Companies should release more classic game collections

Capcom recently announced a 10-game Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection, bringing together all six Game Boy Advance Battle Network titles and the various versions originally released. I’m excited about the news because I feared that this excellent spinoff would never receive a revival like the Mega Man platformer series did a few years ago. Many Battle Network games are currently only available on the Game Boy Advance or the now dying Wii U Virtual Console, while others remain locked to the Nintendo DS. However, much of the series will now be available to anyone with a PlayStation 4, Switch, or PC running Steam. It’s great to see these classic games on modern platforms, and I hope other companies take note of the preservation strategy Capcom has taken over the past few years.

This month we received a great collection of fighting games in the aptly named Capcom Fighting Collection. It brings together ports of US and Japanese arcade versions of the entire Darkstalkers franchise and other long-dormant series like Red Earth, Cyberbots, and Super Gem Fighter Mini Mix. Even beyond those packages, the Capcom Arcade Stadium series (a new one was released this month) fills the gaps in non-combat games and revives a litany of other Capcom arcade games. Before that, Mega Man received several collections to make the original series and Mega Man X available. I’m really happy to have these collections at my fingertips on my Switch.

One of my favorite parts of Capcom’s recent collections is the archival footage and documents included in the package. Early sketches, concept art, and other important and formative design documents are instructive. Even seeing just a glimpse of the developer’s thought process while recreating these classics back in the day is awesome, and I hope the practice becomes more widespread even in current game releases.

Atari isn’t a name you hear often in video game discourse in 2022, but even it tries to keep its legacy alive and playable. The brand celebrates its 50th anniversary with a massive collection of notable Atari titles from across the company’s history. Digital Eclipse is managing the development of Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration, which includes more than 90 games on six Atari consoles and even some new games inspired by certain classics. It also features a timeline of Atari’s history, with interviews with key members of the company throughout its five decades.

I know all of the above sounds like generally good game accessibility, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. There are plenty of obscure Genesis games that I can’t wait to try, licensed SNES games that I’ve rented over and over again and would love to relive. An entire generation of games in the transition between console generations from the late 90s to the early 2000s feels lost and is ripe for a revival. Even sports titles are like dust in the wind, especially when a new game comes out every year. I’d grab a Tiger Woods PGA Tour collection at a glance to play through the PS1 and PS2 entries and see how the series has changed and evolved over time. Consoles like the Sega Saturn or Gamecube also feel trapped in time, although emulation of these devices is possible with today’s technology. A few select games have appeared in recent years, such as Nights Into Dreams and Super Mario Sunshine, but much more can be done to preserve these platforms.

Nintendo and Sony have made a slight effort to make games from previous platforms available to buy or play. While some classics have been released on the new PlayStation Plus or Nintendo Switch Online service, both are far from this. which could and should be playable on current hardware. On the other hand, Microsoft has made many games available natively on its consoles, right up to the games released on the Xbox OG, with no less graphical improvements. If every major company started making a cohesive and concerted effort to keep their previous generations of games available, like Xbox and Capcom, the gaming industry and ecosystem would be much better off.

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