or Mega Man 3. Players get to relive (or experience for the first time) the beauty of 8-bit pixels and animation, along with precise D-pad controls and imaginative level design.
At the same time, Mega Man 9 exemplifies why bigger is not always better. It’s an example of how a game’s primary mechanics — in this case, platforming and level design — should take precedence over prettier visuals, the inclusion of multiplayer and added story and characters.
Is it possible for my rebirth choice to be fairly retro? When I look across all the rebirths of the generation, my choice would have to be Yoshi’s Island DS, which came out in 2006.
In Japan, Yoshi’s Island was not considered a Super Mario World sequel, and I always thought it deserved to be its own separate series. Sure, it came from Artoon (instead of EAD) and it would have likely been better as a one-screen game (like New Super Mario Bros DS). Yet I really enjoyed how the game balanced between elements of the first game, while adding its own new ideas. That being said, it’s been 4 years, and now would be a great time for the next Yoshi’s Island rebirth. Launch title for 3DS, anyone?
This is a tricky and loaded question, when you really think about it. After all, I could go the route of Virtual Console, and say how bringing classics to the masses is a beautiful thing. I could also say how the latest trend of ‘rebirth’ titles, such as Mega Man 9 and Contra ReBirth, have done well in keeping the aesthetic charm of gaming classics while still bringing something new to the table. Or, I could say that a title like Metroid Prime or Super Mario Galaxy took a classic, turned it on its head with respect to gameplay, yet still managed to retain that feeling of pure rock that we all fell in love with in their 8-bit iterations.
Instead, I’ll go the gameplay route and give a shout out to Viewtiful Joe. That amazing title took the old school side-scrolling brawler, gave it an awesome face-lift, threw in even snappier dialogue and one hell of a difficulty curve, making it one of the best games of not only the last system cycle, but in this humble staff writer’s opinion, of all time. Every time I hear “Henshin a-go-go, baby!” I still get chills.
Hmmmm, rebirths. To be reborn. To live, to die and then relive. Almost like a zombie– and that’s exactly what I want to bring up. I’d like to stray a little from the common talk of my fellow staffers. Although I do agree with everything everyone has said, I want to bring up Resident Evil 4. Not only was the dry, old formula reborn into something new on GameCube, it was once again given new life on Wii with even better controls. I know this isn’t a “rebirth” in the traditional sense, but come on! I had to push the limits somehow.
The franchise was reborn on GameCube by bringing it up-to-date with the camera and character controls. Who says that something has to be “reborn” the way it originally was? To me, something that needs change can be reborn into something new. Rebirths can be like a phoenix from the ashes, or like a zombie from a human. In this case, Resident Evil 4 was the latter, twice.
Honorable mentions definitely go to Metroid: Prime Trilogy, since I was sketchy at first about the move to not only 3D, but first person as well. Yet another example of complete change in rebirth: Mega Man 9 and now 10 are great examples of bringing a game series back to its roots, but I was never that into Mega Man. Sorry, Evan. Lastly, I’d love to bring up the point-and-click adventure genre being reborn. Titles like Tales of Monkey Island (which is a rebirth itself) and Zack and Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure are good examples. Let us also not forget the least favorite on-rails shooter genre as well.
So, there it is. Our favorite rebirths, reawakenings and reimaginings. As previously stated, new IPs are cool, but so are old ones in new ways or maybe even old ones in their original states. The staff here at Nintendojo seems to all feel the same way. If it’s a well-made rebirth, it rocks. What do you think? Sound off in our forums or leave us a comment below.