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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  • tareq - November 18, 2010 8:25 p.m.

    This is great!
  • gamingfreak - November 18, 2010 8:42 p.m.

    Good list, but some of these aren't reboots.
  • Tenfey - November 18, 2010 8:57 p.m.

    So when do we get a edgier GamesRadar?
  • shadowreaper72 - November 18, 2010 9:24 p.m.

    I like it when some games go for the darker side of things but it aint for all games. Some games are just meant to be bright like sonic or bomber man and games like pop and advance wars were supposed to be dark all along. P.S I really loved POP Warrior Withins music
  • haipayazoo - November 18, 2010 9:27 p.m.

    Dear Tom Goulter, You have completely forgotten (or never heard/played) Conker's Pocket Tales to Conker's Bad Fur Day.
  • Alakasam342 - November 18, 2010 9:36 p.m.

    kiss me baby one more time oops I did it again I played with your heart I'm glad Beethoven composed this song and Toxic
  • MrSuitMan - November 18, 2010 9:55 p.m.

    Jak II = one of my favorite games of all time. C'MON NAUGHTY DOG! JAK AND DAXTER PS3 ALREADY !!!
  • pizzasmellslikechrisantista - November 18, 2010 10:10 p.m.

    Fire emblem: shadow dragon. All the gameboy fire emblems were colorfull and charming, shadow dragon was the ugliest, greyest game I've ever had the misfortune of playing.
  • batmanboy11 - November 18, 2010 10:14 p.m.

    Good list.
  • EnragedTortoise1 - November 18, 2010 10:36 p.m.

    I see that Scott Pilgrim reference. :D Also, wasn't this an earlier list or something? This concept sounds familiar..
  • Imgema - November 18, 2010 10:38 p.m.

    Zelda - Majora's Mask
  • NightCrawler_358 - November 18, 2010 10:52 p.m.

    Great article, but maybe it should be grittiest sequels/reboots. Also I agree with Majora's Mask. May i suggest Driv3r? Star Wars Republic Commando? eh? ehhhh?
  • BishopofHippo93 - November 18, 2010 11:11 p.m.

    I'm not sure I quite agree with Metal Gear. I don't really think of it as a reboot, but, as you said, as a realization of Kojima's original dream. I didn't know about Duke Nukem, though. I guess the other games don't really get a whole lot of time in the spotlight. Also, I agree wholeheartedly about Advance Wars. I miss the brightly colored tanks and soldiers!
  • Fuzunga - November 19, 2010 12:35 a.m.

    Wait a minute... bomberman is a robot!? MY CHILDHOOD!!!!!
  • Link555 - November 19, 2010 1:07 a.m.

    They did that to Bomberman, worst reboot ever in a games series.
  • FanofSaiyan - November 19, 2010 1:07 a.m.

    Hoorah! Another tip of the hat to Jak & Daxter! I was expecting Ratchet: Deadlocked to be on the list... guess not.
  • Tomgoulter - November 19, 2010 1:15 a.m.

    @haipayazoo: On the contrary, my dear fellow. I wrestled long and hard with the decision as to whether or not to include Conker's Bad Fur Day, deciding eventually that as Pocket Tales nowadays exists solely in the context of "remember that piece of crap that happened before Bad Fur Day?," that the list could do without that one debatable entry. However, thanks for the mention.
  • Spybreak8 - November 19, 2010 2:35 a.m.

    With the voice of George Foreman ->by golly I think it's got it!
  • FauxFurry - November 19, 2010 3:59 a.m.

    How could you guys overlook Rygar: the Legendary Adventure? Oh,you didn't mean Gritty as in Grainy? Never mind,then. Ninja Gaiden was the more gritty Tecmo reboot,anyway. As for that comment under that last Metal Gear Solid picture,most of the enduring works of art out there are little more than naked muscle-bound men with the names of religious figures attached to them to give them an added air of legitimacy,so if Johnny was revealed to be named after John the Baptist or say,Stubbs from Grand Theft Auto was said to be an incarnation of Eros,then games could be said to be art without question!
  • jmcgrotty - November 19, 2010 8:12 a.m.

    Decent enough list for what it was, but I also can't get past the fact that sequels don't mean "reboots". While I won't go back and look at every entry again, off the top of my head, none of these were "reboots". Yeah, I know that is petty of me.

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