Wednesday, October 29, 2008

News for 10/29/08: Remakes and The Game Library

This week, we eschew the storm of new releases and talk about the recent trend of game re-makes. Now that the industry has been around for a few decades, it seems likely that remakes will become increasingly common. This raises a number of creative and economic issues, so feel free to weigh in with your thoughts the matter, as well as which games you would like to see remade.

Jorge: You do realize we could be playing Fable II and Little Big Planet as we type this.

Scott: Dear readers, you are witnessing true heroism; superhuman dedication.

Scott: Alright. Seems like this week's news is a bit less controversial than last week's.
We'll have to talk about something we read a while ago.

Scott: Let's take a break from all the current games and talk about old ones.
They're remaking Klonoa, for example. I never played it so what are your thoughts?

Jorge: Woohoo!

Scott: Guess that answered that.

Jorge: I seriously love Klonoa. I must have played that game ten times at least.

Scott: So would you buy it again for Wii?

Jorge: Yes, absolutely. Hell, I'll buy it again for PS2 if I ever see a copy.
Before this article came out, I had completely forgotten about Klonoa. It brought back a flood of happy memories.
Now that this franchise is enlivened, all I need is another Legacy of Kain.

Scott: I was going to ask why games should be remade, and your statement about Klonoa makes me think nostalgia is a good reason.

Jorge: People usually feel nostalgic for good games anyway. For those who have never played said game, this could be a good opportunity to get it out there.
Chrono Trigger got a re-release on the DS.

Scott: Which is also awesome. Probably my favorite RPG ever.

Scott: How about the dark side of remakes? Are there any drawbacks, or awful examples you can think of?

Jorge: Well for one, it's kind of lazy on their part. There aren't huge overhauls for some of these games, even graphically.
Also, do we really want to focus too much on older titles?

Scott: That's my fear when Squeenix does something like remake all the Final Fantasy games for DS.
I'd rather have new games of that caliber rather than re-live old ones I already played.

Jorge: Regardless of how you feel about Mega Man 9, we don't really need it. There are countless emulators online if you needed to play a game so hard you develop Tourette's.

Scott: But Mega Man 9 isn't a remake: there is brand new content.

Jorge: Right, but the core mechanics and visuals are exactly the same. Don't we want innovation? I'm not against remaking a classic game or making a game in the same style, but there has got to be a limit. I've played so many great games in the past, but I don't want to see a remake of every single one. There are plenty of new stories to be told as well.
Even Klonoa, I would prefer ten-fold to play a completely new Klonoa, not just a polished version of the one I have in a cardboard box back at home.

Scott: That's a good point, but Mega Man 9 is for folks that love the core mechanics of Mega Man and want to apply them in new situations.
That being said, I agree that we don't want to just make old games into cash cows.

Scott: Your point about remakes being valuable for those who missed the original release brings me back to my last post: Doesn't remaking classic games add to gamers' shared cultural experiences?
There are kids playing games today that weren't even born when Chrono Trigger was released.

Jorge: That's true. It's kind of like encouraging kids who are avid readers to pick up Of Mice and Men... or another, better, analogy...

Jorge: Playing through older titles will better arm them when going into current games. How many times have we heard reviewers cite much older releases when discussing the latest JRPG?
That's where literature has an advantage over videogames as a medium. It is so much easier to go back and experience older works.

Scott: Maybe this is an argument for the widespread availability of used games then?

Jorge: Even if I can get my hands on a copy of the original Lunar or some other really old title, I'll still need a functioning console to play it on and a gamer who hasn't grown to comfortable with the flashy visuals of games today.

Scott: So maybe what we're actually talking about is a kind of public domain for video games.
That way, publishers can't continue to milk games and people who can deal with old-school graphics and gameplay have the titles readily available.

Jorge: A virtual library of games to play over the Internet could be great for the industry. If there is a demand for a title reworked on a new engine it can still be done, and the more obscure titles that would never get a re-release, particular foreign games, could be accessible.

Scott: And if people wanted an updated version, a developer could make it and give the people the option of paying for it.

Scott: I think this is the most radical, Utopian, far flung idea we've ever proposed.

Jorge: "And games were played, it was good."

Jorge: If it's not troublesome, I'm fine with all good titles getting a remake. Or at last encouraging backwards compatibility.
But the public library of gaming, I like that better. It has a nice ring to it.

Scott: I like that idea too. If only we had the theoretical time to devote to this theoretical concept.

Jorge: Amen... So you want to go play some Little Big Planet?

Scott: I think you know the answer to that question.


  1. The discussion of game remakes could go in a few directions and the more I think of it, the more directions I think about. Guess it's more of a roundabout than an intersection of topics, then.

    On a personal level, I'm really interested in playing Chrono Trigger DS because, while I was alive back when it released, I was a child and didn't know of or about the game back then. The internet obviously didn't exist and yeah, the lack of knowledge of the game meant I missed out on it and many other SNES classics. I've had a similar interest in Square-Enix's remakes of the older Final Fantasy titles as well, but like with those I fear that with Chrono Trigger DS I will maintain an interest in it but never actually get around to buying or playing it. Truth be told, I haven't bought a DS game since the 5 I bought with the handheld a few years ago and while I have still kept up with what is being released on it, what I want and what I don't, I haven't actually purchased nor played these titles because I am always too busy focusing on the consoles. Perhaps I'm just a greedy bastard who wants to play too much, but it is actually something I am ashamed of and almost didn't admit here.

    Anyway to stop boring you people, Chrono Trigger DS and other games remade in similar style is good because it allows me to play some games I missed out on in my childhood. A remake like Resident Evil REmake on the GCN is also welcome if it means revitalising the original game with current generation technology or whatever but at the same time only certain titles should be remade like this. Choosing those titles though, well who am I to decide that?

    Last but not least, games I'd like to see remade are well, none comes to mind. I would much prefer to have a few of my old favourite franchises see new installments actually and the one franchise that comes to mind instantly when I think of this, is the Donkey Kong Country series. I have wanted DKC 4 ever since I finished DKC 3 and well, I have finished each DKC game well over 50 times. Fanboy much? Other titles that come to mind are Blast Corps, Jet Force Gemini (Rare theme...), Beyond Good and Evil (thank you Ubisoft!) and another 2D Metroid.

    Alright enough 5:33am rambling from me...

  2. Hey guys, got two quick comments on this before I get drunk at a Halloween Party!

    @Old games being remade
    Jorge, I am sorry but I can not disagree more!! Mega-Man 9 was EXACTLY what I wanted and I would not change a thing that they did (well except maybe the DLC "Fake Man" which is the worst name for a boss ever). The game was great then and it is great now. However, that being said I cant tell you how much I loved the new Bionic Commando and even more then that the Pac-Man Millennium Edition. Pac-Man especially was an amazing remake of an old game. So I feel there is room for both.

    @Free playing old games and being able to pay for updated versions.

    I am not too sure about this concept. i would have whole heartedly agreed with you before until gametap offered the original fall-out for free (still available by the way). I never played any fall out games so in prep for Fallout 3 I wanted to try this. Fall out SUCKS!!! Sorry if that upset anybody but it really does. Maybe I just don't get it but.... well i really don't get it. This really makes me want to leave some games resting in peace, know what I mean?

    Gotta run but just wanted to drop that for you.

  3. @nismo

    I have an obligation to play Chrono Trigger on the DS as well. I played only a piece of it many years ago and I can't consider myself a fan of the RPG if I miss this opportunity. I like the DS ports in particular because I can play them on the Subway, where I wouldn't have access to consoles anyway.


    I do think there is room for remakes, but I've got to call foul at some point. Would you really want to pay the same amount for a Mega Man 10, 11, 12 if you could have access to the old titles, that are essentially the same, for free?

  4. @nismo,

    Isn't it sad how Rare has lost all relevance? I think there was a lot of turnover when they went over to Microsoft, but even still, I'm not sure why their recent games have lost the spark.


    Hey careful with that match, you could start a flame-war! ;-) I haven't played the Fallout series, but Fallout 3 is definitely intriguing.

    Your conversation with Jorge about Mega Man reveals one of the fundamental differences between how Jorge and I apporoach games:

    Jorge, you say that the theoretical Mega Man 10, 11, 12 are "essentially the same" as earlier games. "Essentially" is the key word here.

    You are right, the essences of those games are identical. They play by the same rule set, they just give the players more situations in which to explore the essence of the fundamental mechanics. People who buy would buy Mega Man 9 (or 10, or 11...) are those people who love the mechanics of Mega Man and want new situations in which to test their skills.

    Playing the same games over and over again isn't sufficient because a player like that would quickly memorize the maps, the bosses, and the traps and then be done with it. For this kind of player, the story is secondary; the primary pleasure derived from the game are the rules of the game.

    This is why LittleBigPlanet is so appealing to me: the rules are so simple, yet they can be applied in an almost endless variety of ways. Having the ability to design new levels keeps the game fresh and continually pushes me to work to exploit the limits of the game's rules.

  5. I'm not sure how I feel about remakes, simply out of fear of them changing any content, but I'm all for others being exposed to my favorite games.

    I will conclude with two statements:

    1) I've wanted to play Mega Man 9 since the first day I saw the initial demo. It's the best thing since the anniversary collection for gamers like me who enjoy the extreme frustration leading to satisfaction.

    2) All of you need to play Chrono Trigger, at least 3 or 4 times through. I guarantee that it will be my all-time favorite game for my entire life.

  6. First, let me say that I too await a new Legacy of Kain game.
    Second, YES, in fact I WOULD pay for a Mega Man 10,11, long as they are as fantastic as Mega Man 9 is.
    You know, it's no coincidence that old classics are being updated, remade, or given retro-like sequels. While it's true that there have been new and great innovations in the game industry over the past 20 years, I can't honestly say that the industry as a whole is better than it was. Some games today seem more like a chore than anything else.
    I'm totally okay with visiting our roots for a short period of time, as long as it reminds us what made those game so great, and we apply it to modern games.

  7. @ Eric & Shane

    Don't get me wrong. I appreciate Mega Man 9 for what it is. I'm just not as eager as some to pay for a game whose enjoyment comes largely from the core mechanic and artistic nostalgia. Though really, I'm a terrible hypocrite considering how eager I am for Klonoa.

    I actually do think the industry is better over all. Even games like Mega Man can feel like a chore for some and fun for others. That's why Shane's last statement is absolutely correct and why the idea of a games library sounds so great. There are plenty of modern games that forget the design lessons of the past.

  8. @Jorge: It's strange but yes Chrono Trigger is a game that seems like it absolutely must be played if you are to call yourself a 'proper' gamer. It is partly why I am ashamed of the fact that I haven't played it yet but as I said before, my situation back then saw me have no knowledge of it. Hopefully I can find the time and money to dedicate to the DS port, forgetting consoles for a change and experiencing one of gaming's best titles. If not, well, guess I better find another hobby. ;)

    @Scott: It is a bit, yeah. Although that could be the fanboy in me (us?) speaking as well. Rare and Nintendo raised me basically and while Nintendo are still going strong with their titles, Rare have been a bit inconsistent ever since the move to MS. I personally felt that while they dropped the ball with Perfect Dark Zero, Kameo was an okay title that was worth at least one play through. Then they went ahead and released Viva Pinata and well, to me that was a return to form for them but in a different way to the sort of form they held back in the Nintendo days. I'm hoping that both Pinata 2 and the upcoming Banjo game continue this form but at the same time, Rare now is certainly not Rare of old. *sigh