Did your team win the Super Bowl? Do you care? :P
Anyway, it’s another week and another discussion. This time, I was pleased to have Vexed_Alex, Gandysampras, Mxyzptlk, and Silverdragon1979 on board to talk about the recent influx of retro games, which I like to call the “Retro Renaissance”. The question I posed to them is below. Read on to find out their responses!
The Retro Renaissance: If you are a retro gamer, this past year has been great for you. There have been many great retro games that have come out on XBL, as well as games that were made specifically with the retro gamer in mind, like Mega Man 9. But one thing that concerns me is the fact that it almost seems like creativity in the gaming industry has somewhat stalled. Many of the most anxiously awaited titles are just sequels or prequels of existing games....A main reason for buying a PSP is the chance to run emulators on it....Possible new IP's on the Wii are hinted at, but then never heard of again.
Being a retro gamer myself, I love the chance to play all these old games, but I wonder where are the great new ideas? Do they exist, but just the excitement for these retro games overshadowing them so they seem to be overlooked? Am I just making stuff up? Do you like pie?
I've loved the recent "Retro renaissance" what with Megaman 9 and a bunch of others all hitting the Xbox Marketplace / PSN. It's always great to feel that nostalgia factor once again and be reminded of the games I played as a kid (Even when they are as soul rapingly difficult as MM9 was). There is definitely a place in my heart for retro gaming but I wouldn't want my entire gaming choice to suddenly become 2D and pixelated. There needs to be a healthy balance between classic gaming and current-gen, otherwise the warm fuzzy feeling we get when playing all our old games / games inspired by them will disappear and they won't be so special any more.
The real problem at the moment seems to be sequelitis in videogames, with few original IP's managing to get their head above water long enough to be noticed. Although EA, easily one of the worst offenders in the past has been making progress in that area recently. I don't think it's the retro-styled titles or remakes that are causing a glut
in the market, it is the sheer profitability of bashing out a sequel to an already existing game with little to no changes.
I'm probably the youngest person in this panel (correct me if I'm wrong), and I pretty much perpetuate the stereotype that us "young-ins don't know shit." This "retro renaissance" allowed me to play a lot of those early games that I was too young and dumb to purchase.
While I can't say I've enjoyed all of those games, I appreciate their early innovations and brilliant design (for its time). I also really appreciate how simple some of these games are, which is perfect for the Live environment. I can turn on my XBOX, load up Street Fighter HD II, do a fight or two, and be on my way. It's just nice to take a second look at older gameplay and marvel at how amazingly well a lot of it has aged.
Now, as far as games these days lacking creativity and innovation, I'd like to respectfully disagree. Sure, we haven't created many new video game genres (or sub-genres), but I think this year's generation has done a great job making new and exciting changes to games we love when it comes to controls, and just general gameplay. Just look at a few sports games like Fight Night Round 3 and Skate. Who would have ever thought they'd find any real significant changes in the way we play those types of games? The fact is, we have and their analog stick gameplay are one the of the most immersive control schemes I've ever used.
I have to agree with both of you on how great the recent "Retro Renaissance" is. I honestly think it's one of the best things to have happened to the game industry in a long time. Not only do us older gamers get to go back and enjoy the games we remember and loved from our childhood in a whole new way, the new younger generation, like Alex, get to experience them for the first time as well. It's an incredible time to be a gamer, and I hope it continues.
Onto the subject of lack of recent creativity. I love a new IP as much as the next gamer, but I constantly have to remind myself that gaming is an industry now. It's not 15 people working out of a garage making a game anymore for pocket change. It's hundreds of people, spending tens of millions of dollars in the hope of creating a game that can bank a profit. There unfortunately is no leeway anymore to take chances, because if you do take a chance and you fail, you'll be out of a job and on the street. You really can't blame these companies for wanting to play it safe and create sequel after sequel on a product they know will sell. I hate to say that, but it's the truth.
Familiarity sells. With game development costs rising and publishers having to fight each other for space on the shelves, sticking with an existing IP is usually a safe bet. That being said, there's still plenty of new franchises being released all the time (Prototype, Alan Wake, Infamous, and Mad World are just a few upcoming games I'm personally anticipating). Sequels give publishers a safety net so they're able to experiment and take risks on original IPs.
Braid, Castle Crashers, and Geometry Wars are perfect examples of games with an old school retro feel that still manage to modernize themselves in various ways. Titles like Lost Winds combine classic design with interesting new mechanics. And games like Super Street Fighter 2 HD Remix, Pac-Man: Championship Edition or Bionic Commando Rearmed use the originals as templates and vastly improve upon them.
I'll have some Key Lime pie myself.
Oh God...Oh God...Please bring back this game.
So maybe I'm being a tad too harsh with the "lack of creativity" of the modern games...its true that there have been a couple of gems scattered here and again. And I agree with what most of you say...the cost of producing new material is just so expensive that the video game business would rather play it safe and release a sequel they know will sell, and take a chance on a possible bomb. I believe that the reason that we are seeing the retro style games coming out now, is that much of our generation that grew up playing these games are now starting to have disposable income...and the game studios know it. (Damn you Virtual Console and Digital Distribution!!! You make me poor.)
Anyway, here's a fun question that we always hear on RFGO!....say you are a game studio. Not worrying about licenses and stuff like that, what "retro renaissance" style game would you most likely want to see personally, and second, which one do you think would get you the most money?
I really don't know what I'd like to see be remade, or what older style if play I'd like to see revived. Like I said above, I'm the youngest guy here, so I mostly use the retro renaissance for education. People say "remake" and I just flock to it for historical purposes, though I sometimes unfairly judge them with today's video game standards sometimes.
I guess I'd love to see Road Rash be revived. Imagine a 9 year old me playing this game in my room while someone blasted NWA's "Fuck Tha Police" from their garage with the door open. I would knock cops off their bikes with chains while vulgar anti-cop gangster rap rattled my walls in the background. It was a winning combination.
As far as what I think would make more money, I'm pretty sure anything involving Mario or Final Fantasy will rake in the cash. They're still selling tons of New Super Mario Bros. copies as we ramble on. I do think a port of the Pacman remake would do well, and I'd actually love that. The Pacman remake on XBOX Live Arcade was rad.
Alex, you are not the only person who I have heard lately mention that they would like to see the Road Rash series reborn. If that is going to become a reality I think you need the guys down at Criterion Games, who created the adrenaline filled Burnout series, to bring the game to life. If that happened, I would be all over that game.
Me personally, there are two "retro renaissance" style games I would like to see reborn. The first is the Desert Strike / Jungle Strike helicopter series which came out back in the 90's for the Genesis and SNES. These games were incredibly fun and challenging and I think they would still be great today, even if they were simply re-released with better graphics, like Bionic Commando: Rearmed. The second style of game I would like to see reborn is the space fighter simulator. Back in their day, games like Wing Commander, Descent: Freespace, and XWING were some of the best PC games available, and people would spend hundreds of dollars on flight sticks just to be able to play them. Unfortunately the last decade has seen this genre of games completely disappear into oblivion. I would give absolutely anything to see this genre get a new lease on life.
Now if I was a developer and I wanted to simply make money, I would bring back the Contra series. I would keep the gameplay 2D and simple, and have online 2-4 player co-op, and I would sell millions. I'm telling you now, someone needs to remake Contra and RAKE IN THE MONEY!
Contra with 2-4 online co-op? I'm sold!
BurgerTime. Someone needs to bring BurgerTime back damn it. And Chase H.Q. And Q*Bert.
Actually, I can think of quite a few classic titles that have been resurrected over the years only to disappoint. I'm looking at you Golden Axe and Spy Hunter. Sometimes it's better to for these to stay nothing more than fond memories. Of course, titles like Bionic Commando: Rearmed and Pacman: Championship Edition are great examples of doing it right. Those are the exceptions rather than the rule however.
Hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s discussion! As always, let me know if you’d like to be on a future panel!