Just about a week ago, it was announced that the original Spyro trilogy was getting a complete, ground-up remake for the current gen. Like many who grew up on the old school mascot platformers this news was met with something close to a joyful screech. And while my policy to always be wary and cautious of game announcements (particularly those regarding beloved IP’s) after the success of Crash Bandicoot’s own remake not too long ago it is not be excited.
After I finished my premature celebration, I had to stop think why I was so excited about this announcement (because I’m the type of person who can’t just enjoy things without over-analyzing why I’m enjoying it). After all, I’ve made arguments in the past about how lazy video game developers have come to rely on reboots, sequels, and otherwise bleeding dry their franchises while coming up with nothing new. And while Spyro has received little enough love in recent years that this doesn’t really apply to him, why I am so excited to play something I already played before?
The short answer I came up with: Nostalgia Glasses. Or more specifically, the rare chance for a thing to actually live up to those expectations.
I’m not using the term in the negative way. Not really. The point is, very often when we revisit the things we loved when we were younger we find that they are now clunky and ugly things compared to what we love today. Combined with the high expectations you go in with (because you know you loved this game once) and very rarely will it ever live up to those memories. This is especially true of games of the early 3D era, the time when game developers were trying to get onboard the 3D graphics train but where not good enough at it yet to make their 3D models look like anything outside of a geometry teacher’s nightmares. And many time, these early 3D graphics alone can totally destroy our Nostalgia Glasses by themselves, even if the mechanics of the game otherwise hold up.
Take, for example, Final Fantasy VII (and I know, using this as an example will draw me some angry glares, so sue me). It frequently tops players’ lists as one of the best (or the best) JRPG of all time. And yet it is hard to make the argument that its graphics hold up well, particularly when compared to the pixelated graphics of the game before it in the series. And while many fans will die on the podium arguing that the story and mechanics of the game make it hold up to any game released today, those same fans clamor at the news of a remake.
It’s the same thing with these old platformers. We love them (in our memory) but trying to play the clunky, early 3D versions will likely never live up to our memories of playing them when we were younger. A newer, prettier version with updated controls for the new gen…well, it’ll be just like we are kids again. At least, that’s the hope. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Just one final thought: we really should appreciate these developers who, while certainly keen to profit on our sense of nostalgia, are actually putting the effort in to do so in a way that is respectful of their game’s legacy. If there’s anything that the debacle with Chrono Trigger‘s Steam ‘port’ (who would have ever thought we would a version of Chrono Trigger with poor reviews?) it is that, while we are all ready to spend some money on classic titles, we’re not so blinded by of fandom as to not recognize a cash-grab when we see it.
Also, all three Spyro games for $40. Just saying.