SEEING THE GAMING WORLD THROUGH ROSE-TINTED GLASSES.
Essay Proposal by Steven McCorkell
When presented with a new gaming experience, we can find ourselves hard-pressed to effectively describe the gameplay without making allusions to previous works. It is in this regard that our past game experiences play a very significant role in not only identifying with new game experiences, but also with shaping our perceptions for future game experiences. This can be wielded to a particularly profound effect if a developer concentrates on an offering of an established series and reinvents an element of gameplay for those players who had experienced it initially, which can include reimagining of levels, characters, music and items that had been featured previously. While this crosses into the territory of Easter Eggs, developers have been expanding the criteria to encompass larger and larger parts of their older titles, recreating their game to a completely new generation of gamers. Interestingly enough, we’re seeing the most successful of these titles taken from the mid-nineties to late nineties, where it taps into a core of gamers that would have been children playing those games at that time. In that regard, these titles are largely carried by nostalgia rather than innovation, and while many of them are coming close to pressing 20 years on, they’re seen as timeless rather than outdated. Curiously enough it’s the newer titles that these gamers are seeing as lacking an essence that was prevalent before, and are quick to be extremely judgmental on a modern game while their experiences on a much older title are based around what they remember from their experiences rather than how the title has held up since its creation. For anyone who has played a title from their childhood recently, there’s a bit a bias when it comes to putting aside our memories when reviewing it retrospectively. Regardless if the game has aged well or not since we’ve played it last, there’s an element of seeing the experience through rose-tinted glasses where we seem to be only capable of noticing its strengths rather than its flaws. As treasured as these experiences are, what we can recall from our childhood versus our current sessions of play are going to be vastly different, and in fact the older the title is, the wider we interpret that gap. If a developer has recreated the title however, they can interfere to a degree that removes the gap altogether or at least tightens it significantly by updating the graphics, retooling the control scheme and remixing the original score. These remakes and reimaginings have become especially prevalent in just the last two years, where titles like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3DS, Goldeneye 007 Wii and Donkey Kong Country Returns have stayed true to their parent title while being released around the same timeframe, with the announcement of each title well received with praise and extremely positive reactions from the gaming community. Each release has also garnered promise for their parent series in keeping the series modern, and each of the aforementioned titles are showing no signs of being a solo release. For The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3DS, its reintroduction has also brought its spiritual successor, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask released on the same console just two years after into question for a release on the Nintendo 3DS as well with dedicated fans backing the movement with an online campaign called Operation: Moonfall which has amassed more than 19,000 dedicated followers on the Facebook page alone and over 41,000 signatures on the official petition. While Goldeneye 007 originally started off its life on the Nintendo 64, its release on the Wii was seen with mixed reviews often criticizing the title for its poorly implemented online play and release on a console not geared towards players of First Person Shooter titles. Even still, it managed to start a movement that would see the title stated for a future release on Sony’s PlayStation 3 and Microsoft’s Xbox 360 consoles under the name “007: Goldeneye Reloaded” which should see the title fully realized to its true potential. Donkey Kong Country Returns was also treated to high praise and celebrated for a return to form that had been sadly neglected since Rares acquisition by Microsoft and even further still since the title had seen release as a sidescroller that had made the original so iconic. Nintendo has been especially attentive at reintroducing these series, and have been extremely successful in doing so as they’ve been well received by fans and critics alike. Currently Nintendo is somewhat at the forefront of this movement, they have an extensive and impressive game archive that the younger Sony and Microsoft lack the history to act on in such a large scale. Still, they’re nothing if not persistent; reaching back into a catalogue of games that have only capped three generations to pluck a successor from the bunch. Take for instance Sony’s Metal Gear Solid HD and Silent Hill HD Collection which features ports of the original PlayStation titles in stunning high definition detail with new features and remastered audio, or the highly anticipated remake of the original Halo: Combat Evolved title for the Xbox 360 dubbed Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary. While these titles are hardly dated taking into account the grand scheme of things, there remains a necessity to keep the older titles in the series fresh and modern in the form of a graphical update and new features like local multiplayer or online co-op. Even after decades in some cases, titles that adhere to our nostalgic sensitivities are met with a steady stream of approval and anticipation. Is this a byproduct of our own uncertainties for the future of gaming causing us to cling onto the familiar, or are these titles instead welcomed like old friends at a reunion, looking back at old memories that we’ve held sentimental ties with? Whatever the reason may be, its ever clear that these recent titles are only the beginning of a movement that only time will tell.