Extra Punctuation

Extra Punctuation
On Remakes and Nostalgia

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 15 Dec 2009 16:00
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People have hazarded to me that it's a move to introduce the classic Mario to a new audience. If that's the case, it's a pretty stupid way to do it. You know how you introduce classic Mario to a new audience? You make them play classic Mario! Re-release the old NES, SNES and N64 Marios' for DS and Wii. You could even charge money for it and add extra characters or director commentary or - oh yeah, you pretty much already did that. Well, do it some more. And don't make bland 2.5D copies of them with the word "new" in the title as some kind of fabulous defiance of the English language.

You know what this is? This is cultural masturbation. So is making films out of 80s cartoon serials that no one liked except the nostalgia-blinded dipshit internet nerds who have all the disposable income. And remaking those films five years later.

Am I the only one who genuinely worries about how historians from the future will recount the culture of our time? About a hundred years from now, will there be some future version of Time Team, where Tony Robinson IV will unearth an old Mario lunchbox, and then do a voiceover on an animated sequence recreating world 1.1 from Super Mario 1? "Mario was a very popular character invented by Nintendo in the 1980s. After that, Nintendo pretty much just wanked the idea off for the fifty years of what we now call the Great Circle Jerk, before the outbreak of the Apocalypse War, at which point Mario was supplanted in popularity by Baldy The Radiation Victim."

So, in answer to Michael B's question, "what would I do with Mario," I would leave Mario exactly where we left him: doing aeroplane impressions somewhere out in deep space. And hope he can't find the way back.

Wait, didn't I review two games last week? Quick, pick a comment. This one'll do.

"Yeah, I was unimpressed with the [Left 4 Dead 2] demo, yeah I see that the CORE CORE CORE gameplay is the same. But what more do you want? Don't 99.9% of all sequals share the same gameplay mechanics?"
- A Pious Cultist

Yes, if they're shit. But a sequel will generally also have another 10 hours or so of levels threaded onto a new bit of the story. Story is and remains equally as important as gameplay. Left 4 Dead never really had a story - it had a setting, and strong characters, but it didn't have a plot. Nothing wrong with that, there are plenty of games that get by on pure gameplay, but they don't have the lastability, and they'll never be anything more than a quick bit of fun.

Imagine a grilled sandwich. The gameplay is the bread and the story is the filling. Separate the two elements and they're both still fine to eat alone, they're just not as good as they are together. And after enjoying a lovely grilled cheese sandwich you might try a grilled tuna sandwich, swapping out the cheese for the tuna but using basically the same bread, maybe adding a dash of branston pickle to spice it up, and the second grilled sandwich is just as enriching as the first.

Now imagine you have a piece of buttered toast. Maybe you're hungry but have a bus to catch. It's filling, it does the job, but it's not really something you can sit down and enjoy in the same way as a grilled sandwich. Left 4 Dead is a piece of toast, and that's fine. But Left 4 Dead 2 is just another piece of toast from a different loaf of bread. With a sprig of parsley.

I'd better go now, I'm making myself hungry.

Yahtzee is a British-born, currently Australian-based writer and gamer with a sweet hat and a chip on his shoulder. When he isn't talking very fast into a headset mic he also designs freeware adventure games and writes the back page column for PC Gamer, who are too important to mention us. His personal site is www.fullyramblomatic.com.

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