Last weekend brought us the now-annual PlayStation Experience, a convention for the Sony-minded to celebrate the best and brightest games of this year and the next. While there was no shortage of fantastic-looking games on display at the PlayStation Showcase that kicked off the show, there were a couple of announcements that rubbed me the wrong way.
In the weeks and months leading up to the event, rumors surfaced that a couple of classic franchises would be resurrected for the next generation of gaming - namely, Crash Bandicoot and Wipeout. These two series are dear to the hearts of many who grew up gaming in the '90s, as both were among the earliest games to grace the original PlayStation. Nostalgia most certainly plays a part, but Crash Bandicoot retains an odd charm despite its age. It's understandable why fans were excited when Crash seemed poised to make a return following the teaser trailer that debuted at E3 2016. Months later, that tease culminated in a disappointing announcement: we're not getting a new Crash Bandicoot, but remasters of existing games.
The HD remaster has become endemic to contemporary gaming. With so many great games developed for older hardware that has either become inaccessible or does not display properly on modern TVs, it makes sense that developers are looking for ways to digitally preserve their work for the next generation. Yet HD remasters are so plentiful and so frequently made for games that truthfully don't need it - just look at the inFamous Collection, three PS3 games "remastered" for PS4 - that the practice feels more like a cash grab than anything else these days.
The Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy is an especially disappointing reveal because it takes the place of a proper Crash reboot. It leverages the hype generated by the E3 teaser to sell a trio of aged games that have been visually overhauled and not much else. It's a significant overhaul, to be sure, but gaming has changed a lot since Crash Bandicoot first released, and replaying previous games in the series doesn't sound quite as alluring as jumping into a brand-new title with modern design sensibilities.
Wipeout received much the same treatment at the PlayStation Showcase. Host Shawn Layden came out on stage wearing a Wipeout T-shirt, adding fuel to the fire surrounding rumors of the franchise's revival. A trailer midway through the show initially roused my hope that Wipeout was coming back, but that hope quickly gave way to disappointment when a title card revealed that I was looking at the Wipeout Omega Collection. I'm sure the games will be entertaining, but they pale in comparison to what a new entry in the franchise could achieve - we're long overdue for a reboot, and building our expectations only to dash them is yet more salt in the wound.
There are plenty of games that deserve to be remastered, certainly, but these in particular feel like a lazy way to cash in on the enthusiasm of two fanbases with minimal effort. PlayStation Experience 2016 would have been a perfect place to reintroduce Crash and Wipeout to the world with modern reboots, yet all we got was a collection prettied-up ports to a modern console. Maybe the commercial success of these remasters will prove to Sony that there's an audience for both series in today's market, but it's pretty frustrating to think that their existence hinges upon our willingness to re-buy old games.
And Parappa the Rapper Remastered? Come on, guys. Stop hurting me like this.