Gaming History 101

Know Your Roots

Strength in Numbers

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Anniversaries.  As time progresses everything ages at the same pace and with each passing year a ton of video games hit new milestones.  Popular titles from the past can be revisited in short periods of time for the sake of nostalgia or the chance to finally complete a difficult game for the first time¹.  Since no one day can go by without something in the video game industry reaching a notable age, it’s no surprise that retro articles are riddled with regular anniversary celebrations.  This site will be no exception.

Sonic 20thGaming companies have now begun to celebrate series anniversaries themselves on a more consistent basis.  In some cases I feel these creations are warranted, but I find myself frowning a bit when it’s a last-ditch effort to revitalize an intellectual property that should have died off long ago.  I think the better anniversary is the for titles that stand on their own and you rarely think about until they are brought up.  A perfect example of this is Chrono Trigger.  Despite a few remakes and Square’s occasional interest in bringing attention to the title, it’s mostly one for the nostalgia vault.  Thankfully, unlike so many other titles, Chrono Trigger holds up today and stands as an individual game even though it technically has two other entries in the series².  Oddly enough, even though the game celebrated 15 years in 2010, it received a GBA port on its 13th birthday and didn’t come to virtual console and PSN until this year (its 16th anniversary).  This only further proves that incremental numbers aren’t always on a publisher’s top priority list.

Of all the anniversary celebrations, Nintendo still remains the biggest mystery of them all.  To be fair, Nintendo has never done things in a “traditional” way and has almost never catered to fans of any series when it comes to revisiting the past.  Sure, the virtual console and several collections from years past prove that Nintendo has no problem shoveling the same titles to us console generation after console generation, but they never deliver a well-rounded package.  A perfect example of this are the recent 25th anniversary celebrations of both Mario and Zelda.

Zelda 25th

For Mario we received a re-release of Super Mario All-Stars, which originally released on the SNES with graphically updated versions of Super Mario Bros. 1-3 and Lost Levels (Japan’s Super Mario Bros. 2).  Instead of making any changes to the original SNES rom, Nintendo instead opted to use up an entire DVD for probably 20 MB of content with absolutely no extras.  Included in the package was a soundtrack that consisted of the title track to all major Mario games and a “history book” that roughly chronicles Mario’s entire series in a few paragraphs with large pictures that are taken right out of owners manuals.  At $30 US, this collection was about 30 percent more expensive than buying each game individually on the virtual console and the SNES Mario All-Stars, which is no different, should only cost $8 by virtual console pricing standards.  This means that a quick thrown together package was released to net Nintendo some quick bucks instead of offering historical content or games to show the little plumber some love and respect.  Even more odd is the fact that Zelda’s 25th anniversary this year is celebrated by no collection at all and a weak cross-promotion with the 3DS release of Ocarina of Time.  While OoT is great and all in 3D, I think selling a 13-year-old game that’s available for $10 on the virtual console for a whopping $40 isn’t quite the anniversary celebration I had expected.  Oh well, I digress, Nintendo will do what it wants and instead of re-living the glory days by picking up the originals, gamers will consistently rely on trying to find cheap digital alternatives that publishers won’t release.  As a result, emulation is rampant and no one truly knows what it’s like to play these games³.

Halo AnniversaryIf you are a fan of old school games, there’s always a reason to celebrate.  These titles will often hold a memory or two in the hearts of some gamers and remain significant in name only for others.  In 2011 alone we have Donkey Kong turning 30, Zelda, Metroid, and Castlevania turning 25, Street Fighter and Sonic turning 20, plus Resident Evil and Tomb Raider turning 15.  It’s a banner year to look fondly back at these franchises.  Even Halo turning 10 years old is being celebrated with an HD remake, which is an awkward trend that we will be discussing in tomorrow’s post.  Whether it’s by publishers hoping to cash in on previous properties, a false marketing campaign for brand strength or simply a web site trying to generate hits, anniversaries are definitely here to stay.  Hopefully we will start to see celebrations of more obscure and impressive titles of gaming’s past so that you can read about a game you’ve never played yourself and are tempted to dig up (can I get a shout out to Salamander please?).

1: I just beat Zelda 2: Adventures of Link for the first time this year
2: The other technical additions to the Chrono Trigger series are Satelliview’s Radical Dreamers and Playstation’s Chrono Cross.
3: PC emulation has come a long way, but I personally find that the only true way to play a game is on its original console without technical glitches and graphical overhauls (ie: purist).

Written by Fred Rojas

October 18, 2011 at 6:09 pm

One Response

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  1. I?m impressed, I must say. Really hardly ever do I encounter a blog that?s each educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you have got hit the nail on the head. Your thought is outstanding; the issue is something that not enough individuals are speaking intelligently about. I am very comfortable that I stumbled across this in my seek for something referring to this.

    Echo Huckabaa

    October 21, 2011 at 4:57 am

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