Joystick: Older games getting updated for HD goodness

Published 10:50 am Friday, June 1, 2012

Kojima Productions was the talk of the town last week.

Finally announcing work on a sequel to the short-but-sweet “Zone of the Enders” series, Kojima threw out details on the new game from pictures of the robots that make up the sci-fi action game to details like the live models programmers were working with.

Though series creator and developer auteur Hideo Kojima won’t be involved with the ZoE sequel — he’s still at work on Project Ogre — the announcement marks a renovation of Konami’s older classics, which includes games in the “Metal Gear Solid” and “Silent Hill” series in over the past year. While a ton of games are getting the HD treatment, there’s plenty of old-school gold to mine for developers who face an increasing demand to update games.

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This includes games like “Zombies Ate My Neighbors,” a beloved Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis title where you controlled two kids saving people from zombies, evil dolls, werewolves, mummies, chainsaw killers, gigantic babies and more. This game developed such a cult following due to its irreverence for all things horror cinema that a film based on the game was in the works as of last year.

If a “Zombies” film happens, somebody better remake this game because it will be a hot commodity.

Another game in search of an HD update is “Tai Fu: Wrath of the Tiger.” Players controlled Tai, an orphan tiger who must travel ancient China learning kung fu techniques from fellow animal masters in order to defeat the evil Dragon Master and his snake army, and avenge his parents’ murder. Despite a decent marketing campaign, the game didn’t sell very well, though it had concepts years ahead of its time including interesting magic effects, decent third-person hand-to-hand combat, and an almost fighting game-like combat design.

HD updates and re-releases face a lot of hurdles, however. It costs a lot of time and millions in funding to upgrade previous-gen graphics, which is why more companies are choosing to build off of previous games.

While some series, like “Metal Gear,” “Devil May Cry” and “God of War” have already received HD updates, more and more fans will clamor for obscure series before long, which could include everything from “Rez” and “Dragon Valor,” to “Breath of Fire” and “Mortal Kombat.”

Developers will need to find ways to balance nostalgia with current costs in order to satisfy demands.