In the wake of the news that the Star Wars Expanded Universe has been declared non-canon and due to the fact that many game series are becoming larger and larger, I take a look at the top 5 game canons that could also do with a spring clean.
The main offender from this series is Other M. This game messes up the canon by ruining the feel of Metroid. It replaces the Samus who can take down whole Space Pirate bases by herself, with a whiny, subservient soldier who is obsessed with babies and pleasing her commanding officer Adam. It changes Samus for the worse and betrays what the previous games have been about, replacing the feeling of isolation and dread by filling the game with loads of characters, many of whom you’ve never met before. The fact that her Other M design is now being used in Smash 4 suggests that the game is still regarded as canon. Stop it Nintendo. Remove Other M from the canon and get Retro working on a new Metroid.
4- Sonic the Hedgehog
Sonic, Sonic, Sonic, what shall we do with you? While I did enjoy Sonic Generations quite a bit and hold fond memories of Sonic Adventure 2 (don’t play it now though, it has NOT stood the test of time), Sonic’s attempts at 3D need to be wiped from our collective memories. The 3D Sonics range from 2 pretty good ones to so horrifically awful that you need your brain bleached afterwards. Like many companies I could mention, Sonic Team just need to step back from the franchise and really go back to the drawing board to see what hooked fans in in the first place. It wasn’t a hedgehog making out with a human, that’s for sure. Keep the character count low, stop trying to make deep storylines about time travel and loss and don’t give rodents guns again. Just don’t.
3- The Legend of Zelda
Now, I think it’s time the Zelda series had a good clean up. First thing I’d do is remove Skyward Sword from the canon. For those of you who haven’t played it, the game’s ending sets up a cheap cop-out for why Ganondorf, Link and Zelda always fight each other, which seems like it was made it in the final days of development in order to establish Skyward Sword as the foundation story for the rest of the series. It also makes some weird design decisions, by making the game quite linear and replacing the once grand areas of Wind Waker and Ocarina of Time, with a sparse overworld, with most of the action outside of dungeons focused in Skyloft. Honestly, I think they should wipe the more recent entries in the canon (Twilight Princess onwards) and go back to what made the original Zeldas great, whilst removing some of the less desirable mechanics added in the later games. A Link Between Worlds did some good in trying to return to what made Zelda great, by stripping away some of the more restrictive mechanics, but more needs to be done in order to get the series back to what made it so appealing.
2- Metal Gear Solid
The Metal Gear series is a mess. It provides a great example of what can happen if you don’t plan to make a series a long running one, and instead stumble into it without thinking. I don’t think anyone really knows what is happening with the series. The games themselves are overwritten, trying to be too clever for their own good with the more recent games trying to add way too much detail around the original two Metal Gear games for the MSX2 in order to flesh out Big Boss as a character and story elements like Outer Heaven. There seems to be no real over-arching structure between the earlier games and now, with Kojima making up ideas as he goes along and then trying to shoe horn in characters or plot from previous games to create this big, epic storyline which just comes off as forced. No doubt The Phantom Pain will only complicate the franchise even more, probably adding aliens into the reason why the world’s gone mad, along with nano-machines and nuclear weapons.
1- Banjo Kazooie
Other games on the list may complicate or trouble later installments in their respective series through odd design or story design choices. Nuts and Bolts ruins the Banjo canon by not only mocking the previous games, but getting rid of what made them so popular and replacing it with something worse. The first two games establish the Banjo canon well, setting up a consistent world with characters which grow and a world which evolves as the series goes on. Then, Nuts and Bolts comes along and completely smashes the world to pieces and degrades what the previous games were about. The Lord of Games’ ‘hilarious satire’ of the previous entries in the game’s introduction has a fat Banjo and bodiless Grunty collecting things in a straight line before proclaiming it is ‘too painful’ to watch and that gamers nowadays ‘just want to shoot things’.
This just serves as a giant slap in the face to the designers of the earlier games and fans of the previous games. The game then has the gall to keep many of the collectable elements that it has just derided, whilst getting rid of the incredibly refined platforming which made the originals so fun and engaging, and replacing it with a very basic vehicle building game which repeats the 5 same missions over and over again. It’s fine to try something new and for it to not work as well, but to try something new, fail and mock your more successful games and fans while doing it? That’s just plain dumb. I want Nuts and Bolts to be struck from the record, all evidence of its existence purged from my mind and for Banjo Threeie to be made to restore the Banjo canon to its former glory.