Sunday, April 10, 2011

Retro Remakes

How many of us have longed to see some of the great old games of the past pulled out, dusted off and reborn for the modern age? I'm sure most of us have one or two games (at least) that we would love to see remade with graphics and sound up to today's standards. Well, as you may have noticed recently, there has been progress on that front. (At least in theory.)

Few can argue that the retro-gaming community is getting bigger and bigger with every passing year. More and more companies are offering their games for play on the Wii Virtual Console, Xbox 360 and even the Playstation 3. Part of the reason for this is the ease of distribution and the fact that the games already have a following so, in many cases, it's an easy sell. Couple that with the fact that these games paid for themselves years ago and you come up with a product that is going to hit profit days after launch.

However, for the most part, this retro movement is confined to classic games being reworked to run on newer systems without any changes, additions or improvements. Now, I of all people love keeping things just as they were when they were first released. I like to play the Legend Of Zelda just like it was when I first plugged the cart into my NES. I love the nostalgic feeling I get when I hear the first few notes of that 8-Bit music crank up. The entire game, just as it was when it first came out, is a true classic in every sense of the word and should be preserved exactly as it was originally.

All that having been said, I also feel that for retro games to truly be reborn, new features, play styles and even complete games have to be added to the original. Again, look at the Legend of Zelda. As truly magnificent as the first game was would we have been satisfied with a simple remake for the SNES? Gamers wanted more. They wanted the feel of LOZ, they wanted the world of Hyrule, but they also wanted new challenges and a new storyline. Link to the Past is the perfect example of a classic game being moved into the future just like it should be. (Many would prefer to skip Zelda II and so I will do so for the moment.) It was the perfect second step in what has become a long road of classic games.

I do feel that Nintendo missed an opportunity, however. For a long time I've wanted to play the original LOZ storyline with the bells and whistles from the SNES (or N64, or Wii, take your pick). I love the additions to the series, but the original has only been maintained in it's original form which, even as the masterpiece it is, is somewhat limited. I feel like there is room for maintaining the original format, remaking it to the latest standards and branching off in new directions that maintain the original theme. This is something that is very rarely, if ever, done. I hope that as retro gaming grows this is going to change.

What puts all this in mind? Atari's up and coming Yar's Revenge. It is certainly a re-visualisation of the game and not just a remake of the original. What I am wondering is how true it is going to be to the elegant simplicity of the original title. Is it going to be the arcade wonder that the original was? Is going to breath new life into old lore and lay a new foundation for a series of games? Is it truly going to add anything to the legacy of Yar's Revenge?

I hope to get answers to my questions next week. I plan to do a review of the game shortly after it's release. I am hoping that Atari has put together another classic hit. I want this to succeed, both for the Yar's Revenge legacy and for other titles that may well see remakes if this game is something special. Next week should show us what we need to know.

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