Dear E3 Santa, Gaming Industry Leaders, Legendary Gaming Spirits, and his grace, The Dorito Pope…
This year for E3, I have lots of games I wish you’d make for me but I already kind of know what’s coming anyway. You’ve either been banging on about them while riding the hype train, or you can’t keep secrets (or “can’t keep” secrets) to save yourselves. There’s a certain kind of game (or group of games, if you will), however, that will likely be announced several times, and it’ll have everyone losing their minds in some form or another over each and every one: “HD Remakes.” Or “Reboots.” Or “Reimaginings.’ Or new games that are bloated and festering with references to old titles. Whatever intellectually devoid juices you’re straining from our collective childhoods these days. Because a lot of these games are actually from my childhood, I’m not too old. Halo came out when I was 11.
Just like the tobacco industry, you guys hook us while we’re young.
They started as a kind of neat way to retrospectively look at the past of videogames through modern development technology and, since you usually used great old games for the process, we were cool with it. Lately, though, you’ve been doing it maybe a little bit too much, and it’s starting to stagnate your creativity. This idea of constantly revisiting old ground has seeped into the rest of the collective consciousness of the most reputable development studios and publishers among you. Halo first came out in 2001, and now in 2014 we’re about to see the reveal of it’s 11th title (Halo 5 Guardians). The franchise has even been handed over from one dev studio to another, being passed around by the publisher like a videogame pimp passing around “his old lady”.
Ubisoft, you went on record saying you won’t even consider launching a new IP anymore unless you can pump it for sequels, a sentiment whose oily mark glistens on Assassin’s Creed. That franchise first came out in 2007 and in the seven years hence added another fifteen titles to its catalog, with no sign of slowing down. Come on guys, all of those games came out in the span of a single generation and yet no one system can say that it has every one of the games; at that point, the hideous mutant beast of a franchise story you’ve created makes it difficult to justify such excess. You haven’t even really begun with the HD Remakes and Ultimate Collections in earnest yet, but I dread the forthcoming dark days when the Assassin’s Creed Retail Hulks thunder their way into stores.
“YARRR, LET THE SERIES DIE WITH DIGNITY, SHE DESERVES THAT MUCH.”
With all this in mind, my biggest E3 wish is that you all summon even an ounce of originality within yourselves, and move beyond straight up cannibalising our treasured gaming memories for profit. You’ve all got a quite a few huge original IP’s coming up*, and that’s great because some of them have me just super excited. On the flip side however is a lot of talk, and expectancy from the gaming community, for HD Remakes, Reboots, and Sequels galore. I know we’re more than just partially to blame for this, Gaming Industry, but you’re supposed to be above just always giving into what we want. Yeah we want an old Metal Gear Solid, with new graphics and a couple extra polishes; some fans were getting so impatient for such a thing that they went out of their way to make it happen themselves. You let them do it, Konami, which is great, because you have the means to do, and should be doing, something far better and more grandiose than simple remakes.
You’ve all already proven on some level that you’re willing to do that; The Metal Gear Solid Ultimate collection pulls together just about every game in the series into a single release, letting everyone play any one of the main games from all the way back to the original 1987 Metal Gear. You even threw in the VR missions that were locked off to anyone who didn’t have the original special editions. Mario Kart 8 has taken old tracks from the previous games and completely remodeled them, even altering the level design to incorporate new game mechanics. There are other HD Remakes or “Ultimate Collections” that have tried to go beyond just a simple re-release, but there are many more that are exactly that, and simply try to cash in on people purchasing on nostalgic impulse; but you’re thinking small, and since we’re too stupid to stop buying and prove a point, I’m asking for an E3 miracle.
This next part isn’t aimed at you alone, Konami, the rest of you can still take this idea and run with it into wonderful territories less explored; I feel if I didn’t at least suggest this for my E3 present then I, and the world, would never forgive me. Metal Gear Solid Online came close to what I have in mind, except I think it doesn’t quite go far enough in terms of what an all out Metal Gear firefight could be. Imagine a 3rd person shooter like Metal Gear Online that allowed you to pick from a roster of characters, choose from an artillery of weapons, and on battlefield settings, all of which drew from the enter franchises wealth of each. You could play as Young Solid Snake, buddy up with your friend who’s playing as Old Solid Snake, both firing the Mosin-Nagant rifles from Snake Eater, while riding a Metal Gear Rex across Big Shell’s surface. There might also be girlish screams from myself.
And you Nintendo, start doing something better and bolder with your flagship character, instead of slapping a cat suit on him and hoping nostalgia will do the rest. I want to play a Mario platformer that defies the genre conventions and even it’s own established tropes. Bring back warp pipes and have them take you to random places around the world map, to great treasures, or dangerous traps. A world map that doesn’t just go in a linear path, but a massive world that Mario must search, jump, and stomp through to find his goal. New enemies, old enemies, old enemies with new twists, new enemies with old twists, characters and monsters and items from across the franchise. Just something new, please, Nintendo, for the love of everything holy.
The games practically write themselves guys, you’re just using stuff you know and it’s not too different from what you’re already doing; but if you’re going to re-sell my childhood to me and call it “new”, then at least give it the respect it deserves and use more imagination that what you’re using right now. We get small tastes of this sort of thing in every old title given a new life, or a new title that tries to harken back to older elements without quite committing, and it just isn’t enough for me. I don’t want my old gaming memories to have a cheap sheen because a new coat of paint as been slathered on, I want them to blaze from the rocket packs of my ‘roided out childhood, using the fiery jet streams to fight aliens and roast faces.
Borderlands Pre-Sequel looks to be somewhat ahead of the curve, in this regard. Does it count if the game makes me feel like a child again?
This goes doubly for you, Nintendo, since I’m still waiting for your “triumphant return”. Mario Kart 8 was two steps forward, one step back. Fantastic gameplay but a god awful design, for reasons too numerous to list here, which was so disappointing because you had such great forward momentum! This was your chance to really break the mold, to create something that could push what the Wii U could do, and you blew it! You had a laundry list of characters to pick from, why not include every item from across the franchise too? Why only have eight cups? Why not sixteen? You’re already going back and recreating old tracks, do that for a few more if you’re not going to come up with any more original ones. I’m sick of paying full retail price for updated versions of what’s essentially the same game, and surely you can’t think you’re doing something else besides?
Listen, if you guys actually throw us a bone for once, if you can just get this right, I’ll gladly fork over my money. All the money. This is the sort of thing that would make me empty my bank account, fashion crude clothing out of the cash, and then allow you to strip it off of me while I danced slowly for my games. I know that the majority of you are going to just carve away at your old work and sell it back to me in chunks, because you love money and I am nostalgia’s bitch. All I ask is that you find new, creative ways of recycling your golden oldies so that I’m not playing the same stuff over and over. Then we can go back to the happy (yet fragile) balance where you milk a new bunch of things for awhile, and I’ll return to my stupor of placated bliss.
Love from your humble mind slave, Paddy.
* Special thanks to Shane Smith for the banners that you will see in this article, and in many other articles that you see on GameCloud. If you’d like to see more of his work, you can find it here.
* Editor’s Note: We later informed Patrick, not long after his submission, that E3 “presents” aren’t a thing. He’s currently being restrained while we wait for the Rangers to come and tranquilize him.