Three things are interesting about this little preview for CrossCode I stumbled across just now.
1. The writer claims to be the world’s biggest modern gaming cynic. What in the…?! Has he met Jimmy Jackass?! I mean, there are crazy-coot Americans living out their fading years in the Deep South, rocking creaky chairs , spitting black tobacco at a coot and playing racist banjo songs who are more tolerant of new fangled gaming gimmickry than your man Jimmy Thomas. So don’t be giving me the Big I Am, you Other Reviewer Person, there…
2. They’ve probably both got a point about the desperate direction that modern gaming is heading in. Quite aside from the endlessly impressive but ultimately soulless big budget names on the next gens, we’re adrift in an iPhone sea. A boiling lake of app-based fire where our souls will languish until the purgatory of our lives finally dwindles to an insipid nothingness… Because tragic irony: even splashed over this very preview praising retro fundamentals was an insidious banner ad for the Kim Kardashian game. (Just say those words over in your head for a minute. A game… About Kim Kardashian… That you play… By choice.) How can we allow this stuff to take over?! Our poor children trying to emerge unscathed from this sham of a gaming childhood. The only way we’d have faced this kind of horror is if some vacuous celebrity had interrupted a game of Sonic and done a massive smeary shit all over the tv before charging you 79p and flogging you some perfume. Worrying.
The internet being ironic, yesterday.
Because I’m absolutely on point with Cynic No. 2’s main argument – the big problem with the second coming of retro is the apeism: this copycat homage that really just serves up half baked clones. A new game needs still to be new even when it’s trying to be old – inventive, fresh, serving up a joy of its own making. It’s the soul of retro games that needs to live on, not the graphics or 8-bit soundtrack. They’re just the easiest bits to remember… It’s that absolute need for character, wit, plot, beauty, whimsy – because you couldn’t hide behind the flashy bits we’ve got now. Hell, I wouldn’t cry a tear over pixels if HD could serve up the magic of those times. (This by the way is the basis of my theory why FFVII is the greatest RPG ever – because it’s at the exact intersection of the old and new: a sweet spot between craft and computing power. The graphics are cool but they’re still too shoddy to have masked the cracks. Those little caricature sprites in the rendered world a perfect synergy for the steampunk aesthetic. The oddball script and story still authentic exactly because there was no HD sheen to show it up – just the random bits of FMV where both graphics and plot had to get serious…)
Anyway, what about CrossCode? Well, watch the video. It’s like Link got lost in Super Smash TV land. It’s an old school RPG from a distance – a brand new idea up close. And yes, it’s a cute little pixelated number – but it doesn’t shy away from cleaned up effects and cut screens. Its focus looks bang on – there’s no evil in the new; just get the fundamentals right and let the rest play second fiddle.
There’s just one problem: it’s not on the App Store.