5 Retro Games Brought Back From the Dead By Kickstarter
5 Retro Games Brought Back From the Dead By Kickstarter
Who can forget their first computer game? It wasn’t just kind of awesome, it’s what took up most evenings and every weekend. If you’re the type to have spent far too many hours playing these games in the 1980s and ’90s, you might want to clear your schedule now.
Some of the best gaming franchises are making a comeback. Here are five being revived in a new-school way, thanks to the crowdfunding site Kickstarter.
1. Double Fine Adventure
The Double Fine Adventure
project isn’t a remake or continuation of a retro game series. Rather, it’s an effort to revive an old style of gameplay — the point-and-click adventure game. And who better to bring it back than Tim Schafer, one of the most creative and quirky innovators in the genre?
Throughout the 1990s, Schafer played a major part in classic adventure games such as The Secret of Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle, and, what many consider his magnum opus, Grim Fandango.
But even that kind of clout couldn’t help him find a publisher that would finance this recent venture. So he turned to Kickstarter in February, looking to bring in $300,000 for a new game, plus an additional $100,000 to film a documentary on the game-making process.
Shafer’s past success might not have had much sway with game publishers, but it definitely had some pull with fans. The Kickstarter campaign met its goal in eight hours and reached $3,336,371 by the time it ended on March 13. Shafer’s wildly successful campaign has inspired other developers hoping to revive an old franchise.
2. Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards: Reloaded
In the late 1980s, most computer games were created primarily for kids. However, there was one mainstream franchise that was made with adults in mind, Leisure Suit Larry,
from famed adventure game publisher, then called Sierra On-Line.
The six-game series followed the exploits of Larry Laffer, a leisure suit-wearing loser looking for love in all the wrong places. Filled with humor that was a little bit seedy and a whole lot funny, the series was widely played around the world. In fact, the first game was so popular that it’s been called one of the most pirated games ever.
The last franchise game was released in 1996, but Replay Games later convinced series creator Al Lowe to come out of retirement. The result: Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards: Reloaded. This remake will feature updated graphics, a touchscreen interface, and will be available on PCs and tablets — if it reaches its $500,000 Kickstarter goal. The company is well on its way to 100% funding, and has until May 2.
3. Shadowrun Returns
is a pen-and-paper role-playing game mixing elements of Tolkien-esque fantasy and William Gibson-style cyberpunk, creating a world filled with trolls, elves, hackers, and cybernetically-enhanced street samurais. First released in 1988, the game was adapted into two American role-playing video games in the mid ’90s, and a poorly-received first-person shooter for Xbox 360 in 2007. The problem is, every version has had to make certain compromises to the gameplay style, leaving many fans disappointed.
Fast-forward to April 4, 2012, and game developer Harebrained Schemes has brought Jordan Weisman, the creator of Shadowrun, on board for a Kickstarter campaign that promises fans an old-school, turn-based computer RPG set in the dystopian streets of Seattle.
Shadowrun Returns set out to raise $400,000, and surpassed that goal in 28 hours. (The campaign ends on April 29.) But it’s not just going to create a game with that money. The company is also giving players the ability to create their own Shadowrun adventures with an integrated game editor, which should help keep the Shadowrun world alive and kicking for years to come.
4. Wasteland 2
America has been devastated by nuclear war. Misfits, mutants and man-eating machines have made the deserts of the Southwest an inhospitable place. The only hope for mankind are the Desert Rangers, a small group of men and women trying to bring civilization back, one bullet at a time.
This was the world of 1988′s Wasteland, a post-apocalyptic computer role-playing game well known for its sense of humor, a “sandbox” world ripe for exploring, and a branching narrative where decisions made early in the game could have an impact later on. Despite an outcry from fans, Wasteland never received a direct sequel. However, many of the same developers created the early entries of the Fallout series.
Brian Fargo, the creator of Wasteland, tried for many years to get a sequel made, but he wanted to stick to the same gameplay that made the original famous. Modern game publishers refused to back a game that wasn’t a first-person shooter, so Fargo and his company, inXile entertainment, turned to Kickstarter. The initial goal for the Wasteland 2 campaign was $900,000, but fans have spoken to the tune of more than $2.5 million and counting.
As a way to give back to the Kickstarter community, Fargo has started a grassroots program called “Kicking it Forward.” The gist is that any Kickstarter campaign that gets funding and joins this group agrees to reinvest 5% of its profit to help fund other Kickstarter campaigns. There’s no oversight committee or auditing process; Kicking it Forward works purely on the honor system. And it’s already gaining support, with dozens of campaigns involved, including two retro revival games, Shadowrun Returns and Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded.
5. Project Fedora
Heavily inspired by Blade Runner,
the Tex Murphy games continually pushed the envelope of computer gaming technology between 1989 and 1998. This immersive world of gun molls and gangsters, developed by designer Chris Jones, left fans clamoring for more.
However, the developer, Access Software, was bought by Microsoft in 1999, and the team shifted its focus from back-alley deathtraps to back-nine sand traps as it worked on the successful Links series of golf games. The division was sold off again and changed names numerous times, before finally going out of business in 2006.
Although Jones, now head of Big Finish Games, has tried to revive the franchise nine times with a new game called Project Fedora, he has yet to find the funding to make it happen. Now he’s giving it one more shot with a Kickstarter campaign set to launch on May 15. If Jones and Big Finish are able to drum up the kind of funding other retro games have, who knows what kind of groundbreaking game we’ll see added to the Tex Murphy legacy?
The game that made dysentery fun was released as a Facebook app last February, much to the delight of grown-up school children everywhere. It’s now social, of course, but the decision whether to ford the river is all your won.
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Image courtesy of iStockphoto, adamfilip
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