- In a time when game preservation is becoming more important than ever, only Konami is giving it the serious weight that it deserves.
- With excellent collections such as Contra and Castlevania collections, as well as the upcoming Metal Gear and Suikoden collections, Konami is slowly preserving its most beloved classics for a modern age.
With the rising trend of remakes, game preservation has become more important than ever. Publishers need to ensure that as they dole out remakes of beloved titles, their original counterparts are also made equally accessible. They also need to ensure that there are convenient methods to play older games that are lost to time with no way to legally purchase them.
But why is game preservation so important and why does it matter so much? It’s because games are an art form just like cinema and literature. Martin Scorsese, one of the most easily recognizable names in Hollywood, has dedicated his life to preserving films that were considered lost to time. Just like cinema, Developing a game is a combined effort of dozens, sometimes even hundreds of people over multiple years. So why is it that video games are any less deserving of preservation?
The State of Game Preservation
While its unfailing determination to consistently deliver fantastic titles is truly something to behold, what has been less impressive are Capcom’s lackluster attempts at preserving its most iconic franchises. This has gotten increasingly concerning with the company’s consistent output of Resident Evil remakes—remakes that hardly resemble the original games.
With 4 remakes under the belt, 3 of the games being remade are largely inaccessible for newer audiences without emulation or old hardware. Because of this, a large concern that I feel in particular is that these remakes are meant to be replacements for the original titles which would be extremely disappointing if that is indeed Capcom’s goal.
Another issue is that many of Capcom’s long-dormant IPs have felt increasingly lost to time. Marvel vs Capcom, Dino Crisis, and Viewtiful Joe are just some of Capcom’s many IPs that are nearly impossible to play in the modern age unless we’re talking about emulation. Some of these titles even have relatively new entries available like Marvel vs Capcom Infinite yet its older titles are nowhere to be found.
A silver lining in this however is that Capcom seems to be listening. Early last year, the company release the Capcom Fighting Collection. This was a fantastic remaster of some of over a dozen classic Capcom fighters including big names like Darkstalker and Hyper Street Fighter 2, as well as comparatively niche titles such as Red Earth, Cyberbots, and Super Puzzle Fighter 2.
Another publisher that is suffering from a similar problem is Sony. While both Ratchet and Clank 2016 and Demon’s Souls Remake are highly competent titles, their original counterparts are getting increasingly inaccessible over time.
The only publisher at the moment that is consistently doing a phenomenal job with game preservation is none other than Konami. Not only that, but Konami has also found the perfect way to do a remake, which is to port the original games alongside the remake, which is as good of a deal as one can ask for. This resolves one of the longest-running complaints against remakes which is that they end up replacing the original titles.
Making the entire series eventually available in a collection before the remake comes out is a fantastic way to get fans acclimated to the original title. It also serves as an alternative to the remake for many purists. Players who end up disappointed or feel that the remake is too divorced from its source still have the original to always go back to.
Konami’s other franchises have received a similar treatment. Before 2019, a major portion of the Castlevania series had been spread across multiple different platforms and in largely old and outdated hardware. Games going as far back as the NES and SNES were compiled in a modern package with the Castlevania Anniversary and Advance Collections.
That same year, the Contra games received a similar treatment with the Contra Anniversary collection. Konami is now also working to bring the cult-classic JRPG series Suikoden to a modern system with a gorgeous HD remaster.
After a rough patch starting in 2015, Konami received a lot of (well-deserved) backlash for its treatment towards not only series director Hideo Kojima but its general staff as well. Konami at the time was described as a 1984-esque environment with constant surveillance and a borderline hostile work environment. The company’s motto had shifted from games to designing god-awful pachinko machines themed around storied IPs that fans loved.
What truly was the last straw for Konami, at least in the eyes of any remaining fans that had any goodwill towards them, was the Metal Gear Solid 3 Pachislot game. The game featured cutscenes from Metal Gear Solid 3 Snake Eater remade in painstaking detail on Konami’s proprietary FOX engine. Fans were furious at the idea of a fully remade MGS3 existing and being trapped inside a Pachinko machine.
After a long period of silence and controversy, Konami is finally moving in the right direction by publishing new entries in long-dormant franchises such as Silent Hill and Metal Gear as well as rejuvenating prior games of other franchises. With 4 different Silent Hill projects in active development, as well as a remake of one of the most prolific stealth games of all time. The company is doing better than it has for the better part of a decade now.
Why Game Preservation Suffers
I believe part of the problem with preserving older games stems from the broader gaming community itself. The vast majority of players hardly engage with games as an art form, such is why demands for constant remakes of anything deemed too old or “antiquated” are increasingly common and I’ll never understand it.
Only a few days ago I read a Twitter thread of a person asking for a remake of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. The thread hoped for a remake of one of the most influential games of all time, while also changing everything that made Ocarina of Time what it is. Sentiments like these persist all too often in the gaming community.
Demanding a remake of a film like Citizen Kane, or Casablanca would be considered heresy to anyone who’s into cinema. The only medium where this stigma carries over the least, however, is video games, and that’s honestly a little troubling.
I just want one Ocarina of Time Remake that includes:
– modern standard for graphics (duh)
– more engaging combat seen in later 3d Zeldas
– Hyrule Field populated with more people and things to do
– More sidequests
– being able to get Epona as young link pic.twitter.com/bsGyCeEPhZ
— Shesez (@BoundaryBreak) June 3, 2023
I know this sounds like the ramblings of a jaded man who’s maybe a bit too nostalgic for the past, but I feel remakes, and their constant demand disregards the cultural impact of many of these beloved classics. Many publishers also do not see much reason to port the original titles for what is only a vocal minority.
It’s not just limited to remakes, however, even sequels and reboots suffer from the same problem. One of the biggest games of last year, God of War Ragnarok concluded a 17-year-long saga starting on the PS2 — spanning numerous generations of hardware — yet there is no feasible way to play any of the God of War games before God of War 3. This leaves behind 5 (arguably 4) very important milestones of Kratos’s journey.
In 2017, Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan commented on the futility of backwards compatibility, commenting that he didn’t see the point of playing old games. His thoughts on Gran Turismo on the PS2 were “Why would anybody play this?” which is a devastatingly sad outlook for the CEO of a company that has constantly led the vanguard for quality and innovation in its heyday.
As it stands, the state of game preservation is better than it was in the PS4/XBOX One era. We recently got a remaster of Fatal Frame 4 and 5, Persona 3, and Ace Attorney, with other remasters also on the horizon such as Ghost Trick, the aforementioned Suikoden, and Metal Gear Solid remasters the future for preservation seems to be looking fairly positive.
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