Reformulated Game YKTTW Discussion

Reformulated Game
(permanent link) added: 2011-04-06 11:33:23 sponsor: GendoIkari (last reply: 2011-04-29 10:29:47)

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Bringing a game to another platform often doesn't end well; less frequently, the port is better or, at least, nothing that makes you miss the original. Some titles, however, cannot be considered simple ports - they're closer to completely new games. Important features are added (or missing); the gameplay has had substantial changes; most or all levels are changed; the visuals may have undergone a radical facelift; it may even belong to a different genre now. In the end, even if they are supposed to be the same game (and the publisher markets them as such), they share only the basic characters, stories, and maybe the fundamental gameplay elements. You may be a veteran of a game and still find a fresh challenge in the new version - the package is the same but the ingredients are not, or are mixed in a way to give a new flavor.

This phenomenon can happen for a number of reasons, but the games it invests can be roughly divided into two categories.

Type A: the game was supposed to be a port, and may have been so at the beginning of development, but became very different. Often hardware constraints make a straight port simply impossibile; it's also not uncommon for a porting team to have no access to the original code and assets, so they have to develop from scratch. Other times, a port from a less powerful platform is seen as a chance to add features that couldn't just be implemented originally.

Type B: the game has been developed concurrently in several versions for many platforms. They are all marketed as the same game and, while one may be the "main" version, each is its own game and is tailored to its platform's graphical capabilities and control interface. Some are stripped-down versions of another, while others may even belong to a different genre.

Mind you, a game under this trope may not necessarily be better than the original version, or just be good firsthand - this page doesn't take overall quality into account.


Type A

  • Powerslave, also known as Exhumed in Europe and Year 1999: Return of the Pharaoh in Japan. Although the three versions (PC, Playstation and Saturn) were released together, development started on the PC using the Build engine, best known for powering Duke Nukem 3D. Lobotomy Software then decided to try their luck on consoles but, upon realizing a straight port was impossible, they developed the Slavedriver engine and ended up making practically another game. While PC Powerslave is forgettable and has overly long, boring levels, console Powerslave is one of the best early console FPSes, and loses some nicer textures in exchange for faster and smoother gameplay, full 3D movement and smaller, open-ended levels with new weapons and abilities to discover in order to advance, predating Metroid Prime by over half a decade. Also, in a fun twist of irony, Slavedriver would later be used to port Duke Nukem 3D on the Sega Saturn.
  • Star Trader was a PC-88 Shoot 'em Up with many cutscenes, adventure portions and a non-linear plot - unfortunately the shooting part, which was supposed to be still its heart, was done badly. A later Sharp X68000 version has much better graphics and gameplay but is just a straight shooter.
  • Popful Mail was originally released on PC-88 and PC-98 computers, then brought to consoles a few years later. The PC Engine CD version is the one that stayed closer to the original but the other two (SNES and Sega CD) are very different both from it and from each other, sharing only story, characters and the basics of side-scrolling gameplay.
  • The original arcade version of Rygar is a decent but shallow and ultimately forgettable action game. The NES version starts with a linear level that may seem a straight port but then opens to reveal one of the earliest Metroidvanias.
  • Bionic Commando had the neat idea of the bionic arm in place of the usual jumping but wasn't exactly a memorable game. The NES version, while maintaning the basic gameplay mechanics (but more refined), is a non-linear game that alternates between classic action levels and neutral zones to take a breath and find useful objects and information, and is considered among the best for Nintendo's system, has a more complex story, and also an incredibly graphic villain death that wasn't censored. Unsurprisingly, it is the version that was remade as Bionic Commando: Rearmed in 2008.
  • Strider, also by Capcom, took a similar route. Its arcade incarnation (and the excellent Sega Genesis port) is a classic on its own right but on the NES, it went from straight action game to a much more complex and open Metroidvania.
  • The first iteration of Golvellius (basically a Legend of Zelda clone with some neat elements added, like side-scrolling dungeons), developed by Compile on the MSX, has extremely bland graphics and sound and suffers for the system's notorious problems with scrolling - no wonder few people know this version even exists. SEGA remade the game on the Master System with polished gameplay, much better graphics, a completely new layout for dungeons and overworld, and some additions like mid-dungeon bosses. Compile took note and made the definitive version (often incorrectly referred as Golvellius 2) for the MSX 2: different storyline, awesome intro and ending screens, graphics similar to the Master System version but less cartoonish, and yet another complete renewal of overworld and dungeons.
  • All of the versions of Novastorm have different bosses, level design, gameplay mechanics and cutscenes. Even the Sega CD version, which is the closest to the DOS original in the bits of FMV it uses, has completely different enemy placement and upgrade system for the player ship.
  • The PC version of Killing Time has different graphics and level design. The plot is the same, but has two endings very different from the 3DO original's Downer Ending.
  • The original Ninja Gaiden is an extreme case. The Arcade game is a Beat 'em Up; the NES incarnation is a platformer with a wall-grabbing mechanic and cinematic cutscenes.
  • NES Gauntlet has structured stage layout, side goals and hidden levels laid out as an adventure with a proper ending. Despite having the same basic engine, it's far different from other versions of the game, which is better known as an endless multiplayer coin-guzzler.
  • This has happened with some visual novels. They may be for 18+ audiences in the computer versions, but altered to be PG-13 in the console versions. Often this just involves removing/rewriting sex scenes; however, new character(s), scene(s) and entire route(s) are sometimes added, as in Togainu no Chi: True Blood.
  • While the first four levels of Donkey Kong's Game Boy remake are rather familiar, the rest of the game shifts more towards puzzle-solving. The physics from the original arcade version are (mostly) intact though.

Type B

  • In general, several home console games have had handheld versions, released at the same time, that became 2D platformers or top-down action games. This is especially true of movie tie-ins or games based on very popular I Ps.
  • Daikatana for the GBC is a fun little top-down action RPG, much better than the horrible FPS.
  • Spider-Man 2 on consoles is a great free-roaming game and is considered among the best titles (if not the best) based on the wall crawler. The PC version by another developer, unfortunately, is a lousy, limited action game.
  • Similarly, Spider-Man: Web of Shadows is a 2.5D brawler on PS2/PSP, and yet another brawler on the DS but with upgrades that allow to reach new areas. Each of these versions features its own storyline and more Marvel characters than the free-roaming one for the "bigger" systems.
  • Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands. While the 360/PS3/PC versions are the same game, the Wii version has a different storyline and different powers for the Prince. The PSP version is a 2.5D platformer with yet another storyline.
  • Transformers: War for Cybertron is a third-person shooter. Transformers: Cybertron Adventures, considered to be the Wii equivalent and having the same characters and story, is a Rail Shooter.
  • World Destruction League: Thunder Tanks and War Jetz were both released simultaneously for the original Playstation and Playstation2. The two versions have different levels and controls, especially in the case of War Jetz.
  • There were two vastly different versions, console and PC, of the video game adaptation for Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, with the former far outclassing the latter. Just one example: The intro of the console version features a wild boss fight against a rampaging Whomping Willow, which even picks up the nearby car and tries to smash Harry with it. The PC version... has him walk around it in a circle as its roots slowly move up and down.
  • The original Sonic the Hedgehog has a radically different 8-bit version that was released at the same time. The more limited hardware doesn't allow for the same speed but it still stands excellently on its own: beside the different levels and a different way to obtain the Chaos Emeralds, it has a soundtrack by Yuzo Koshiro.
  • Sonic Unleashed was developed in two versions: 360/PS3 and PS2/Wii. While it met a generally lukewarm reception, the Wii version was better received: despite the obvious hit in the visual department, reviewers praised the better camera, better Werehog levels, and well-implemented motion controls.

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