As time goes by

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Nos­tal­gia is a per­ilous vein to tap. Get it right and the re­sults can be po­tent, but miss the mark and you risk sour­ing the mem­ory of some­thing many hold dear. With its G1 bots and shim­mer­ing cel-shaded vi­su­als, Plat­inum Games’ Trans­form­ers: Dev­as­ta­tion (p114) makes a Bum­ble­bee line for ’80s child­hood mem­o­ries – es­pe­cially those of purists still simmering over off­shoots such as Res­cue Bots and Michael Bay’s loud, jud­der­ing in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the uni­verse – and de­liv­ers big-hearted fan ser­vice in the process.

Fric­tional’s lat­est hor­ror game, Soma (p110), also trades on 20th cen­tury pop-cul­ture ref­er­ences, with a clear af­fec­tion for the Alien movies. How­ever, its com­bi­na­tion of body hor­ror and res­cue mis­sion gone awry slith­ers un­der­neath the sur­face layer of this sci-fi ad­ven­ture’s deep-sea set­ting, Fric­tional spin­ning its own dis­tinc­tive take on a fa­mil­iar sit­u­a­tion to yield some­thing that feels unique.

But it’s not nec­es­sary to reach back a full three decades to ben­e­fit from past glo­ries. This month, Har­monix re­turns to pe­riph­eral-heavy rhythm ac­tion in Rock Band 4 (p116) af­ter the se­ries’ five-year hia­tus, and proves that it was worth get­ting the band back to­gether. Team­ing up with friends to jam on plas­tic in­stru­ments re­mains as in­her­ently silly as it ever was, but just as much fun, too.

If only Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 (p118) could have pulled off its come­back so con­vinc­ingly. De­vel­oper Robo­modo set out to write the likes of Un­der­ground and Amer­i­can Waste­land out of his­tory, but if you’re go­ing to in­clude a level called School III, you’d bet­ter have the chops to back it up. De­spite all the talk, Pro Skater 5 bails spec­tac­u­larly.

Rekin­dling old flames is al­ways risky, then, but the op­por­tu­nity to re­visit cher­ished mem­o­ries in new ways is surely worth the risk of oc­ca­sion­ally fall­ing flat on your face.

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