I’m not someone who returns to older games. Discussing games on a weekly basis has me seeking new or fairly new games every week. At most I the games I play are perhaps 2 years old if that. I’ve never been hit by the pang of nostalgia enough to forgo a new release to play Golden Axe or the like. I don’t own any of the retro mini consoles or any retro collections. I have had access to retro collections before like the Sega Mega Drive collection on PS3 but I rarely played it, and when I did it was mostly co-op with my brother. I also find enough old experiences within new ones. Adventure games such as Hyper Light Drifter or a solid scrolling platformer like Celeste filling any want for a game 25 or more years old.
I don’t think this is changing for me but in the last year, I have turned to a few remasters of older experiences. These are all modernised versions of older games but they are games I never finished and perhaps thought I should. They are games that I instantly wanted to play again, enough time had passed perhaps. Last year (2018) one of the first new releases I played was Shadow of the Colossus, the remake of the classic PS2 game. This was followed quite closely by Okami HD on PS4, this version built on the PS3 remaster of the PS2 game. Shadow of the Colossus I finished, smashed through actually and I only got about a third of the way through the original. The remake was one of my favourite games from last year and I kept playing a little, returning to defeat Colossi again, after finishing it. Okami didn’t quite grab me as much. I definitely got a reasonable way through, much further than my original play through but I think a new release drew me away. These are both from the PS2 era when I was churning through games; usually rented. It was perhaps the time gaming was most prolific in my life as I had all the free time in the world. Finishing school and leading straight into college evenings were my own, so were some day time sessions when classes weren’t scheduled. I got in a lot of time with my brother to play everything we could get our hands on. This lead to the PS3 era when I was at university. So, a more recent release that was a hit with me is the Call of Duty Modern Warfare remaster. Only one generation ago it got me into online shooters in a way I hadn’t been captured before. This remaster captured a feeling I didn’t know I want to return to; it made me feel young again.
This week I’ve started Zone of the Enders The 2nd Runner: M∀RS (These names get crazier) and I’m loving it. It’s a game I didn’t play on the original release. I did, however, play and finish Zone of the Enders; to then play the tanker MGS 2 demo over and over again. I enjoyed ZoE for the giant mech suit, over the top combat it had in spades. It released around the same time that I discovered Dragonball Z; these two products feel like the start of my enjoyment and discovery of anime. A Hideo Kojima joint, at least ZoE is, it feels like early 2000s Konami. The menus and their sounds are ripped straight from the modern Metal Gear games. It’s a game that tries to build on the first by throwing in a ton of different types of level and encounters at you. Is this done to mix up the repetitive nature of the first game, I’ve no idea, but the general combat concept remains the same; giant mech suit combat. One thing it shares in common with the other remasters, Okami and Shadow of the Colossus, are that the camera controls are not good. It’s a little clunky but the movement of Jehuty and the quick snap of the lock on make control of the camera in combat pointless. It’s only in those in-between bits, when trying to navigate the spaces, that it’s an annoyance. A positive note ZoE 2nd Runner has in common with these other games is that it looks gorgeous. The developer has done a lot with what they had to work with.
One thing it doesn’t have is an autosave feature. You have to manually save. When your console is accidentally shut down and you haven’t saved for a little while, well, fuck. I’ll probably put it down now and come back to it in the future, maybe. Perhaps this is one of the reasons I don’t return to older games often. I’m lazy. Without an autosave and the PS4s suspend ability I have gotten very lazy at saving. Gone are the multiple save points I used to have for decision-based or progression based games. Gone are those saves which swap in party members for different sections of games. It may be to do with the speed at which I want to get through something, I know I’m not going back, only having one play through so why bother. Well, this is why. 3 hours of a remastered game that doesn’t play brilliantly gone. These are not three hours I want to experience again. They were fun once through but that desire to see this game to its end has vanished. I’ve too many other games pulling at me vying for my time. I also think ZoE 2nd Runner’s disparity and disjointed structure doesn’t help. There are sections, like being guided across some terrain, that just weren’t fun the first time around. This game should be all about combat and narrative, the boring sections just cut it up too much.
I obviously have much more nostalgia for the PS2 and this era of games than mini consoles or game compilations have catered for yet. I can see the nostalgic pull games from a certain era provide. For me they link in with all the other media I was consuming and making me think back to a simpler, super fun time in my life. A time when my brother and I consumed as much as we could in new gaming and entertainment experiences. The PS2 / GameCube era gave me some fantastic games which shaped my tastes more than the previous generations. Replaying games from this era give me much more than earlier games do, I have a love for some earlier games, just no desire to return to them. I fully understand that someone can get caught up in reliving those 8-bit memories, It’s just not me.
Zone Of The Enders 2nd Runner: M∀RS will probably be the last remaster/remake I play this year (unless Medieval releases) and I’m happy with that.