I distinctly remember the sense of awe and wonder when I played The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker for the first time. Never before had a game captivated me to the point that every beat of the music, every time Link kicked up dust as he ran, or as the symphony would crescendo during a battle that I would get such a kick of childish euphoria! So, imagine my glee when Nintendo announced that my first love would be getting a HD polish and a re-release on the current gen staple of my living room – I was happy to say the least! But, here’s the kicker, not all gamers are alike and for every squealing, starry eyed fan boy there are a dozen of naysayers demanding originality, protesting that one’s beloved Nintendo are milking the proverbial cash cow for some quick Rupees.
Quite the divergence.
Current gen ports of older titles seems to be an ever popular move with so many publishers in recent days, but no two ports are the same, some are little more than drop onto the new format, others (such as Wind Waker) come with a graphical and gameplay overhaul, new features, controls and so on.
So, where’s the best place to stand with all these new titles? Is it really worthwhile splashing out on ports of games that you a) already own and b) have already beaten, for the sake of padding out a sparse games library? Pssht. That’s up to you. From where I’m standing, (and I’ve been through five generations of Nintendo’s home consoles, four PlayStations, three Xbox’s and I’m not even going to count all the Game Boys and DS’s) I believe that the key is both moderation and common sense.
I relish the opportunity to play some of my favourite titles on my current console, but re-releasing EVERYTHING just seems like a waste of time, especially if that dreaded £49.99 price tag comes part of the deal.
Publishers should look back, not just at the games they should port, but the way we used to do it in the good ole’ days (feeling old now) – we had PlayStation’s Platinum games and Nintendo’s Player’s Choice, re-releases of the most popular titles at a fair price to make them available to players once stock had dried up. The system wasn’t perfect, some fantastic titles were overlooked, but it stuck to a pretty solid rule of thumb: sell a million copies, and keep the price down (usually around £19.99).
Gaming seems to be growing into a more and more expensive hobby, and ports aren’t much of an exception: we are talking about games that have already had their day, been in the charts, at full price, then sales…don’t slap it in a new box for a new console and call it Gold Edition, keep the price down, keep the price fair!
Let’s take a look at some examples…
The Last of Us: Remastered Edition (PS4) – launched at £54.99
Ok, this one may get me shot by some of my close friends…or at least shived. The Last of Us was a key game of the PS3’s final moments, a true classic from Naughty Dog (no surprise there), and it’s no surprise to see adopters of the PS4 hardware (many platform hopping from Xbox 360) wanting to have a romp around arguably the greatest title that has ever graced the PlayStation (with the exception of Ratchet & Clank…obviously). However, the price tag is steep, with a few new features and releasing slightly over a year after its original debut, jumping out at the highest possible price does just seem like a simple cash-in that wasn’t necessary.
Metroid Prime Trilogy (WiiU eStore) – launched at £9.00
Ok. Yes, I’m about to gush a bit about Nintendo – but in my defence this is the single best example of console porting done right. Metroid Prime was a staggering series that defined some of the key points that we enjoy in popular FPS’s today, the series began on GameCube and finished on the Wii. Every entry was beautiful to behold, enjoyed cool new features and simply epic aliens to pit your wits and cool arm-cannon-thing against. The Metroid Prime Trilogy originally released for Wii was a remastered version of the original two Gamecube titles and the final Wii entry with the new Wii control styles, widescreen/HD screen optimizing, art galleries and some other cool tidbits. The reason why this is great is simple, three games (they’re not individually short either), each one reviewed over 90 on Metacritic (97, 92, 90). The original Trilogy pack for the Wii quickly became one of the most sought after, and subsequently overpriced video games on the market. I’ve seen it in High Street stores recently preowned for £50, eBay is even more unforgiving, so to have Nintendo release it for the WiiU for less than a tenner, well, beam me up.
Personally I think publishers are missing a trick, I believe it’s time they look at their libraries and decide what NEEDS porting, and what doesn’t. Titles like Ni No Kuni would relish a PS4 polish, Ratchet & Clank (thy holy Lombax) has nearly fifteen games in his arsenal, a HD anthology would be WORTH paying £60 for, but a port of Halo 4 to Xbox One? How do you put a price on it? That, I guess, is what it comes down to. How much YOU are willing to pay for that dose of sweet calorific nostalgia? A publisher may slap a £60 price on something that they have already sold once before, and whilst yes, there is a considerable amount of work in porting old games over, there is something bittersweet about the whole affair.
Me? Well. I’ve revealed a bit too much of my preferences already, but one thing I do know for certain – I’d not choose a port over an original title. I don’t believe that a console generation made up of primarily ports, is going to be good for anyone.
Now excuse me while I continue to play Pokémon Snap from the Wii eStore on my WiiIU…