Ratchet & Clank blasted onto the PlayStation 4 this past week, a reboot of a game made back in the early 2000s for the PS2. It’s a major franchise for Sony, as its platforming mechanics and diverse arsenal of wacky, otherworldly guns have earned Insomniac Studios critical acclaim and commercial success.
The reboot is scheduled to coincide with the release of the first film, due out at the end of April, but it’s also coming at just the right time. Ratchet & Clank was a major presence on the PS3, as it had three then-new games, a collection of the PS2 era titles, and a digital re-release of Ratchet: Deadlocked, all released exclusively on the system. Waiting any longer, and it would be harder for this Lombax and his mechanical pal to attract any kind of audience.
If these five game franchises need a reboot, they’ll need it soon, as audiences won’t recall their original adventures and appeal which made them great in the first place. Or they’ll fail to capitalize on whatever free media coverage they’re on the receiving end of. Whether these reboots are soft, reorganizational efforts in order to tell a better story and increase the life of the characters, or hard reboots that take the franchise in an entirely different direction, they’re reboots nonetheless.
If these following franchises want a second shot at life, they’ll need to be reborn soon.
Reboot status: Either/or
I’m not sure Gearbox knew what kind of monster success story they had on their hands back in 2008. The Borderlands franchise has gone on to sold over 20 million copies across the entire series. It’s spawned the incredibly well-told Tales from the Borderlands, near endless possibilities for merchandise, and a growing anticipation for the third entry in the main series. As clear as Mario’s trousers are red, this is a big ole’ successful entertainment franchise…
….that is kind of a mess in terms of its overall organization.
Think about it. The original Borderlands and Borderlands 2 focuses on the guns, gameplay, and overall world, as it clearly seems that the game does not care about the narrative or overall characters. But then they decide to launch a prequel instead of a proper sequel to the second entry, a prequel that focuses on the evolution on one specific character, and Tales from the Borderlands shows how much potential a proper Borderlands narrative contains when telling a coherent, original story. Those are two entirely conflicting tones and focuses. Borderlands 3 may potentially signal a soft reboot for the series, allowing Gearbox the opportunity to reorganize their plans going forward for the franchise.
Reboot Status: Hard
Nothing drastic has happened to the Metroid series in quite some time. Aside from re-releases on the Virtual Console for the Wii and Wii U, Metroid hasn’t seen a succeeding mainline entry in the series since 2010’s Metroid: Other M, which is more than odd for one of Nintendo’s most critically acclaimed video game franchises. A hard reboot for the series would allow for two things going forward for Nintendo.
First and foremost, it would allow the company to both reintroduce the main game series to fans who have felt its absence, and it would also allow a whole new generation of gamers to be introduced to the Metroid series. While the series isn’t“dead,” it could benefit from a refocus to the series staples for the era of the NX, an undoubtedly important console for Nintendo.
Reboot Status: Hard
One of Sony’s several first party exclusive titles released during the time of the PlayStation 3, Resistance was developed by Insomniac Games, the creators behind the immensely fun Ratchet & Clank and zany Sunset Overdrive. Delving into the first person shooter genre, Insomniac crafted an alternate reality that shows Earth invaded by aliens, as you fight back with a wide variety of weapons. While the series was well received critically, sales weren’t what Sony and Insomniac expected, and they decided to end the series after the third game.
PlayStation is in a completely different position than it was during the time of the PS3. With nearly twice as many PS4s as Xbox Ones, and a rejuvenated fan base that is eager for any exclusive, a rebooted Resistance would prove this Sony recognizes two things: diversifying their exclusive portfolio is important, and they need exclusives. The release of the rumored PS4K may enable them to snag additional higher end exclusives for a few years, but PlayStation is a brand built upon exclusive content. Giving Resistance another shot can add a FPS exclusive with a unique premise and exciting guns that defined the series on the PS3.
Reboot Status: Soft
Onimusha doesn’t need a hard reboot from a new studio with an entirely different vision and storyline planned out. Rather, at least at first, it needs to simply just come back into the mainstream gaming scene. Given the popularity of the Souls series, it may be beneficial for Onimusha to come back onto the scene as a challenging, combat-focused 3rd person action game, set during a time after the events of the main game series.
However, it has to do it soon. More and more games are coming out that are clear homages and takes on the Souls series, and Ni Oh will be the first in possibly many games set in a fantasy-drenched age of samurai in Feudal Japan. Before long, Onimusha may be too irrelevant and unnecessary to reason a reboot.
Reboot Status: ????
Lionhead Studios was recently shut down by Microsoft, and with it the fate of the Fable series currently lies up in the air. While Fable: Legends may still be released in some capacity, the mainline Fable series, which featured sprawling RPGs that literally sucked hundreds of hours away from gamers, may be in a ton of trouble.
I say “may” because Microsoft only just shut down Lionhead, so of course they don’t know what Fable’s long term plans are. However, if you’ve ever paid attention to Microsoft’s conferences over the years, characters from Fable have always represented the brand as a dedicated and cherished first party franchise.
Does Fable need a reboot? Probably not. Does someone need to talk about what’s going to happen to that franchise next? Most definitely. Fable is like a kid stuck in the middle of his parent’s unfortunate divorce. It’s primarily the mother’s creation, but the father is Mr. Money B. Ags. Whether it’s a soft reboot, or a hard reboot born from the efforts of a new Microsoft first party studio that is only dedicated to Fable games from here on out, news has to come out about this game sooner rather than later.
Liam Crossey is the Executive Editor of Features for The Game Bolt. Follow him on Twitter for too many retweets.