Late 2011 saw the release of Sonic Generations and Rayman Origins; two games that brought back the joys of the 90s and threw them into the 21st century. Rayman fans saw him take somewhat of a backseat to his Raving Rabbids, and Sonic fans have endured years of mediocre sequels featuring plenty of the hedgehog’s irritating woodland friends.
However, these games are different; they encourage a heart-warming sense of nostalgia in any player who enjoyed the games before. Sonic Generations is an appreciative tribute to the little blue hedgehog, speeding through iconic moments of past games, and reliving memories of the franchise throughout.
The game strikes a balance between 2D platforming, playing just like the originals (with the occasional play around with perspective and seemingly 3D elements), and the modern race-track feel of the newer, 3D Sonic.
For a Sonic fan, amongst the old-school soundtrack and lovable characters, the game is a fast and addictive zoom back to fond childhood days, whilst providing the aesthetic beauty and innovative 3D levels of 21st century gaming.
Rayman Origins is another game to have excited the 90s generation; providing a modernised update of classic platform fun. The graphics are beautiful, with loud colours and stunning environments enhancing this exciting new platform game. Similarly to the classic levels of Sonic Generations, the gameplay takes you way back, and feels like a classic game; with the undeniable pleasure of updated visuals and smoother play. Both of these games have been critically acclaimed and are a successful use of an old franchise, bringing joy to fans.
However, how exactly do these new games match up alongside the gritty realism of this century’s popular games? Does all of their fun lie in nostalgia, with their audience limited to big kids reliving their childhood? Whilst classics may seem unbeatable to those enjoying them ‘back in the day’, what do the kids these days think? Will they gain the same satisfaction we did from Sonic’s signature ring-collecting ping, as they do shooting prostitutes in the head from a stolen car?
Gaming has clearly somewhat deteriorated in terms of innocence, and the whimsical feel of classic games seems somewhat limited to either the very young, or the nostalgic older gamer.
And for said gamer, what’s so great about these 21st century attempts? Is it not just as enjoyable, if not more so, to grab a copy of your favourite 90s game and play that to your heart’s content?
Old Sonic games are easily available to download as Xbox arcade games, or even at retail in the form of the Sega Megadrive Collection; so the promises of new releases have a lot to answer to. In the case of Sonic Generations and Rayman Origins, it appears they did well.
These games are not simply a straightforward remake of something once loved, but rather they are completely new games in their own right. By building on characters and gameplay that was previously successful, and, especially in Sonic’s case; learning from the mistakes of flopped sequels since.
Although their appeal to new gamers is questionable, games like this certainly provide hope in an industry where war dominates simple, whimsical fun.