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Compilation Anxiety
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on May 03, 2006   |   Episode 53 (Show Archive)  

   

If done correctly a video game compilation can be a work of art!
There has been a long-standing tradition to criticize compilations as being nothing more than cheap and easy cash-ins. But as our industry grows older these compilations become something much bigger, they become one of the few ways we have left to celebrate our favorite arcade and console games of the past 25 years. You can still argue that they are easy to make and nothing more than a cash cow, but there is a genuine demand for these products.

Lately it has been the portable market that has had the best luck with these Best-Of sets. Namco Museum

While normally I would ask for a Final Fantasy collection I've learned that Square does the opposite of what I want!
Battle Collection and Capcom Classics Collection Remix are just two examples of successful compilations that offered something most new games can't provide: the ability to choose from dozens of games (of varying genres). And that's just the start; in the near future portable gamers will be enjoying a Metal Slug collection, the Power Stone Collection, Capcom Puzzle World, Konami's Gradius Collection, and even Capcom Classics Collection Reloaded, which features fifteen more arcade greats.

There is definitely a market for multiple games on one UMD disc

Yes, even The Adventures of Lolo could make for a good video game compilation!
or Nintendo DS card. And it's not just the newest consoles; one of the most popular Game Boy Advance games was a collection of Final Fantasy I and II. Square Enix has not ruled out future Final Fantasy compilations, but no matter how many times I mention it on this site they will never release Final Fantasy III in the U.S. in its original non-3D state (See: Square's Problem with Final Fantasy III).

But there's more to building the perfect video game compilation than just cramming a bunch of games on a disc. Recent video game collections have raised the bar for what should be the standard for this type of product; we're talking about basic things that should be considered when releasing a disc full of your games. As a courtesy to those companies looking to release new sets Defunct Games would like to offer up five ways you can make your collection the best ever ... even if it's nothing more than a disc full of The Adventures of Lolo.

Achievements: In a perfect world you shouldn't need artificial reasons to play through each game in the compilation. In

Sometimes the Achievement points are the only reason to play a game!
a perfect world the nostalgia and excitement of the games should be enough to keep you glued to your portable game system for weeks. But who wants to live in a perfect world? If the Xbox 360 has taught us anything it's that going out of your way to do things for achievement points is fun. And best of all, it makes already fun games even more fun ... and even better, you are often asked to do things you might not do otherwise. It's a great way to not only get you to play the game but get you to go further into the product.

Capcom Classics Collection Remix takes after this Xbox 360 system and offers three different achievements per game. This is a fantastic addition to the product and may actually prompt you to play some of the game's lesser titles (I'm looking at you Quiz & Dragons). All video game collections should have these achievements, and they shouldn't stop at simply beating the game and getting to a certain score count. The designers of the game should give you achievements for doing things you normally would not, going out of your way to actually find and do everything in the game. It's a good way to keep these old games new and exciting.

Connectivity is a Must: Too many games make playing with friends feel like a chore. When it comes to portable gaming you really have to work to get your friends in the same lobby, play in the same skill class and keep everything straight. When you're

Some arcade games simply cannot be done on standard screen, that's just one of the reasons you need customizable games!
creating a compilation of arcade games you really need to keep it as simple as putting a coin in the machine and pushing the "Player 2" button. Keep it simple, that way people can join the game or leave the game at will. You shouldn't be forced to play through a full game with another person just because they wanted to play for fifteen minutes. In the future all video game companies looking to release these game collections need to pay attention to what Capcom was able to do with their Capcom Classics Collection Remix, that is one game that got multiplayer gaming right on a portable.

Be Customizable: The problem with porting some games is that the new portables don't always have the right controls for the situation. While some developers like to think that they know best, it's absolutely essential that gamers are given a choice on how to set up their controls. It's also important to allow consumers a choice in how to look at your screen, especially if you're playing a classic arcade game on the PSP. There are people out there that geek out at the idea of keeping the original aspect ratio, stretching the screen, or even flipping it to view games in a tall vertical angle. These things may not seem important to the developer, but I assure you that all video game collections need to have some for of customizability (even if it is only minor tweaks).

Keep it Original: This shouldn't even be an issue, but when you're putting together a video game compilation it's important to keep the games in their original state. You should not remake, add to or re-envision these titles, you're first priority needs to be preserving the game's original look and feel. This does not mean you can't make sequels that change your character or add new elements, but that's not the

It may not be good, but at least Capcom finally gave us the original Street Fighter!
job of a video game compilation. Some companies may disagree. Sega, for instance, has decided to "improve" a number of their best-loved games by adding moderately better graphics and improved sound. This is not what gamers want and is dangerous territory. The people that are going to buy your set aren't going to be interested in these new graphics and levels; they just want to experience the games they remember playing decades ago. Just like you shouldn't colorize old black and white movies, you should not add to these classic games.

Don't Forget the Oddity: Every good video game compilation needs the big titles, those successful games that will get people to buy the product. But after you get them hooked with the classics it's time to introduce them to something rare. If you have 20 spots to fill make sure and leave a couple places open for those old games that almost nobody remembers (or better yet, games that were not released on popular game systems). Some of these games may have been buried for a reason (such as Capcom's original Street Fighter), but for collectors it's great to have all of the arcade games ... even if some of them are downright lousy. A well rounded video game collection is one that not only gives you the games you want but introduces you to a few you wished you had played as a kid.
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