Monday, September 15, 2014

What's Old Is New Again

Hi everyone,

The other day I was perusing the web and I ended up reading an article on Zelda Universe that really piqued my interest. The article was about a documentary from Joe Granato, a professional videographer/programmer based out of Florida, who was planning on Kickstarting a very ambitious and interesting new project.

Entitled The New 8-bit Heroes, Joe - with the help of several other industry professionals - are going to create a new game for the Nintendo Entertainment System and film the entire process. Joe is collaborating with artists, musicians, and even a fantasy novelist on the project, which is already incredible exciting, but it gets better!

The game is called Mystic Searches and it was first imagined by Joe in 1987 at the age of seven. After finding all of his original "design documents" for the game, Joe was inspired to make the game a reality, and produce a documentary of the entire project.

Now when I say the team is creating a new NES game, I don't just mean an 8-bit homage to the NES. I mean a physical grey cartridge that will actually play on the original NES hardware! This sort of thing isn't new; homebrew enthusiasts and reproduction companies have been making new games for the NES, as well as many other vintage gaming consoles, for quite some time now.

Why does this project seem so interesting to me? This is just the sort of thing that my friends and I would have done as kids. You have to understand the time to really get the concept, I think. I'm not going to bore you with those old timey tales like, "In my day, video games were better, because they were challenging!" or "Kids today don't know how good they have it!" What I'm talking about here is the sense of adventure and imagination that only a child can muster. When I was a kid when I wasn't inside playing Metal Gear on my NES, my friends and I were outside reenacting the game. We'd pack rations (granola bars and water), take our favourite toy guns, and we would become Fox Hound hunting down and destroying the mysterious Metal Gear.

The fact is - and I'm about to go "old timer" on you, like I promised I wouldn't - that in the 80s and 90s video games were a pricey venture. Getting a video game was kind of rare, so oftentimes you'd be playing and replaying the same games. The Legend of Zelda would have released in August of 1987 to the tune of $60. That would be equivalent to $110 CAD today. The price of the NES itself wasn't too outrageous at $199, which would work out to be $363.05 CAD with inflation. Still, you couldn't just pop onto the eShop and buy a game for like $5 back then. It was a costly venture. You would sometimes take to your imagination to carry on your favourite video game's story, or in this case create your very own.

I have a son myself now, and I guess I start to look at life in a different perspective. I live in a neighbourhood that is rife with young kids. I barely see any of them out playing in the streets. When I was a kid we lived outside. We were so imaginative it was scary. I worry that's being lost if kids are just always indoors, staring at their iPad for hours on end.

I can remember my friends and I created our own comic series. None of us could draw, so it was depicted entirely with stick people, but we came up with endless stories. We'd write them together or draw and write our own and then meet up and read them all together. It was a great time, and I look back on those days very fondly.

Although we didn't create and design our own video game, specifically, this is just the sort of thing we would have created back then. That's why I want to see Joe's dream of creating this game come to fruition.

You may not be into Kickstarters. I've supported a few myself, now, and I've been happy with all of the ones that made it "out of the gate", as it were. This is certainly one I've endorsed. I've enclosed all the links to Joe's Kickstarter in this article, but I won't tell people how to spend their money. Check it out and if it's something you think you'd like to back then feel free to do so. I just wanted to spread the word about a project I think could be really special.

Thanks for reading,