Re-imagining the Retro for VR gaming

7 Jan

doomvfrBy Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Videogamers can belong to one camp or many. I love the idea of what virtual reality can bring to the electronic world of gaming. I have played enough demos and product to know what I like. This medium is absolutely perfect for simulators and first person shooters.

At the same time, I miss the simplicity of the older games found at arcades from the late 70’s to 90’s. I played many translations of these games on the PC or gamer consoles. While the low resolution and technology from a decade ago were not able of making VR come alive, the devices we have now are more than capable! Not every game needs photo-realism. To play these products will offer some exercise to those rarely flexed biceps and triceps. Before chiropractors can cry foul, I suggest all games have a fixed time limit so physical injury can not result.

My imagination is running wild at the idea of fine-tuning fond retro classics for VR gamers to marvel at. A few titles have been redesigned and instead of paddles or trackballs, players can use either motion controllers (like Sony Playstation’s Move) or a traditional gamepad. I still wonder if the original mold can be used though.

Some of the titles I like to see get re-imagined are grouped together than given its own entry.  I offer my thoughts on how each of them can work with either Mobile VR or standalone (Oculus, PlayStation VR or HTV Vive). While the former can fully render the classics in their original form, the latter is more about redesigning the game for a modern gamer to enjoy.

Tempest (Atari 1981)

Instead of a PS4 style of controller, to have this game played with motion sensors tracking hand motions will definitely tire many players out. To play it on a traditional controller will be easier, and the main reason why I feel this game deserves this VR treatment is in the fact it was designed with 3D in mind. A modernized version is in the works. Sadly, no word is said if this update will be designed for VR.

In what makes the experience special is when the geometric play field zooms in carrying the player’s ship (named The Claw) to the next level! To watch this pull you in like the wormhole sequence in Stargate SG-1 (or film) will have me at least squealing in delight like Starbuck launching out of the Battlestar Galactica!


Battlezone (Atari 1980)

This game exists for the Playstation 4, but to have a less intensive graphical version to play on mobile systems is needed. Not everyone will own this console. The objective of this game is simple, and the point of view is that of the tank pilot, trying to position their tank for that shot to wipe up an opponent. A more challenging version is Space Paranoid (from the movie TRON). To emulate the graphics quality from the 1984 movie should not tax smartphones by much.

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