Ask the Kliq: Week 2
Every once in a while, you will think about video games and then ask yourself a question that has no rhyme or reason, but that just happened to pop in your head at that exact moment. In some rare instances, not even Google or Wikipedia can provide the answer you need. Sometimes you wouldn’t even need an answer to that question.
This is where we come in.
Our panel of experts is here to take on all of your video games-related questions, no matter how serious or silly they may be. Each week, we will submit a question to this elite committee, which will in turn try to provide you, our beloved readers, with the most accurate answer they can come up with.
Do you have a question for us? Shoot us an e-mail at kapoutman AT hotmail.com with the subject line “Ask the Kliq”. The best questions will be featured in an upcoming column.
This Week’s Question
Mega Man has gone retro with the newest instalment of the franchise, Mega Man 9, using an 8-bit style of graphics and gameplay. When looking at the crowd reaction online, it seems like most fans are pleased with this move, as it serves a healthy dose of nostalgia along with brand new levels, bosses and weapons. It’s the past and the present walking hand in hand, and people couldn’t be happier. With that in mind, this week’s question is…
Which series would YOU like to see go retro?
Charlie Marsh: The first one that comes to mind is Sonic. That series needs to go back to what put it on the map: running really, really fast. Secret Rings kind of succeeds in that respect, but the “Mission” format the game had just killed all the momentum the game built up over the course of a level. I don’t think it was a bad game, but it was hard to get into it when the gameplay was interrupted every 2-5 minutes to go back to the title screen. Sonic Adventure was good but dragged like hell once you finished Sonic, Tails and Knuckles’ levels. A return to form would be good for the series.
I’d like to see more New Super Mario Bros. games, too. That’s pretty much my favorite game on the DS right now. It doesn’t need the 8-bit graphics (though that would be kinda cool) but the retro style of gameplay; run and jump through the stage from beginning to end and save the princess, is always fun. It doesn’t need a back-story from a storybook that was COMPLETELY tacked on in Galaxy.
There are two problems though: 1) many series don’t really need a retro makeover (as I think Mega Man did) and 2) I don’t think many gamers would accept retro-style games, as we are in the era of HD graphics and immersing gameplay. Retro-style games would work as cheap DLC – like Mega Man and Bionic Commando (and a 2-D Metroid would be cool) – but I can’t imagine what gamers today would think of paying $30-$50 for game that looks and plays like it came out 20 years ago. And that makes me sad, but what are you gonna do?
Christopher Bowen: NHL ’94 for the modern times. Yes, there’s a website out there that does something similar, but that requires a ROM and patching said ROM, which is icky and yucky and bad. If EA Sports released an updated version of NHL ’94, with the fighting from ’93 put back in, with no other gameplay modes changed, and updated with modern rosters, teams, and including a full season? I’d buy it. Shit, I’d even pay $30 for it. They’ve been trying to add NHL ’94-like elements to modern games – the alternate control scheme in NHL ’09, the overly-simplistic gameplay in NHL ’06, etc. – but nothing’s hit the nail on the head yet.
Alex Lucard: My instinctive answer at this point is “MAKE A GOD DAMN SHINING FORCE GAME LIKE THEY ARE MEANT TO BE.” But it appears we’re finally getting one of those from Japan in 2k9, so keep your fingers crossed on that one.
Other than that, there are no series I especially want to go retro. There are some old retro series I’d like to see come back witht he same style of gameplay and 2-d graphics though, and those are mainly 2-D side scrolling beat ’em ups. I’d love a new Double Dragon, Battle Toads, River City Ransom or some other button masher of their ilk.
Aaron Sirois: One thing that has always astounded me is that there hasn’t been a true Starfox game since Starfox 64. I don’t want to run around a planet or commanding a squad. When I want to play Starfox, I want to be doing barrel rolls, u-turns, and switch into all range mode all while blasting away a near endless amount of Andross’s minions. Is that so much to add?
And what happened to Donkey Kong? Now all he’s doing is bad racing games and the occasional rhythm game. Where’s the smooth platforming and awesome level design? It is so sad to see the star of one of my favorite games of all time get relegated to a bunch of Mario sports games.
Adam Powell: Xenogears. I absolutely loved the first game. Played it back when I was first learning about Jungian psychology and gnosticism in college (and reading too much pk dick, natch). I am an absolute sucker for what I’ve long called square clichés (there is always trial, subsequent escape from jail via sewers, floating city, crashing said city into the sea, princess in disguise, etc) and this one seemed to hit all of them, but had a unique fighting system, interesting, well done anime-style cut scenes, and you kill god with a giant robot, for chrissakes. Then came Xenosaga and the whole thing just seemed unnecessarily convoluted and dull.
ML Kennedy: After playing Super Paper Mario, I very much wanted a “paper” version of, well, every classic video game franchise. Alas, this third dimension fad doesn’t seem to be passing any time soon.
So, I’m going to have to say Metroid. There have been rumblings of a 2D Metroid game for the DS (Metroid Dread) for nigh on 3 years. Nintendo always denies these rumors. They are mean.
Chris Pankonin: Contra. Yeah, I know they released a “new” version for Nintendo DS but I’d love to see it back on a console. I downloaded the “classic” version on XBL Arcade last year and it was a great blast from the past. It’s easily one of my all time favorite games, and seriously – who wouldn’t want to use the Contra code one more time?
Matt Yaeger: None that I can think of. Even with some series getting worse I’d rather companies try new things then let series get stale.
Bryan Berg: To be honest, any old-school platformer would be awesome. But I would love to see a retro version of Ninja Gaiden. I’m sure the new ones are wonderful, but they’re not the style I grew up with. This is a franchise that was so special, but barely resembles its roots. It’d be nice to see a nice old-school version of Ninja Gaiden, and given the impossible difficulty of the original, it just might work.
Misha: Retro Mario Kart.
I remember the first time I played Mario Kart 64… My response was “what the hell have they done to my game??” Seriously, it was WTF-central. The original was beautiful in its simplicity, yet had hidden depths.
Double Dash was OK-to-good in multiplayer, Mario Kart Wii is reasonable (old school levels get love from me), but MK in 3D has been unchanged at its core since the N64, and it’s just not as much fun as the original, which is still the gold standard.
Guy Desmarais: I’m gonna have to agree with Aaron. As a big fan of platforming game, I think that Donkey Kong needs to stop being a gimmick character with his bongos and barrel jets (even though the Donkey Konga games were a lot of fun) and go back to being a platforming star. Just a simple, side-scrolling game with DK and Diddy jumping around, climbing vines and beating up reptiles in brand-new levels. I also think that King K. Rool is a lot of fun as a villain, so he should see more action.
Nathan Birch: This is a tougher one than you’d think at first. There are certainly a lot of old series I’d like to see back, but not necessarily in retro form. I’d like a new turn-based Phantasy Star, but as good as Phantasy Star II was I don’t really need a new game in that style in 2008.
One thing I wouldn’t mind seeing is a return of old Lucasarts or Sierra-style adventure games with 8 or 16-bit level graphics. During the 90s all the focus in the adventure genre went towards presentation, with more and more attention paid to graphics and sound and very little towards innovation. Eventually everyone except the hardcore fans of the genre stopped playing because of the same old gameplay, the high production values became too expensive to justify and the genre died.
Even today the small independent adventure developers are stuck in the same cycle, devoting all their time to faked-impressive visuals (I say faked because most still use antiquated pre-rendered backgrounds to keep the detail high) instead of innovation. I’d love to see some developers instead ignore the presentation, go with Maniac Mansion style visuals and focus on creating some really original gameplay. Sierra could revive some of their old series and put very small teams of say half a dozen people on a new King’s Quest or Space Quest. The games could be sold as downloadable 5 or 10 dollar titles, maybe even as cellphone games.
The upshot is if they come up with unique ideas in these low-budget, low-risk adventure games they could perhaps then use these new ideas in higher budget titles down the road and really reinvigorate the genre.
Mark B.: First off, while I imagine I’m going to be branded a heathen by the staff for this, it needs to be said: unless Mega Man 9 is coming to WiiWare, XBLA and PSN for five dollars (which, by all indications, it is not), I’m not at all excited about it. Bionic Commando Re-Armed and Mega Man Powered Up are perfectly fine examples of “retro” gaming, in that they mostly retain the old, 8-bit play mechanics of the games they’re based on, while also featuring updated visuals and audio, and as such, they’re pretty neat. Releasing a four megabyte NES game as a grand celebration of all things old-school and charging me ten dollars for it is highway robbery, and while I’m absolutely certain that most people don’t agree with me, I don’t care. If you think that paying ten dollars for an NES game when Nintendo is charging five for almost all of the other NES games is fine and dandy, be my guest, and when you’re sitting around complaining about how no one makes original games anymore I’ll be certain to stop off and spit in your eye.
As far as what franchise needs to be given a retro update, well, Square Enix has announced a PSP sequel for Parasite Eve, and generally speaking, if any game needs to go back to its roots, it would be that. Parasite Eve was severely in-depth, featured a great customization system, and was generally a whole lot of fun, while Parasite Eve 2 was generally shallow and boring in comparison. I’m sure SE is focusing on making some sort of new and improved combat system for the game, as they’ve done for so many other products, but honestly, nothing they are going to create is going to be better than the first game unless it plays like the first game, so I’m kind of hoping that’s the direction they try and go in, instead of, say, making it like Crisis Core, because that would break my black little heart.
That’s all for this week. Do you have a question of your own which you want our experts to answer? Send an e-mail to kapoutman AT hotmail.com with the subject line “Ask the Kliq”. We’ll put our team right on it.