Revisiting The Roots
A long-running work shows how much it has changed by going back to a previous formula


(permanent link) added: 2012-01-03 10:04:09 sponsor: thewriter (last reply: 2012-11-13 09:18:41)

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Up for Grabs. Do We Have This One??
A series has diverged from its original premise or formula, perhaps because it grew a beard and outgrew a few old gags. Or perhaps it jumped a shark or two to the detriment of itself. In any case, the series (in style, or tone, or premise, the characters are not necessarily literally going back) returns to an earlier format maybe for a nostalgic/humorous looked at itself to poke fun at the behavior and actions of the characters early on in the series or maybe perhaps to fix some problems they've gained along the way.
Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • The Buu saga of Dragon Ball Z tries to go back to the humor from the beginning of the series, after a long time being a fighting series.

Live-Action Television
  • At the end of the fifth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy starts off an episode by killing a vampire in an alleyway. This is after having blown up a giant demon snake in season three, fought off a man-made demon-cyborg in season four, and she was presently in the battle with a demonic god trying to destroy the universe. She even lampshades this by pointing out she hadn't done something so simple in a while.
  • Charmed's Sorting Algorithm of Evil became somewhat more akin to a bell-curve. The first three seasons dealt with them battling warlocks and demons, the fourth had them battling the very Source Of All Evil, the fifth ended with them battling the classic Greek Titans, the sixth had them go against a Well-Intentioned Extremist Angel, and the seventh had them end destroying a past contender of the Source. By the eighth and final season, Word of God says that Billie and Christy, sibling female witches like the protagonists, was a great way to ground the show.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit was forced by Christopher Meloni's departure to go back to a more rounded set of characters instead of being the Stabler & Benson Show.
  • For better or for worse, Star Trek: Voyager was this for the Star Trek franchise: A lone Federation Star Ship exploring the dangerous unknowns and meeting new life and new civilizations.

Music
  • Starflyer 59's album I Am the Portuguese Blues was a deliberate throwback to their first three albums: lots of guitar distortion and no keyboards, in contrast with the Synth Pop-influenced sound they had evolved into since then. (In fact, most of the tracks were unreleased demos from that era, re-recorded for this album.) Its cover art (a solid color, with no text at all) was also a reference to those first three albums.
  • Loreena McKennitt started off singing traditional Celtic songs and slowly expanded to include other cultures, becoming more of a World musician. In 2010, she released an album composed of traditional Celtic songs.
  • The Beatles and Let It Be. It bears pointing out that the Let It Be project was originally called Get Back because this was precisely the idea (and that of course is also the reason the song was called "Get Back"). This was an attempt to return to the sort of spontaneous, energetic rock and roll they'd played at the beginning of their career - as opposed to the sophisticated and intricately produced music they'd moved on to. The recording sessions were a disaster, and they largely abandoned the "back to basics" approach for their last recorded album, Abbey Road.

Tabletop Games
  • Magic: The Gathering's 2009 core set, Magic 2010, marked a return to the flavor-driven design sensibility of the original Alpha and Beta releases.

Webcomics

Web Original
  • For the Homestar Runner short "Hremail 7" (which retcons the origins of the Strong Bad Emails), the characters reverted back to older models (and for some of them, older voices), and the dialogue features a bunch of catch phrases or running gags that hadn't been used in years.

Video Games
  • The Sonic the Hedgehog series, after going 3-D and having elaborate storylines and darker characters, begot Sonic Advance, which played in 2-D and was very reminiscent of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 in stage design, game mechanics, and the simple plot of "Dr. Eggman kidnaps animals; Sonic rescues them."
    • Less successful was Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode I, which was another try at going back to basics. However, its physics made it impossible to play like the old games, making this a failed attempt.
    • This would be remedied, ironically, in a game designed to evolve the series further: Part of the premise of Sonic Generations is that Sonic from the classic games is brought forward in time to the present. Classic Sonic plays very close to the original games, much closer than in Sonic 4, and is near indistinguishable in the 3DS version. Classic Sonic was so well-received, considering the fandom's Broken Base, that Sonic 4: Episode II will be based on Classic Sonic's physics in Sonic Generations.
  • After 10 years of collecting Stars and Shine Sprites, New Super Mario Bros. and New Super Mario Bros. Wii went back to the original Super Mario premise of having to reach the end of the stage, flagpole at the end and everything. This idea was so successful that Super Mario 3D Land wound up having the exact game design style transferred to 3-D.
  • Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10: By that time, Mega Man games had complex storylines and complicated gameplay. These two games kept their plots simple and plays almost exactly like an extension of Mega Man 2, even keeping the NES appearance. In fact, these two games were designed by the same people who made the original Mega Man games.* Halo 2 and Halo 3 added all sorts of fronds and foofaraw that, evidently, no one liked, because the Gaiden Game (Halo 3: ODST) and prequel (Halo: Reach) deliberately scaled them back, hewing closer to the original gameplay model presented by Halo: Combat Evolved.
  • The Final Fantasy series, after VI was a steampunk world that coined the term Magitek, VII and VIII shifted to a modern-esque setting with electricity spaceships and cities. IX then brought things back to a medieval setting of castles, airships and villages. As well, while VII and VIII had a three-character party system where they were as unique in battle (or not) as the character customized them, IX went back to the style of four party members with pre-set skills as earlier games had done.
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