Does everyone remember when Brats N Hots opened their doors on south Rock Road a few months back? Just looking at the sign, one could deduce that they sold hot dogs and bratwurst. Now imagine that they were an entirely vegan restaurant that didn’t even serve imitation meat. Would you feel duped? Welcome to the wonderful world of video games.
It all started with a little known title called Super Mario Bros. 2. The game was actually a redesign of Yume Kojo: Doki Doki Panic, and entitled Super Mario USA in the East. Western audiences wouldn’t see the real Super Mario Bros. 2 until it was released for the Super Nintendo on the Super Mario All-Stars cartridge under the mysterious Lost Levels moniker.
This was merely a sign of things to come as we would experience similar circumstances on an increasingly frequent basis. Neither of the NES Metal Gears were overseen by Kojima, Japan saw the release of the first six Final Fantasys while we only received one, four (released as two), and six (released as three), and the list goes on and on (and on).
The recent trend is using the name of a popular game, and tacking a number and/or subtitle onto the end of it even though the current title has little to nothing to do with the previous one. One of the earliest examples that many gamers can remember was Alundra. This amazing story was a top-down action RPG starring a teenage Dreamwalker (a person with the ability to enter and interact with people’s dreams). Three years later in 2000, Alundra 2 hit store shelves in America, and the eager fans of the first game were…confused. No Dreamwalking, no returning characters, it was more of an action adventure game than an RPG. In fact, the only commonality between the titles was that they were made by the same developer (Matrix Software). Non-fighter Mortal Kombats, the action genre of Tekken, MMO Final Fantasys, a strategy version of Halo and Killzone, and a Dead to Rights shooter without auto-aim and only one disarm; what are they doing to our beloved franchises?
Now you may be asking yourself “Why is this article titled Deus Ex? That game doesn’t even suffer from the problems that these others do.”
That’s precisely the point. Because of game developers and producers banking on the name of a highly regarded title, we gamers never know what to expect when we’re picking up a “sequel.” It’s not that these games are bad (some of them are as good or better than the franchise that they’re named after), it’s just that they’re different. What is the point of optioning an IP if the developers feel that they have to change it so drastically that it no longer resembles the brand? Why not simply call it by a different name?