Gaming History 101

Know Your Roots

Opinion: Don’t Try to Re-write History With Your Fanboyism

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battletoads

Guys, lets face it, nostalgia is a bitch.  I even wrote an article about this in the past, but beyond my casual forewarning, I would like to extend a realistic look at what is going on today in gaming.  Some big fans are trying to re-write history with how much they love games that, in hindsight, weren’t all that good.  You’ll notice that I said “how much they love games” and “in hindsight”, which I would like to break down.  People who are massive unapologetic fans of fair-to-poor quality games should not be told they are wrong because they aren’t.  Your opinion is your own and without even a discussion you have a right to it, not to mention those that can properly make an argument for why they love a game, but realize your opinion is shrouded in nostalgia or just a lack of basic sense.

Night_Trap_CoverIf you’re ready to reach through the monitor and choke me, don’t worry, I get it.  I’m an unapologetic fan of Night Trap, which is a terrible video game and potentially even debatable as a video game at all.  I know it’s a bad game, I can tell just by looking at it or reading what I wrote about it.  Still, when I boot it up on my console, there is this sudden rush of happiness and I have a blast with it.  That game never changes, it’s the same sequence of events it has always been to the point that I have almost memorized the entire sequence of some odd 100 enemy spawns and I even know when to watch what camera to see various events.  It’s not nostalgia either, I don’t imagine myself at 12 years old again and I don’t think my life was all that great around that time anyway, it’s just an odd game that clicked with me and that has never changed.  All that said, I would never claim that Night Trap is a good game nor would I stand strong in a brigade to bring it back.  It’s true, there was a Kickstarter for the updated version, Night Trap ReVamped, and I am one of the 664 backers who contributed and one of the 12 who offered up $500 to get my hands on all the original design documents and the original Scene of the Crime demo as mentioned in our NEMO/FMV episode of GH101.  I was clearly a strong contributor but you’ll notice in all of those episodes I warned people of the dangers of backing the game, the fact that it was not an investment and I may never see what I want, and that I was not on a crusade to get it funded.  It would be irresponsible of me to do so for such a terrible game.

battletoads_nesThat’s why it saddens me to see people pushing so hard for games like BattletoadsBanjo-KazooieConker’s, and we should probably lump Sonic in there somewhere as well.  Sorry guys, these weren’t particularly great series and they hold up even less strongly when you return to them or analyze sequels.  Let’s tackle the 500 lb elephant in the room first: Battletoads.  This was a game developed by Rare on the NES in 1991 and had some pretty fancy graphics, a really cool first boss battle, and a clear rip-off of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  What you may miss about this game while you’re gushing like a love-starved teen is that the game is brutally hard, almost no one has beaten it, and it requires you to basically memorize the game to get beyond the second or third level.  Ask anyone, the first level is a piece of cake, but then you get to the nearly unfair tunnel descend and the subsequent speeder bike level that requires the reaction time of a teenager (which is why we were so good at it back then).  This is a massive barrier to entry that no one seems to talk about.  Furthermore I know of only like two friends out of at least a hundred that ever got past these first three levels and there are twelve levels in total.  Sorry to be a dick here, but I hardly think that playing 25 percent or less of a game makes you qualified to assess its merits unbiased.  Couple that with the sequels like the Gameboy port, the arcade port that I never knew existed until six months ago, or the dreaded Battletoads in Battlemaniacs that was so much easier on the other side of the spectrum it was seen as boring and garnered mostly low 70s scores.  I’ll be nice and not even touch Battletoads and Double Dragon because I don’t want to have to fight double duty with the people that won’t accept that Double Dragon fits this category as well (even though I love the NES version too).  You got your sequels, your attempts, not many liked them.  For those who have beaten it, it’s like the Souls crowd, which I’m learning more and more does not include Bloodborne, who are great at this brutally hard game and don’t seem very welcoming for people to give it a try.  This leaves a vocal few who are blasting for a game no one asked for, few want, and the industry does not need.  How many of these so-called fans are going to complain when it comes out on Xbox One, the only platform it can be released for due to Rare being owned by Microsoft, and claim that they would buy it but only if it was on a different platform (here come the Wii U owners and the PC elitists).  This leaves Microsoft in an odd place because they are far too large to look like anything but terrible if they do a crowd funding option and they are potentially putting jobs and money at risk to make a new game that inevitably most people won’t like or buy.  It’s lose-lose.  I propose that we do what Jeff Gerstman said on a recent Giant Bombcast: release the original on Xbox Live for free and see how many download and play it, you’ll see interest on this game drop significantly.  I will admit, however, that I’m just fine with the guys being in Shovel Knight, that’s a cross over I can live with and hurts no one.

yooka layleeLet’s go even easier, Project Yooka-Laylee, Banjo-Kazooie spiritual successor from former Rare devs that launched on Kickstarter and was fully funded to the tune of $1.5 million in a day.  At this point it’s expected to top the $2 million mark, so open shut case, right?  The community has spoken and they want another Banjo-Kazooie.  That’s fine and this game will, hopefully, be made and all will be well in the world.  You don’t actually expect it to live up to the expectations of the original, do you?  Let’s face it, the original game was Rare at its highest point with the only flaw seeming to be certain ideas were split into Donkey Kong 64 while others ended up in Banjo-Kazooie.  It’s a good game.  From that point on we spiraled into the comparatively much weaker Banjo-Tooie, the only really solid game in the series Nuts & Bolts, and a handful of re-releases on Xbox 360 that were quite impressive N64 updates.  All had one thing in common: they sold terribly.  That’s why you never got a sequel guys, you didn’t buy the games when they came out!  The same can be said for Conker’s Bad Fur Day, which tanked when it was re-released on Xbox as Live & Reloaded.  Microsoft was trying to gauge whether you wanted it or not by offering previous iterations to try and then seeing what sold.  The answer was that nothing sold.  Even Rare’s Kameo, a similar style game, failed to see very strong sales despite being a gorgeous and fun launch game.  Even Conker is coming back, but only as a paid download pack in Project Spark – a free game I might add, which means you only buy the actual content pack you want – and will include a campaign and feel from the original.  No one is talking about it and no one will buy it.  Why?  Because these games aren’t that good and you can harp on these titles all you want but when it comes down to dropping money you are nowhere to be found.

conker

I bring this all up because as a person who loves old school games, has a personal love for a terrible game (and probably many more than one), and loves to see games come back I am sick of the wasted time on these games that only look good on a logo.  Leave the N64 early learning platformers be, you don’t see Crash Bandicoot, Croc, or even Spyro fans clamoring for a remake, meanwhile Banjo-Kazooie has gotten many more opportunities and failed financially at every step.  That’s not even to say that Battletoads is probably one of the few third party NES games most younger gamers can even name from the era.  If you want these games, go ahead and crowd fund, contribute, or make your private love fest blog, but stop pushing your agenda on the Internet.  This goes double for all of those mainstream media sites that are sitting here trying to claim Battletoads is a great game.  If it’s so freaking wonderful then I challenge any of those mainstream sites that are claiming the game is so amazing to do a complete playthrough of the game, with commentary, and tell my why it’s fantastic because the only guy who I’ve seen do it was Arino on Game Center CX and he wasn’t impressed at all.

Written by Fred Rojas

May 5, 2015 at 11:43 am

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