A new trend has surfaced in the gaming industry over the past few years. In addition to the flood of remakes, remastered games, and release day patches that have become industry staples, game developers have begun to preserve and capture the magic of classic video games that captured the attention of previous generations.
Most of these attempts to preserve classic video game genres have been done by independent developers with the help of Kickstarter. A great example of this is Freedom Planet, originally thought of as a Sonic the Hedgehog fangame that became a title all its own, after a full version was funded via Kickstarter and developed in both Denmark and the United States. Another example of this is Mighty No. 9, which pays homage to the classic Mega Man games created by indie developer Comcept with the help of Keiji Inafune, who worked on the classic Mega Man games.
These games are not only attempting to preserve the games that they were inspired by, but they are seeking to improve them for a modern audience, showing these classic video game styles of gameplay to a new generation of gamers as well as providing new experiences for fans of the classic titles.
The Metroidvania genre has also recently seen more attention with the release of games like Axiom Verge and the record-breaking success of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night’s Kickstarter campaign, which broke numerous Kickstarter records and is attempting to preserve the gothic action style of the Castlevania games, with new weapons, mechanics and an all new storyline separate from the Castlevania franchise.
AAA developers aren’t above capturing this trend as well. Square Enix has begun work on a game called I am Setsuna (originally teased as Project Setsuna) which is set to release worldwide on July 19th, 2016. I am Setsuna is designed as a turn-based RPG with the same active time battle system like Chrono Trigger, whose genre has slowly been declining over the past few years, with fewer turn-based RPG’s releasing every year. With the popularity of Square Enix’s Bravely Default series (also a turn-based RPG) as well as the buzz surrounding I am Setsuna, it is a possibility that the turn-based genre may not be dying after all.
With the changing gaming industry, it is important that we try and preserve parts of gaming history that aren’t really accessible anymore. Most people no longer own an original Playstation, or a sega console, or even a NES or SNES system, which limits the sort of experience that can be provided to them. Sure, people can buy older games digitally and play them, but many modern gamers wouldn’t bother due to there being bigger games appearing on the market every day. That is why refreshing older games, making remakes of games like the original Resident Evil, or HD remasters of games like Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy X is so important. PC releases of the Final Fantasy III and onward are helping with this too, allowing PC gamers to get in on the nostalgia of the classic video games.
While nostalgia can blind us to the benefits of video game remakes (with people saying many should be left alone) the importance of them is presented in a way of future generations being able to experience these classic video games, these experiences that many of us fell in love with as teens and young adults. Allowing new generations to feel that same joy is important, and it is why creating video game remakes and reviving old video game genres is more than just a fad, trend or shameless money grab. It is an attempt to connect ourselves to those who come after us through the shared experience of fantastic video games in the same way parents share music they enjoyed as young adults with their children or watch movies they loved as kids with their own children.
This classic video games movement also harkens back to a period of time where there were no day one patches, no buggy releases that needed to be pulled from the shelves because the video game was released unfinished, and no bugs that never get fixed despite players asking the developers to fix them. Some of the classic video games were buggy, but they were never unplayable and were still well loved all the same.
Everyone wants to preserve their own legacy, and perhaps the gaming industry’s legacy should be preserved so that no matter what the industry becomes in 20 years, 30 years or even 100 years, those experiences will still be valued as classics. It is also important that we try and improve on those experiences, as nostalgia can sometimes blind us to the faults of things we loved when we were younger. These newly created “classic” titles like Freedom Planet and I am Setsuna will hopefully start a trend of polishing the rougher parts of our classics, that way gamers can enjoy them without the bugs and things that we conveniently tend to ignore the retro video games we loved as kids.