Plenty of people would argue that today’s games are influenced by yesterday’s games. For example, jumping puzzles are not as common as they once were because game developers have learned that jumping puzzles generally suck, something we wouldn’t know if game after game didn’t use such puzzles as filler. Likewise, using the WASD keys to control the game is so pervasive, no one even thinks twice about putting it in a game such as Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, a game that is not targeted to hardcore audiences, the only ones who would expect to use WASD.
But what would happen if old games were made for the first time today? Would they be the same games, or would “conventional wisdom” dictate changes? Below are a few guesses:
- Donkey Kong, Mario Bros, and Berzerk wouldn’t be considered casual enough. Significant changes would need to take place to make them more acceptable to mainstream audiences. Donkey Kong would need to throw different colored barrels that Jumpman would need to collect and match. Player clicks would dictate where Mario and Luigi should go and in what order to clean the pipes. Robots in Berzerk would be changed to colorful bugs, and the player would control the bouncing smiley face to try to save the flowers that for some reason are growing everywhere.
- Pac-man, Space Invaders, and Asteroids would provide medals with different shapes, names, and colors. Collect all of the medals, and show off to your friends!
- Centipede would be made into an RTS based on insects. There would be three factions, each with different abilities. Koreans would watch people play this game in stadiums and on television.
- Tetris would feature pop music and psychedelic colors flashing to a beat.
- Defender would be panned as too simplistic as the enemies don’t shoot nearly often enough to provide a real challenge.
- SimCity would be considered too free form. There should be specific goals, such as destroying as many buildings as possible in three minutes or tearing up the streets to prevent the SimCitizens from getting to work on time. Also, you would need to match three Residential Zones to get the condos, not just two. Eventually politicians would blast it for providing training to terrorists since they could set the city on fire or cause an earthquake on command.
- Jack Thompson would point to Custer’s Revenge as typical of sex-and-violence training simulators being marketed to children and takes it upon himself to “shutdown Mystique”. Sales of the game would skyrocket due to the publicity.
- E.T. would have multiplayer modes featuring kids flying through moonlit skies and saving dying flowers. Co-op mode would feature multiple phone components strewn throughout the world. Naturally, it would be a prime candidate for in-game advertising, specifically for The Hershey Company’s Reese’s Pieces. E.T. would still be considered the worst video game ever, and I would probably still be the only person who liked it.
Any other guesses?