You know what really grinds my gears? When a new entry in some serialized form of media comes out, only to use the same title as its first entry with no or negligible changes. It causes confusion whenever you're trying to talk about one or the other, and it also betrays the lack of creativity our media producers have suffered in recent years. But some cases stand out more than others, for better or worse... okay, just worse. Sometimes reusing a name for something doesn't make sense in the context of itself and/or the rest of its series. Sometimes there's another, more obvious title which for whatever reason got passed up. And some aren't technically the same title, but are called it anyway by the general public. In my strike against the system, I'm using those criteria to form the following top-ten list of the dumbest uses of recycled titles.
What is it: A 1984 arcade video game.
Not to be confused with: Punch-Out!!, a 2009 video game for the Wii.
Why it's stupid: Another entry in this series, the 1987 NES game Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! (a.k.a. Punch-Out!! featuring Mr. Dream) is also commonly referred to as "Punch-Out!!". It is also one of the most well-known games in the series, arguably more so than the arcade original, and the new one on the Wii. I don't really have any other excuses, so Punch-Out!! opens this list by virtue (vice?) of having not two, but three entries competing for the same name.
What they should've called it: Punch-Out: WVBA, after the fictional World Video Boxing Association featured in the games. ...I admit I don't have much to work with here.
What is it: A 1991 album by the British pop singer of the same name.
Not to be confused with: The second and fourth albums by the same person, from 1994 and 2003 respectively.
Why it's stupid: The first two Seal albums were the artist's most successful, both topping the UK's album charts. They also gave him his biggest hits on both sides of the Atlantic, "Crazy" from the first album and "Kiss From a Rose" from the second. So we have his only two albums that some of would care about, and they're named the same. You see the root of the confusion here, don't you? And if that weren't enough, he made a fourth album in 2003, also called Seal. Except this time, it actually did get a number on the end, namely Seal IV, although this only happened in Australia. So why didn't the rest of the world get this title, and for that matter why didn't the second album get the same treatment? (Just so you can plan ahead, this will be a common complaint throughout this list.)
What they should've called it: Seal II and Seal IV.
8) The Fast and the Furious
What is it: A 2001 film starring Paul Walker and Vin Diesel.
Not to be confused with: Fast & Furious, a 2009 film also starring Walker and Diesel, and the fourth entry in the same series.
Why it's stupid: The Fast & Furious series just couldn't get the hang of sequel titling when it started out. First there was 2003's 2 Fast 2 Furious, which was ridiculous, and then 2006's The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, which ditched the numbering thing altogether. Which leads us to the fourth movie. I haven't seen it, but from what I understand, it's not a remake of the first film. So what's the point? Perhaps we should be lucky that they didn't use the number 4 as a letter, as in the hypothetical "F4st & Furious", but that argument doesn't hold much weight because we can always imagine things to be worse than they are. For example, the North Korean government is deplorable, but if you told me to be thankful they don't sic velociraptors on dissident citizens, I wouldn't feel much better about it. Thankfully the series switched to straight-up numbering from then on (Fast Five, Fast & Furious 6, Furious 7).
What they should've called it: Fast & Furious 4
7) Ratchet & Clank
What is it: A 2002 video game for the PlayStation 2.
Not to be confused with: Ratchet & Clank, an upcoming PlayStation 4 game scheduled for release in 2016.
Why it's stupid: The upcoming Ratchet & Clank game is a tie-in with the Ratchet & Clank movie, also set for 2016, and both are partial re-imaginings of the first game. So if it's a reboot, fine. But why am I disappointed? One of the game's trailers posted on YouTube included the following description in the title: "The game based on the movie based on the game". When I watched it for the first time, I thought that was actually part of the title, but that seems not to be the case, which is a shamefully missed opportunity. A ramblingly long title like that would fall right in line with the series' penchant for humourous subtitles (i.e. "Going Commando", "Up Your Arsenal", "Full Frontal Assault"). Or was it not enough of an innuendo for Insomniac Games to have seriously considered it?
What they should've called it: Ratchet & Clank: The Game Based on the Movie Based on the Game
6) Metal Gear Solid
What it is: A 1998 video game for the PSone.
Not to be confused with: Metal Gear Solid, a 2000 video game for the Game Boy Color.
Why it's stupid: Think about why the original Metal Gear Solid was named the way it was. The word "solid", apart from referring to main character Solid Snake, referred to it being the first Metal Gear game presented in 3D graphics. This is obviously not the case for the GBC version. Furthermore, the Game Boy version was released as Metal Gear: Ghost Babel in Japan. Its subtitle "Ghost Babel" even shares its initials with the Game Boy itself, a practice which would see relatively wide use once the Nintendo DS rolled onto the scene. So you could say this game was ahead of its time, not that you'd know from the American release alone. Again, why wasn't that title good enough for the rest of the world?
What they should've called it: Metal Gear: Ghost Babel
5) The Karate Kid
What is it: A 1984 film starring Ralph Macchio and Noriyuki "Pat" Morita.
Not to be confused with: The Karate Kid, a 2010 film starring Jayden Smith and Jackie Chan.
Why it's stupid: The new The Karate Kid film (Also not to be confused with The Next Karate Kid, a 1994 film starring Hilary Swank alongside Morita) takes place in China, with Jayden Smith's character training for a kung-fu tournament. As in, not karate. Of course it would make sense to focus your movie around a local martial art if you're filming in China, but why leave the obsolete title intact? Sure, there's this one guy who nicknames the main character as "The Karate Kid", but that's pretty flimsy justification in my book. It turns out, we have to blame for this a mister Jerry Weintraub, producer of both this and the original Karate Kid movies, who vetoed Sony Pictures' attempts to rename it.1 Fortunately, China did not have the same problem, as the movie was titled "Kung Fu Dream" in that market. Again, why wasn't that good enough for the rest of the world?
What they should've called it: The Kung Fu Kid
4) Dance Dance Revolution
What is it: A 1998 arcade video game.
Not to be confused with: DanceDanceRevolution, a 2010 video game for the Wii, PlayStation 3, and XBox 360, and DanceDanceRevolution, yet another arcade game from 2013.
Why it's stupid: Dance Dance Revolution may potentially hold the record for number of works sharing the same title. If you want to get technical, as indeed I have, it may also refer to the 1999 arcade version for Asia and North America (based on 2ndMIX) and the 2001 PSone version for North America (based on 3rdMIX). I'm a bit more forgiving about the new arcade version doing this, though; instead of rolling out brand-new products for each wave of content they deem fit to make, Konami is content with releasing new songs for the game via online updates. They've also location-tested a version of the game for North America, also titled DanceDanceRevolution and ARGH!
What they should've called it: Dance Dance Revolution New Moves (2010 PS3/360), Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Party 4 (2010 Wii).
What is it: A 2001 video game console.
Not to be confused with: The XBox One, a 2013 video game console, and the XBox's second successor.
Why it's stupid: After Microsoft launched the XBox 360 in 2005, people started using the term "XBox one" to refer to the first member of the XBox family, similar to how the PlayStation got rebranded as the PSone later in its life. So now that the third XBox is out and Microsoft decided to call it the XBox One, what are we going to call the first one now? And you think (as, indeed, I would've hoped) that this confusion would have led to a drop in sales, as in Nintendo's Wii U (sadly), but this seems not to be the case. Even I'm considering picking up a One, against my better judgement, now that Microsoft have finally laid out a backwards compatibility plan. ...The name still sucks.
What they should've called it: XBox 3. Again, not much to work with here.
2) Need for Speed
What is it: Need For Speed III: Hot Pursuit, a 1998 video game.
Not to be confused with: Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit II, a 2002 video game, or Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit, a 2010 video game.
Why it's stupid: There are other instances of recycled titles within EA's flagship racing game franchise (they've used the name Need For Speed: Most Wanted for two different games in 2005 and 2012), but the Hot Pursuit miniseries takes the dubious prize on this occasion. Why? This subtitle was dragged out for three different games. The third one, 2010's Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit, is the closest thing to an actual recycled title, since it lacks any numbers or other embellishments. But perhaps the most confusing thing about it is that while these three games do feature different numbers, they count down instead of up. Perhaps we can look forward to a Hot Pursuit Zero in the future, I said sarcastically.
What they should've called it: Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit III, which is not to be confused with the original Need For Speed III: Hot Pursuit and AAAARGH!!
1) Sonic the Hedgehog
What is it: A 1991 video game originally released for the Sega Genesis.
Not to be confused with: SONIC THE HEDGEHOG, a 2006 video game for the XBox 360 and PlayStation 3.
Why it's stupid: The newer SONIC THE HEDGEHOG (there's a reason I'm writing it in all caps) is a bad game, I think we can all agree on that. It's loaded with problems which have gone unsolved since Sonic Adventure whilst piling on additional problems of its own. But perhaps the most insulting of those problems is that the gave it the same title as the first game, and one of the good ones, at that. What was the point of doing that? If Sonic Team meant for this game to be a reboot, to bring the game back to its roots, it failed on that account. It looks, feels, and plays like an HD rerelease of Sonic Adventure that got beaten to within an inch of its life. Why not just call it Sonic Adventure 3, as indeed I did before? And what does this mean for the original Sonic game? I suppose we could call it Sonic the Hedgehog Genesis, after the game it made its first appearance on, but there are two problems with that. First, it got ported to many other platforms since then, including consoles which hosted SONIC THE HEDGEHOG. And second, we already have a game, an execrable remake of the first one, called Sonic the Hedgehog Genesis. ...AAAAAARGH!!!
What they should've called it: Sonic Adventure 3. Or better yet, they should never have released it in the first place.
In conclusion, 2006 was a bad, bad year for Sonic fans. Oh, and can title recycling go the way of the dodo already?
1Horn, John. "'Karate Kid' update breaks down some Chinese walls." Los Angeles Times. May 30, 2012. http://articles.latimes.com/2010/may/30/entertainment/la-ca-karatekid-20100530. Retrieved on August 27, 2012.