The Electronic Entertainment Expo video game trade show (E3) is all about new stuff: new games, new gadgets and new ways for players to connect.
So developers hoping to launch the next big thing at this year’s event, which kicked off its three-day run at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Tuesday, must be bemused by the outpouring of enthusiasm for a remake of an 18-year-old game.
Square Enix's landmark Final Fantasy VII is a classic Japanese role-playing adventure, released in 1997, that introduced many westerners to the genre. When Sony announced a remake is coming to PlayStation 4, its fans – many of whom were children when it first appeared – roared with approval and social media was soon abuzz with chatter.
It was not the only old game getting attention at E3. Microsoft won over some sceptics by announcing it would be making its library of old Xbox 360 games playable on the Xbox One.
And Rare, a studio that has been making games since the early 1980s, announced Rare Replay, a US$30 (Dh110) compilation of 30 of its old hits, including classics such as Battletoads and Banjo-Kazooie. Revivals of dormant series such as Bethesda's Doom and Nintendo's StarFox were also announced.
Nintendo, more than any other publisher, has been mining nostalgia for years – every new Mario Brothers or Legend of Zelda title takes many gamers back to the 1980s, when they played the originals on the Nintendo Entertainment System. When the company's Super Mario Maker comes out this year, I suspect we'll see tons of fan-created tributes to the Mario games of our youth.
Another old title drawing a lot of buzz was Shenmue, a wildly ambitious Sega game from 1999 on its ill-fated Dreamcast console. It was an intriguing – and not entirely successful – attempt to combine role-playing, brawling and, well, working in a boring job as a forklift driver. Despite its flaws – in particular, some very slow pacing that was a little too lifelike – it pioneered the sprawling open-world approach of modern games.
After a 2001 sequel flopped, Sega ditched plans to complete the trilogy. But Shenmue creator Yu Suzuki appeared at Sony's pre-E3 event on Monday and announced a $2million Kickstarter campaign to fund Shenmue III.
It reached its goal within 12 hours – but also raised a few eyebrows. The original Shenmue cost almost $50 million and development is even more expensive these days. Some critics also slammed Sony for asking fans to fund the game – although it is expected to kick in cash now fans have shown their enthusiasm.