Revisiting gaming's classics isn't an easy task, especially when you're talking about nostalgic titans like "Pac-Man" and "Galaga."
But team director Tadashi Iguchi and his team at Namco Bandai proved skeptics wrong with the acclaimed success of "Pac-Man C.E." and, most recently, "Galaga Legions."
Both projects have been deemed remakes, but Iguchi doesn't subscribe to that label. The designer told MTV Multiplayer over e-mail that he considers them "reconstructions." Specifically, Iguchi views "Galaga Legions" as a "mutation" from the original, whereas "Pac-Man C.E." was a "legitimate evolution."
The reason? "Pac-Men" creator Toru Iwatani kept shooting down their ideas.
"95% of our new ideas that were turned in were rejected by Mr. Iwatani!!" said Iguchi. "For the only one that passed, the idea of the 'Map Clear Rule' to play the game non-stop, we really negotiated with him and made him understand what we would like to achieve."
Without such a prominent figurehead attached to "Galaga," the team had more freedom, but that didn't come without its own set of problems.
"95% of our new ideas that were turned in were rejected by Mr. Iwatani!!"
"Yes, there was more freedom, but we may have had too much freedom," he said. "It was rather hard to put together all the team members' ideas. At first, we were planning to make it more faithful to traditional 'Galaga,' but we ended up not doing that because each member of the team had good ideas on how to proceed with a more radical arrangement."
In order to decide which elements of the original games to enhance, Iguchi adopted a specific process that was applied to the development of both products.
"We first divided each element of the original game, talked it over with the team and changed the parts so that it fits modern gameplay conditions, then we put it back together," he said. "We used the same method for 'Pac-Man C.E..' We didn't try to make only the looks or visual effects better, but since we remade it from the ground up, I think people recognize that it's different from more traditional remakes."
Old school games have proven a ripe arena for reinvention in recent years, but have we already experienced gaming's golden era? I asked Iguchi if he could name any games that have proven influencial enough to demand a remake 20 years from now. He's not optimistic about the prospect.
"I think more than half of the games you see today with huge budgets and such a 'realistic' focus will be either stale or forgotten in 20 years," he said. "On the other hand, the masterpieces of the 80's will definitely be enjoyed far into the future. The reason for this is simple -- many of these classic titles have unique and fascinating mechanics that can't be diminished by the advancement of technology."
Iguchi explained the "reconstructions" of "Galaga" and "Pac-Man" are part of an internal initiative to remake the company's "masterpiece games." From the sound it if, we could be seeing more remakes in the future, but Iguchi remains tight-lipped on what those might be.
"Right now, we're only working on the framework of a new game and nothing in detail is decided yet," he said. "If there is a chance, I would like to make an action game with the same team again. There's not any one game I'm targeting for a new remake, but overall I'm interested in making games that players who liked games in the 80's will enjoy."
Do you have any suggestions for Iguchi, readers?
Have a hot tip? Is there a topic that Multiplayer should be covering and isn't? Which game would you like to see Iguchi's team tackle next? Drop me an e-mail.