Soapbox features enable our individual writers and contributors to voice their opinions on hot topics and random stuff they've been chewing over.Today, as TOTK anticipation increases to dangerous levels, Gavin explores why it's time for Nintendo to go back to a very specific well...
Look, I'm all for originality. The video game industry is lousy with sequels and remasters and reboots and rejigs, and despite its 'surprise and delight' MO, Nintendo is just as guilty of re-releasing past works as any other publisher. There's little that's less imaginative than giving an old classic a fresh lick of paint and some mod-cons.
However, it's also true that video games benefit most from revisiting and polishing up past greats compared to other mediums, primarily thanks to their relative youth and the rapid advancement of technology. Equating Hollywood's endemic sequelitis with the same phenomenon in games, for instance, is comparing apples and oranges. The basic motion picture template of editing filmed footage together and presenting it on a screen has remained essentially the same for over a century now.
That's not to say there haven't been changes in style or technology, but there is little artistic impetus to remake a movie masterpiece from, say, the 1970s because the basic cinematic form hasn’t really changed. A CG facelift isn’t going to improve Jaws or Apocalypse Now or The Godfather or The Conversation. There are examples of old movies being remade or remastered to align better with modern tastes or their own successors (hi, Star Wars), but they are comparatively few and typically divisive. As interesting an exercise/experiment as it was, nobody's watching Gus Van Sant's shot-for-shot remake of Psycho over the original, even with its impressive cast.
Video games are different. The evolution of technology, inputs, and displays — not to mention tools that make implementing and testing ideas a much faster process — mean that an old game can be altered for the better (hopefully) relatively quickly and easily while keeping the base experience more or less untouched and intact. Visual overhauls can be accompanied by minor, optional tweaks to the original experience (expanded control options, widescreen support, save states, rewind, display options) which can massively enhance older titles and make them accessible to a whole new audience. Metroid Prime Remastered is a great recent example.