Doug TenNapel shares some thoughts on the subject of “Remakes” from things in popular culture. He also made a lovely picture of Earthworm Jim and Princess What’s Her Name.
One of the great problems of making something that was once great but will undoubtedly be dated over time is that what we remember about old things don’t necessarily translate into our modern tastes. For Years I’ve heard people demand a new Earthworm Jim, but that could go any number of directions, most of them wrong in my opinion.
The bigger question is “Why do we have such fond memories of old things?” For instance, I love the old Gumby shorts that were crudely animated in the 1960s. They were bought up and broadcast on the cheap in the early 1970s when I was five or six years old. When Gumby was remade as a series in the late 80’s it had a polish and a production value that didn’t interest me. Part of what I liked about it was the clunkiness. It’s like if you remade the 1977 Star Wars today it wouldn’t hold my interest. I don’t love that old Star Wars to have it remade with high end digital effects, better actors and an expanded story line. I like it the way it was.
This seems to be the key problem to any modern remake of an old idea, a new Earthworm Jim would need to have higher production values. The original Earthworm Jim of 1994 had the best production values for that time but a new game would likely be smothered in high-end CG effects and over-the-top explosions. That would make for a really cool game, but it wouldn’t make you feel like you did in 1994.
I don’t argue that new remakes can’t hold their own as a great gaming experience, but can they make you feel charmed like you did when you first played the original? Here’s the challenge; tell me if you can think of any modern remake that makes you feel the way you did when you saw the original.
Quite a thought provoker – here are some of my own thoughts on it.
Games like ori & the blind forest give me a weird “magical feeling when I see them. I’ve fallen head over heels for the Bayonetta games – it really is down to quality I think. That’s the main pull for me with anything – if it’s to get me “into” it, it has to have love put into it
I think this was the case with EWJ -you could tell there was a passion put into it. I do agree that an new EWJ would not succeed if it had “bargain bin” production values. It would not succeed if there was not care put into it. Those are my main thoughts.
I think ultimately the team has to care & enjoy the task of making stuff. Not be worried about trying to re-create something that was already made – no design by committee, just to have the freedom to make something good. No fear. That’s where creativity is allowed to breathe.
That what the original EWJ had. There were no fans telling them what to do, but somehow they put together the essence of that whole thing. I don’t worry whether Bayonetta 3 will be good or bad for example – I trust them to do what they do best, which is to create an awesome game.
There’s always that fear that something we feel a nostalgia for will never be repeated again. This is actually very often the truth – you will never feel that same spark you did when you were a kid. That’s OK, because we’re not really meant to stand still, stuck in the past. But we can at least learn from it.
I feel the world is always moving forwards – there’s so much you can do with video games now. Repeating something with the intention to make it the “same” doesn’t tend to work, because things are of their own time.