WHAT IS THIS.
I’m old, so while I love playing new games, I have a massive amount of nostalgia for stuff from the late 90s, when I was young and playing games even more than I do now. It’s commonplace now for the oldies to get re-releases on contemporary systems, but for the longest time, in the US it’d often be just the cream of the crop that would make it onto modern consoles. And that’s understandable! But let’s take a quick look at this using Nintendo’s voyage of retroself-discovery as it forms a neat timeline:
2002: ANIMAL CROSSING
Animal Crossing appeared on the scene. People had been emulating NES and other classic gaming (and “modern,” SNK lost a lot of money from people bootlegging the Neo Geo games The King of Fighters 2000 and Garou: Mark of the Wolves) systems for years at this point, but Nintendo slipped an interesting experiment into an already unique and awesome game. The experiment was basically a question in video game form: Do people give enough of a damn about NES games today that they would seek them out in this game’s world?
The answer was yes. Forget rare fish and fossils, the rarest and most sought after treasures in the original Animal Crossing were being able to walk into your virtual home and play Wario’s Woods or Donkey Kong.
2003: THE LEGEND OF ZELDA COLLECTOR’S EDITION and THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: OCARINA OF TIME AND MASTER QUEST
So now the question was, okay, if classic games are available on a console people will eat it up, but will people really, seriously drop $$$ on a ten to twenty year old game? The short answer in this case was yes. To give this some context, both of these games were, originally, only available by registering a bunch of purchased games with Nintendo for the former, and by pre-ordering Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker for the latter. A lot of both happened just to get these.
2006: [B]Wii Virtual Console[/B]
Just over ten years ago, the Wii came out, and something beautiful happened. Nintendo introduced the Virtual Console, a platform on which many different publishers would distribute great versions of older games. Not just Nintendo games, but stuff from SNK, NEC, Hudson, it was awesome. Now, finally, the average person could, without messing with less supported emulators or cruising flea markets and an ever shrinking number of mom and pop game stores, easily play the very, very large number of great games for less popular systems like the TurboGrafx-16 side by side with iconic classics like Super Castlevania IV or The Legend of Zelda.
It was beautiful, but it also sucked in a way. Titles were slowly dripfed out, and by the time some of those less mainstream systems’ best games were finally getting released, Wii sales were already in decline, so no one knew they existed. Nintendo’s slowly gotten better with this with their later systems. If you like 2D graphics the Wii is one of the best game systems ever made, but at the same time they blew it in terms of getting people at large into re-buying (or trying for the first time) these rad games.
Did you know if you have a PlayStation 4 you can get some of the best fighting games ever to come out of the genre? Forgotten arcade games from developers you don’t know but have seen or heard the work of at some point like UPL? The Switch is one of two systems ever to have a port of Waku Waku 7? You can play an awesome awesome awesome cooperative shooter called Wild Guns on the PS4 (and soon PC) today instead of dropping $200 on an SNES cartridge? I love it!
Right in line with all those articles about whether or not the AAA model is sustainable a few years ago, the most important thing ever happened when the PS4 came out - the mass return of the mid-priced and budget-priced game as an actual price range and not an automatic mark of shovelware. A space was created that these classics that are still fun, but also old, SCEA made a huge push to promote various indie titles and make it okay to pay money for a game that has 2D graphics again, a huge contrast from how the same company rolled a decade prior.
Anyway, it’s great to feed my nostalgia, but also great to see how well a lot of these games still hold up!
So let’s talk about that, do any of you pick up games released under the Arcade Archives brand as an example? There’s a bunch available on the PlayStation 4 and Switch (and of course tons of other classics that got re-released over the years for the Wii, PS3, Steam and 360). Are they as fun as you remember? You can play the obscure PS1 Grasshopper game The Silver Case but in English and not on a PS1? I love it!
Anyone grab one of these titles that hasn’t played it before, thoughts? Do people want recommendations?
I love playing this stuff not just for nostalgia, but because it’s interesting to see what quirks of design are still kicking around to day, what aesthetic these games’ devs got associated with from them, and it’s cool to see some wildly different art styles and design choices coming from the same (much smaller compared to what their equivalent may be today) developers.
So what classic stuff, if any, interests y’all on the newest systems you have? Are there some ancient games stuff you’d kill to see on Steam or the Switch?
If I made a list of what I think are the coolest games released as “Arcade Archives” would people be interested in that? I started an ongoing primer about every Neo Geo game that hits the PlayStation 4. I should probably do the same for the Switch.
Right now I’ve been super hooked on the Metal Slug Anthology on the PS4. It’s not 100% fixed from its previous releases, but the games are just awesome. There’s just so many secrets, so many little animation details, and the series’ sense of humor ranges from dark to goofy as hell at the drop of a hat. And there’s still no game on earth that looks QUITE like them. The game’s artists cut their teeth doing Akira ripoffs in games like Last Resort along with sprite art in games like R-Type II and The King of Fighters '94. It’s cool to see SNK’s games slowly turn this into inspiration from which they carved their own unique looks for each of their biggest series.