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The 10 Launch Games that Don't Need a Reboot
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on October 17, 2008   |   Episode 70 (Show Archive)  


Sofia from Battle Arena Toshinden isn't the only person who loves Mystery Science Theater 3000!
This week Famitsu surprised everybody when they revealed that somebody was developing a next-generation sequel to Battle Arena Toshinden. While not a great fighting game (especially when compared to other early 3D fighters), Battle Arena Toshinden managed to do surprisingly well based on a memorable cast and the fact that it was the only 3D fighter on the PlayStation at launch. After several sequels and ports, the Toshinden brand was completely spent. It looked like Takara's once-strong fighting franchise was dead and buried. But not so fast, because somebody has decided to reboot the franchise and try, try again. My only question: Why?

Battle Arena Toshinden is a perfect example of a launch game. It was a technically unimpressive game that becomes a major hit only because there is nothing else on the market. It's hardly the only mediocre launch title to try and become a full-fledged franchise, and I doubt it will be the last. But not every launch game needs to have a reboot or sequel, some should just accept that they had their time and move on to bigger and better things. At best a launch game is the product people use to figure out what they can and cannot do with the new hardware, by design it's hard to make a triple-A launch title. For every Halo there's a Kileak: The DNA Imperative or Action Fighter. To prove this point we've decided to offer up a list of ten launch games that don't need a sequel or reboot. I know that this industry loves playing on its own nostalgia, but why reboot a game that wasn't good from the get-go? Scroll down now and find out what we selected as The 10 Launch Games that Don't Need a Reboot!
Altered Beast (Genesis)
I don't care how many different animals you can transform into, the original Altered Beast is one of the worst games of all time. It's a primitive 2D brawler that features two almost completely naked men being forced to walk to the right kicking and punching their way to victory. And did I mention that it makes absolutely no sense? In the game you grow stronger by collecting these floating blue orbs. Eventually you'll get so big and buff that you'll literally turn into ... an animal? Say what? That's right; the whole game revolves around you wanting to turn into an animal for whatever reason. Maybe it would have made more sense if our heroes collected
clothing and firearms, at least then they would stand a chance. The most offensive part of this game comes when you realize that although there are five different levels, there are really only four animals. What, they couldn't come up with a fifth animal? You've already got the werewolf, a flying dragon, a tiger and, yes, even a bear. But for some strange reason Sega stopped there and decided to reuse the werewolf, making him tougher and (surprise, surprise) a different color. Seriously, what about a lion? You've already tigers and bears (oh my). Or what about Sasquatch? Okay, so he doesn't really exist, but neither do werewolves so who's going to notice? It's the sort of thing that makes you wonder if maybe the hardworking people at Sega just said "to hell with it" and gave up half way through. How else can you explain such a turd?

Now Wait A Minute ... The secret truth about Altered Beast is that it has already been rebooted ... twice! Not only 3d6 Games develop a Game Boy Advance sequel, but in 2005 Sega published a crazy 3D Altered Beast game that was (wisely) never released in the United States. The Game Boy Advance game is a lot like the original game, only this time around it features new animals to transform into and more levels of mindless punching and kicking. The developers didn't even try to improve the formula, which may be why nobody knows this game exists. Because of these disastrous reboots maybe we shouldn't have featured this game, but how can you make a list about terrible launch games and not include Altered Beast?

Donkey Kong Jr. Math (NES)
Ever since the beginning of time well-intended adults have had this misguided hope that video games could be more than fun. They hoped that video games could help educate the youth; teach them how to read, write and everything else that they should be learning in school. Donkey Kong Math is a very early example of why grade-school education has no place in the fantastical world of video gaming. This is the type of product that would have made sense a few years
down the road, once everybody has been won over by the Nintendo Entertainment System. But as a launch title? Forget about it! Can you imagine if this was the game you got with your brand new NES? All the other kids are getting Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt, yet you're solving simple math questions using a fat ape? That's like getting broccoli when all the other kids are getting candy. To make things worse, Donkey Kong Math is incredibly limited. You basically only have two stages to work through and the other difference seems to be the math problems, none of which are very challenging. I'm certainly not against teaching lessons through video games, but can we please do it in a way that emphasizes fun over homework?

What I Learned From Games ... Believe it or not, you can learn a lot from modern day video games. Oh sure, these lessons won't help you solve math problems or land a job at a Fortune 500 company, but they may help you get out of a bind. For example, recently I reviewed Saints Row 2, which taught me that when I'm being chased by somebody in a car, I should always shoot the person driving first. The game Kane & Lynch: Dead Men taught me that I don't have to like the person I work with to get the job done. BioShock taught me that it's not about the ending, but the fun you have on your journey getting there. And finally, Braid taught me that ... well, I'm not actually sure what Braid taught me, but I know I learned something from it.

Night Trap (Sega CD)
These days Night Trap is best known as that game that sparked the video game violence debate. This horrible launch game combined all the fun of watching a poorly acted TV show with the interaction of changing channels. Heck, to even compare this game to a TV show is to undersell the quality of your average show. Starring the one and only Dana Plato, Night Trap pretended to be sexy B-rate movie. Except, instead of giving the project no money (like a real B-rate movie), they decided to make the cast strip down to their underwear and pay the director to
film them. Nobody looks like they are having any fun, something that is even more apparent when you watch the girls pretend to sing the Night Trap theme song. And did I mention that there are vampires? No I didn't, because there aren't any. Contrary to popular belief, Night Trap is not about vampires attacking scantily clad women. Instead it's about masked men using long net-like sticks to suck blood for no reason at all. Considering the amount of controversy this game stirred up, it's hard to believe how milquetoast the whole experience is. The sexuality is no worse than anything you would see on a family-friendly sitcom and the only thing scary about the game is Dana Plato's overacting. All that is almost enough to make you completely forget that you aren't really controlling the game at all.

Then Again ... It's hard to believe that Night Trap was able to find any success at all. When it was released on the Sega CD it was all but ignored, much like the system it was on. What's worse, by the time the game was released on the Sega CD it was already six years old. If it wasn't for Senator Joe Liebermann (I/D-CT) Night Trap would have been nothing more than a footnote in history, the type of game you kind of remember but can't think of the name. Suddenly Night Trap was a huge deal, which meant that it sold more than a thousand copies. Still, that's a thousand too many. Night Trap needs to go away. I don't care if they bring in real actors and give it a full 3D interface, Night Trap is one of those game that should stay in the wastebasket of the past.

Street Fighter: The Movie (PlayStation)
Street Fighter: The Movie (the game) is not only a completely unnecessary game, but it's also one of worst fighting games around. Of course it is, it's based on one of the worst video game movies of all time, ranking down at the bottom with House of the Dead and Alone in the Dark. It's as if the movie's production team decided to fit every one of the Street Fighter II characters into a feature film in the most awkward ways possible. Does anybody actually believe E. Honda would be Chun Li's cameraman? And don't even get me started on T. Hawk, E. Honda and (gasp) Dr. Dhalsim. There's really no good reason for this game to exist, outside of a few movie execs
realizing that they could make even more money. What they decided to do was motion capture all of the movie actors and try to make a more realistic Street Fighter game. This effect gives the game a Mortal Kombat look ... only without the blood and fatalities that made people forget about how terrible the game controlled. Street Fighter - The Movie (the game) was a complete mess, it controlled poorly, the animation was unconvincing, and the actors they used (such as Jean-Claude Van Damme) didn't fit the parts. And did I mention that the game was completely unnecessary? Well, it is. We already had a half dozen Street Fighter II games to choose from, there was absolutely no reason for this game to exist. We may be able to forget about the horrible movie, but it's going to be hard to erase the memories of this game from my mind.

Now Wait A Minute ... I know it seems strange, but somebody decided to make a brand new Street Fighter movie. That's right, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li, is set to be released sometime next spring, starring Kristin Kreuk (Smallville) and Michael Clark Duncan (The Green Mile). Sure this is a stupid idea, but at least Jean-Claude Van Damme is nowhere to be seen. Given this strong cast I don't see why Capcom can't turn this into some sort of exciting video game. I'm not suggesting it should be a one-on-one fighting game, but why not a fun action/platformer? Or maybe stealthy adventure game? I don't know, maybe I just want to see Kristin star in more games ... she's definitely easy on the eyes.

Pilotwings (Super NES)
Unlike most of the games on this list, Pilotwings isn't a bad game. It's a little limited by today's standards, but it's in no way a bad game. Heck, even its sequel, Pilotwings 64, was a fun game. It didn't look as good in the shadow of Super Mario 64, but as a showpiece for what the system can do I would say that Pilotwings 64 was an overwhelming success. So why put a quality game on this list? Shouldn't we want the good games of the past to get a proper reboot? Of course we do, but if they were to simply release a new Pilotwings now they would completely miss the point of what the game is. At its heart Pilotwings is nothing more than a showpiece for new hardware, it's there to introduce you to all of the new controls and effects your brand new system has. That
was certainly true with the first installment (which introduced us to scaling and rotation) and, to a slightly lesser degree, true with the sequel (which introduced us to the analog stick and realistic physics). To introduce the world to the Wii, Nintendo opted for Wii Sports instead of Pilotwings. There's nothing wrong with that, Wii Sports was a fun game that did an excellent job of proving that the motion-sensing control could work. But this leaves Pilotwings without a job. I would rather Nintendo wait for there to be some sort of huge advancement in technology before we take to the skies with Pilotwings. I'm talking about something brand new, something that gives Nintendo a real reason to dust off this old school gem.

Such As ... I won't lie to you, the next time we see Pilotwings I'm hoping that it will be demonstrate some cool immersive virtual reality-style gameplay. Something where you don't use a control, but rather feel like you're really in a cockpit of a single engine plane. Or maybe a holodeck-style game where you actually are in a real plane. I mean, how cool would that be? Sadly neither of these things are around the corner, so I doubt we'll see this come to fruition any time soon. What's more, I suspect that Nintendo will get antsy and give us a brand new Pilotwings before the launch of their next console. But don't do it Nintendo, because unless you have something new to show off there's no reason for Pilotwings to come out of the hanger.



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