Gaming on 8-bit machines feels so simple these days, but some skill was put into game design back then.
Developers only had a handful of colors to use and limited processing capacity, but they were trying to create an experience for a gamer that took them out of their world. Nowadays, with titles such as Fallout 4, developers have the tools to take you to worlds you’ve never been or periods of history you want to live in. In the days of 8-bit machines, they couldn’t quite do so, but they could paint a great picture and let your imagination do the rest.
Back then, one of the most popular genres was the platform game, which let developers play with certain themes for each level. Think about Mario, Sonic and a host of other popular franchises; they all started as platform games. The Nintendo 64 revolutionized gaming with immersive 3D worlds, the first obvious example of which was Mario 64.
Since then, we’ve had many great open-world games based on old and new ideas, but some great titles have been completely forgotten along the way. The days of cartoon, fun 3D open worlds might have long gone, but we still think there’s value in developers looking back at old titles and giving them a new lease of life.
Here are three such titles we think would make great open-world games and why.
Thanks to the show Stranger Things, which had Goonies themes, the show is popular once again and rightly so. Sadly, since the film, there’s been little for fans to get excited about; the gang were the central characters in a platform game in the late eighties but never leaped newer machines. That doesn’t mean they’ve gone away; Cheeky Bingo features online slots called The Goonies Return and The Goonies Jackpot King, which stay loyal to the branding. You can also buy a Goonies Lego Dimensions expansion pack, but there’s nothing in-depth for fans, nothing standalone.
We think a Tomb Raider-style open-world hunting for One-Eyed Willie’s Treasure would be exciting, and there’s a chance for lots of kitsch eighties throwbacks as we saw in Stranger Things. With fun antagonists like the Fratellis, a Goonies open-world game could be a huge hit.
Dick Tracy is a character with a deep history in the US, from pulp fiction books to comic strips and later on the big screen. That led to the early 90s platform game Dick Tracy, which was roundly condemned as the worst game ever on the C64, according to Commodore Format Archive. That meant developers largely shelved the character, and there’s been nothing significant since, not even in the usually diverse field of online casino games.
That’s a huge miss for developers in our eyes. Games like LA Noire and Mafia 3 set the bar for period pieces with open worlds, and a Tracy title could sit somewhere between those and the classic Arkham Batman series. There are many opportunities to develop a great backdrop and plenty of comic book lore to draw upon for peripheral characters. The only problem is not having a present-day vehicle to drive it, which is what Stranger Things do for The Goonies.
The Blues Brothers platform game was an oddity, a licensed video game that came out almost a decade after the film. Ten years later, another film came out, but no subsequent video game. It was almost as if the three weren’t connected, and no other media followed, which meant the musical duo was left in the past, at least where video games were concerned. Given the high quality of the platformer, that’s a real shame.
As with The Goonies, developers have a great opportunity to create an eighties-themed backdrop for the onscreen action. It is a modern-day cooperative dream with two protagonists, so it could easily suit the multiplayer angle developers currently love. Also, imagine that soundtrack, boosted by the powerful machines of today. We’re thinking of a cross between Grand Theft Auto Vice City and Brutal Legend, with just the right combination of humor and music.