Making something old
New console hardware may now be established on shelves and under TVs, but there remains the lingering suspicion that this generation hasn’t really begun in earnest yet. The summer months are typically fallow, of course, but this has been a quiet first nine months for Xbox One and PS4.
Filling the gaps are remakes and re-releases. Console libraries swell not with new big-budget exclusives but HD remasters and ports of last year’s PC games. Remakes aren’t necessarily easy to produce, but they demand less work than producing a brand-new game. Crank up the pixel count, increase the framerate, tweak a few sliders and you’re away (that’s how it works, right, Internet?).
The remastering process becomes more problematic, however, when you’re not dealing with a year-old title. When setting out to produce an HD remake of a PS1 game, you’re going to redo the visuals, but what about the mechanics? By bringing the game up to modern standards, you risk alienating the very people for whom you’re remaking it.
With Oddworld: New ’N’ Tasty (p110), Just Add Water has elected to leave the source material largely intact, marrying 2014 visuals with 1997 gameplay. The results are jarring, the mechanical progress of 17 years only highlighted when wrapped in the aesthetics of today. The inspiration for 80 Days (p119), meanwhile, predates
Abe’s Oddysee by 120 years or so. It has no mechanics to pilfer or live up to, either, leaving Inkle Studios free to take a different tack. The result is a charming retelling of Around The World In Eighty Days that offers something the original never could: a different story for each trek around the globe. It shows that you can respect the source material without slavishly adhering to it. For Just Add Water, however, it seems nostalgia isn’t quite what it used to be.