Classic Gaming in a Modern Era
Let me offer a scenario. I'm seated in front of the television, a controller in my hand. An 8-bit image glares back at me from the television screen. A huge gorilla stands at the top of the screen with a captured damsel as I play a short hero climbing ladders and jumping over barrels to reach the top of the screen and save the damsel. We continue to another game and another 8-bit image. To the left side of the screen stands a man with a golf club in his hand. The right side of the screen displays an overhead view of a golf course. As I control the man with the club, that man takes a huge swing, sending the golf ball flying right into a lake. The words "Water Hazard" flash at the top-left corner of the screen. What games have I just played? Better yet, what game system am I playing them on?
It may sound like I've just played two games on my trusty NES. It sounds as if I've just played through Donkey Kong and Golf in one sitting. But in this scenario I've presented to you, that is not the case. In fact, I've actually only played a total of one game in this scenario. In fact, I'm not even playing the NES. The system I've just played is the Nintendo GameCube. The game? Animal Crossing.
There has been quite a resurgence in the appreciation of classic gaming lately. Games that have been all but completely abandoned for over a decade are suddenly popping up on modern systems as if they've been at the forefront of the video gaming industry for years. Games like Rygar, which we haven't heard from since 1987, are suddenly surfacing in sequels over 14 years later. Nintendo, whose own Nintendo Power magazine has been known to claim month-old modern games as being among the greatest Nintendo titles ever, has suddenly been showing a tremendous amount of effort to bring classic gaming into a modern era.
This sudden push to the past has been both good and bad to different people. For some of those GameBoy Advance owners, the biggest problem is a lack of enough original games as the game library becomes flooded with numerous NES and SNES ports. For certain classic gaming enthusiasts, this move is nothing but a treading of their territory by today's ignorant video game companies. For me, it's a way of giving me the opportunity to relive games that have been long been forgotten and the chance to play new, long-awaited sequels to some of my favorite classic game series.
Classic gamers aren't the only ones being noticably reminded of the classic games, either. There are gamers today who have never experienced the fun of games like Metroid before. Not only does the classic gaming resurgence provide a subtle reminder as to where our games are from, but titles like Animal Crossing and Metroid Prime/Fusion (via link cable) actually give gamers the ability to play some of these classic titles without even having to go far out of the way to experience some of the great older titles. I've heard from people who have either never experienced or long-forgotten some of those old games but have finally had the opportunity to live through the experience without even having to leave their television set. Even classic gamers like me ocassionally experience this influence. Just the thought of an F-Zero game on the GCN led me to buy the original F-Zero game on the SNES just for the sake of experiencing the original.
Better still, you don't even have to play a port or remake of a classic game directly on a disk without clearly seeing the influence that old NES and SNES games have had on games today. Just looking at the GameCube or GBA games I've owned or played reminds me of the many influences of past that have contributed to their development. Luigi's Mansion? Super Mario Sunshine? These games would not be here if the Super Mario Bros. series hadn't come about and become a hit in the 1980s. Not only that, but well throughout Super Mario Sunshine are various examples of classic Mario song remakes and references to the olden days of Mario. Metroid Fusion? Metroid Prime? These games and many of the elements in them also wouldn't be around if not for the original Metroid series. In fact, some of the tunes found on Prime are remakes of tunes from Super Metroid's soundtrack. How about Super Smash Bros. Melee? Several references to titles of old in this game. I won't even start getting into the many NES and SNES ports that have been popping up on the GBA.
There are probably so many other examples to be found of classic gaming influence in a modern gaming era that can be found. Too many to list. The examples I've given you are just general examples I've found by looking through my own gaming library. One could start formulating theories as to why some companies, Nintendo especially, have turned to classic games of the past for modern game development, but formulating these theories wouldn't end up being much more than a pointless waste of time. Why companies have looked to the past for ideas doesn't really matter. The fact that they're using classic games for modern game influences is good enough for me. Next time you pick up a modern video game, you might just want to see and appreciate all the classic gaming influences you can spot throughout it.