I have been thinking a lot about the evolution of gaming in my lifetime. Let’s start today with an example of what I am getting at here. Thirty years of gaming is not going to be covered in one article, so let’s start with an overarching example, and go into the evolving specifics in future articles. As a child of the 1980’s, I remember the utter joy of coming home to sit down at my NES, and playing Super Mario Brothers. As a child, this was pure magic to me, and something my parents swore would rot my mind. However, by today’s standards, such a game is remembered fondly out of nostalgia rather than its actual content. Is it still fun to play? Absolutely, but when compared to modern examples using similar sprites, it just feels unnecessarily difficult, and with its repetitive nature seems kind of lackluster. Look at something like Shovel Knight for example.
Shovel Knight takes 30 years of games like the original Super Mario Brothers, Mega Man, Duck Tales, and many other retro inspirations, and give us an experience that could have, in theory, existed in the days of the Nintendo Entertainment System; though in actuality, it serves as more of a modern masterpiece. I am well aware that it is nothing new to see new games coming out with an 8-bit or even a 16-bit flair, but I used Shovel Knight as an example because it shows a conglomeration of formats presented in a deceivingly simple looking package that comes off with more depth than the sprites alone would indicate. As someone who has watched the evolution of Mario from an 8-bit sprite into a fully rendered 3D video gaming icon, I find it very refreshing to have games like Shovel Knight that remind us that while technology is a wonderful thing, sometimes it is the games that go back to their original roots that brings out the enthusiastic gamer in all of us. It brings forth a game that can be truly enjoyed by all audiences.