Changing the genre on old IPs: Good or no good?

I saw a recent Jimquisition on the subject of genre-swapping old IPs, and I began to ponder about it. Is change really what we need? Should our franchises stay the way they are, or should they take a bold step in a new direction?

I guess it depends on what series we're talking about. Probably the biggest example of unwanted change in a video game that I can think of right now (and is completely opinionated, so I don't mean to drone out the people who like it) is the newest Banjo-Kazooie game. Everyone loved the hell out of the first two games, which were both intuitive platformers that essentially vitalized the genre, but the third one was received negatively by most gamers I knew since the mechanics were drastically changed in the process.

My take on this is that they could have so very easily turned it into a new IP by forgoing the Banjo-Kazooie characters and either recycling a character from Diddy Kong Racing (like Bumper the Badger, for instance) or coming up with a completely original character. It would have given their fans something to tide over until the release of a proper Banjo-Kazooie or Conker sequel (if there ever would be one), but no, they took the lazy way out and slapped Banjo's name unceremoniously onto the game, which pretty much ruined any chance of us getting an on-foot Banjo-Kazooie game like we did in the days of the N64. I liked Nuts and Bolts, don't get me wrong, but I think it was received this way because nothing about the series previously was really that stale in the eyes of Rare's fans, and didn't really need the change.

Another egregious Rare example is Star Fox Adventures. I'll admit to not having played any of the Star Fox games prior to Adventures, but I heard they were pretty great, and when I played the game it was radically different than Adventures. I did some research and, apparently, it was another case of "the genre wasn't boring but they tried to change it anyways," and it was pretty inexcusable considering the title was first shown being developed as a new IP called Dinosaur Planet, and it had nothing to do with Star Fox or anything of the sort, and it's all because of the stupid brand name popularity. It's akin to making a shitty movie about a popular movie persona like Thor or E.T., since it is essentially pasting the characters into an already-fine game just to get it to sell better. If you had stuck with the original IP, maybe people would have liked it, and you would have another successful franchise under your belt. I'm not all biased toward gameplay-changing games based on a previously popular game series, but some games, like the ones I've mentioned, are officially canon to the story and aren't spin-offs, and it feels out of place to me.

But enough about me rambling on, what's your take on this whole subject?

9 Comments
10 Comments
Posted by MisterBananaFoam

I saw a recent Jimquisition on the subject of genre-swapping old IPs, and I began to ponder about it. Is change really what we need? Should our franchises stay the way they are, or should they take a bold step in a new direction?

I guess it depends on what series we're talking about. Probably the biggest example of unwanted change in a video game that I can think of right now (and is completely opinionated, so I don't mean to drone out the people who like it) is the newest Banjo-Kazooie game. Everyone loved the hell out of the first two games, which were both intuitive platformers that essentially vitalized the genre, but the third one was received negatively by most gamers I knew since the mechanics were drastically changed in the process.

My take on this is that they could have so very easily turned it into a new IP by forgoing the Banjo-Kazooie characters and either recycling a character from Diddy Kong Racing (like Bumper the Badger, for instance) or coming up with a completely original character. It would have given their fans something to tide over until the release of a proper Banjo-Kazooie or Conker sequel (if there ever would be one), but no, they took the lazy way out and slapped Banjo's name unceremoniously onto the game, which pretty much ruined any chance of us getting an on-foot Banjo-Kazooie game like we did in the days of the N64. I liked Nuts and Bolts, don't get me wrong, but I think it was received this way because nothing about the series previously was really that stale in the eyes of Rare's fans, and didn't really need the change.

Another egregious Rare example is Star Fox Adventures. I'll admit to not having played any of the Star Fox games prior to Adventures, but I heard they were pretty great, and when I played the game it was radically different than Adventures. I did some research and, apparently, it was another case of "the genre wasn't boring but they tried to change it anyways," and it was pretty inexcusable considering the title was first shown being developed as a new IP called Dinosaur Planet, and it had nothing to do with Star Fox or anything of the sort, and it's all because of the stupid brand name popularity. It's akin to making a shitty movie about a popular movie persona like Thor or E.T., since it is essentially pasting the characters into an already-fine game just to get it to sell better. If you had stuck with the original IP, maybe people would have liked it, and you would have another successful franchise under your belt. I'm not all biased toward gameplay-changing games based on a previously popular game series, but some games, like the ones I've mentioned, are officially canon to the story and aren't spin-offs, and it feels out of place to me.

But enough about me rambling on, what's your take on this whole subject?

Edited by ThePhantomnaut

It all depends on the games. A minor evolution can benefit while a major design can be risky. Another aspect is that if the new game in essence represents the series despite the changes, then the impact might be positive.

Posted by Tim_the_Corsair

So being creative with your IP instead of mercilessly iterating is a bad thing now?

Activision, Infinity Ward, and Treyarch just cracked the weirdest boners right now without realising why.

Posted by AlexW00d

It depends how you mean. Halo Wars is an RTS set in the world of Halo, the first person shooter, this is fine. There being an Xcom fps is fine, as there is also a new Xcom game. Syndicate becoming a bad FPS though, that's a dumb move.

Posted by Valkyr

It's good when you do it with a spin off or a secondary game, for example, Killzone 1,2 an 3 are FPSs and Liberation is a third person isometric shooter, just by the title of the game you know it's not a main installment of the IP, and that's fine, the problem is when you fuck it up like the examples you just mentioned, when the main games are drastically changed.

Posted by Bell_End

@AlexW00d said:

It depends how you mean. Halo Wars is an RTS set in the world of Halo, the first person shooter, this is fine. There being an Xcom fps is fine, as there is also a new Xcom game. Syndicate becoming a bad FPS though, that's a dumb move.

but syndicate didn't become a bad shooter. it became a pretty good shooter.

Posted by Zenogiasu

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Metroid Prime is a fantastic game, and a common example I refer to.

Posted by Hippie_Genocide

Hmmm.... Banjo Kazooie. That's not where I thought this thread was going when I saw the title, I have to admit. I didn't play Nuts & Bolts and had no idea until just now that it wasn't a platformer. Personally, I don't really mind when a developer decides to go in a new direction with an IP, as a way to inject some life into it.

I never played Syndicate, but I heard it wasn't too bad of a game. I have no love for the original IP so I couldn't say if the changes were made for the better or not. Shadowrun turned out like crap. Also, didn't the Xcom fps get canned in favor of a strategy game that's more along the lines of the original games in the series?

Posted by MisterBananaFoam

@Tim_the_Corsair said:

So being creative with your IP instead of mercilessly iterating is a bad thing now? Activision, Infinity Ward, and Treyarch just cracked the weirdest boners right now without realising why.

In certain aspects, yes. If the next Modern Warfare sequel suddenly turned into an on-the-rails shooter and Activision firmly denounced that it was canon, then it's a bad thing. If Modern Warfare was given vehicle levels where you actually control how the vehicle steers and shoots instead of being a gunner, then no, I would welcome that change because it doesn't swallow up the entire game.

Posted by PeezMachine

It really depends on what the strengths of the IP are. Syndicate has been mentioned, and I think that it's a good example of an IP which had a strong setting and theme, regardless of game mechanics, so the genre change isn't heresy. Rebooting Master of Magic as an action RPG? Probably a terrible idea (don't worry, I just made that up) because that was a game defined by its mechanics.

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