Out With the Old, In With the Old: World of Video Game Remakes

Clayton Walker
El Vaquero Staff Writer

As you read this, a flood of remakes of older video game titles is ready to surface. It’s easy to dismiss them if you’re a casual gamer, as most derive their charm from gameplay conventions established in the 1980s – certainly something more state-of-the-art would be looming on the horizon to replace old standards.

Sparked primarily by the uproarious success of Konami’s “Metal Gear Solid,” which revived the eight-bit Nintendo’s “Metal Gear” back to new glory circa 1997 with the PlayStation’s graphics, the industry has now been turning a more focused gaze to remaking classic games that garnered much critical acclaim for their excellence.

Remember that newer usually doesn’t equate with better – though the next generation of systems boasts awesome graphics, the visual power won’t be enough to save an otherwise problematic or shallow game.
The solution is effective if done right: merge cutting edge graphics with “old-school” gameplay. I’m surprised it’s taken this long to get it right, and I’m excited by what’s coming.

Many gamers like myself fondly remember Konami’s “Contra” for its effectively simple gameplay; a pick up and play approach that yielded depth and challenge with successive play.

The game was an eight-bit run-and-gun title that spawned three successful sequels: one more on the NES, another on the Super Nintendo, and the last on the Genesis; each was better than the one that preceded it.

Unfortunately, the series’ run was butchered by the PlayStation’s milking of the classic franchise, turning it into a horrible game slapped with the Contra brand before it was kicked out the door. Konami is going back to correct past mistakes with “Contra: Shattered Soldier” for the PlayStation 2, focusing on what worked about the past games while exorcising the elements that had no place. The game is scheduled for release in November.

Similarly, Sega will be remaking their classic platform action game “Shinobi,” which consisted of a brilliant arcade title, as well as Genesis’ next two titles: “Shinobis II and III.” The game stressed patterns and waves of enemies that could be dispatched with ninja magic and other conventional means.

Other revivals are in the works, such as those of NES classic “Rygar,” arcade legend “Defender,” and cult classic “Dragon’s Lair.”

I can only hope that they will be as successful as the originals, perhaps yielding the way for even more remakes of games that deserve it – NOT those which seem to perpetuate a series by milking a license. If you’ve abstained from older games to this point because of their rarity and graphical simplicity, now may be your chance to experience some “Old-school” charm directed at both the new and old gamers.