The re­turn of retro: Ca­sual gamers re­live the clas­sics

Mint ST - - GLOBAL - Ab­hi­[email protected] NEW DELHI

Rein­vented clas­sic games will have to adapt to mo­bile phones, aug­mented and vir­tual re­al­ity

If you grew up in the 1980s and 1990s, you will prob­a­bly re­mem­ber video games like Street Fighter II, Mario and Pac-man. One of the ear­li­est first-per­son shoot­ers (FPS), Wolfen­stein, also be­longs to this era. These games, which are the ba­sis for many of to­day’s cine­matic and ad­vanced games, are mak­ing a strong come­back.

And, it is smart­phones that have re­vived ca­sual gam­ing in a big way. Games like Play­erun­known’s Bat­tle­grounds, Alto’s Odyssey and oth­ers are com­monly seen as a way to spend time while com­mut­ing. Other clas­sics, in­clud­ing Bandai Namco’s Pac-man and Elec­tronic Arts’ Tetris, have been re­vived and re­leased by their pub­lish­ers with their orig­i­nal IP (the for­mat in which they were orig­i­nally played) for mo­bile phones.

“There is al­ways an in­ter­est in clas­sics. In the film in­dus­try you would see clas­sics get­ting re­made after ev­ery few years. There is a whole gen­er­a­tion of peo­ple who have not ex­pe­ri­enced it,” says Oliver Jones, co-founder and di­rec­tor of Bom­bay Play, a game devel­op­ment com­pany that was re­cently part of Google’s In­die Games Ac­cel­er­a­tor pro­gramme.

Play­ers who want a fix of their favourite clas­sic games can turn to em­u­la­tors such as DOSBOX. It is avail­able both off­line and on­line, and al­lows users to play the orig­i­nal ver­sions of games such as Dan­ger­ous Dave, Prince of Per­sia, etc. You can also use js-dos, a javascript-based on­line ver­sion of DOSBOX that doesn’t re­quire in­stal­la­tion, nei­ther the game, nor the em­u­la­tor.

You can also down­load games like Me­tal Slug, and Cadil­lacs and Di­nosaurs, which have been ported to An­droid by third-party de­vel­op­ers and are of­ten made avail­able on this mo­bile plat­form for free. You will have to down­load these from third-party web- sites though, so do ex­er­cise cau­tion.

Many games are be­ing re­pro­duced in their orig­i­nal avatars, but with tweaks, so they suit the touch­screen in­ter­face. Su­per Mario, for in­stance, con­tin­ues to be a side scroller like the orig­i­nal, while Street Fighter II is also sim­i­lar to the orig­i­nal.

How­ever, sim­ply of­fer­ing the game in the old for­mat may not work for a long time. The rea­son: Clas­sic games have al­ways de­pended on press­ing the right but­tons. Newer mo­bile games, on the other hand, run on ges­tures, tilt­ing your phone or touch in­puts. Hence, rein­vented clas­sic games will even­tu­ally have to drop their orig­i­nal styles and adapt to plat­forms like mo­bile phones, aug­mented re­al­ity and vir­tual re­al­ity.

“In the fu­ture, these games will con­tin­u­ally get re-imag­ined in dif­fer­ent ways and through dif­fer­ent vari­ants. We are liv­ing in this age where games are get­ting picked up, re-mixed, re­leased and as soon as the new plat­form comes up such as Aug­mented Re­al­ity, you will see the same game adapted for it,” says Jones of Bom­bay Play.

A case in point is video game pub­lisher Ketchapp, which has made a ver­sion of Prince of Per­sia that re­tains the orig­i­nal look and feel, but the game­play is based on touch in­puts like most other smart­phone games.

In the mean­while, retro games are also mak­ing their way to com­pet­i­tive gam­ing events. The first edi­tion of Dreamhack in In­dia, to be held in Mum­bai later this month, will host a Retro Zone with ar­cade gam­ing ma­chines run­ning clas­sic games such as Pin­ball, Tetris and Mario Broth­ers, among oth­ers.

“We be­lieve that in ev­ery per­son is a ca­sual gamer. Which is why through fes­ti­vals such as Dreamhack, we are not only tar­get­ing pro­fes­sional gamers but fam­i­lies and causal gamers who have played these games at some point,” says Ak­shat Rathee, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Nod­win Gam­ing.

In sum, while retro games may not im­press pro­fes­sional gamers, they do have the abil­ity to at­tract ca­sual gamers. This spells good for the gam­ing in­dus­try too, be­cause like any sport, it needs view­ers who can be mon­e­tized.

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