“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” wrote Spanish philosopher, poet, and guy with longest name ever Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás, and he had a pretty good point about that*. But perhaps those who do remember the past are condemned to the same terrible doom, only for different reasons. Mostly, I blame mawkish sentimentalism.
Games have come rather a long way in the last fifteen years or so. Hell, they’ve come a long way in the last five.
The game development industry innovates at maximum warp, and once we get something New! and Improved!, it instantly becomes standard, and we simply take it for granted forever and ever. You know, things like full mouse control in FPSes, which was actually only introduced in Duke Nukem 3D in 1996 – a game that rocked the world back then, and jilted it fifteen years later. Because why? Because mawkish sentimentalism. Also, because it was shit – which is basically the same thing here, and which also brings me conveniently around to the point.
What worked great fifteen, ten, or even five years ago doesn’t necessarily work that great anymore, and if you go back and replay something from back then, you’ll realise it probably didn’t work that great to start with, you just thought it did at the time. Context is everything, you see, and even two bits of rock to bash together are going to seem like a whole heap of fun when that’s all you’ve got to play with.
But those are still just two bits of rock you’re bashing together.
One of the big things in the gaming industry right now is HD remakes of old games, and when I say “remake”, I mean “retextureds, and usually not even that nicely, actually”. With only one or two exceptions, they’re usually nothing more than instantly disappointing reminders of how clumsy and unsophisticated games used to be. Resident Evil 4 was a dead brilliant game back in 2005, but in now it’s, like, I played this without wanting to break sharp things on my face? Starting with these rose-tinted glasses.
This industry innovates at maximum warp because it has to. Maybe it’s because we’re spoiled now, but we expect something bigger and better to happen next week, and if it doesn’t, somebody’s going to start thinking that Frogger needs a reboot.
* I don’t know how else to explain the resurgence of stone-washed jeans and neon orange.