What’s Old is New
I’ve been watching with a skeptical eye as more and more “classic” games get rereleased. I don’t mean when a long-dormant franchise pops back up, like the Syndicate sequel (which I heard was terrible), but actual rereleases of old games. Dragon’s Lair just popped up on Steam, which I find fantastic from an artistic point of view – I grew up on Don Bluth films like The Secret of NIMH and An American Tail, but from a game point of view, I have some doubts. The same is true with the Shadowrun rerelease and System Shock. Each of those games were absolutely fantastic for their time, but I wonder if the younger generation will get the same thing out of them we did.
Super 8 provides another example of this. I loved Super 8. I thought it was a modern Goonies that would leave an indelible footprint in kids’ minds, but it just faded away. Cinema’s not a thing any more. A great movie is just another great movie. Now it’s apps and social media and grand endeavors like MMOs or visceral action like Call of Duty, so I wonder what the real purpose of game rereleases are.
I see three possible reasons to rerelease a game – updated or not. The first is to bring in new fans. This is where my most skeptical eye falls; I just don’t see the younger generation getting excited about these games as we did; they’re no longer considered innovative (though they might have been at the time). They’re not going to amaze them with graphics or features or gameplay unheard of before. In many cases, when put up against a modern game, the old games feel clunky and outdated; go try to play the old X-com after playing the new one to see what I mean. I just don’t really think a rerelease is going to make an impact on a new audience.
The second reason would be to profit from nostalgia. If they’re trying to resell a game like System Shock to a player who’s already played through it, well, that feels dirty to me. If someone wants to shell out 10 bucks to relive a decade+ old experience, that’s fine; it’s their money. But from a marketing stand point, I just don’t understand it, myself. I remember really liking System Shock, and Dragon’s Lair, and Shadowrun, but I played through them. I’m done with them. Seeing them for sale triggers my nostalgia enough without dedicating a bunch of time to it again, so I’m skeptical there, too.
The third reason is for preservation. I find this reason the most noble and least likely. These games really are art, of a sort, and they shouldn’t just vanish. There are other game preservation communities around; I remember finding a Star Control 2 community years ago, and there’s large-scale organizations now, like VAPS. I think that’s an excellent endeavor, but I seriously doubt that’s what profit-driven corporations are doing.
So whatever the reason, I find rereleases weird and a little uncomfortable. I like nostalgia as much as the next guy, but as I’m sure we’re all aware, the -algia root from the word means pain, pain for home, like a severe homesickness. I’m not sure that’s something I want to put money into.
Stubborn (not a doctor)