“All of this has happened before, and all of this will happen again,” a good sentiment, indeed, but should buying old re-released games really be something that gamers look forward to? I know I can speak for gamers everywhere in saying that we are all completely thrilled at the prospect of purchasing “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time Re-Shelled,” but ultimately we’re getting excited at the ability to pay a great fee once more for something that’s already been purchased, either with our quarters in an arcade or with our dollars for the Super Nintendo cartridge.
“Turtles in Time” came out in arcades 18 years ago, and then hit consoles a year later. This transition was so developers could see more money with the tried and true arcade-to-home ownership route, but now the practice seems to be taking a successful game that is almost two decades old and “modernize” it to work on current generation systems. I can’t count the number of games available now on the Xbox Live Marketplace, or Playstation Network, that are “evolved,” “updated,” or “redux’d” version of games from the classic days of gaming. While this is a perfect way for gamers to revisit their childhoods or even for younger gamers to experience the glory days of gaming, I feel that it’s costing gamers too much money for a rehash on a game that might be older than they are.
After a 9 year absence, the Monkey Island franchise finally saw its fifth installment in TellTale Games’ episodic adventure “Launch of the Screaming Narwhal.” This is a brand new 5 part adventure available for the PC, and soon WiiWare, for $35 or $7 an episode. But due to “Narwhal’s” pre-order success and internet buzz the good folks at LucasArts have decided to open their vault and make older games new once again via the Steam download service. Most of the games are way over-priced and to add insult to injury, no new features or graphic overhauls have been performed on the “classic” games. To date, none of these games have a score above 78 on Steam showing that not only are these games priced to high, but they do not hold up to today’s standards. For the sake of this article I purchased “Star Wars: Republic Commando,” a game that I loved back in the days of the original Xbox, and after playing through more than half of the game I can say that I wish I had my $10 back.
The problem with retro games costing too much does not lie with the game developers in pushing these games on us; it lies with gamers who continue to purchase them at premium costs. I remember when the lazy port of classic Sega genesis games was first announced I thought I’d be in gamer heaven. I dropped my $30 on the game and haven’t touched it since its initial day of play. It seems that’s to be the fate of all “classics reborn” titles. The idea of playing them again after all these years is exciting, and gamers are willing to spend way too much money on them, only to be left disappointed after the novelty wears off.
So if “all that has happened before will happen again” maybe it’s up to us as consumers to not support older games that come with hefty price tags. We can support nostalgia, but we need to send a message that we’re not willing to spend a ton of money to do so. We need to make sure that the days of a remade game costing $15-$30 are behind us. And while it’s foolishly optimistic, I dream of a day when a classic “re-shelled edition” is significantly cheaper.