Written by Ryan Johnson (RyanDJ) Saturday, 18 February 2012 06:00
I recently picked up the Simpsons Arcade to relive my glory days of Arcade-dom. After defeating the game once, the Japanese ROM of the game became available. It was the same game, but with minor differences: namely extra weapons and a few characters showing up in different locations. As I played, I realized it felt like an enhanced version of the same game, akin to there being downloadable content for the classic title.
This raised a question in my mind that actually branches off into two paths: What if classic games had DLC? First, I want to discuss what I feel would have happened if the internet and storage was solid from the time of old systems. Then, I want to spark conversation on what you think about tampering with old games in an era where that would be all too possible.
If downloadable content existed back then, I think we would have seen far less iterations of the same franchises. Street Fighter II would have been a series of updates rather than so many different cartridges to buy. Sports games may have gone the DLC statistics route, as the pressure for hyper-realism wasn't as inherent yet. Mega Man may have only gone on half of his adventures, as a couple of baddies could be added in a title update. Goldeneye would have most likely recieved DLC, at least in the levels that you could get via GameShark (the Cradle with sniper rifles should have been in the default game!).
Could DLC have had a negative impact? I think so. Today, DLC can be a hinderance to innovation: why pump out a sequel when you can nickel and dime DLC out of someone? Back then, though, the linearity of most games would make any added "storyline" content greatly expand on the length of the game, and variation would have been harder than today, so a lot of DLC would have been much more of the same. Also, I think the market had to be bigger than it was back then for DLC to really work. The prevalence of games in stores and on kids' wish lists was a big part of sales, after all. Right now, I'm getting DLC for my son for his birthday, and it's difficult figuring out how to give him an intangible item. But, being a gamer myself (as most of our parents weren't back then), I'm willing to figure it out.
Now, part 2. Sonic 3 was probably one of the first console attempts at "add-on" content. Sonic and Knuckles featured Lock-On Technology, mashing the two games together into one mega-game. Also, Earthworm Jim HD added new optional levels, created in modern times with a classic feel. With retro games coming out 100% digitally, the idea of DLC for them is not far fetched. Imagine adding Sideshow Bob to the Simpsons roster, dropping extra new levels into Castlevania, or adding the raccoon power up to Mario 1. Would an expanded edition of a classic game be a great refresh of an old franchise, or would you feel it blasphemous to edit a work? Would it be like adding deleted scenes to a movie? Or more like editing in your own words to a Shakespearian play? Would it be welcome, or an abhorrence?
What if Mega Man 10 had come out as bonus content for a classic game in the series instead of a numbered sequel? Would it have been received the same? What games from back in the day do you feel need DLC now? What games would be a sin to touch? This is your chance to get in on the topic. Sign in and get in on the comments below!