- Gaming Resources
- About Us
“Reboot This!” Is a “whenever he feels like it” column written by our horribly insane Editor in Chief Steve Sawyer. In it he expresses his love for forgotten gems of gaming that would in his mind would be best suited for a modern reboot, and then he attempts to pitch that reboot. While most of us here at GameGavel.com dismiss his opinions as “deterministically deranged” they are at the very least entertaining. It is with that in mind that we are proud to bring you “Reboot This!”
“Set in the year 2030, a group of military renegades known as Metal Command, led by General Gus Grover, are seeking to conquer the world by building an army of cyborg soldiers. Steve Hermann, a young police officer from the Bronx, ends up losing both of his arms during a skirmish with members of Metal Command. After the incident, Hermann is offered two specially developed cybernetic arms developed by the Law and Order Regulatory Division (L.O.R.D.) to replace the ones he lost. Hermann accepts the offer and becomes an agent codenamed Shatterhand, who is now tasked with the mission to defeat Metal Command.” – From Wikipedia
Originally released in 1991, Shatterhand is a game that holds an incredibly special place in my heart despite the fact that it also makes me feel kind of old. That little snippet above you is what is supposedly the plot of the game, but truth be told until I had to dig around for this article I had no clue that the game even had a plot. As a young 8 year old boy, all I knew was that the guy on the cover had metal fists, and was clearly about to punch someone directly in the face with those metal fists. I wanted it immediately. When I managed to get the fresh NES cart unleashed from it’s cardboard prison and insert it into my war-torn NES I was greeted with the greatest theme song in all of video gaming history. What followed was a months long addiction and obsession that drove my mom absolutely nuts. I would talk to her endlessly about the power up combinations, the little robots, the best way of getting coins… etc etc. I also took every opportunity to casually remind my mom that if my hands had to be replaced with metal robot hands for the sake of science, I wouldn’t mind… you know for science. She never saw the logic in it, despite me coming up with a compelling essay entitled: “things that would be cool to do if you had robot hands”. So Shatterhand struck something of a chord with me.
And then the weirdest thing happened. I got old. Yeah I know. I woke up one day, and the fresh faced kid who had slagged through almost every virtual dungeon, and slaughtered their every denizen had grown up into a long haired, bearded grouch filled with disdain and hatred for most things not Twinkies or Gin related. I had become jaded and needed some momentary flash of happiness. It was with this intrepid spirit that I played through Shatterhand again, and I loved every second of it, especially the underwater segments that time had made me forget. But then I thought… why hasn’t this title been rebooted? It’s only one of the coolest side-scrolling, beat-em-up platformers of all time, and it definitely deserves it.
The Case for it.
A Shatterhand reboot should be fairly straightforward, you could run with the original story because at the end of the day it accomplishes the one thing we’re after… giving a guy metal fists to punch people. Obviously a graphical, and physical update would be needed to grab everyone’s attention, and it could be done one of two ways.
They could simply retro-polish the game like the amazing Bionic Commando Rearmed, or the recent Rush N Attack reboot (which I have shockingly not played). Taking cues from those games, they could include updated physics, graphics, and improved boss encouters, but have the game play like a level for level HD remake. This would be a great way to reintroduce the IP, but only if they plan on following it up with a more realized version of the game down the line. Which takes me to….
They could do a complete reboot, set the world in a huge dystopian futurescape where cyborg soldiers patrol the streets and exert totalitarian rule over all those who oppose them. Each level has a linear set of objectives, but is set in an largely open environment. The environment could be constructed with open areas for intense hand to hand combat, and the combat should be just that. Intense. The focus should be on solid hand to hand street brawling that feels so real that I cringe whenever I shatter a cyborg soldiers head with a concussive punch to the face. Arkham Asylum’s hand to hand combat is a good place to start, but wouldn’t be bone crunching enough. The key to the combat would be in the ability to make the player feel the sheer brutality of getting punched by someone with cybernetic arms. Then you have the robots. Imagine that you start with a basic robotic assistant. At first he’s just a little floating robot orb that I will refer to as “bit” because that just sounds right. His job is to be the threat gauge (more on that) and in the early chunks of the game, he’s the tutorial dispenser of choice. While you’re running about the city you come across these tech stashes littered around the environment, remnants of earlier Metal Command experiments into cybernetics. When your character encounters a tech stash (something tells me it should be something you have to punch.) you will be able to break into them and retrieve build nodes for yourself, and parts for your bit. The nodes would unlock further cybernetic enhancements to yourself, and the parts would let you build your bit into the ultimate robot companion. The coolest thing would be to have a wide array of upgrades, and parts available for the player, and bit to let players truly customize their abilities to suit their individual play style. Some quick ideas for the robotic bit… a part that shoots an EMP into the ground stunning the soldiers so you can punch them into tiny pieces, or a part that adds missile capabilities to your bit, allowing it to soften up heavily armored units for your punching. And as far as character upgrades are concerned, the sky’s the limit really, but a novel idea would be to break up the upgrade paths on his arm into the muscle sections. You would have bicep, forearm, and fist. Bicep would regulate strength, forearm speed, and fists direct attacks. And then let players augment the rest of his body in a more limited fashion.
Now remember how earlier I mentioned the patrolling soldiers? Imagine that these guys have everything at their disposal… tanks, jeeps, helicopters, you name it. When the game first starts your bit is able to assess groups of enemies. Depending on the size and equipment that the enemy is carrying your bit will calculate the probability that you will survive the encounter. Think the first Crackdown, and you’re on the right track. As time goes on, and you and your bit upgrade and discover new stashes of tech, you increase your chances of survival enabling you to go back and take on enemies and challenges that you may not have been able to earlier ala Metroid, or the more recent Darksiders. Finally taking further cues from Crackdown, make it so that there is a chain of command that must be dealt with before you can finally take on the boss of Metal Command and you have the foundations for one amazing reboot.
So what is the gaming industry waiting for? REBOOT THIS!
“Reboot This!” is written and edited by Steve Tom Sawyer
You must be logged in to post a comment.