I don’t really feel qualified to write anything useful or contributory about what’s actually happening in the games industry this week, so instead, here are three upcoming videogames I’m excited for.
September 3: Final Fantasy VIII Remastered
Final Fantasy was the first RPG series I ever got into, as a young and strikingly handsome teenager, and Final Fantasy VIII was the first one I wanted. I remember going into a small independent game shop looking for it. My mum was there, because I was 13 and my mum still went with me to places. They didn’t have it, but what they did have was a copy of Final Fantasy VII, and I bought that instead, even though my mum tried to talk me out of it. She said it wasn’t the one I wanted, which was true. I told her that I’d heard this one was even more well-regarded, which was true, even though I was lying about having heard that. And I bought it and took it home and played it.
Many people would say that I lucked out, and actually got the best PSX Final Fantasy, even better than the one I was aiming for. Those people would be wrong. First off, Final Fantasy IX is the best PlayStation one and it isn’t even close. Secondly, while Final Fantasy VIII is a bit weird, and a bit janky, and a lot broken, it’s my slightly shameful secret favourite. Sure, the Magic/Draw system is incredibly abusable and almost guarantees that slightly obsessive players with nothing but time on their hands (for example, 14-year-old me) will break the game. Sure, it’s weird that levelling up your party actually makes combat encounters harder. And yes, large chunks of it make no sense at all. But it’s those oddnesses and idiosyncrasies that make me love it all the more. It’s out on Tuesday, and I’m looking forward to being able to lug the Switch version around with me when I’m in the queue for lunch at work. There’s always a huge line for the hot dogs.
September 20: The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
For someone who regularly cites The Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past as a solid contender for best videogame of all time, I never actually played a whole lot of Link’s Awakening. There’s a reason for that – a couple of weeks after I bought the game, I swapped it with a friend, for the Game Boy versions of Mortal Kombat and Mortal Kombat II. In case you’re considering making that trade with a friend of your own, let me tell you – totally not worth it. Luckily, we hadn’t swapped for keepsies, so a couple of weeks later, I asked my friend to swap back, only for him to tell me that his mother had sold the game, believing it to belong to him. And, having no legal recourse for recovery of my property as a floppy-haired nine-year-old, I simply kept the Mortal Kombat games and that was the end of that. In hindsight, I now realise that he was lying to me. You’re a liar, Adam Morgan. I call you out.
I did end up playing through Link’s Awakening later in life, as part of an internet community marathon in which we all raced to beat every single Zelda game in the run-up to the release of Skyward Sword. On reflection, I probably should have been working harder on the university course I dropped out of later that year, but the point is that a) I won the marathon, and b) Link’s Awakening is one of the series’ better offerings – a surreal, dreamlike adventure that set a strong tone for the later, more off-beat entries in the series, like Majora’s Mask. I’m a little concerned that the remake’s art style, evolved from the superb 3DS entry A Link Between Worlds, doesn’t really convey that strange and ethereal mood, but who am I kidding, I’ll end up buying it anyway.
October 4: Ghostbusters: The Video Game – Remastered
OK, I’ll admit it, I’m not really all that excited for the upcoming remaster of Ghostbusters – The Video Game. I just really wanted to link the above trailer because I’m absolutely baffled by its existence. I mean, it’s cool that Noted Weird Man Dan Aykroyd is still up for promoting Ghostbusters stuff, but what an odd choice to just have him standing there in front of a model of the Ecto-1 reading out lines like a car salesman self-producing a commercial.
That aside, the Ghostbusters game was surprisingly good, and the closest we’ll ever get to an original-flavour Ghostbusters III. Aykroyd and Harold Ramis contributed to the game story, all four of the original cast appeared in extensive voice roles, and Aykroyd’s clear and infectious enthusiasm for the part is almost enough to make up for Bill Murray ever-so-slightly phoning it in.
So that’s three upcoming, brand-new games that I’m excited to play in the months ahea- oh, wait. I’ve played all of these things before. I don’t know why I’m always so hyped about remakes and remasters. Maybe it’s because playing the games I played as a kid reminds me of a time before I knew much about the actual games industry, and videogames were just singular creations of art and fun, created by unknowable geniuses in faraway countries and sent to me and my friends pressed into Game Paks and CDs that we’d play and swap and share dubious stories, strategies, cheats and secrets about. It was only later that I got more serious about my interest in games, and started to learn more about the kinds of environment in which they’re created. Now I’m just sad and angry all the time. Oh well. See you in two weeks.