As I sit here and write this article, gamers are caught in something of a feud. Do we sit by our last-gen consoles, hold their metaphorical hand and whisper to them, ‘Everything’s going to be alright’? Or do we trade them in at our local CeX, say ‘Enough’s enough!’ and bag ourselves a new console? I want to, but I’m not sure that I can.
Ever since I first owned a PS1, I can’t say I’ve ever faced this problem. As a child, I’d spend hours upon hours of my time riding around on a skateboard as Spyro the Dragon, or spinning like a crazy person, merely to obtain fruit from a box as Crash Bandicoot. Yet, as I flicked through the Argos catalogue, I saw what appeared to be a message from the future – the words ‘PS2’.
I’d had fun with my faithful buddy, but it was time to move on. Time to move onto what would become the joys of Simpsons: Hit and Run and Battlefront 2. New memories would be made, existing friendships would be destroyed as we decide who plays as the Republic and who has to settle for the Droid army. That‘s what getting a new console was about – new adventures. Now I feel that, as a gamer, I’m beginning to become undermined.
As the PS4 was unveiled, I was excited at the thought of its brand-spanking new features, at the thought of indulging myself into the warm embrace of Infamous: Second Son and Killzone: Shadow Fall. As Bilbo Baggins had once said: ‘I’m going on an adventure!’, I thought to myself.
But then the HD remakes came in.
Left, right and centre came HD remakes of every goddamn adventure I’d spent seven years of my life creating precious memories for. The Last of Us, Minecraft, Tomb Raider, Grand Theft Auto V. Any swansong that the PS3 has had in the last few years is being ‘re-made for a new generation’, as Sony puts it (who, quite frankly, are the same generation just upgrading to a new console).
More importantly, Sony’s decision to do this is to invite the Wii players in who were too busy playing on a Wii instead of a precious PS3. Personally, I think that beats the whole point of what it means to be a gamer. These remakes are doing one of two things: 1. Taking away what it means to be part of a generation of gamers. 2. Taking a great, stonking dump on what it means to delve back into old consoles.
I may not be a big Wii gamer, but I have a friend who is. He spent countless amounts of time (and, not to his shame, money) on the Wii Shop, buying old classic titles like Donkey Kong and Mega Man. These titles aren’t remade or redefined in any way. They are what they are.
Not only that, but he took us to a video games convention in Sheffield a few months back. It was like your gaming stereotype brought to life, ten fold. A small room full of hundreds of geeky, sweaty men, all hopelessly running around to find a cheap-as-chips NES console, because godammit, who doesn’t want an NES?
The above two moments made me see that gaming’s about – delving into the past for what it is. Take the original Star Wars trilogy. When it was released on DVD in 1997, did die-hard fans get the glorious films their parents saw thirty years ago? Oh no, they got a trilogy plastered with a George Lukas ‘seal of approval’, meaning a new generation didn’t get to experience the pure joy of a movie not written by George Lukas.
I think these remakes are missing the point. Don’t give us a reason to dump our old-consoles because something prettier’s come along. No, give us a reason to keep on playing. Games like ‘Assassin’s Creed: Rogue’ are just an example of why last-gen still matters. Cross-gen games and these “remakes” aren’t. I don’t care if The Last of Us is out again, because if memory serves me right, DLC packages are still being released on the PS3.
Sure, I sometimes lie awake at night thinking, ‘What would an HD Lord of the Rings: The Third Age look like?’. But I’m glad it doesn’t exist – because it still gives me a reason to dust off my PS2 and give it a whirl. I’m kind of thankful that Sony hasn’t created cross-compatibility PS2 for the PS3, and PS3 for the PS4, because it shows the big dogs still care about playing your ‘old’ consoles, and re-igniting the memories we had just as they are.
Or, you know, that’s the Disney ‘fairy-tale ending’ I wanted out of this article.