Gaming's grittiest reboots

Advance Wars: Days of Ruin

The series: Nintendo's Wars series are best known in the West for the GBA and DS iterations, which document the adventures of chirpy teens perplexingly granted control of million-dollar artillery and the lives of thousands.

Above: From the people that brought you Paper Mario, it's... obviously a bad time, nevermind 

The reboot: In ditching the series' unfailingly upbeat presentation, it's as if Intelligent Systems abruptly realized that this was a game about war and had to make with the grim determination and senseless waste of human life. You can see their point, but the farcical gulf between subject matter and presentation had long been part of the fun.

Above: The makers of Mario Kart: Super Circuit are proud to announce... the death of a loved one, or possibly a messy breakup 

Dark 'n' edgy additions: By the time you get a look at the soldiers under your command, it's too late to save them from being torn apart by gunfire and blown off the screen by heavy explosives. Which is nothing new, but now it's presented in drab gray-and-brown, so, pathos.

Above: The creative geniuses behind the Super Scope 6 and Tetris Attack... just want to numb the pain 

How'd it work? Stripped of its incongruous flamboyance, Days of Ruin pays more attention to a lengthy, varied campaign with plenty of multiplayer options. The subversive fun of having such a jolly old time at war remains – the humor's just a little darker than before.

Bomberman Act: Zero

The series: Direct a shell-suited robot around a series of mazes, gardens and factories, dropping bombs to trap your fellow combatants in an inescapable inferno. Play with friends to induce Cruise-grade levels of couch-jumping hysteria.

Above: Also known as “the game you skipped forward to make sure we'd included” 

The reboot: After 23 years, apparently someone sat down and thought about just what a horrific idea Bomberman was based around. The result was the solitary nightmare Bomberman Act: Zero, which removes local multiplayer and plays the concept of “locked in a room until you've blown everyone else to pieces” disturbingly straight.

Dark 'n' edgy additions: The titular combustion-enthusiasts were resized from cheeky robots to recognizably human beings (actually a return to their original form).

Above: Sometimes “authentic” just means “before it got better” 

The environments got a steel-'n'-neon makeover, turning what was hardly the most visually audacious series into a generic cyberpunk mess best enjoyed in “First-Person Bomber” mode – which was just third-person mode with a health bar.

Above: Actually, if you can see the characters it's... oh, forget it 

How'd it work? Look at that title. It's not “Bomberman: Act Zero,” which wouldn't mean anything but would at least make sense. “Bomberman Act: Zero?” So no Bombermen are acting in this game? Bomberman is acting like a zero? That title is a meaningless attempt at edginess that nobody's even trying very hard at – write your own punchline to that one.

Nov 18, 2010

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  • QWERTYCommander - November 22, 2010 12:25 a.m.

    Waiter, there's too much spam in my comments section.
  • soren7550 - November 21, 2010 1:56 a.m.

    I'm a wee bit surprised that CoD4 and/or CoD:WaW wasn't included.
  • Genericpenisjoketista - November 20, 2010 9:47 p.m.

    ...Guys, uh... Does Devil May Cry ring a bell? This reboot is going to be gritty as shitfuck if we, the fans, can't have it stopped in advance.
  • Romination - November 20, 2010 8:26 a.m.

    The irony is that we ARE playing Zork still. It's in BlOps.
  • nikrusty - November 20, 2010 8:12 a.m.

    Nice...article and yeah Bomberman really looks bad ass, i remember playing with a friend in it's cute form on SNES emu on PC. But dang that ass is just distracting in the pic!
  • Aletheon - November 20, 2010 5:21 a.m.

    @Yeager Agreed. Jak 2 is my favorite of the series. Amazing game.
  • Aletheon - November 20, 2010 5:19 a.m.

    Metal Gear does not belong
  • Yeager1122 - November 20, 2010 3:35 a.m.

    I absolutley love jak 2 still have it and play it from time to time.
  • BrunettePride - November 20, 2010 1:53 a.m.

    Angel of Darkness was AWFUL!! I was so disappointed!! But yeah, great article. :D
  • GamesRadarJuniorWildlifeEditor - November 19, 2010 7:14 p.m.

    Solid article.
  • DreamWeaverPL - November 19, 2010 6:03 p.m.

    You seem to not understand the word "REBOOT". Also, calling Shadow the Hedgehog one of the grittiest... Are you seven-year-old, or what?
  • hester2 - November 19, 2010 5:55 p.m.

    I loved Advance Wars, but the rest of these were pretty disappointing games. Also, Commander Keen!
  • CongratulagentAgentTHEAgentAntista - November 19, 2010 5:52 p.m.

    Congratulagent Agent! You've unlocked black hair and a Limp Bizkit album! Go on and break shit, agent.
  • sleepy92ismypsn - November 19, 2010 5:39 p.m.

    @Mrsuitman I like Sly better than Jak so now that we have The Sly Collection and we know Sly 4 is on the way, I'd like to see a Jak collection and a new Jak game for PS3.
  • zonic505 - November 19, 2010 4:26 p.m.

    Really, no mention of Bionic Commando? & totally agree on Spyro. I remember the PS1 games were happy & colorful, then when it hit next-gen, it suddenly got more serious.
  • Asloveszuko - November 19, 2010 4:19 p.m.

    I would've added the Spyro series, it went from running around colorful worlds flaming up gnorks to an angsty storyline in the trilogy.
  • philipshaw - November 19, 2010 4:06 p.m.

    Great article,I knew Jak 2 would be on here. Beat it again last night and despite it being completely different to the first game, I think it's just as good if not better than the first game
  • Pyrovizard - November 19, 2010 11:52 a.m.

    I don't see why people hate on POP:WW it was an awesome game
  • CitizenWolfie - November 19, 2010 9:41 a.m.

    "2003 – a story of conspiracy, murder and a globe-trotting academic, obsessed with ancient mysteries and wrongly suspected of a grisly Parisian murder, captures the public consciousness. The work in question? Dan Brown's contentious novel, The Da Vinci Code." 1996 - a story of conspiracy, murder and a globe-trotting tourist, obsessed with ancient mysteries and wrongly suspected of a grisly Parisian murder, is loved by a cult audience. The work in question? Charles Cecil's point n click adventure game Broken Sword. Seriously, sometimes the wrong games get overlooked.
  • CH3BURASHKA - November 19, 2010 9:16 a.m.

    Outstanding article, chap! I'm trying to think of some, but none are coming to mind, and those that do are sequels, not reboots.

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