FF7 remake leads revival of old games
THE revival of popular video games of yore tugged at gamers' heartstrings globally, with a high-resolution remake of 1997's highly acclaimed Final Fantasy VII leading the charge on the eve of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3).
On Monday - ahead of yesterday's E3, one of the largest annual gatherings for the video-game industry - Sony announced to loud cheers that a remake of Final Fantasy VII was in the works.
No release date was revealed for the cyberpunk-fantasy role-playing title. But Sony said it would be available for the firm's PlayStation 4 first, hinting that other platforms may get the game later.
A cinematic trailer for the game was also released, showing off a futuristic city and glimpses of two main characters: sword-wielding Cloud Strife and gun-toting Barret Wallace. The clip garnered close to 1.8 million views some 11 hours after it was up on YouTube.
Gamers have been clamouring for a remake for the past 18 years, and hopes had been raised in 2005 when a technical demonstration was shown with scenes from Final Fantasy VII but with more realistic graphics, said games news site IGN.
Fan reaction to the remake's announcement has been strong. "This is the era of gaming I have been waiting for. It's...good to be a human. Game Gods, I thank you," said YouTube user Jeroen C. Muts.
Another classic game that will be revived is 1999's Shenmue. A 2001 sequel was made but a third game was cancelled. Since then, fans have been seeking a conclusion to the 14-year cliffhanger from the second game.
On Monday, their calls were answered as the third instalment of the action-adventure video game set in 1980s Japan was announced at Sony's media conference.
The game is being crowdfunded on Kickstarter. Within two hours of the funding campaign going live, Shenmue 3 became the "fastest game on the crowdfunding platform to reach the US$1 million (S$1.4 million) mark, and the second-fastest Kickstarter campaign to reach the landmark figure", tech news site CNet reported.
As of 9pm Singapore time yesterday, the game had amassed more than US$2.2 million in pledges. The funding goal is US$2 million, with 31 days to go.
"If Shenmue 3 was going to get made, I wanted to make it with the fans," said director and producer Yu Suzuki.
Shenmue 3 is slated for a December 2017 release for PlayStation 4 and PC.
Not to be outdone, Microsoft also played to the hearts of gamers with word that they will be able to play beloved old video games on new-generation Xbox One consoles, Agence France-Presse reported.
The announcement of long-desired "backward compatibility" for hit video games that typically cost US$60 when new came during a flashy Xbox One event on Monday.
Said Xbox division head Phil Spencer: "If you have been waiting to move from your Xbox 360 to Xbox One, now is the time."
Sony PlayStation 4 consoles trounced Xbox One after the new-generation consoles hit the market in late 2013.
Microsoft has since lowered the price and increased the focus on game play rather than features such as streaming films, and the sales gap is starting to narrow.
The ability of people to replay previous-generation Xbox games that they enjoyed promises to be a hit with gamers who have lamented that upgrading to new hardware historically means leaving behind old titles that don't work on new consoles.
"Xbox One backward capability allows you to play the games you have already invested in," Mr Spencer said, eliciting raucous cheers from an audience of gamers, partners and the press.
By the year-end holiday season, Xbox One will support the playing of selected Xbox 360 games for no charge. Mr Spencer noted that it was one of the most requested features from fans.
Xbox executive Mike Ybarra promised that more than 100 titles would be available by year's end in a library of games with backward compatibility, crowing that a personal favourite, 2007's Mass Effect, will be among them.