Hey, It's You Again: In defence Of Video Game Ports

Whenever a publisher announces a port of an old classic, some frustrated gamers take to message boards and lash out at the decision.

“Enough with re-releasing old games. Give us something new.”

To a degree, they have a point. Players cannot live on ports and reboots alone. A system is only as good as its games, and there’s always a hunger for new and innovative content.

That said, companies recycle games for a variety of reasons that go beyond making a quick buck. If that’s all you see, you’ve missed the point.

A third party publisher, for instance, may release a port to test the waters for a new console or handheld.

Look at Konami. When Nintendo revealed the 3DS, Konami immediately announced Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D, a port of the million selling and critically acclaimed PlayStation 2 smash hit.

Doing this is a safe gamble and much cheaper to produce than building a new intellectual property from scratch and marketing it, similar to Konami’s own Doctor Lautrec and the Forgotten Knights, a Professor Layton style adventure on track for an October debut in the U.S. Risky, to say the least.

Taking this a step further, releasing a port is a great way to gauge a franchise’s popularity. Nintendo’s own Star Fox 64 3D is more of a test than loving homage to one of the greatest N64 shooters of all time, and legendary designer Shigeru Miyamoto said as much in a recent interview. If the game achieves high sales, the Star Fox series will be reborn.

On top of that, keep in mind that most classic games eventually receive enhancements that make them appealing to those who beat said titles years ago. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, for example, features superior graphics than its N64 counterpart, along with a touch screen controlled inventory system, gyroscope support and 3D effects.

Critics, meanwhile, should always keep casual players and newcomers in mind. Sure, millions experienced Ocarina of Time in 1998, but millions did not. Nintendo already knows the hardcore fans will snatch up the release. It also wants a new generation that didn’t grow up with the game.

Of course, it’s easy to criticise companies for constant rehashes. The original Super Mario Bros. has appeared on multiple systems since the NES version. The same goes for Resident Evil, The Legend of Zelda and Metal Gear Solid.

Just remember that, although you may have enjoyed these titles over a decade ago, plenty of new fans missed the opportunity. For them, a port takes on a whole different meaning.

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