In our recent feature, we looked at what we considered to be the Top 20 PlayStation Minis that have been released that are available for PSP and PS Vita owners since the range was released. One thing that surprised us when compiling the list was just how many of those were based on or were remakes of classic games from the 8-bit and 16-bit era. I’ve talked regularly about my fondness for old-school gaming, and do so on a regular basis over on the Infinite Frontiers website, but is this love of retro gaming really a positive sign for the PS Vita and an indicator where smaller studios could look when seeking inspiration for their future releases for the console?
Certainly the indie development scene has often been accused of being little more than a retro-based marketplace with the majority of games offering pixelised visuals, chip tunes and simplified retro gameplay mechanics. We don’t share that view here at Vita Player but to dismiss the quality of games just because they have chosen an aesthetic style or have opted to pay tribute to games of old doesn’t necessarily make them bad games. Quite the opposite in fact.
What many modern gamers tend to forget is that in the early days of the games industry we had to rely on strong gameplay. With hardware limitations developers weren’t able to devote large amounts of memory to graphics and sound so they had to concentrate on that first and then if memory allowed the aesthetics followed. The original arcade conversion of Pac-Man for the Atari 2600 was crammed into a 4Kb cartridge, the early releases from Ultimate Play The Game (later and better known as Rare) only used 16Kb and even games in the 16-bit era used under 1Mb for many of the earlier releases. It’s quite astonishing when you compare that to even the smallest of todays releases.
It’s no wonder then that developers look to the past for their inspiration. There is a thriving retro gaming community and it’s those people who are eager for more titles – both for existing retro platforms or new titles that remind them of the games from their childhood. Anything that looks and feels like a game from the 80s and 90s and recreates the instant pick-up-and-play factor that these offered can win gamers over quickly. Classic Vita titles like TxK and Spelunky prove that simple gameplay mechanics can deliver great games without the need for movie-like storylines. Anyone can play them and enjoy absorbing gaming at any time.
What we have seen in the past is a plethora of remakes come to the PSP and PS Vita of old school titles. While the PlayStation 4 seems to be inundated with HD remakes of PS2 and PS3 games, we have been blessed with remakes of classic games from the 8-bit and 16-bit era. Frankly, I know which I’d prefer, especially considering the relative ease of which much of the more modern games can still be picked up along with the consoles to play them on.
As I mentioned in our guide, the Minis were a great way to find some of these classic remakes in abundance with plenty making a return from both the Commodore 64 and Amiga. We were treated to classics including Impossible Mission, Pinball Dreams, Pinball Fantasies, Trailblazer and Speedball 2 while SNK brought us a healthy selection of their arcade classics to the range at the same time. Not wanting to be left out, PlayStation Mobile saw revivals of Amiga hits Lemmings and Alien Breed (which also saw a full Vita release).
Talking of Alien Breed, this was joined by other Amiga classics from Team 17 in the shape of Worms and Superfrog. But that wasn’t the first Team 17 release to make it to the PS Vita. One that people may not release has it roots in the 16-bit era is the PlayStation stalwart Super Stardust. Originally an Amiga release for Team 17, the Asteroids clone was revamped under the name Super Stardust with enhanced features for the Amiga 1200, Amiga 4000 and Amiga CD32 by developers Bloodhouse. Those developers merged with Terramarque forming Housemarque who subsequently released Super Stardust via Sony for the PS3 and the rest is history…
But what of other classic games that have been revisited? System 3 brought us their long-awaited Putty Squad to the Vita after spending what felt like an eternity in development limbo, and we even saw a PS Vita port of the SNES classic Super Star Wars (although sadly we have yet to see the other two games in the series make their way over to PlayStation). Even Square Enix have looked to their retro back catalogue and gazed further back than their remastered PlayStation 2 Final Fantasy X/X-2 release to bring us another SNES classic with the release of Secret Of Mana recently.
That’s not the end though and there are more on the horizon even as the Vita moves into its twilight phase. System 3 are looking into bringing back their arcade-adventure martial arts stunner The Last Ninja by way of a crowdfunding campaign with the Vita as being a potential target platform. Similarly there were plans to bring the C64 hit Bounder to the PS Vita (and other platforms) by way of a Kickstarter campaign. The planned remastered version has had the crowdfunding campaign cancelled although the game is still in development so hopefully this should still see the light of day.
Another is Hyper Sentinel – the Uridium-inspired game from Huey Games (formed by Andrew and Rob Hewson, founders of Hewson Consultants who published Uridium originally). While no Vita version was planned, it’s something that Rob Hewson hasn’t ruled out for the future so if enough people ask for it and someone is willing to port it, who knows…
There’s certainly plenty of scope out there and with enough publishers still out there with the rights to their classic games who could make them available once again, maybe we could see an 8-bit and 16-bit revival for the Vita to bring some of these classic games to a new audience…
Are there any games you’d love to see make a return to the Vita? Let us know in the comments below.
The Last Ninja