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.

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