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 Classic games offered new life

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PostSubject: Classic games offered new life   Sat Jul 17, 2010 8:04 am







Editor's note: Scott Steinberg is the head of technology and video game consulting firm TechSavvy Global, as well as the founder of GameExec magazine and Game Industry TV. He frequently appears as an on-air technology analyst for ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX and CNN. His most recent book is "Get Rich Playing Games."


The more things change, the more they play the same.

Credit a growing onslaught of video game remakes, as evidenced by recent blasts from the past from "Monkey Island 2 Special Edition" to a modernized spin on "Rocket Knight."

Helping bridge the gap between generations, these titles look to be a major force in gaming going forward, much to the delight of fans new and old.

There are several reasons why retro gaming is suddenly flourishing again.

Thanks partially goes to the growing accessibility of high-speed broadband, the burgeoning market for smartphones and other connected devices, and a rise in public awareness of modern PC and consoles' ability to download games on-demand.

But while 50 million iPhones have been sold, and services like Xbox Live and PlayStation Network now boast tens of millions of subscribers, fundamental economic factors are also at play here.

Consider that games designed for digital distribution services are typically smaller, are easier to assemble and cost less for publishers to deliver -- savings that often translate into lower price tags.

At the same time, cash-strapped yet tech-savvy players are increasingly looking for ways to stretch every dollar. For publishers looking to offset the risks associated with spending tens of millions of dollars and countless years creating traditional blockbusters, it often presents an opportunity too good to ignore.

Dipping into their back catalogue of games and dusting off popular franchises with small but loyal built-in followings can many times provide a profitable sideline.

Even free Facebook apps or fan-made outings such as the episodic "King's Quest" update "The Silver Lining" can help developers gauge public interest in updates or stir up excitement for planned reboots.

Classic games from "Contra" ("Hard Corps: Uprising") to "Castlevania," "Bionic Commando" to "Rush'N Attack," are all due to get an extreme makeover shortly.

But nostalgia also continues to be a powerful force on traditional gaming platforms like the PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

Rehashes of old favorites including "NBA Jam," "Donkey Kong Country," "Splatterhouse," "Metroid," "GoldenEye 007" and "Mortal Kombat" are all due shortly.

Series like "Myst," "Final Fantasy," "Tetris" and "The Legend of Zelda" continue to thrive on handheld platforms too, with even yesteryear's longest-running holdout, "Kid Icarus," getting a much-overdue comeback on the Nintendo 3DS shortly.

The iPhone and iPad are playing home to revamps of "Frogger," "R-Type," "Pac-Man" and other retro franchises.

Classic online storefronts such as the Wii's Virtual Console continue to offer access to childhood hits including "Punch-Out!!" and "Super Mario Bros" (both of which have also been reborn on the Wii courtesy of custom retreads).

Today's smartest game publishers aren't content to let their titles fall into the category of "abandonware," or software that's become discontinued and unsupported. Instead, they're learning that with a little bit of spit and polish, even the mustiest old gems can once again shine.

Resourceful video game fans know that software emulators like MAME, DOSBox and ZSNES have long allowed enthusiasts, legally or not, to relive the magic of yesteryear's arcade and home gaming hits.

But all you can do with them is watch virtual history repeat itself. With classic gaming icons ranging from Guybrush Threepwood to Sonic the Hedgehog all lining up for extreme makeovers lately, going forward, you may get a chance to rewrite it instead.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Scott Steinberg.



Source: CNN





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