Monday, September 20

Future : Perfect

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?


  1. Word! Apparently that is next inline. I wonder if it has aged better than Sonic Adventure. I'm thinking (and hoping) it would have.

  2. As far as the licensed games (FIFA etc) wouldn't they suffer worse fates than Sonic? Can you really fathom playing Fifa 96 now? It would be a woeful experience.

    Luckily there are always emulators on most of these consoles (and definately on PC). In video games, as in most media, copyright holders have yet to leverage the internet as a mechanism of convienence or even availability (with the exception of music). In a world where we have instanteous access to all manner of porn, people aren't happy to wait for content (international releases etc). With back catalogue it's money for jam! Until they invest the very limited effort required to leverage this income path it's their loss as far as I'm concerned

  3. The exception to the rule would be Cricket '96, because they haven't been able to make a decent cricket game since. Cricket '97: Ashes Edition comes close, but it's not the same.

    Yeah, I think the Dreamcast, with its ability to cover gameplay and narrative flaws with "WOW! Light and lens flares!", that graphical punch we had not been witness to prior, would have a fair few games that don't stand the test of time. Fighting games don't age badly - if anything, they're the fine wine or classic car of the medium. However, 3D platforming during the interrum years from the beginning of the 32bit era to now is a real mixed bag.

  4. FIFA '96 may not be playing too well these days, but I haven't played a decent NFL games since ESPN NFL 2K5, and I'm sure it would still be worth a go. In most cases licensed games aren't worth revisiting, and I'm more interested in seeing games from popular 3rd party franchises released over each platform's respective online retail spaces. I agree, publishers = ignorant.

    Yeah Taz I can't remember any particularly memorable tales told on the Dreamcast, but it was the home of acrade action. Plus Shane Warne Cricket = best cricket game ever.