Videogame companies enjoy rehashing old ideas; it saves time, effort and – most importantly - money.
This is why we’ve started seeing two Call of Duty games each year, and way Microsoft refuse to allow the Halo series to have a dignified death. Gamers are to blame for this, too – ‘more of the same’ is pretty popular when it comes gaming (especially now that individual games only take around two hours to complete anyway).
But! There is an even cheaper way to make games, a way that involves even fewer ideas and less effort.
Simply re-release your shitty old games on Xbox Live Arcade or Steam, and sell them using the power of nostalgia! This is not a new concept, but it certainly seems to be accelerating a bit – SEGA seem to be happily releasing old Megadrive¹ and Dreamcast² games, id software are re-releasing Wolfenstein 3D³, Doom etc.
I remember playing these games when they originally came out, and really enjoying them. I’m exactly the sort of person these re-releases are marketed at – and I’m exactly the sort of person who is spending money on them (even though I’ve still got a Megadrive in a drawer somewhere), which is the real problem. Because that means I’m playing these games again.
And they’re just shit.
I don’t mean ‘the graphics are shit’ (although they really, really, are – especially on a modern HD TV). I mean the games themselves are crap.
I know that 16-bit consoles only had 3 or 4 buttons to play with – but that still doesn’t explain games that only require me to use one of them, over and fucking over (yes Sonic, I’m talking to you).
I appreciate that games like Manic Miner made us all a bit fucking fed up of jumping, which might explain why it’s impossible to do so in the first wave of ’3D’ games – but play them now and it feels a bit too much like a wheelchair simulator. With shotguns.
And even though I grew up during this period, playing games throughout, I’m not quite able to pinpoint the exact moment when ‘collision detection’ started to become an important part of games design rather than a curious afterthought added in by particularly dedicated programmers – but I do know now that it was ‘at some point after 1993′.
All of this – and more – should really stop me playing – or better yet buying - these re-released games.
But has it?
Has it fuck.
I’m a prisoner of my own nostalgia. Every single time one of these comes out, I think “oh, that was brilliant when I was 11″, and then I download it and starting hating myself and the entire videogame industry for the shallow tapestry of LIES that it has made of my childhood. For shining a light onto the supreme and obvious lack of discrimination I possessed as a child. For making me think that this.. tat was an enjoyable way to spend all of my free time.
What the fuck was I thinking?
Modern videogames may be shallow, repetitive and short – but please believe me when I tell you that they’re a million times better than most of the shit I grew up playing.
… you can never go back.
¹For Americans : Genesis. For kids : SEGA used to make consoles. They were more successful than Nintendo. Oh, and Nintendo were more successful than Sony. Stop laughing.
²Yes, it did actually exist as a real, three-dimensional console.
³A game so old that ’3D’ was one of its major selling points…