Begin Again: Retro Gaming Is Now
They say that history repeats itself, which is usually just a kind way of saying that humanity keeps making the same stupid-ass mistakes over and over because it refuses to learn from it’s previous disasters. Sometimes we find ourselves in the middle of a specific situation and realize that “oh yeah! Last time this happened,the entire ship sunk because of the iceberg it hit…” Or something to that effect. They also say that everything is cyclical (in fact, this is the actual message of the Mayan calendar, not that the world will end in 2012) and that what has come before will come again.
First, we endured a resurgence of platformers, usually from indie studios that were taking the ages old gameplay mechanics and laying better graphics and advanced physics and some new mechanics on top of them. Platformers have been around for ages and were really popular on early consoles and in arcades (Donkey Kong, Pitfall, Lode Runner, et al), and it was kind of out of nowhere that they re-appeared on modern PC, consoles, and mobile devices. Oddly enough, just as it happened the first time around, we’re now moving on from platformers and into more “advanced” retro gaming. First comes Wasteland 2 which isn’t “old school” so much as it is the resurrection of an old-school franchise that has been promised to cleave closely to the original which was popular some 20 years ago. Recently, the Legend of Grimrock has gone up for pre-order. This game is so very much in the vein of early PC dungeon crawlers like Eye of the Beholder and Dungeon Master, but with improved graphics and advanced physics and some new mechanics (I assume). So we’re not just seeing a resurgence of a single trope from the early days of video games, we’re seeing a repeat performance of the evolution of gaming that’s brought us to where we are today.
I’m very happy to see Wasteland 2 and Legend of Grimrock, and I hope we get more games being made or re-made from this period. This was the time during the early days of the gaming industry that I remember the most, and the best, and I appreciate the idea that we’ve finally moved into the period where developers started to recognize that video games could offer more than just running and jumping.