A Reason for Re-Releases

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Anyone who owns a Nintendo Switch can tell you that the wait for new game content on their brand new gaming console has been a little… slow. True, it’s only been about two months since the system launched in early March, but that two months has felt like an eternity for the next big system release to follow up The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

I myself only own one other physical Switch game right now: I bought Skylanders: Imaginators to fill in the time between game releases, and give myself a reason to use the assorted Skylanders figures I had sitting around doing nothing. On the digital front, I also have gotten Wonder Boy: The Dragons Trap, a remake of possibly one of the best 8-Bit games I’ve ever played (and a Sega Master System game, of all things! Weird, right?). But overall, the wait for game releases has felt so long, I was suddenly caught off guard by the fact that two game launches I’ve been waiting for suddenly hit me at almost the same time.

The puzzle game combination Puyo Puyo Tetris and the next game in Nintendo’s biggest racing series, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, were releasing within days of each other at the end of April. So as not to spend TOO much money at once, I decided to settle on buying only one of these games for the time being (alongside getting an additional controller for multiplayer action awesomeness). Though the biggest question was “Which one do I pick?”

Immediately my thoughts drifted to Mario Kart as the prime contender for my money. Ever since the time of the Nintendo 64, Mario Kart has been a big favorite of mine, and I get the game on every system it comes out on. But while making plans as to when would be a good opportunity to grab the game, something occurred to me that I hadn’t thought of: I already own Mario Kart 8. I have it on the Wii U. In fact, I hadn’t even technically finished doing stuff in the game at that time. And the additional content the new Deluxe version added was arguably minimal, so I began to ask myself a few things.

Do I really need the re-release? And the game is so recent, does it really even need a re-release at all? What’s the purpose BEHIND a re-release?

Re-releases, remakes, new versions, ports, virtual consoles, HD collections… things like this have become commonplace in the world of gaming. But re-releasing a game in any form can come under harsh criticism as being a shameless money grabbing tactic, in place of just producing new and original content. Especially for Nintendo: the Big N has been doing things like that for ages now, it becoming a really popular practice of theirs in the era of the Game Boy Advanced. Not only was there an entire game series dedicated to re-releasing classic NES and Famicom games on the system, but several other NES and SNES games got ports and remakes for the handheld as well. So redoing and remixing some of their classic titles is clearly nothing new to Nintendo. But Mario Kart 8 came out as recently as May of 2014. It’s just barely under three years old! Do you really need to sell what amounts to being the same game two different times so close together?

Thinking about this got me wondering if I should buy the game at all. I got to thinking about the purpose of behind a re-release or a remake, aside from making money and milking its popularity. And I feel like I came up with a good one: having accessibility to a game.

Consider the above-mentioned GBA games. During that time, there was no digital Nintendo store you could buy and download a copy of Super Mario Bros from, and the NES and SNES were old and outdated. You couldn’t exactly walk into a Wal-Mart and find an NES on the store shelf along with the state-of-the-art Nintendo Gamecube. By making the Classic NES Series and games like Super Mario Advanced, Nintendo not only found a way to preserve and upgrade the classics that people loved, but it gave younger gamers a way to experience these games as well. They made them accessible to both long time fans and young people too!

I can personally relate to this kind of situation: I didn’t have many NES games growing up, and I never owned a Super Nintendo at all. Thanks to the Game Boy Advanced, I got to experience games like the original Legend of Zelda and Super Mario World for the first time ever! And they’ve been some of my favorites ever since.

Even though the game is newer, turning Mario Kart 8 into Mario Kart 8 Deluxe stems from a similar situation of having accessibility to a game. I mentioned in my last post that a lot of Wii U games were getting brought to different systems in one way or another. And there is a very good reason for that: if these games didn’t get some kind of port or remake, then probably next to no one would have ever played them. The Wii U did not sell well, it continues not to sell well, the system itself has basically been pulled off of store shelves to make way for the Switch, and as a result its library of games has gone relatively un-played and is un-accessible for most gamers. It’s a shame all around, but its the truth. So what’s the solution to the problem? Why, bring the games to other systems, of course!

Mario Kart 8 is a beautiful and wildly creative entry in the series. And now that it’s getting its new Deluxe version, I’m happy that more gamers will be able to experience it. And I’ll be more than glad to get it a second time, to experience the new content and old content in one awesome package. Heck, the mere fact that people own two or three versions of any given game can say a lot about its quality and how enjoyable it is as well!

So yes, in my opinion, remakes, re-releases, port and whatever HD Turbo Remix Deluxe Collection comes along will always have a reason for being made and sold, outside of a company just trying to make money. It’s all about accessibility, and giving everyone everywhere a chance to play it in some form!

If anyone out there reading this agrees with me, or has some other opinion on the matter, I’d love to hear what you have to say and talk about it a bit! Until then, Sparky is signing off for now!

(I’m thinking about getting some more Mario Kart practice in… I don’t want to be rusty for the new game!)

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