Owen Sound Sun Times (On)

Saturday, June 16th, 2007

Video game sequels can hit or miss.

The concept — adding to a good game — is not a problem, but saturating the video game market with nothing but sequels is. Overall quality has improved in the last decade, but there are still far too many sequels, and too little original thought.

Two of the biggest games for the Nintendo Wii (Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and Super Paper Mario) aren’t based on new properties but offer widely different takes on them. Twilight Princess is about the 10th game in the Zelda series, but uses motion control for sword fighting, and like every Zelda game has just enough new that it’s familiar, but never old and boring.

Super Paper Mario on the other hand is a completely original take on the generation old Mario character. It takes a classic 2D view (like the 1985 Super Mario, or Sonic the Hedgehog) and very creatively allows the player to switch into a 3D view to solve puzzles. This is a genuinely new idea and utilized very creatively in the game.

The Xbox 360 has a couple of quality original properties in Lost Planet and Gears of War, the latter considered its “Killer App” or must-have game. Though some of its high profile, upcoming releases are sequels.

Sony’s Playstation3 (PS3) has just one original and well received title, Resistance: Fall of Man, and Sony’s future PS3 titles are familiar names followed by a fair few numbers.

PS3 games like Metal Gear Solid 4 and Devil May Cry 4 look very promising. Still, they are sequels, and all three consoles already have more than their fair share of those. They’re crying for more brand new ideas than what we’re seeing.

Game developers are starting to take more risks and move in the right direction.

The Nintendo DS handheld has some great original offerings. Elite Beat Agents, Kirby Canvas Curse and Advance Wars: Dual Strike are all games that make use of the DS’ unique touch screen control.

Again they’re not all completely new characters, but the game play is totally different than anything that’s been seen before.

With the amazing graphics and interesting controllers that games can utilize these days it’s hopefully only a matter of time before completely new and off the wall games start flooding the market.

I can hardly wait.

Calen Henry is a fourth year student of Japanese Studies and Multimedia at McMaster University. He grew up in Owen Sound, has been a gamer since childhood and is also interested in music and film.

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