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Retro Revival — Why Classic Games are Making a Return



Crash Spyro

After decades of rapid improvement from pixelated side-scrollers to the technological marvels of today, gaming would always come to a point when players looked back and wanted to return to a simpler time. This time appears to be now as fatigue from today’s blockbuster experiences has settled in, with decades-old classics like Spyro popular once more while the trend of re-released “mini-consoles” continues.

Even throughout the years of advancements for games as an emerging medium, frequent remasters and loving homages like Yooka-Laylee have been obvious evidence of the demand for a return to form. The inevitable result is the current “retro revival” in which classic platformers such as Crash Bandicoot have been resurrected and given a modern makeover for the next generation of consoles. However, these remakes do more than simply make classic games prettier.

In the case of Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, for example, the game has been brought to various new audiences who otherwise would not have access to it; what once was a PlayStation exclusive is now also playable on the Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and even PC in high definition, giving old, new, and potential fans the opportunity to play the game without restrictions. The remake also revealed consumers’ desire for older games and began the successful trend of redone classics seen now with Spyro Reignited and MediEvil — a trend that will surely continue to the benefit of fans and developers alike.

Similarly, Nintendo’s line of “mini-consoles” — smaller, cheaper versions of their iconic NES and SNES re-released with a selection of pre-installed games — has had the same positive effects. By modernising these systems, Nintendo is appealing to the adults who grew up with the originals and kids for whom Super Mario Bros and The Legend of Zelda are timeless. Within weeks, both products quickly sold out and appeared later online for ludicrous prices, and naturally, Sony, Sega, and even Atari were soon to follow with their own iterations. This trend clearly indicates the present cultural phenomenon in which retro games are making a (profitable) return for the best.

As is with everything, however, these trends have downsides. Until now, companies have largely neglected fans of older games, which has forced them to port them to modern systems themselves through emulation. A community has therefore formed around sharing otherwise unplayable or restricted classics, but as remasters, remakes, and re-released systems become increasingly popular, the future of emulation is uncertain.

Often free, emulation software now treads more dangerous legal ground than ever before when emulators had a legitimate reason for existing. Though still illegal, “ROMs” (the software used to emulate games) preserve old game data, protecting it from physical degradation and allowing people to play classic games that, until now, were no longer being sold. Now, as those games are being legally distributed by their rightful trademark holders, emulation itself could be strictly defined as piracy — in fact, Nintendo has only recently shut down ROM distributors and with a harsh lawsuit resulting in a $12 million settlement. Such threats have already forced similar sites to stop all emulation activity, and one may not find it difficult to see emulation soon ending altogether.

Still, perhaps renewed interest in retro games will make emulation unnecessary anyway as developers continue to re-release those classic games and systems that fans love — a trend that can only be good for an industry always looking to the future.

For more coverage on your favorite single player games, as well as new and exciting upcoming releases, stay connected with OnlySP on Facebook and Twitter.


Three Single-Player Games to Watch Out for in July 2019



Three Single Player Games (July 2019) - Sea of Solitude, Fire Emblem Three Houses, Wolfenstein Youngblood

July, the middle of winter down here in Australia. Even in the bizarre New South Wales climate, the biting cold makes for a great excuse to stay inside and play games. 

Weirdly for single players, quite a few prestige games this month include additional co-op modes. With acclaimed designers behind them, such games will hopefully avoid the pitfalls of accommodating multiple players, as too many games have done in the past.

Sea of Solitude

Release Date: July 5, 2019
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

At first blush, Sea of Solitude looks like yet another story of a young adult struggling with questions of identity and mental health while exploring a beautiful but harsh fantasy world.

Actually, that’s what it is. ‘Quirky, life affirming indie adventure’ is a whole cottage industry these days, but the fact that such games are now more prevalent should never dismay.

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice was a masterpiece of refined design and storytelling, and Sea of Solitude appears be something similar—this time dealing with a fantastical vision of depression that turns ordinary people into literal monsters.

Players take charge of Kay, who has sought out the eponymous Sea—or rather, a flooded city based on Berlin—in the hope that there is a cure for monstrosity. However, despite its name, she is not the only person in the Sea. Avoiding the other monsters of the Sea seems to be a major part of the gameplay. These tense encounters are likely to provide rhythm and variety to the adventure and keep it from being a just walking simulator. (Not that being a walking simulator is inherently a problem.)

Although published by EA Originals, one would do well to remember that EA the company does not actually profit off the Originals that they publish. With a focused story and themes that still are not often explored in bigger games, Sea of Solitude should be of great interest to single player fans in a month otherwise dominated by multiplayer titles.


Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Release Date: July 26, 2019
Platform: Nintendo Switch

Almost certainly the biggest single player release of the month, and tied with Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 as another massive Switch exclusive, Fire Emblem: Three Houses might be exactly what single players need right now.

Lately the Fire Emblem franchise has exploded in both its popular profile and sales success, buoyed by a hunger for both deep anime RPGs and polished tactics games. Three Houses seems to have doubled down on exciting trends and features in both genres: particularly a Persona/Harry Potter inspired magic school setting and an even deeper tactical battle system that ditches the rock-paper-scissors for more nuanced character progression options. As with many Japanese RPGs, the story is also a major focus and hinges upon a time-jump.

The early part casts the player as a teacher at the Officer’s Academy, situated in the center of the game world and attended by students from the three most powerful nations. Five years later, the second and likely larger part concerns the drama between the player’s teacher and their former students, whose nations are now locked in a massive three-way conflict.

As is to be expected for a series finally coming back to consoles after a long time on the 3DS, Three Houses is a massive technical leap over its predecessors. The game boasts better realised battlefields, more detailed armies, and a slick animated style that appears much more consistent compared with the three or four different art styles on the 3DS.

With such improvements, as well as the overall pedigree of the Fire Emblem brand, Three Houses should have no trouble satisfying single player fans looking for a meaty middle-of-the-year RPG.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood

Release Date: July 26, 2019
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One

The recent Wolfenstein revival series is such a remarkable achievement in traditional shooter design and great, if goofy, sci-fi worldbuilding that the co-op focus of this latest instalment is somewhat disappointing.

Yes, as with F.E.A.R. 3 and Dead Space 3, following a well-received second chapter the Wolfenstein series now pivots to a co-operative focused chapter. Though the game is not a mandatory multiplayer experience, combat encounters and puzzles have been redesigned to accommodate the two player mode, giving single players an AI-controlled partner and bullet sponge enemies.

However, all hope is not lost for Wolfenstein: why else would it be the third game on the list? The narrative has been pushed forward in time, as B.J.’s twin daughters are now in their adolescence, now giving players a glimpse at the 1980s of Wolfenstein‘s skewed universe. Additionally, the level design itself is more freeform thanks to development assistance from Arkane, the developers of the Dishonored series.

Will Wolfenstein: Youngblood successfully deliver more of the series’s goofy charm and crazy alternate reality? Almost certainly. On the other hand, will the game be as fun to play alone as in multiplayer? That remains to be seen. Last month’s E3 demo that raised such concerns was naturally only a snapshot of a game in development, so MachineGames and Arkane have had plenty of time to resolve these potential downsides to a co-op focused game.

Those are our three big single player games to look out for this month. Other interesting titles coming soon include Stranger Things 3 on July 4 and Attack on Titan 2 on July 5, both games hitting Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

On July 12 we will see the sequel to an almost-fantastic Minecraft-like RPG spinoff, Dragon Quest Builders 2 on Switch and PlayStation 4, as well as the Switch port of “anime Monster Hunter”, God Eater 3

The week after, July 19 brings us Switch-exclusive Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, and at an undetermined time during the month Klei Entertainment’s anticipated survival-sim Oxygen Not Included will finally leave early access on PC.

Have we missed anything that you’re looking forward to? Let us know in the comments below and be sure bookmark OnlySP and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. You can also join the discussion in our community Discord server.

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