It's a bit sad when promotional de-makes of games are better than the games themselves

cmonOver the last year or so we’ve seen quite a few throwbacks to the old school NES-style game in the form of Mega Man 9 & 10, Bionic Commando: Rearmed, and most recently Dark Void Zero. Meanwhile, the “real” games these have been intended as mere adjuncts to have been almost universally panned. Seems a bit weird, doesn’t it?

I mean, the “modern” Mega Man franchise, for instance, is stagnating in weird semi-RPGs for the DS. And then some developers throw down the mega-retro Mega Man 9, and it’s freaking amazing, as well as shockingly difficult.

Bionic Commando: Rearmed was a great remake of one of my favorite NES games, mimicking level layout to the last detail but improving graphics and adding extra features. But they managed not to mess that up, which is more than one can say about the game it was ostensibly a teaser for. I was excited about that one, too.

And now we have Dark Void Zero, apparently a totally awesome prequel to Dark Void, which just received a 5.0 from IGN. Come on, people!

It’s not that it’s just easier to make a good game of the NES type — god knows there were plenty of terrible ones back in the day. I think that developers are losing track of what makes a game good, instead focusing on realistic physics, or meaningless new features, or of course the ever-escalating graphical arms race. But when a team gets really knocked down to the basics, which is to say two dimensions and a bunch of sprites and tiles, they remember why it is they make games in the first place. Fun.

I say, bring ’em on. Excitebike World Rally is out there, and of course New Super Mario Bros Wii is around as well — unabashed, straightforward fun. When did we start losing track of that?