If Old Games Were Made Today…

Plenty of people would argue that today’s games are influenced by yesterday’s games. For example, jumping puzzles are not as common as they once were because game developers have learned that jumping puzzles generally suck, something we wouldn’t know if game after game didn’t use such puzzles as filler. Likewise, using the WASD keys to control the game is so pervasive, no one even thinks twice about putting it in a game such as Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, a game that is not targeted to hardcore audiences, the only ones who would expect to use WASD.

But what would happen if old games were made for the first time today? Would they be the same games, or would “conventional wisdom” dictate changes? Below are a few guesses:

  • Donkey Kong, Mario Bros, and Berzerk wouldn’t be considered casual enough. Significant changes would need to take place to make them more acceptable to mainstream audiences. Donkey Kong would need to throw different colored barrels that Jumpman would need to collect and match. Player clicks would dictate where Mario and Luigi should go and in what order to clean the pipes. Robots in Berzerk would be changed to colorful bugs, and the player would control the bouncing smiley face to try to save the flowers that for some reason are growing everywhere.
  • Pac-man, Space Invaders, and Asteroids would provide medals with different shapes, names, and colors. Collect all of the medals, and show off to your friends!
  • Centipede would be made into an RTS based on insects. There would be three factions, each with different abilities. Koreans would watch people play this game in stadiums and on television.
  • Tetris would feature pop music and psychedelic colors flashing to a beat.
  • Defender would be panned as too simplistic as the enemies don’t shoot nearly often enough to provide a real challenge.
  • SimCity would be considered too free form. There should be specific goals, such as destroying as many buildings as possible in three minutes or tearing up the streets to prevent the SimCitizens from getting to work on time. Also, you would need to match three Residential Zones to get the condos, not just two. Eventually politicians would blast it for providing training to terrorists since they could set the city on fire or cause an earthquake on command.
  • Jack Thompson would point to Custer’s Revenge as typical of sex-and-violence training simulators being marketed to children and takes it upon himself to “shutdown Mystique”. Sales of the game would skyrocket due to the publicity.
  • E.T. would have multiplayer modes featuring kids flying through moonlit skies and saving dying flowers. Co-op mode would feature multiple phone components strewn throughout the world. Naturally, it would be a prime candidate for in-game advertising, specifically for The Hershey Company’s Reese’s Pieces. E.T. would still be considered the worst video game ever, and I would probably still be the only person who liked it.

Any other guesses?

12 comments to If Old Games Were Made Today…

  • Bubble Bobble would feature ingame ads of gum. You don’t just get the _ping_ gum… you get the new Mentos, which can also be lethaly combined with the coke fruity .

  • GB – I enjoyed E.T. as well, and you’d have to be a moron (or at least never watched the movie) to not understand what it was about. I did get frustrated at the pits but other than that quite enjoyable, and I did win like once or twice.

    Of course i’ve not played it in years and years.

    Obviously it’s not the greatest game, and maybe not even that good, but at least it’s not total trash. I think most people are younger than us and they look at it and say it was crap, but then it was atari 2600, and while you could compare it to some of the atari’s good games, the good games didn’t look that much better. I don’t think most people that say it was total trash really did actually play it.

    That line about the carts being buried in a land fill or a desert somewhere is misplaced. They did that because they over-estimated consumer demand, and then of course when people didn’t like it, the sales did worse. Possibly if they had underhyped it, and then released a limited amount of them, it might be considered a true classic today as it’s mostly about the public’s perception.

  • Keith: I played E.T. when I was really young, and I think that game has the honor of being the first one that had instructions that I actually read. Without those instructions, I didn’t know what I was doing in that game, although running away from the two adults and feeling safe with the kid became two obvious subgoals. I agree that a lot of people today don’t know what they are talking about when they laugh and say it was the worst game ever, but it does have the distinction of being the game that ushered in the video game crash.

    I still have my Atari 2600 on a shelf in the living room, and E.T. is in the collection of games next to it. B-)

  • Sigh, I donno about this “old games are grrrrreat” stuff people in my generation keep going to. Last year I’d gone back and replayed many of my favorite games and I was hugely disappointed at them….HUGELY.

    The mega-man series, most of them are butt-easy, perhaps cause I remembered which boss to fight first, or perhaps cause the new Mega-man games are much harder…

    Contra…omfg…I can one credit the game after not playing it for years??

    Duck-hunt…my zapper gun doesn’t work right anymore :-(

    Myst…eh, I remember most of the puzzles

    Mechwarrior 2 + expansions, it was kinda boring, probably cause it was sorta easy.

    Those genesis sonic games…these were pretty easy to, and their speed wasn’t as cool as before.

    Altered Beast…I finally beat the game, felt really slugglish movement wise.

    However, I did find a glut of games that were still fun for me:
    Tyrian / Graduis…shmups…the ones which were still hard when I first played them held up well. Perhaps my reflexes are dying…

  • There is something to be said about improvements made on older games. I can’t go feel too motivated to go back and play the original Final Fantasy since there is just too much experience grind. I remember reading about Final Fantasy 3 for the SNES and how the developers made sure that you could travel from one plot point to another without having to worry about leveling up sufficiently. You get spoiled after enough improvements come along.

    Sometimes I wish that old games would get remade with the only change being an improvement in the interface. Some games are only good because of untainted memories of playing what is actually only passable as fun today.

  • Zork… If made today, it would be a fully featured MMORPG… ‘Noobs’ would most likely all be eaten by a grue, because the interface wouldn’t allow them to simply click on a low-level monster to eradicate it. Endless expansions and patches would keep the programmers well fed on pizza. The first bug found *after* beta would be that the letter in the mailbox can’t be examined.

  • Sorry, GB, you as a retrogamer are in a market of people who just don’t buy games. And since its economics which drives most things, unless you make something yourself…you probably aren’t going to get what you crave :-(

    Though, I wonder how hard it would be to just recreate something old, and polish it to remove whatever sucked….though, Hasbro would probably sue you.

  • [...] Gianfranco Berardi ponders how would it been If Old Games Were Made Today?. Fine thinking, and be sure to read also the comments if you want to know what Bubble Bobble would have been like… [...]

  • [...] The next award goes to the blogger who created the Most Frightening Alternate Reality. Frankly, if the winner’s prediction came true I think we’d all be imitating lemmings and running for the nearest cliff. The winner is… Gianfranco Berardi, for his article “If Old Games Were Made Today?“ [...]

  • [...] I haven’t had a chance to read all the other entries yet, but I liked The Top 3 Problems with Xbox Live Arcade and If Old Games Were Made Today?. James Newton has written a very nice overview of all the stories that were submitted. [...]

  • I I’m sure I would hate Tetris if it were made today. Part of its appeal is the simplicity of the game. The music is ignorable during gameplay, but if you hear it while you are not playing it is immediately recognizable. Changing those things and it is not the same game at all.

  • Jigsaw HC points out something that really highlights the issue. If those old games were made *exactly* the way they had been before BUT they also were not made in the past (so you never played them as a kid), you’r think they suck.

    The idea is, the games are good / great, but its the emotional conneciton to that game / music etc WITH OTHER THINGS which makes you guys think they’re so unmatchable. Its their association with your childhood, with great memories which really makes you guys love them….its not just the game

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