Created By: GendoIkari on April 6, 2011 Last Edited By: GendoIkari on April 29, 2011
Troped

Reformulated Game

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Page Type:
Trope
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.


Examples

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.


Community Feedback Replies: 30
  • April 6, 2011
    VampireBuddha
    Looks good to me.

    I would say that, in order to qualify for this trope, a port should fulfil one of the following criteria:
    • Different genre
    • Gains or loses sections in a different genre to the main game
    • Different play style (eg going from first-person to top-down view)
    • More than half the maps are changed.

    • 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.
  • April 6, 2011
    Glowsquid
    • All of the different 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 which bits of FMV it uses, has completely different enemy placement and upgrade system for the player ship.
    • 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.
  • April 6, 2011
    Stratadrake
    I heard that Sonic Unleashed had this between the 360/PS 3 and Wii versions.

    I''m thinking this needs a better title as well, but I don't have any suggestions. I don't want to suggest Gecko Port -- snowclone of Gecko Ending, which is tangientially related.
  • April 7, 2011
    GendoIkari
    Ok, I re-did all the intro and now it's more coherent. Any suggestion to improve or expand is welcome, as it is ay suggestion for a name. I'll later edit the examples and integrate with your other entries and something else more. I'm going to do a little research on Crush Crumble And Chomp: apparently the later C64 version, which also has a different title, has a very simplified gameplay.
  • April 7, 2011
    Glowsquid
    forgot this:

    • The PC version of Killing Time has different graphics and level design. The plot is the same, but it has two endings very different from the 3DO's original Downer Ending.
  • April 8, 2011
    GendoIkari
    Edited the examples and integrated your further examples, although I'll have to later separate Strider, Rygar and Bionic Commando (by the way, was rearmed a remake of the NES version?).

    Another game worth later research: the PC 88 version of Super Mario Bros. I heard it has completely different level design, although it's brought down by a lot of technical flaws.
  • April 8, 2011
    arromdee
    Should licensed games like Spider-Man count at all? It's not always clear whether one of those is "same game ported" or "completely different game that uses the same license".
  • April 8, 2011
    FalconPain
    Arcade Ninja Gaiden was a beat-em-up. NES Ninja Gaiden was a platformer with a wall-grabbing mechanic and cinematic cutscenes.

    NES Gauntlet had structured stage layout, side goals and hidden levels laid out as an adventure with a proper ending. Despite having the same basic engine, that's far different from other versions of the game, which is better known as an endless multiplayer coin-guzzler.
  • April 8, 2011
    Cidolfas
    Yeah, that's like saying that Aladdin for SNES and Aladdin for Genesis fall into this trope; they don't. One isn't a remake or port of the other.

    Complete Game Revamp?
  • April 8, 2011
    GendoIkari
    I like this name but, still, it lacks something that may also show that it's closely related to Porting Disaster and Polished Port... Revamped Port? However some games are remade from the ground up, but on the other hand, even some "normal" ports were in fact remakes in both code and assets...

    I never thought to list the Aladdin games: just the fact they were published by different companies shows they were never intended to be the "same" game.
  • April 8, 2011
    GendoIkari
    Reading better, I understand what you mean, and the name is more fitting. Considering these games just "ports" is limiting. Some stay (relatively) closer to the originals but others are, as you phrased correctly, revamped to fit the new platform. It also clears the distinction with "true" ports: some ports were made from the ground up, with completely new code and assets, but still aimed to reproduce the original versions - a Revamped Game does not.
  • April 8, 2011
    Kain
    This has happened with some visual novels. For example, BL visual novels may be 18+ in the computer version, but altered to be PG-13 in the PS version. 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.
  • April 12, 2011
    GendoIkari
    Edited again to polish it up, and also to change with the best trope name that has come out so far, and I think it suits it. It's now good and long enough to be launched, but I'm still open to suggestions for a name.
  • April 12, 2011
    Speedball
    There were two versions of the video game adaptation for Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets. The console version and the PC version were vastly different, with the console version far outclassing the PC's. Just one example: The intro of the console 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.
  • April 13, 2011
    henke37
    Same In Name Only for the most erigorous cases?
  • April 13, 2011
    halfmillennium
    The only problem with 'revamped' is that it implies it's a version of the original (ie. a remake).

    To use Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets as an example, there were at least four versions of that (five if the sixth-gen console and PC versions were different), but all were, presumably, released around the same time. The same applies to the likes of Sonic Unleashed. Two versions of the game were made and released together, one designed for the more powerful consoles and one designed for the less powerful.
  • April 14, 2011
    GendoIkari
    Wikipedia doesn't say much about the differencies but the Wii version got better reviews - things like the Werehog levels and the camera worked better.

    So, what should I do? Wait for new suggestions, or launch the page so that it attracts more users to suggest a better name? After all, Polished Port was originally called Porting Distillation and kept that name for a long while.
  • April 14, 2011
    halfmillennium
    The problem is that many of these aren't ports. There are a few things being mentioned:

    • A set of games, or versions of a game, with the same title, developed at the same time and released on multiple platforms together, with each version being tailored to the platform it's on (the aforementioned Harry Potter games).
    • A game which shares its title with another game of its series, but doesn't claim to be a remake (Sonic The Hedgehog against Sonic The Hedgehog).
    • A 'revamp' which uses the concept or the original, but changes things so it's not similar (This would be a specific type of the above).

    Perhaps worth mention: the page for Sonic The Hedgehog says the 8-bit version was not so much a port as an alternative version.
  • April 14, 2011
    GendoIkari
    Good point. My only objection is about the second example - the title and the main character are the only thing the two games have in common (thankfully) and Sonic 2006 was never marketed as an alternate version of the the original STH, like the 8 bit version was.

    The idea for this trope came from a thread I opened at the Hardcore Gaming 101 forums, which I titled "Games becoming very different on another platform", with no implications of them being ports - some are but became another thing. But in turn, it was inspired by the "ports" pages here, which list several of the games we mentioned here.

    Although related (in the sense that "wrong" examples from those pages would be moved here), the "port" angle should be ditched somehow.
  • April 17, 2011
    GendoIkari
    So, another name I thought up: Not Quite The Same Game. I think it encompasses all the types of "not-ports" nicely but it's bit of a mouthful...
  • April 17, 2011
    Rolf
    I think its time to sort examples...
  • April 18, 2011
    GendoIkari
    Two categories you mean? Good idea. One the "extreme ports", the other the several "incarnations" of a game, produced and released at the same time... It'll take me some time.
  • April 18, 2011
    Rolf
    That and some form of sub-sorting. maybe type of game?
  • April 18, 2011
    jaytee
    The Atari version of Pac-Man is a notorious example. The mechanics of gameplay are the same, but the colors, sprites and maps were completely different. At first glance, one wouldn't even guess it was a Pac-Man game, given how iconic the visuals of the original have become. The Atari version of Ms. Pac-Man averted this. While not perfect, it was at least a respectable, recognizable version of a Pac-Man game.
  • April 18, 2011
    jaytee
    Possible name: In Game Only maybe too much pun, not enough meaning...... but i love puns, sooooo
  • April 19, 2011
    GendoIkari
    @Rolf: there are not enough examples to divide even into sub-genres or sub-categories. It may be considered once the page grows.

    @Jaytee: What Atari system are you referring too? The 2600 version is a notorious Porting Disaster. Or was it some later remake for the arcades? I'm curious :)
  • April 22, 2011
    Prfnoff
    For the title of this, I would suggest Reformulated Game, the idea being that though it might keep the same packaging (which it often does), it contains somewhat different ingredients.

    I should add that fans may consider the original game and the reformulated version either as two versions of the same game or as separate games in their own right, and that translations, ports and remakes might reinforce the latter concept.
  • April 24, 2011
    GendoIkari
    I now have the time only to check rapidly, but at least I have modified the title to your suggestion: just two words and encompassing the concept very well. I also approve of noting how a game produced in different versions is often packaged as the same. Thank you :)
  • April 27, 2011
    GendoIkari
    Sorted the examples in two categories that will make two folders after the page is launched. Eventually I also want to sort them alphabetically. The only thing I feel to be lacking now is for the introductory text, especially the two categories - Needs A Better Description. Any suggestion welcome. Aside from this, I think it's good enough for launch at this point.
  • April 29, 2011
    mr3urious
    Willow for the arcade was a platform game, while its NES counterpart was an RPG.
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