10 Video Game Franchises That Drastically Reinvented Themselves

A question for the ages: 2D Mario, or 3D Mario?

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In most cases, reinvention is the key to prolonged commercial success, and the vast majority of franchises reimagine themselves constantly in order to maintain a sense of relevance.

In some cases, a game will reinvent itself so considerably that it becomes virtually unrecognisable, changing everything about the original experience, from gameplay to narrative conventions, thereby evolving to meet the demands of an ever expanding audience.

Sometimes, these reinventions are successful, breathing new life into an otherwise ailing franchise, adapting the formula into something completely dissimilar, as well as utterly remarkable. In other cases, the change in direction can prove disastrous, actively ruining iconic franchises, and tarnishing their reputations in the process. Either way, an attempt at reinvention should always be applauded – especially when you consider how stagnant some franchises have become – and while the results may vary significantly, the intentions are usually admirable.

With that being said, here are ten franchises that drastically reinvented themselves, transforming into something completely fresh and original, and risking everything in the process…

10. Fallout

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Prior to 2003, Fallout 3 had gone into development numerous times, eventually finding itself cancelled, the original developers – Black Isles Studios – unable to complete the project due to financial difficulties. Thankfully, Bethesda Softworks acquired the rights to the franchise, and were able release the game after an entire decade of development limbo, the game itself praised considerably for its scope and design, as well as its story.

To date, the game has been awarded numerous Game of the Year awards, and is often cited as one of the finest games of the previous generation. With that being said, Fallout 3 was undoubtedly a departure for the series.

For one thing, the game was no longer turn-based, the perspective also shifting from top-down to a more conventional first-person viewpoint, creating a vastly dissimilar experience from Fallout and Fallout 2.

Did It Work?

While critics and various newcomers approved of these changes – the game often now credited with revitalising the franchise – many fans preferred the style of the originals, and were disappointed with the change in direction.

Regardless, Bethesda were able to successfully reinvent the franchise for a whole new generation of players, maintaining the series’ sense of humour and narrative style whilst reimagining its core gameplay mechanics.


Formerly an assistant editor, Richard's interests include detective fiction and Japanese horror movies.