Retro Crowd Funding

“Crowd funding”, as the name suggests, is a way of funding from a crowd, the crowd in this case being the general public. Usually crowd funding is conducted through dedicated sites, the most notable of which is Kickstarter. Essentially, the process is as follows: A creator sets a goal, or an amount of money they require to get their project completed, and pitches the idea to the patrons of the internet, offering incentives for different sized donations to the cause (a copy of the game, free DLC, etc.). Once the goal has been reached, the creator receives the investment and gets to work, should they fail to meet their goal, the donors will be refunded. Several very successful games have been made through crowd funding (Prison Architect, for example, raising $90,000,000). So, for the donor, there’s nothing to lose, right? Well, no, unless the idea is soaked in nostalgia.

So often when a game captures the public’s imagination, either through a 8-bit, or 16-bit style, a deliberate callback to older games, or sometimes just being made by a drifting designer they used to like, the projects will be massively over funded. And, of course, the creator gets to work. But the reason these projects are over funded is because of nostalgia for retro games. It was amazing when it came out, why not now? Games have progressed so far that the games heavily based on the older generations will never compare, and the hype is torn down. The patrons become angry at their wasted money, blaming the creator, when they only delivered what they promised to. I find life systems unforgivable for home systems. It makes sense in arcades, where money is made from each individual play, but at home, you just want to play. Lives only get in the way. But some people love the idea of lives, and if it adds challenge, more power to the designer, if it sells, it sells.

A recent example of this, is “Mighty No. 9” released on nearly every console you’d care to mention. It raised $4,000,000 in crowd funding, and the end result was very poor, receiving an average score of 50% across the board, phenomenally low by regular standards. The game was intended as a spiritual successor to the Megaman series, with some members of the original team (including project leader Keiji Inafune) carrying over to the Mighty No. 9 game. Turns out, however, that “spiritual successor” in this case meant “reincarnation”, as many felt that level design, characters, enemies and attack patterns where simple carbon copies of the Megaman series, when they expected a similar feel, and not just to be given a Megaman game. Innovation was key, and the designers brought a lock that key wouldn’t fit.

A new feature Mighty No. 9 did bring to the table was that by killing enemies with your character’s dash ability (the character’s name being Beck) you will absorb “Xel”, which gives Beck temporary buffs, like defence, speed or attack boosts, but seemed to add no substance to gameplay, disappointing many.

Mighty No. 9 is a game funded by nostalgia, which ultimately landed it in the gutter. Megaman fuelled a fire that burned Mighty No. 9 before it could leave the building, which is quite sad. With more variation and more innovation, the game could have pulled off a genuinely retro Megaman-esque feel, without being a official bootleg.

This article is to serve as a warning to those who may be blinded by nostalgia. Remove the rose-tinted glasses, as for innovation, a new atmosphere, a new design, something exciting. To wallow in the past of gaming, when it advances so far, so quickly is foolish and detrimental to the community, and to your wallet.

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