Rundown (3/01-3/07) 2020: Year of the Poop

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Wherein I discuss the bad tidings of mankind, a new challenger in the remastering industry, and the prolonged woes associated with preserving the video games.

When this year began, I mentally wrote it off as a filler year, as between my multiple jobs, studying for the CPA exam, and doing the regular Nigma Box content, I knew that I would be rushing to get things done constantly, and constantly consumed by some form of worry. But that seemingly was not enough, as 2020 is shaping up to be a pretty bad year all around. With a disease going around that will probably kill millions. An election that people around the world are getting extraordinarily worked up over because of how much they loathe the current president of the United States. Along with the climate and social issues that have been persisting throughout the past couple of decades and have remained largely unaddressed ‘cos change be scary, yo.

I wish I had something more to say, but all I have to say is that 2020 is looking to be a positively poopy year on all fronts. Though you could easily argue that this is just a reflection of humanity as a whole entering its steady downfall, with society being posied to crumble into nothingness, disaster, and genocide within the next few decades.

Anyways, let’s bonk that noise, toss that trash, and get on with the video game news. The first story from this week to grab my attention was the establishment of a new publisher by the name of Ziggurat Interactive. Who intend to differentiate themselves from the myriad small scale publishers by focusing on remastering and re-releasing older titles that have largely been forgotten by time. It is a valiant effort that I admire considering how many games have been abandoned and are only able to retain any form of accessibility thanks to emulators and ROM hosting sites.

What titles are they announcing this initiative with? Well, the list is not very clear due to the publisher’s perplexing website layout, which features scrolling images instead of text, but the first wave of releases will seemingly consist of Deadly Dozen, Super Huey, and Forbidden Forest. Or in other words, games that most people, even people who are in love with this industry, probably have not heard of, as they are old computer games from the 80s through early 2000s that were unable to secure a place in all but the broadest interpretations of the video game canon.

Don’t get me wrong, these games still warrant preservation, but they lack the same cultural draw that many older titles hold. Older titles that this publisher likely will not be able to get the rights to considering how most of the culturally relevant classics come from long-standing publishers or are involved in complicated legal kerfuffles. These publishers have tried to preserve many of their seminal works… but as I mused over this topic, I realized that the very notion of modern consoles being equipped with expansive back catalogs of titles from yore is something of a misnomer that has been untrue for several years. To the point where I would argue that preservation and accessibility to older titles are at the lowest they have been in over a decade.

Nintendo and Sony have both largely abandoned their virtual console and PSOne classics services, effectively removing thousands of titles from being easily accessible. Now if you want to legally play older console titles, your options are limited to a scattering of retro compilations, remasters, and the games hosted on the Nintendo Switch Online service, which Nintendo can delist at any time. This is all a low-key drawback that has damaged the accessibility of gaming history, and I really wish we could keep the services we had in the Wii/PS3/Xbox 360 generation. Yes, they were not perfect, but they were way better than what we have now.

For instance, last generation I was able to buy and play Castlevania: Symphony of the Night via the PSOne Classics, Xbox Live Arcade, and as part of a collection released on the PSP. This generation, it was not available anywhere until a PS4 port cropped up in 2018 and mobile ports that were released this past week. You know, instead of releasing it on everything like Konami did with their retro compilations last year. Ugh.

I understand with all these SKUs, licenses, and arrangements, that it can be hard to so much as digitally distribute your titles across multiple storefronts. But if you have the corporate infrastructure to facilitate such releases, I see no reason to not put your game out on every system that is popular enough to warrant the time it would take to develop a port. Which, should not be a massive issue for most games considering how similar the infrastructure of the Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and PC are. But no, for some reason we’re still getting single platform re-releases, such as Prinny 1•2: Exploded and Reloaded, a remastered compilation of two PSP Disgaea spin-offs that is coming out as a Switch exclusive.

I wish I had a broader point to make with this impromptu tangent that has consisted of the majority of this post, but much like the preamble, it is far easier to identify and voice complaints about issues than it is to actually fix them. Issues that arguably do not even matter depending on how much credence you give to unofficial emulation, which very often is the best way to experience and enjoy older titles.

Anyways, unless I want to talk about how tangential information was revealed regarding two remakes of games from the late 90s or how the Coronavirus is canceling major events, such as SXSW 2020, and driving tech companies like Microsoft and Nintendo of America to adopt work-from-home policies, that’s about all for this week.

Tax time is roaring like a dangan at the moment, so I have been rather busy and will continue to be rather busy over the following month, but I do hope to retain my tentative schedule as promised. Unless Student Transfer Version 5 comes out in the upcoming weeks (which it might if the current Git activity is any indicator). Then my schedule will be wrecked and I’ll probably need to break out my ultimate keikaku for filler content.

Until next time, I’ve been Natalie, you’ve been my reader, and this has been a string of text posted on the internet.

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