The 10 Most Successful Video Game Franchise Reinventions


There’s nothing like the feeling of when the latest game in your favorite franchise comes out. But along with that anticipation also comes a growing malaise as series ages and begins to grow tired.

That’s why sometimes the best thing a franchise can sometimes do is re-tool itself or rebrand itself as some new entity. There’s a lot to be said for sticking to your guns and embracing what you are, but it sometimes takes even more guts to turn yourself into something entirely new. Here are some of the best examples of franchises going back to the drawing board.

10. Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero

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Considering its popularity, it was only a matter of time before the Mortal Kombat series would be spun off or had their formula mixed up with a different genre. The franchise’s first foray into this sort of thing was with the Nintendo 64’s MK Mythologies: Sub-Zero, an action-adventure game that decided Sub-Zero was strong enough of a character to center a single player adventure on.

Building a story that most gamers were uninterested in, the title was largely looked down on. The game should be admired for its ambition and the ways that it would even incorporate its arcade fighting roots back into the game every so often. With the big swings it took, it almost feels like the game would’ve been received better today than it did in the N64 era.

9. Pokemon Snap

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There’s not a lot of logic behind Pokemon Snap other than the fact that HAL Laboratory knew that Pokemon fans would flock to any game with that name on it, no matter how much it strayed for the original’s RPG roots. Here the deviation comes in the form of a rail shooter, but a highly unconventional one. Rather than shooting your targets with bullets, your doing so with film as you try to garner the best photographs of the Pokemon on the island. The game is novel way of taking the core and foundation that the original Pokemon built and then having some fun with it.

8. Mega Man Legends

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Mega Man has such a storied history behind it, you would think that it would never want to mess with its tried and true formula. That being said, some errant curves were taken in the form of the Mega Man Legends games for the PlayStation (or Mega Man 64, if you owned Nintendo’s version).

Here Mega Man was taken from his action roots and placed into more of an action-adventure setup, with a heavy emphasis on the adventure. No longer is Mega Man restricted by stages and levels but rather can roam free in a 3D world. It was a gambit that paid off for the Blue Bomber, although the N64 port was not as well received.

7. Syndicate

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It’s been a growing trend in recent decades to take age-old PC franchises and inject new life into them. Why spend your time creating some new property when there are plenty of suitable choices collecting dust in the PC graveyard? In these sort of remakes, you’ll often see the universe and story mechanics of the original game remaining while the gameplay is what is re-worked into something new.

Syndicate is one of the many titles that started as a humble PC strategy game before getting souped-up into a frantic FPS. Fans of the original Syndicate weren’t exactly unanimously pleased with the transformation the series took, but at least it got the name out there to new audiences.

6. Donkey Kong Country

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Many people might not think of Donkey Kong Country as a franchise reinventing itself, but a lot of gamers take for granted that Donkey Kong did start as the villain in a simplistic arcade game. Donkey Kong Country took the character and transported him into a robust, complicated platforming world (actually, in these games, the original Donkey Kong is in now Cranky Kong, with the hero of the title really being Donkey Kong Jr.).

Updating Donkey Kong’s universe and formula paid off to great degree, turning into a wildly successful series of games that many people consider to be some of the best platformers out there. Lest we forget that this could have just been a heftier version of Donkey Kong. Eep.

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