Rez HD: 1 Down 4 to Go

Posted in The Industry,Xbox 360 by Michael Pica on the January 31st, 2008

Rez HD Released Yesterday for the Xbox Live Arcade.

For those of you who don’t know Rez is one of my top 5 favorite games of all time. I have a copy for Dreamcast and before now I would play through it about once a month. Now it’s on XBLA in HD with 5.1 surround sound, achievements and a few new game modes. It’s the first time in a long time that I’ve been really excited about an XBLA title. Now if only they could re-release the other 4 games on my list in the same fashion.

  • Killer Instinct 2 (Arcade Version)
  • Flashback
  • Sonic Spinball
  • Space Channel 5 Part 2 (in the original Japanese)

Space Channel 5 Part 2
SC5P2 might be a stretch, especially in the original Japanese. They did release it for Gamecube and PS2 in the States, I have the Japanese Dreamcast version. The English Voice acting is grating and where it’s a game with singing the translation just doesn’t work. Even still it’s got all the stuff that would make a great XBLA title. I’d be dreaming if I thought this would ever arrive on XBLA in this configuration. First of all the SC5 series was not a very popular game, I’m actually impressed they made a sequel at all. Secondly because of the amount of music and voice acting and CG cut-scenes the game would either take up a whole lot of space (possibly beyond what is allowed for an XBLA game) or they would have to spend a lot re-producing those cut-scenes with in game graphics. Considering the space constraints and the fact that no one in the US would likely want to listen to Japanese voice actors it’s a safe bet that they wouldn’t use them. I suppose my only hope for this game is that if they decided to release it in the Japanese XBLA, but that might be pushing it too considering how abysmal Xbox 360 sales are in Japan.

Sonic Spinball
Sonic Spinball has a much better chance than SC5, but still not a very strong one. In my personal opinion Sonic Spinball is the best videogame based pinball game ever made. The reason I feel this way is because 99% of all pinball video games out there simply try to emulate the feeling of playing a real pinball machine, and that’s a failing battle.

The allure, at least for me, of playing pinball is partly due to the fact that you’re directly interacting with a rube-goldberg-esque hunk of electro mechanics. The unique sound each solenoid makes with the slight jitter of machine on each ball bump. Maybe I’m jaded because I worked in an arcade repairing machines for 3 years and my favorite part was always stripping down a pinball machine, cleaning and waxing the board, replacing all of the rubber bumpers and lights, and then play testing it with the glass off… but I’m getting off-topic now.

The reason Sonic Spinball is so great while all of these other pinball games fail is because it doesn’t try to be something it’s not. No matter how accurate the rumble, how crisp the graphics and how well recorded the sounds, a video pinball game will never compare to the real deal. Sonic Spinball embraced the fact that it wasn’t a real pinball machine and added unique gameplay elements that made it a cross genre between a platformer and a pinball game. It did something real pinball machines could never do. As far as I know it’s the only game to embrace it’s medium and use it to it’s advantage and result makes it one of my all time favorite games.

The chances of this coming to XBLA are fairly low, again because the game wasn’t all that popular, but also it’s been released on the Wii’s Virtual Console service. If they brought it to the 360 they would definitely have to update the music I think. My least favorite part of the game was the over-distorted-midi music that plagued most Genesis games of the time. Updating to HD sprites or full 3D would be cool too, but not necessary. As long as the gameplay remained the same I would buy it in a heartbeat.

If you’ve never played Flashback you need to find an abandon-ware website and grab it. The game was originally on PC, SNES, and Genesis. It’s an adventure game with an awesome Blade Runner meets Running Man meets Fifth Element Sci-Fi story. You wake up on some Jungle Planet with no idea who you are or what you’re doing. You find a holo-cube with a message you’ve left for yourself with some vague instructions and you work your way back to discovering how and why you lost your memory while a greater plot unfolds in the world around you. Graphically the game used some really crafty techniques to create pseudo-3D cut scenes and the result is a really great stylized look and feel to the whole game, the actual gameplay was in 2D but with super smooth animation. The game was ahead of it’s time and deserves some attention from the modern gaming world.

I think a remake of Flashback would need to be in HD but it would also need to continue to use 2D sprites just like the original, including the cut-scenes. I say this because they had re-released the game some years later on Sega CD with the Sprite-based cutscenes stripped out and replaced with pre-rendered FMV and the game was much much worse for it. It lost it’s charm. They released a sequel titled “Fade to Black” in full 3D some years later and that ruined what could have been a great franchise. I think this game would do well on the XBLA, it may not have been popular in it’s day but the concept is still quite fresh and the gameplay is still unique. Even a straight port would have graphics and sound of a high enough quality to sell well, but I’d still like to see it get some special treatment.

Killer Instinct 2
I’m a fan of fighting games, and while these days I play Soul Calibur and Dead or Alive my all time favorite fighting game is Killer Instinct 2, the arcade version. I specify the Arcade version because they released console versions for SNES and Nintendo 64 and quite frankly those versions of the game were complete garbage compared to the Arcade. Killer Instinct in it’s day got pegged a generic 2D fighter that knocked off gameplay elements from other popular fighters of the time. While that’s partly true but I view it more along the lines of taking the best parts of other fighting games and making them work together. It took fatalities from Mortal Kombat, it took basic controls and special move motions from Street Fighter, but in addition to that it innovated in the graphical style, it innovated in the combo system and it innovated by redefining “rounds”, not only that but together there was some synergy between these elements, nothing felt slapped together, it was a solid and well balanced fighting game.

Out of all the games in this list KI2 has the highest probability of reaching the Xbox Live Arcade. It was a game originally developed by Rare and Microsoft now owns Rare. Further more is that the fighting game market is pretty stale these days, and MS has this ace up their sleeve not only to use as a re-release of a classic but also to continue carrying on the franchise. My biggest question is: Why haven’t they done it yet?

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One Response to “Rez HD: 1 Down 4 to Go”

  1. incognegro Says:

    Rare will continue the franchise but how? I heard rumors that they wanna do something different with it. Gr8 Blog dude!

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