Friday, July 16, 2010

Sometimes being doomed to repeat history can be a good thing.

In my Eighth Grade history class there was a banner that sat over the chalkboard that I would glace at during lectures by my teacher. The banner's words; "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it". It was a powerful phrase and I never forgotten it since.Why do we study history? To give us insight on things. It shows how one person can ultimately make a difference, or how one individual can bring an entire group of invidiuals along with him, or inspire them to achieve greatness! It shows the highs and lows of society, and how a change in technology or culture can ultimately change the entire world.

Yes History is very important in gaming as well as it helps us to understand what games were popular and why. Which is why it's pretty sad to see certain companies refusing to revive the games that were their most popular in their day. Rare has gone on record as stating that there is no need to return to their former games for revival purposes. So if repeating history is good in their case, why are they and other companies so reluctant to do it?

From what was stated in the Develop interview with Mark Betteridge, Rare was intent with just creating new ideas and focusing on working with Microsoft to work on project Natal (which seems to be a better name than Kinect at the moment), but the reality is that after a so so Perfect Dark Zero, and  Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts, it's safe to say that the people who were responsible for making their greatest games have already gone off to bigger and better things. That leaves Rare to be remembered as "That company that made great NES and N64 games but settled into it's new position of Microsoft's version of Weyland Smithers".

You also tend to notice a similar issue with Capcom who had made some really fantastic content in it's heyday. The Disney games, Bionic Commando, Megaman and so many other games graced the NES, but when it came time to revive Bionic Commando for 2009, what we got was obviously not what we expected at all. I'm not even going to go into the plot twist.. if you could call it that. But what happened? and why was it that ReArmed, which was a remake of the NES game getting better reviews and more sales than the retail version? Like Rare, they too have lost their creators. Tokuro Fujiwara, who created Bionic Commando and Ghosts and Goblins left Capcom in 1996 to form his own studio and went on to create Tomba! and Tomba2 on the PSone. Instead of Fujiwara being there to oversee Bionic Commando's production, Capcom had given the reigns to now defunct sweedish developer GRIN, a move that pretty much sealed their fate, and caused Capcom to reconsider their stance on western developers touching their established properties.

There are more instances of this happening Yuji Naka left Sega to create his current studio, Prope. Since his departure the quality of Sonic games have been to say the least, debatable. Even the Nights revival on Wii wasn't as great as it's first game on the Saturn. Am I saying this because I believe that only the people who worked on the original games know what's needed to make these games successful? Certainly not. If that were the case we wouldn't be seeing so many odd things in games like Metroid Other M, with Samus Aran exploring her maternal feelings. That's coming from the director (Sakamoto) of  the original Metroid.Oddly enough,  creators Makoto Kano (designer), and Hiroji Kiyotake (Artist) are nowhere to be found in this new endeavor, so this also adds to the whole equation. 

So could the problem be that the devs aren't looking back to the past in order to make better games for the future? Furthermore, does that has to do with the fact that developers don't want to step on the toes of those who came before them, Laziness, Or a level of conceit that leaves certain developers to believe that they want to make their own mark on a certain series? I can't say for sure. But there's something to be said when games like New Super Mario Bros Wii can incorporate everything people loved about the Mario games of the past, and bring new innovative things to the table like four player co-op. It's also notable that that game made 15 million dollars in 32 weeks, which is nothing to scoff at.even compared to it's competitors. Of course Miyamoto, Tezuka and Nakago are all still employed at Nintendo and are the heart of the Super Mario Bros games, but they have to pass the torch at some point, and the question is going to be will the new developers be able to incorporate what was already there into a newer game with new ideas? But due to the fact that Nintendo has been on top of their stuff so far with the Wii surpassing the success of the NES I have little reason to worry.  

There's absolutely nothing wrong with looking to the past to find out how to bring a game back to it's roots, or to find a way to properly bring that series into a new incarnation. Kojima did a pretty decent job of bringing Metal gear into the polygonal world while still incorporating it's stealth roots. So there's hope for creating new iterations of games from the past which retain their core values, and even ways of making new games that retain the core values of the past.It's either that or we risk pulling a 'Hollywood' and making a bunch of empty remakes for a quick buck.

Game on. 

Source(s): Joystiq , Develop , 1up

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