All entertainment ages. Some, like printed media, age relatively well and are capable of remaining popular and accessible years after they are initially released. Other forms of media, such as video games, usually do not age as well.
Video games generally do not age well because of the rapidly expanding industry and the new versions of hardware and software that are constantly entering the market. Old titles become essentially unplayable as the industry makes way for new and differently formatted video game consoles.
While it is possible to hold on to older consoles—or to buy used ones from collectors—they don’t always work well. The older a console gets, the more expensive and more difficult it becomes to buy the original machine that a game was released on. And if anything goes wrong with an old console, it becomes incredibly difficult to replace or fix.
With all these factors, and the speed with which the industry moves, it might seem like video games will stay popular for a short period of time only to fall into disuse. Considering the time, work and cultural merit of these games, this is a really sad thought.
Despite the rapidly evolving video game industry and the decreasing availability of older consoles, old video games are staying popular much longer thanks to the concept of re-releasing.
Last month heralded the re-release of the classic PlayStation 2 video game Final Fantasy X and the franchise’s first direct sequel Final Fantasy X-2, presented in glorious HD on the PlayStation 3 console. On top of re-mastering the old titles and bringing them closer to the standards of new games, Square Enix has also provided trophy support and has included bonus content for the games—content that has previously only been seen on the international editions.
With a few extra additions and some enhancement of the originals, suddenly these games are something that modern gamers can enjoy again.
However, some people are quick to criticize the companies that re-release previously popular games. It can seem like an easy way to get money without having to put in all the effort of creating a new game. While that may be true to some extent, there are many things that can be gained from the process as well.
13 years after the original release of Final Fantasy X, I have grown up, and my ability to play video games well and to catch on to other subtle elements of video games and culture in general has changed drastically. Picking up Final Fantasy X/X-2 was a really awesome experience. It was the same game that I had played when I younger, but also much more than that.
For me, it was a look back at the state of the video game industry when I was younger, as well as an ode to my younger, nerdy self. There were so many deeper ideas to this game that I was totally oblivious to back in 2001 such as notions involving religion, doing the right thing (even if it means going against orders or tradition), life and death, and the power of friendship.
I am a huge fan re-releasing old video games, especially for a games like Final Fantasy X/X-2. Although they are not directly connected to the other games in the series, re-releases give modern day gamers who didn’t play the originals a chance to be a part of the legacy of the series. It also gives gamers like myself an opportunity to enjoy a game again that I played years ago.
Re-releases are also there to ensure that video games that are works of art do not get lost or forgotten. It continues the legacy of games that were once popular and makes them accessible in a way that new gamers can pick them up and enjoy them.
No one seems to object the dozens of new editions of books that are released every year, even though there is likely even less work put into each new edition. If publishers wanted to stop publishing The Lord of the Rings there would be major issues. It shouldn’t be any different for video games.
Final Fantasy X/X-2—and all the games that have been re-released in the past years or will be released in the future—are doing exactly what they need to do. Continuing the legacy of a video game and bringing old games up to par with their modern counterparts is exactly what the industry needs.
Old games, especially amazing ones like Final Fantasy, do not deserve to be lost, because like so many other forms of entertainment, they are an important part of culture.
I suggest that anyone who has ever played or wanted to play Final Fantasy do so, because it’s not about spending money on games that are already out, but it’s about showing the cultural importance of video games and the impact that they still have on us today.