It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when the “gritty reboot” craze started. Sure, franchises have been rebooted for as long as entertainment has existed, but making them dirtier, edgier, and more realistic is still fairly recent. Some people point to Batman Begins as the originator, but no matter what started all of this, it has yet to run out of energy. The latest victim of this phenomenon is the Power Rangers series, which just got super serious on the silver screen to decidedly mixed reviews. But what about video games?
While movies have gone to that well increasingly often in the past decade or so, video games have been fairly exempt of that tendency, though there are indeed a few exceptions. Tomb Raider is a good example of a successful reboot, while it would be easy to single out Bomberman: Act Zero as an atrocious one. Thankfully, most gaming reboots try to stick fairly close to the original material, as we can see with Mortal Kombat (which retconned most of the series' history). But what if video games were not that fortunate and ended up going through the Hollywood machine?
We have imagined what would happen if fifteen popular gaming series were to be rebooted in the style of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Transformers, and Power Rangers. Our reboots were done hypothetically; let’s hope that these will not give any producers the wrong idea.
15 Sonic The Hedgehog
In a dilapidated house, in a crummy living room, Tails was sitting on a chair near the couch. His friend was only a shell of his former self, and it was more than he could take. “I’ve had it with you,” said Tails. “Sonic, you have been hanging out around here for too long. It’s time you took your life in your own hands. I can’t keep supplying you with gold rings all the time.” Sonic was laying down on the couch, but the pathetic attempt at a pep talk by his friend made him sit up in a sudden movement.
“You don’t get it, Tails. The rings are the only thing that makes me feel alive.” Sonic was getting fidgety, thinking about those sweet rings which he hadn’t had all day. “Ever since I lost Amy, they’re all I have. They make me forget about the pain. They help me forget about how bad I have been aching.”
Tails was not impressed. “I can’t sustain your addiction. It’s either the rings, or it’s me.” The blue hedgehog did not even need to think about it for a second. “I guess it’s gonna be the rings, then.” As Tails got up to leave, Sonic hammered his point home, one last time. “And I will do anything I need to do to get them.”
14 Super Mario
Mario was on vacation at the other end of the world. Talking to his beloved Peach on the phone every night was his only way to keep contact with the Mushroom Kingdom. But tonight’s call was different from the usual conversation. Peach sounded nervous, almost distracted. Suddenly, a loud crashing noise could be heard on the other end of the line.
“Mario!”, gasped Peach. “Someone just broke down the castle door! Oh my God!”
Mario’s mind was racing, but his thoughts were clear. “Princess, you will-a have to listen-a very carefully. You are about to-a be taken.” Peach could be heard muffling a scream. “On-a my mark, you will hide under-a the bed and put the phone-a down.”
It was too late. Mario could hear the commotion, he could hear the struggling, and then, silence. After a few seconds, he could hear exhausted breathing. Someone else had picked up the phone. Mario collected himself, and started.
“Bowser, if it is-a you again, please, let-a go of the princess. I will-a not pursue you, and that-a will be the end of it. But if you take her, if anything happens, I will find-a you, and mama mia, I will stomp-a you.”
Bowser’s smirk could be heard through the phone. “Good luck,” was all he replied.
13 The Legend of Zelda
Link and Zelda were sitting on a park bench, at the exit of Hyrule’s Temple of Justice, looking around nervously. Link was glad that someone was finally stepping up, but he knew the dangers involved. “You are taking an awful risk telling me this,” he whispered to Zelda. “I am a lawyer, you’re a journalist. The information you are giving me could very well impeach President Ganondorf. You know he will come at us with everything he’s got if this gets out before we are ready.”
Zelda understood Link’s worries, but she felt like something had to be done. Ganondorf had been ruling over Hyrule with an iron fist for seven years. He had to be taken down. “Ganondorf has already taken over two branches of the Government: Power and Wisdom. If he gets control of Courage, he will be able to realize his every wish. We cannot allow that to happen.”
“But what if he sends the Moblins to your door,” asked Link. “His secret police is ruthless.”
“Then,” continued Zelda, pensively. “Then you would be Hyrule’s last hope.” She took his hand in hers. “Promise me you won't let him get away with it.”
12 Donkey Kong
Donkey Kong was sitting at his desk, going over the numbers on the sheet in front of him. Something was amiss. He should have had way more bananas than what arrived in yesterday’s shipment. At the same moment, his right-hand chimp, Diddy, entered the room in a panic. “Donkey Kong, sir, I just learned that K. Rool stole a few containers of bananas at the port yesterday.” Donkey Kong shook his head, unsurprised. “I also learned that he bribed the men working at the port with our very own DK coins. I had to beat that information out of them.”
“You’re a good chimp, Diddy,” said DK. “I thank you for this information, but you know what it means.” DK reached into the drawer of his desk and pulled out an empty peanut gun along with a few clips. He loaded the peanut gun and threw it at Diddy. He then pulled out his own, fully loaded coconut gun and held it in front of him. It was shining in the faint light of his lamp.
“Diddy, you and I are gonna go pay K. Rool a visit. And along the way, we will take every single banana and every single coin that this son of a crocodile owes us.”
11 Crash Bandicoot
Crash was lying on the couch in his therapist’s office. The events of the war in Australia, which he had just recently escaped, still haunted him. “Crash,” called the soothing voice of his therapist. “Please continue.”
“I just can’t get her image out of my head,” said Crash. “Tawna. I see her every day in my mind. We had been prisoners of war for so long. Nobody knows what it was like in Neo Cortex’s castle.” Crash took a long pause. Recalling his past experiences was painful, but he pressed on.
“Cortex did all kinds of experiments on us. He would bombard us with rays, and God knows what these did to us. He would put us in that horrible contraption he called “The Vortex.” I couldn’t take it anymore. When I saw that he left a window open, I jumped.” Crash started sobbing softly. “I… I jumped. I just left her behind.”
His therapist tried to comfort him, but he didn’t want any of it. “I have been hiding for too long, doc. Tawna was my partner, and I left her behind. She could still be alive.” With new resolve in his voice, Crash got up from the couch. “I think it’s time I go back to Australia and shut down Cortex once and for all.”
Hidden in an abandoned warehouse, a small crowd had gathered to hear the speech of Red, the leader of People for the Ethical Treatment of Pokémon. The unassuming man, with his trademark baseball hat, was speaking from a podium on an elevated platform.
“We exploit Pokémon for our own gain. We use the electric types to power our houses. We use the water types as unwilling firemen. We even force some of them to fight, on pay-per-view, for our own amusement! Pokémon are living creatures. They are intelligent beings! Is that how we should treat them?”
Shouts of “No!” could be heard throughout the audience. Red continued.
“Pokémon do not belong in a ball. They need to be free to roam and exist, just as we are. Team Rocket is running most of these Pokémon-related industries, and the government is complicit in this endeavour. It is time, my friends, for us to take over the streets, take over the gyms, and free the Pokémon! Do not let the media fool you. We are not capturing these noble beasts. Every Pokémon we liberate is one less Pokémon for the oppressor!”
The crowd cheered, their hope for a day when Pokémon could roam free around Kanto renewed.
As Alexei came to, all he could feel was his head pounding with pain. Who knows how long he had been unconscious for? His hands were free, but his leg was chained to a nearby pipe. Fumbling around in the dark, his hand instinctively went up a wall, looking for a switch. When he found one, he flicked it, and neon lights filled the room.
Across from him, he could see that another man was in a similar situation, chained to a different pipe. In front of them, each one had a portable console. Just as he was about to ask the other man his name, Alexei was interrupted by a voice with a strong Russian accent coming from a television in the middle of the room. A creepy puppet could be seen on the screen.
“Hello,” started the puppet. “And greetings. I want to play a game.”
Alexei was creeped out and puzzled. The voice from the television continued.
“In front of each of you is a Game Boy, with Tetris in the cartridge slot. The first one to clear 100 lines will walk out of here on his own. The loser… will not be so lucky.”
8 The Sims
For years now, Greg had been a prisoner of this seemingly idyllic suburban house, along with three roommates. It looked like an ideal life from the outside, but it was nothing but a golden prison. Everyone inside was fitted with a shock collar, which could provide immeasurable pain if anyone tried to tamper with it. It would also turn on whenever someone disobeyed orders from “The Master.”
The Master was a cruel entity, one which never showed its face. Sometimes he would simply force them to paint, or cook, even when they didn’t feel like it. Things could move around the house; furniture would be replaced while they were asleep, as if by magic.
Sometimes, The Master would force them to go for a swim in the pool and then remove the ladder — their only way to get out. Other times, he would cause a fire in the oven, and then remove the doors from the kitchen, leaving the poor victim to be burned alive. A tombstone would then appear in the backyard, as if to taunt them, to remind them that anyone could be next. But Greg had had enough of waiting for his turn. He did not know how yet, but he would find a way to get free from The Master’s control.
Somewhere in Dream Land, around a campfire, sat Waddle Dee and his group of wandering citizens. Around them, only desolation. Dream Land used to be a beautiful place, but the wasteland had taken over ever since the incident a few generations ago. Waddle Dee was one of the few to have survived it and had been keeping the memories alive in the mind of the inhabitants, telling his tales around the fire. Tonight, was no different.
“Let this be a cautionary tale,” he warned. “Evil can come under many guises. Villains do not always twirl their mustaches, for sometimes, they are hidden in a tiny pink ball.” The children around the fire gasped. “This spherical beast from planet Pop Star, no one saw it coming. From its cheerful exterior, we all assumed that it came to help the inhabitants of Dream Land, but that’s when it struck.”
Waddle Dee mimicked slashing with a sword for emphasis. “It opened its mouth, and in a matter of minutes, it was all over. The trees, the animals, the very citizens of this land, they were all sucked down the bottomless stomach of the one they call… Kirby.” Waddle Dee looked down, solemnly. "No one knows what became of Kirby. Some say he could come back at any time.”
The Royal Family had been keeping everyone underground for so long now; the people had forgotten how it started. Every single person, condemned to an existence of living in caves, mining for materials, supposedly for the greater good. “The materials will help us build shelter”, said the propaganda. “The material will protect us from the monsters.” But when was the last time anyone had seen a monster around here? Who knew if they even existed?
Armed with nothing but his pick axe, Steve one day managed to escape the cave. Staying hidden in the shadows, he somehow dodged the guards patrolling the tunnels, and escaped to the surface. The sun, which he was seeing for the first time in his life, was setting on the horizon. “What a beautiful sight,” he thought. He was interrupted by a faint, barely perceptible sound. “Sssssssssssss,” it went. At first, almost a whisper, but eventually growing stronger.
The sound was coming from behind him. Steve turned around, but it was too late. The Creeper was on to him. Instinctively, he swung with his pick axe, creating some space between himself and the creature. He hoped he would somehow survive the night.
5 Animal Crossing
Bob had it all. A wife, a few kids, a successful business. A bad investment got rid of his business, which sent him into a tailspin. His mood changed, drove away his wife and their kids. Now alone, penniless, Bob soon became homeless. Living on the streets for a few months, he thought he would never see the day when life would once again smile at him. But one day, at a bus stop, a strange man named Kapp’n told him of a magnificent village, isolated from the rest of the country, where he could start over again. They would give him a house, and let him live in peace. Was Bob hallucinating? In his drunken haze, Kapp’n almost looked like… like a turtle.
Using the money he made panhandling, he bought a bus ticket and headed for the village. Kapp’n wasn’t lying. Immediately upon arriving, he was set up with his own house, some clean clothes, and a cozy bed. All he had to do was to check in with a guy named Tom Nook.
Tom did not even shake his hand. “That’ll be 20,000 Bells," he said. Tom Nook was there to remind him that no matter where he went, Bob’s debt would always follow him.
In a church basement, an older man was holding a clipboard, sitting on a plastic chair. Around him, more people sitting on chairs, most of which were looking at the ground in front of them. “All right,” started the older man, “let’s welcome our newest friend, Pacey.”
Pacey held up a hand. “Please, just call me Pac.”
“All right, Pac. Will you please tell us why you’re here?”
Pac took a deep breath. “I am here because I am addicted to power pellets.”
“And why is that, Pac?”
“The Pellets are the only thing that keep the ghosts away.”
The older man tilted his head to the side, as the other participants were suddenly taking notice. “What ghosts?”, he inquired.
Pac’s voice was trembling. “The people I couldn’t save. I made a mistake, I was a rookie, and they paid the price. Their names are forever etched in my mind. Blinky, Pinky, Inky, and Clyde. They follow me when I am awake. They follow me in my dreams. I can’t escape them. I use the Power Pellets because they keep the ghosts at bay.”
3 Super Smash Bros.
Once a week, these people meet in a sketchy building in the back of an alley. The big, empty room, is dimly lit by a few light bulbs dangling from the ceiling. The people present are diverse: Plumbers, princesses, Hylians, hedgehogs. Most of them have been there before, but sometimes, a new member is invited by someone in good standing with the organizers. This time around, there’s quite a few newbies. There’s an ex-boxer, calls himself Little Mac. There’s also a weird ninja guy who thinks he’s a frog. Some dragon-looking guy brought in his kid tonight. What a sick man. There’s also a blonde woman who thinks she’s some kind of intergalactic heiress. 'Super Smash Brothers' attracts the weirdest people, the misfits of society. And they’re all here for the thrill of the fight.
Captain Falcon, one of the organizers, stands in the middle of the raucous crowd. He shushes the people before speaking.
“Ladies, Gentlemen, welcome to Super Smash Brothers. The first rule of Super Smash Brothers is: you do not talk about Super Smash Brothers. The second rule is: you DO NOT talk about Super Smash Brothers.”
The crowd collectively nods in approval.
“Third rule is, if someone is propelled off the stage, the fight is over.”
2 Final Fantasy
In my career as a doctor, I have seen a lot of heavy cases, but none as heavy as this one. This patient says that he has lived over a dozen lives, and he genuinely believes it. Some would say that he is not a danger, but I know better than that. Yes, most of the stories he tells about his many lives are fantasies, but there are some tell-tale signs. He is obsessed with gigantic knives, for one. He also has this belief that he is able to summon mythical beasts, dragons, and something else he calls a “Bahamut.”
It’s not like keeping him safe in this institution has been a problem. He doesn’t seem like he wants to go anywhere. I have been studying him for thirty years. I must admit that I do find some of the stories enthralling. Sometimes he thinks he’s a blond kid riding a motorcycle. Sometimes he thinks he’s a powerful mage trying to save the world from destruction.
I think I might be finally getting through to him. His episodes are becoming more infrequent. But he’s recently had a relapse. This time he thinks he’s a prince. I really hope I can help him again.
1 Grand Theft Auto
At the other end of the rainbow, in the middle of the clouds, exists the magical world of San Andreas. It is a place where marshmallows grow on trees, where the inhabitants live in houses made of chocolate, where the rivers flow with fruit punch. Everyone lives in harmony, except for three little goblins: Michael, Franklin, and Trevor.
These mischievous little creatures terrorize the children of San Andreas by riding in swiftly on the back of their dragons and stealing everybody’s candies. Sometimes, Michael, Franklin, and Trevor don’t remember where they parked their dragons, so they just steal their neighbours’ ponies to ride away instead.
The gremlins’ activities have gained the attention of many characters: Devin the Rich Wizard, Steve The Rogue, Wei the Merchant and Stretch the Treacherous have all united to finally rid San Andreas of the goblins. Will Michael, Franklin, and Trevor defeat their wicked enemies, or will they have to resettle in the forest, under a new name, where all the scary creatures live?