Weekender: To Better Remember
We're no strangers to the HD Collection.
But the combination of three big name franchises releasing their earliest endeavours these past few months, and my recent trip to Retrosville by way of Gadget Show Live has got me thinking.
In so much that I feel we, and by that I mean publishers, are missing a trick in not fully celebrating these releases.
An HD paint job, tweaking of button controls referenced in-game to fit new formats, and widescreen support is likely as far as the budget on these re-releases stretch. Tidily sown together and hung out in retail shelves for a knockdown price, the multi-title packs are an attractive proposition for both collector and curious alike despite the age of the software within.
But aren't some of these titles worth a proper celebration?
Fantastic gaming experiences aside, everything Metal Gear Solid touched was gold: artwork adorned bedrooms, desktop wallpapers and T-shirts back in the day, the soundtrack was bundled with special editions of the game. Silent Hill was an important step in bringing adult horror to gaming, and Team Silent's efforts are still referenced today. Devil May Cry set the template for the next ten years worth of action adventure, and grew from a potentially-pretentious take on the demon underworld to embracing its tongue-in-cheek excesses and setting yet another precedent in ludicrous cut-scenes that were adopted by many afterwards.
These, and many others - like Prince of Persia, Resident Evil - are true milestones in the industry's history. What I'm saying is give these and those to come a proper memorial with these re-releases.
Sega Saturn's Sonic Jam in 1997 had the right idea - offering interactive museums loaded with artwork, advertisements, unseen test footage from the hedgehog's history. It'd be great to see something similar included in today's collections.
Yes, being able to replay the titles is maybe enough. But imagine Special Editions in similar vein to DVD Anniversary releases, with front-ends rammed with new content from its creators. Artwork, concept designs, advertisements from across the world. Raiding developer vaults would unearth material the public haven't seen and give us an insight into a franchise's creation.
Unlikely, but potentially brilliant, would be all-new video interviews, even mini-documentaries, commissioned by the publisher and including all the main players involved in that series that were factual and frank in their retelling. It'd allow us to hear the real-world story behind a game, and put faces and personalities to the games that defined our younger years.
And if you go further - why not compilation art-books, soundtracks? The stuff we take for granted in today's pre-orders releases could be brilliant limited edition offerings for re-releases of classic titles.
It's wishful thinking. But extra care and attention would generate interest in franchises and trilogies, and give these re-releases a commemorative element that you'd be unable to achieve in a five quid digital download.
Perhaps it's borne from fear of losing our past entirely. Our constant online connection means that every facet of our passion post-millennium turn has been absorbed and saved on the internet somewhere; fan-made libraries hosting artwork and all the info on any title you'd want for easy perusal.
Yet anything before - all the way back to gaming's origins - could be lost forever, or relegated to historical scraps in car boot sales, eBay, or a few dedicated collectors. I'd occasionally joke with friends about opening a video-game museum in which to collect and maintain that stuff. Adverts, game cartridges, cassettes, posters, magazines. It's information, history, stories, that are worth keeping and holding on to. And it'd be unfortunate that a record of what's went before could potentially disappear without trace.