One of the more exciting developments of the past week was the release of Sonic Adventure on the Xbox Live Arcade. Understandably, this news was lost in the haze following the launch of Halo: Reach. When I say it was lost, I mean the only place it was to be found was on the XBL Marketplace. There was no post to acknowledge the release on Major Nelson's blog, nor was there an advertisement for this modern day classic on the Xbox 360 Dashboard. This was most troubling to me, as the rumour of the future release of Dreamcast games on the XBLA is one of the main reasons I purchased (another) Xbox 360. Thursday marked the beginning of the perfect future I have always dreamed of, where all of the nostalgia I could possibly crave is available for download.
Despite this beautiful new beginning, I can't help but think to myself, "Why has this taken so long?"
For companies like Sega and (even more obviously) Sony, wouldn't it make sense to make your extensive back-catalogues from previous console generations available to consumers at a cost? In Sega's case, available to more consumers as they already have Mega Drive and Master System games for sale via the Wii Virtual Console.
I understand that there would be a litany of legal issues involved with the re-release of games from previous hardware generations, particularly licensed titles (Madden, FIFA, WWE). But let's forget about them for now, and focus on titles released by the console makers themselves. Sony has been releasing what they have dubbed "PSone Classics" at a painstakingly slow pace, and the choice of titles rarely fits the moniker. Even more frustrating is the fact that they are still yet to facilitate the purchase of Playstation 2 games, even though I have read several stories about patents for software, and puzzlingly, hardware to emulate the games of an age not long since passed.
I'm happy that I can finally play through Sonic Adventure, as it was one of my favourite games on Sega's final console; but on the other hand I can't help but think this should have been done sooner.
Addendum: That Ain't How It Happened
Playing through the first few hours of Sonic Adventure, I can now appreciate that nostalgia is a powerfully deceptive concept. I'm not saying that it's a bad game by any stretch of the imagination, however action games have come along way since the Dreamcast debut of Sega's blue mascot.
Let's travel back in time about ten years, when I first played the game with my older brother and one of our best friends, Daisy. We made it all the way to the final boss fight after an all-nighter, with very little trouble. I can't remember us having any trouble navigating between stages, and the presentation both in terms of sound and graphics was a leap ahead of anything we had previously experienced.
Now, with a very rough port to the current generation, Sonic Adventure is an shaky, disorienting diamond. The voice work is unbearably camp, and for the most part sounds as though it was recorded in a dank basement. The dialogue reads like the musings of a 6 year old, Sonic fanboy. The soundtrack appears to have been composed, written and performed almost entirely by David Lee Roth. The camera moves with the swift, unpredictable rhythm of a jungle cat. The level design, while competent, features noticably long sections where no input is required by the player. This is a classic that has not aged too well. Still, for 800 Microsoft Points you could do a lot worse.
What games from previous console generations would you love to be able to download? What did you play this past weekend?