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Should classic franchises be allowed to die? [roundtable]
 
Jeremy Parrish has an interesting blog post at USGamer.net covering a topic I've discussed a few times on this site in the past: Classic video game franchises and the default assumption that they should continue in perpetuity. He makes an argument similar to one I've made. Namely, a series doesn't have to keep going on and on forever. Those that have run their course should be fondly remembered, replayed and recommended to newcomers, sure, but don't need to be kept alive with new installments just for the sake of it.

He mentions the likes of Mega Man, Castlevania, and even Metroid as beloved series that he wouldn't mind being put out to pasture. That doesn't mean that what makes these games great needs to die as well. Games like Mighty No. 9 will continue the spirit of Mega Man, games like Axium Verge will continue the spirit of Metroid. But the characters and worlds of those games don't need to continue.

As you may have guessed, I agree full-heartedly. I want a new Metroid game from Nintendo as much as the next guy, but I want it because I like the way Nintendo makes those kinds of games, not because I need more adventures from Samus in her iconic ship. If Nintendo released something like Shadow Complex would the new style and setting make it less of a game? As Parrish says, it might make it even better because the developers will be free to break the mold of a franchise's staples in a way that they wouldn't feel comfortable in making a new Metroid game.

From Nintendo's perspective, I understand why they are quick to slap one of their IPs onto most of their new games. Brand recognition is important and all things created equal, Mario Paint Attack would likely outperform Splatoon. So I don't think we'll actually see franchises that are still money makers like Mario disappearing anytime soon. But a series like Metroid which was never a blockbuster and has had recent flops? It's a possibility (although I think they probably realize that a new Metroid can rejuvenate their base in a way that makes it worthwhile even if the sales aren't overwhelmingly strong).

I understand it from a fan's perspective, as well, but in the end I think it's coddling. Consumers these days seem to want to be kept in an artificial childhood. They want everything from their formative years to remain forever so that they don't have to deal with the brutal reality that time passes, we get older, things change and people die. This might make people feel more content in a world that forces you to reckon with these realities in plenty of ways outside of media, but I think it ultimately lessens what we can get out of our interaction with art and media. It might seem trivial, but I think forcing gamers to cope with the fact that Samus has blasted Ridley away for the last time would do them some good. At the very least, I think fans need to come to terms with the idea that Nintendo doesn't owe it to them to keep these series running and that they are not entitled to a new Metroid game every generation.

What do you guys think? How would you feel if Nintendo officially signaled the end of some of their long lasting franchises? Should Mario and Zelda games keep coming out long after Miyamoto is dead and gone? Are there any series which you would rather see call it a day than continue on their current trajectory? Bonus Question: Does Seasons 11-30 of the Simpsons diminish what made the first third of the series great?

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Posted: 04/11/15, 05:24:44  - Edited by 
 on: 04/11/15, 05:27:20
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@TriforceBun I loved it. Least favorite of the trilogy for me but that's only because they're all so good.

@Guillaume Hmm, but didn't Prime 3 outsell 2 and don't most people like it more than 2? (Generally, for instance here on NW.)

I kind of wonder if the series just never had much steam to begin with. The first Prime sold pretty good, but it was the first Metroid in years and one of the highest rated games EVAR and still didn't come even close to the best selling games of that generation, or even the best selling Gamecube games. 2 and 3 (and Hunters, for that matter) sold ok but not that great. Maybe it just wasn't meant to be, especially when you consider that Nintendo rarely spends so many resources for so few (relative to their big games) sales.

...BUT I STILL BELIEVE IN PRIME 4.
Posted: 04/14/15, 08:12:38  - Edited by 
 on: 04/14/15, 08:14:51
deathly_hallows said:
@Shadowlink
I dunno, saying that 1 out of 11 is a terrible game in an otherwise stellar franchise isn't taking as big of a shit as saying that the entire franchise is so creatively bankrupt it should be discontinued.

That's not what was said at all. There is a vast difference between admitting they won't break down into a blubbering mess if a franchise ends and actively calling something terrible. If you want another example, look at the Harry Potter series. Beloved the world over, and (not counting weird spinoffs) ever likely to get an 8th book. The story is done. I'm willing to bet most fans are perfectly ok with there not being an 8th book. They'll find some other series to fill their magical fantasy appetite. That doesn't mean they hate Harry Potter and are glad no more books are being written though.

In the meantime, only one person involved in this discussion (including Parish) has actually called something from the Metroid series outright garbage. If I had to pick one person in this discussion to characterize as 'shitting on Metroid' in any way shape or form, it would be them. So do everyone a favour and stop with the ridiculous mischaracterization and hyperbole.


@TriforceBun

I love Prime 3 tooooo! It was great fun.
Posted: 04/14/15, 11:22:54
@Zero

But my point is that given the difference in GCN and Wii userbase, Corruption sales were disappointing to Nintendo.
Posted: 04/14/15, 14:47:55
TriforceBun said:
Am I the only one that loved Metroid Prime 3 here!?
I love... to hate it.

But in all seriousness I realize my extreme dislike of that game borderlines on emotional instability* and is at least partially irrational, it's not "utter garbage", if I worked at IGN or someplace and was forced to review it I'd have to begrudgingly admit it's actually a pretty good game. I just have major problems with it, and many of my issues are actually issues with Wii in general and not the game (i.e. outdated graphics and motion controls, two things I was never a fan of).

That said, even ignoring the problems I have with the way the game looks and controls, I don't think it was a stellar game. But I don't think it ruins the integrity of older Metroid classics, I just don't think that way, I'm not the kind of fan who worries that things like the new Star Wars movies will ruin my childhood, there could be a thousand bad Star Wars movies and I'll still love Empire with as much fervor as I did when I was 8 years old. That's the crucial thing I guess I'm missing in this whole discussion. For me there is no risk involved in Nintendo making another Metroid game. Only the chance that it will be awesome. This is coming from someone who liked Other M though. That's another part of the equation I think I'm missing. Other M didn't ruin anything for me, especially Samus as a character, did I love her portrayal? Nope. Does that mean anything to me when I'm running around in Metroid Fusion kicking total ass and having the time of my life? Nope. Would I play the hell out of game that took place right where Metroid 4 left off? Yep. Do I have faith there are people at Nintendo with just as much passion and talent as Tom Happ? Yes, I really do.

*This entire thread is kind of proof how emotional I get when Metroid is involved so I apologize if I'm being a little crazy. I love Metroid folks, it's hard for me to explain just how much I love it, I love even the unpopular games like Hunters, in fact I think Hunters is one of the most underrated games of all time.
Posted: 04/14/15, 20:53:40  - Edited by 
 on: 04/14/15, 21:13:45
@Guillaume I suppose so. But you can kind of say that of most of their franchises that aren't Mario or Wii or Smash. Or Animal Crossing, I guess.

Besides outside of the above mentioned games, did many other "core" Nintendo franchises benefit much from the larger Wii userbase? Zelda didn't sell significantly better on the Wii either, did it? I know Skyward Sword in particular didn't sell well at all, but that was probably in large part to it arriving so late.
Posted: 04/14/15, 22:46:05
I don't think that a franchise can be diminished by sub-par entries. Even if The Simpsons only has 2 or 3 classic episodes per season now (which I'm not informed enough to be able to say, honestly), that's still an extra 2 or 3 classics to add to the canon.

As far as games, I think it's a case-by-case basis. As long as the games are good or even have the potential to be good, the franchise deserves to exist. If the franchise can still offer fresh experiences, even more so. The Mario franchise, for example, still has a ton of vitality. Nintendo beat the 2D Mario drum a bit too many times recently, but even the NSMB games are fairly unique. And 3D World didn't feel stale at all. It actually felt like a breath of fresh air. That may be a reflection of its place in the overall gaming landscape, which brings us to another important point. A new DOOM game might not be able to offer something radically different from the current crop of games, but Super Mario 3D World definitely carved out its own place in the current gaming landscape. (Honestly, even DOOM could, if it went back to the old FPS design aesthetics.)

In the end, I don't necessarily agree with Parish at all. I don't think old franchises have to be put to pasture for Logan's Run-esque reasons. I wouldn't mind if Sonic died. But not because it's an old franchise.

I DO think that the American media formula of endless success = endless serialization does pose serious problems to storytelling-based media, but that's a different issue.

I just bought a Simpsons Jeopardy board game at a flea market, by the way.
Posted: 05/04/15, 23:43:31
@Anand I guess for people who are actively following it regardless, sure, but for people not actively following it, it just becomes a sort of overwhelming thought to try to figure out what is and isn't worth spending your time on. I'm getting burnt out on watching Futurama over and over and over and kind of want to catch up on The Simpsons (which I haven't actively watched in like 20 years or so), but I'd have no idea how to determine what episodes are and aren't worth watching over the last X amount of seasons.
Posted: 05/04/15, 23:57:54
@Zero
Neither do I, but I'm sure that my pal Google does.

Y'know, I've DVR-ed some reruns lately and the eps that I haven't seen have been pretty decent. I'm not sure if that's because the overall quality has improved or because they cherry-pick the best eps to work into the syndicated rotation. But maybe Fox is already curating the series, in a way.

Also, you should've been burnt out on watching Futurama by the third episode. *dons flame-retardant vest and flees*
Posted: 05/05/15, 00:07:08
@Anand Pff, there are tons of excellent Futurama episodes. I think somewhere around season 3 or 4 is where it was at its best. And the first movie was amazing. After that... series kind of goes downhill, though some of the newer episodes are solid.
Posted: 05/05/15, 00:22:03
I'd be glad to help you guys know which Simpsons eps to watch. I've seen every one, after all, and own all the DVDs so far...

For starters, watch everything in the first 8 seasons!
Posted: 05/05/15, 00:22:41
@TriforceBun
Done!

You have all of the DVDs, eh? Is that more of a collecting thing, or do you genuinely love parts of every season?

Anyway, I will totally take you up on your offer. If you want to list the standout episodes of the last... 10, 15 years, please do!

That should be a website - Best Eps. I feel like curation and repurposing is the future of everything.
Posted: 05/05/15, 00:35:50  - Edited by 
 on: 05/05/15, 00:36:19
@TriforceBun I PROBABLY already did that. I mean, I never formally sat down and watched entire seasons, but I watched enough random episodes over the years.

@Anand We sort of have that here for games. Maybe we need to add Simpsons episodes to the database.
Posted: 05/05/15, 00:40:16  - Edited by 
 on: 05/05/15, 00:42:32
Tired ideas should die, but franchises should not. Can't think of anything fun and original for a new game in a series? Then don't make one until an idea is noteworthy and exciting enough. Simple as that!
Posted: 05/05/15, 01:47:36
@Anand

It's a few things. Originally I planned to stop at S9, but I kept eventually finding good deals on 'em. I also watch them all the way through once, then again with commentary (which is on every ep)--that's a good 10+ hours of work right there (I work on art while watching TV). They're only up to S17 (which is where I think the show had its second big stumble), but they might not make more after that... :(

As for best eps in S9 through S26, I'd be glad to! I'll do it a bit later tonight as I'm still at the office though.
Posted: 05/05/15, 02:31:27
@TriforceBun
Take your time, man.

Or if you want to just refer us to an existing web link, feel free to do that, instead.
Posted: 05/05/15, 04:38:17
@Anand

I'm not sure there's a very comprehensive list of "best" episodes out there, but there should be. Regardless, I've picked out my top choices from S9-12 and posted it in the Simpsons thread here at NW.

I am curious about you and Futurama, though! If I suggested two strong episodes for you to watch, would you watch them? How much of that show have you seen anyway?
Posted: 05/05/15, 06:13:15
@TriforceBun

He hasn't seen nearly enough.
Posted: 05/09/15, 20:48:22
Similar to this question, should companies be allowed to die? If we look at a company like Konami for example, is letting them go under worse than watching them struggle along like they have been? The possible loss of their IPs, and their classic games from appearing on services like the VC, seem like the only things to to be sad about there.
Posted: 05/09/15, 21:56:06
@Mop it up

I don't see companies like Konami or Sega Sammy going under so much as shifting their business direction over to another market. Williams and Bally realized that they could make a lot more money for a lot leas effort on gaming machines for casinos than pinball tables, and I think the same thing is happening now with video games. They have become too costly and risky.
Posted: 05/10/15, 00:42:10
@GameDadGrant

I've seen too much!

@TriforceBun
Two eps? Sure, why not?

As a Simpsons buff, I gave Futurama a chance for a season or two. The first episode was promising, but the show never really delivered on that promise for me. There are a couple of decent eps, like the college one with the Monkey or the Star Trek one. I think the show is often clever, but rarely FUNNY. A lot of the times, like in Family Guy, the reference itself is the joke. And there are clever sci-fi concepts once in a while, but it's a comedy show! Speaking of which, the tone gets a bit too sappy and emo for me at times. It's like a fourth of the episodes are Lisa episodes! And the relationships between the characters are inconsistent. I like character-based comedy, like Ranma 1/2, but the characters have to behave consistently to pull it off.

And Fry, Bender, Zapp Brannigan, and Kif are the only appealing characters to me. Hermes and Amy are utterly useless. Leela's a decent straight (wo)man. The Professor and Nibbler are kind of one-note jokes. Zoidberg is like a low-quality Jewish comic, such that at least half of his jokes are basically "Oy! I'm Jewish!"

But yes! Two episodes! I'll watch them (and give you my impressions, if you want). And you can critique my criticism of Futurama, if you want.

I've been meaning to respond to your Simpsons list, as well. I've seen about half of them.

Out of curiosity, how would you rank King of the Hill, Futurama, Family Guy, and The Simpsons?

@Mop it up
Whatever happens to them, hopefully their licenses end up in good hands. Or at least decent hands. Lots of stuff is unavailable because of licenses which fall into the hands of companies that don't even want to think about them.

@Hinph
Pachinko. The past, present, and future of Japan is Pachinko. Video games were just a momentary blip.
Posted: 05/10/15, 02:11:36  - Edited by 
 on: 05/10/15, 02:22:23
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