Retrobution: Games from the Grave

Some of us have noted the big comebacks of some of our ancient game favorites. Companies have been re-releasing them in recent years with surprising success. Why are these oldies being relaunched and how successful are they?

They’re quite successful. Back catalogs must be treasure troves, games crawling out of the grave to reap new and improved profits for their publishers. As a gamer, I look at these old gems and realize that most people never even saw them, like Final Fantasy or Chrono Trigger. As popular as those games were, they were nowhere near reaching the audiences they do today. There were fewer gamers back then too for all sorts of reasons (access to technology being the greatest). But today, anyone with a phone has access to THOUSANDS of games. It makes some sense to release the oldies ….because those games are brand new to millions of people.

Couple these facts together and this is what I’d call a perfect storm:

  • Pixel art is popular today, and most games were pixel art back in the day.
  • Mobile devices require small files, and the games of old are bits on the byte (pennies on the dollar, get it?!?!)
  • More gamers today than yesterday. Millions more. Old is new again.

So when I saw Chrono Trigger make it’s way to the Android shop after watching other classics like Contra be re-released for the same, I couldn’t help but wonder if these games were selling well. The answer appears to be yes.

To take CT as an example, it sold 2.3 million units on its SNES release in 1995. But once it was re-released for Nintendo DS, it sold more than 1.25 million units from 2008 and until now. That’s not a bad return on investment for an oldie! CT was also made available on Playstation and Wii, though I don’t know what the cost was to buy it.I’m really curious about how well it can do on mobile. It’s got potential, but if they over price it, they’ll harm their success. It’s currently over-priced at $10.

Other titles I’ve seen crawl back onto the scene is Baldur’s Gate, which is now on the Google Play store. The prices on these retro titles are usually pretty steep too, with BG asking $10 too. The Final Fantasy franchise has resurrected several of it’s sequels, with 1 to 6 being available starting at $8 a pop …except for FF6 which is going for $16!

I’m tempted to buy Chrono Trigger, but $10 for a game that old seems like highway robbery. It looks like Blizzard’s example isn’t being followed in this one case, which is odd since they’ve got to be one of the most copied game companies in history. They’ve released most of their 1990s library to users at no cost. You can download Blackthorne, The Lost Vikings and Rock n’ Roll racing for free. But I guess wherever there’s money to be made, we can’t all be Blizzard.

These are classics, so maybe they’re worth it to the hardcore fans. Still, seems like an opportunity to show these treasures to an audience who knows nothing about them. Whatever these companies decide to do, I’m pretty sure these mobile versions will sell successfully.

What retro game would you like to see re-made for a modern audience?

The 15 Games That Have Ruined Me the Most

Of course by “ruined” I mean “made me never want to put games down ever.”

In no particular order (well, I suppose the chronology of the released dates do mean something, but I’m not going to arrange them here):

Super mario 3 ss1. Super Mario Brothers 3

This series has been on so few lists. I swear many of you out there are making me feel like the lost generation here! How this game has not influenced gamers of my generation is beyond me, but apparently that’s the case. I remember Mario was the first game I wanted a save feature in, and it didn’t have one. Me and my buddies would gather in our garage, get as far as we could, and then pause the game all night just so we didn’t lose our progress. So many hidden levels, bugs, and tricks to explore, Mario was the reason I never put gaming down. It was the game that took me out of the arcade (thank god, because I didn’t have the money for games most of the time!).

Castlevania SS2. Castlevania II

This was the first game to give me nightmares. I abandoned the series some time after Castlevania IV, but I still get shivers thinking about the first time I encountered Dracula, or when I see “what a horrible night to have a curse …” flash on my memory. I never wanted to play that game alone.

3. NBA Jam

Many a block tournament was spawned on this wonderfully fun, delicious sports jam. I wasn’t very into sports titles, but this one was so unbelievably gamey that I played it for years. The action’s fast and every second was exciting. This has to be one of the best made sports games ever.

fzero ss4. F-Zero

This game introduced me to cold hands and feet. It was the first game that really put me in the seat of the driver. I felt like I was speeding, like my blood was rushing, like my knuckles were white, and like there was wind in my hair whenever I played this game. This was another game my friends and I did with block tournaments together. I still play this game on SNES emulator.

5. RC Pro AM

Pro AM had the same feel to it as NBA Jam and F-Zero for me, so it should be obvious enough why this game was so appealing. This is where Mario Kart got all it’s great ideas about road sabotage and wacky race tracks. Lots of fun, but nothing special. Still, it left it’s mark on my game tastes.

6. Legend of Zelda

This was my first true RPG. This was the first game in which character story and adventure were interesting for me. Gauntlet didn’t quite do it and even Castlevania didn’t quite have that RPG-feel to it. Zelda introduced me to game depth. I’ve never been the same since.

7. Contra

Because CONTRA. I don’t need a reason. And also, I never loved game music up until then as much as I loved the tracks in Contra. Contra was the game that made me hunt down game soundtracks thereafter. It’s had a huge impact on my musical tastes.

sf2 ss8. Street Fighter

Seeing a pattern here? Most games that have influenced me are going to be games I played with friends. Street Fighter has shaped the entire gaming community if you ask me. Where would game tournaments be without the passion of street fighters the world over?

9. Diablo 2

Diablo hooked me, but D2 blew me away. This is the game that made me take computer gaming seriously. I had played Starcraft and Warcraft and even dabbled in Ultima when it looked like a fancy AOL chat room, but none of them made me take computer gaming as serious as D2. Once again, the multiplayer aspects won me over. I played this nightly with friends.

10. The Sims

The whole idea of locking someone in a bathroom with no toilet until their bladder exploded through their head and they died just ….that kind of thing leaves an impression. I spent countless hours controlling sims because somehow, I really believed these little AIs were living their own life. This game made me pick up a few dozen philosphy books. I know, odd.

11. World of Warcraft

I kinda don’t want to list this because I think if you played games the past 10 years then it’s not possible to not be influenced by this game. This game put PC gaming on the map in a way no others before it could. Plus, it was the first time, as a gamer, that I felt VR would become a thing in my life time because of how easy it was to spend days and weeks logged in to my priest.

Civ2boxart12. Civilization 2

And every sequel thereafter. Civ is truely a timeless game. It gave new meaning to strategy and also made me try more sim/city-builder games.

13. Track & Field

Or really, any of the sports games that you could play with Nintendo’s Powerpad. This was the Wii or Kinect Sports of it’s day. It was totally in my favor that my friends and I played this in the garage because the amount of stomping on that pad that we did just wasn’t conducive to an apartment environment. Amazing fun. I’ve only been surprised that this level of video game interaction took nearly 15 years to return to us.

14. Elder Scrolls Morrowind

Put another point on the board for RPGs, Morrowind sealed the deal with me for the genre. After this series, I added RPGs permanently to my gaming favorites.

Sonic SS15. Sonic the Hedgehog

I really couldn’t tell you why I loved this game so much. Something about how fun the stages were to play, with its creative obstacles, funky music and completely weird futuristic, Robotnik flavor. I just know I never looked at Mario the same after Sonic.

This list is just a little bit arbitrary, though. I’ve played hundreds of games thus far and I’d like to think that all of them have left their mark on me, even the ones I didn’t like. One theme that runs throughout this list is that I played everyone of these games with GROUPS of friends. It wasn’t ever just one or two of us. It was regularly 4 and 7 of us, huddled around this small TV in my buddy’s dilapidated garage that we turned into Our Arcade. We shared controllers, cheered each other on, paused the game for each other so that just when we got to that difficult jump sequence on Ninja Gaiden, or that boss in Contra, or that puzzle in Zelda, the best of us could step in and push us closer to beating the game. The greatest impact games have left on me is that they are totally best enjoyed together. Is there any wonder I loved MMOs?

If you’re from my generation of gaming, perhaps your experience is similar. But I’m always up for friendly gaming sessions as some of you already know. For me, this is the greatest influence of all that games have had on me.

More Lists from around the community right here:

Scree Tags: #influential15 #gamesofmylife #nostalgia

Leftovers: The Dark Ages of Gaming

Conversation Leftovers: where I point out some topics in the blogosphere that I think will get talked about for weeks to come. Check out the previous Leftovers if you enjoy this kind of thing. Let’s get right into it!

Retro Gaming …or Dark Age Reminiscing

Murfs spilled his guts about his love of Megaman 1 and how he’s such a noob that he’s never beat it. I can name over a dozen games I never beat in childhood. Pretty much none of them. And that makes me King of the Noobs! BOW DOWN MURFS.

Still, I really enjoyed his story of how that game inspired his imagination, that even though he never beat the game, the imagery and sound held his interest and kept him playing it. Also, the game tracks he linked turned out to be perfect afternoon tunes, so thanks for that noob.

I also remember gaming news being somewhat hard to come by, but me and the friends in my hood had a sort of racket running on the block for games. We heard things. We knew people who could move cartridges. We bartered like it was the Dark Ages. And that was how I was able to play so many titles that today are classics. I would never have been able to afford a Nintendo/Sega or the games to go with them. The Cartridge Racket was it for me.

If you remember games from your childhood, you should pay Murfs a visit and trade experiences. Nostalgia is always a great topic with staying-power in the community.

And speaking of Dark Ages: I’m surprised everyday that people still play and enjoy WoW. Some misinformed Draenei is sill in Azeroth under the belief that things are still happening there! Misadventures indeed. Jokes aside, if you’re into time travel, you should blaze back through the Twisting Nether and read all about their Warlock Dilemma. I should also mention that the Meta Report dropped (thanks to Izlain for the heads up) and I’m sure it says something important about Warlocks as well.

Game Personalities

Do MMOs have personalities? I put Syp’s chart to the test. My chosen MMO? I’ll pick the one I currently subscribe to: Eve Online.

Eve Online Personality Test

I know, I could have checked every damned box red at this rate. Blue represents things Eve definitely ARE NOT.

Old is the New New

And to pile on about MMOs a bit more, I think the genre is unbelievable stale right now, Eve included. There’s no new thinking in this space and all we continue to get in 2014 RE-iterations of the same stuff gamers have already seen. Where are the NEW iterations? Some truly innovative gameplay promises and ideas? Some out of the box, you’ll-never-guess-where-we’re-going-with-this innovation? It seems we will remain without it for the next two years at least. Wildstar does not tickle my fancy and Elder Scrolls Online represents to me complete stagnation in the MMO space. I genuinely cannot be bothered with these games.

Dark Age Community Tools at XBOne

Finally, one of the most important conversations happening this month I think comes from Xbox One’s behavior monitoring tools. Polygon reported that the XBOne team is still working on a rewards system. I don’t have the new console, but it seems to currently use a system that takes player ratings and then ranks player profiles based on how often they are ignored and muted. The player feedback will pile up and eventually the baddies will be separated from the goodies and placed in a pool with other toxic players. This sounds creative, even interesting, but ultimately it’s a reporting tool. And those are like giving more tools to griefers, but I guess the new console owners can speak for themselves. How is this actually working so far?

Overall though, companies really disappoint me when they come up with MORE reporting tools like this, because it’s like they don’t know the worst community trolls have every intention of abusing those tools, just like they abuse other players. Report features are important, but are severely limited because they rely on reporters. So I wasn’t excited at all to hear they had another report system in place which equips trolls with more ways to be obnoxious to civil players.  That said, these kinds of tools have their place, but when it’s the only tool, it’s like launching half a console; IT WILL NOT WORK. Seriously. DARK AGE TECH. Get the other half of the system in place already!

What do you think? Also let me know if there’s conversations around the blogosphere this month that you think are worthy of more discussion.

Scree Tags: #retrogaming #xbone