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Remake/Rewind (A Side)

In the broad scope of media, sequels, prequels, and remakes are all often maligned. This might be less common in gaming, although we do see it there as well. Part of the issue could be the time between between releases, and all the changes that take place across the various industries during the interim. Complain though we might, audiences will still (usually) jump on board to at least get one more taste of a favorite media universe, even if they end up deciding they hate it afterwards. Here at Never Say Dice, we’re no different than any other media consumers - we still long to voyage into our favorite media worlds once again. For this post series, we’re going to venture off the beaten review and commentary path to talk about some sequel, prequel and remake ideas of various properties that we'd like to see... regardless of how likely any of them are happen. For this post, we’ll start off with a few games I'd like to see revisited.

One classic video game I 'd like to see remade in the modern era is The Adventures of Bayou Billy, AKA “Bayou Billy” or, in the case of the original Famicom version, Mad City. The hero “Bayou” Billy West (a perfect excuse to cast Billy West in a remake), something of a cross between Crocodile Dundee and Indiana Jones, must save his beloved Annabelle from Godfather Gordon, the Gangster King of Bourbon Street and his "groupies" with names such as Luis Tor-Ture, Toulouse L’attack and Thugs McGraw... I swear I’m not making this up! Just check out the story from the front of the instruction manual:

    A long, black cottonmouth quietly snakes across the porch of your Bayou Bungalow, his moist black shining in the moonlight. But you pay no mind to your visitor. You’re too lost in love after walking your best girl, Annabelle (the sweetest honey this side of a bee’s nest), home from the Jambalaya Jamboree, where you romantically bobbed for crawdads and shared a bowl of fillet gumbo. You’re also satisfied from smashing Gordon’s (the gangster king of Bourbon Street) Red Beans’n Rice Warehouse, the fabled headquarters of a global smuggling network.
    Suddenly, A speeding limo peels across your moss infested lawn. Bullets strafe your gutters, scaring birds from their roosts and driving you to the ground. When the smoke clears, you see a rock beside your head with a note attached. It reads:
    “Dear Mista Bayou Billy, Cause of your meddlin’ in my livelihood, I’ve taken measures to end your hankerin’ for bravery. Your cherished Annabelle is hold up here on my plantation, and lessin’ you stop messin’ with my business she ain’t never gonna grace your neck of the swamp again! Threateningly yours, Gordo.”
    You crumple the note and holler like a riled gator. Fire dances in your eyes, and sweat beads on your hands and forehead. You reach for your foot long blade, knowing what you must do.  

Okay, so maybe the writing and story need some work.Maybe a remake could even lean into the period campiness/cheesiness of it all and go to town. Either way, can we still keep "Threateningly Yours?"  While the story is pretty generic, and the language badly needs updating to be at least... less offensive, the real treat was in the original's gameplay. Bayou Billy on the NES was a beat’em up, a light gun shooter, and a racing game all in one. Really! The game consisted of nine different stages that required switching between skills, although the light gun stages could be played with a regular controller. Five were beat’em up, with the two racing stages and two light-gun battles mixed in.This would have fit in with the Wii's Virtual Console retro library, and, with Konami's recent round of retro collections, might do well on the Switch and other modern systems, even in it's original form. On the whole, though, this game would do well with an update.

Another remake that I’d really like to see is Willow. No, not the classic late '80s sword and sorcery movie starring Warwick Davis and Val Kilmer... I know that has its own follow-up series due on Disney+. I’m talking about The Willow Game:the 1988 board game based on the movie and developed by none other than Greg Costikyan (of Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game and Paranoia fame), put out by major fantasy publisher Tor Books  (Not to be confused with the much simpler, more kid-focused Willow board game put out by Parker Brothers (the '80s were complicated!). Although, I’d also take an update of the Willow video game, too... the Zelda-style action RPG on the NES, anyway, not to be confused with the adventure game released on home computers. (The '80s were... you get the idea.). Unfortunately, I never got a chance to play this when I was younger, and I imagine finding a decent copy now might be cost-prohibitive. With fantasy becoming more and more popular thanks to the recent D&D boom and prestige TV series like Game of Thrones The Witcher, now is a great time for fantasy-based board games, and this one belongs on the shelf just like the board and card game versions of Choose Your Own Adventure and Oregon Trail. We’ve even seen a number of takes on Princess Bride games. And the fact that there's a new series is a good opportunity to update and re-release the original game with its classic RPG pedigree, develop a modern one from the ground up, or both. At the very least, it might be time for Disney and Ravensburger to add Willow characters to existing games - Maybe incorporate Queen Bavmorda into Villainous? Willow just deserves to get a little more love in the gaming world, whatever form it takes.

Is there a good chance these remakes might be utter flops, and tarnish some otherwise cherished memories of times gone past? We’ve definitely plenty of failures when it comes to revisiting media properties... but there have been successes along the way, too.Just because there have been failures doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try, and every failure teaches something that can be done better in the future. Successful ventures might just make up for any perceived loss. Even if we do decide we abhor these new ventures into our media universes, it doesn’t ruin the joy we had consuming them the first time - no matter what internet hyperbole says. And who knows, maybe, once we see those old favorites in a new light, it might helps us see the originals in ways we didn't before.

So give those new media family members a chance, or use your own imagined tie-ins to develop ideas for the stories and games you create. Until next time, get out there and break re-make some dice!

- A

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