New tools will allow fans to remaster their favourite old games with all the latest bells and whistles – and it’s exactly the preservation tool we’ve been waiting for.
One of the biggest barriers to people playing old games is that they’re – wait for it – not modern. That might seem obvious, but in many ways it’s not. That’s how you end up with long threads on internet forums about the things that a game isn’t – it doesn’t have modern controls or quality of life features, or it doesn’t have the latest and shiniest graphics.
And while that’s true, it doesn’t take away from the game itself. Majora’s Mask is a classic no matter what year you play it in. To my eyes it looks better than Breath of the Wild, which I felt was disappointing visually. But you know what? It has a semi-modern resolution (sorry Nintendo fans) and its controls are more in keeping with what you’d expect from an action-adventure game in 2024. It has no barriers of entry.
And so when I say it’s not always obvious that the barrier is that it’s not modern, I mean it’s often opposite to what people think. They look at something like Final Fantasy IX and think it looks dated. It’s not. Other things have just surpassed it in ways that are important now. Final Fantasy IX will still look incredible when people are laughing at scenes from Final Fantasy XVI. They’ll be wrong then too.
RTX Remix, from Nvidia and available in beta form soon, will allow fans to bring modern features to old games. Not all old games – we’ll have to rely on things like the Ocarina of Time PC release for that – but DirectX 8 and 9 games.
RTX Remix: Some Of The Games
This has not been a sudden announcement. Fans have been able to see the scope of the technology already. The biggest release was Portal RTX, which was the original game with remastered assets and global raytracing.
It wasn’t easy to run, which is something to be said for a game released in 2007. But it looked fantastic. It was the first game I’d played that convinced me raytracing might just be worth the impact it has on your framerate. I’m hoping Portal 2 gets the same treatment.
Other games already in the works include a popular Portal mod pack called Portal: Prelude and GOAT classic Half-Life 2. Meanwhile, fans have been experimenting with everything from Grand Theft Auto Vice City to Metal Gear Solid 2, with decent results.
And those were just people with early access to the program needed to do this stuff. From January 22, it’ll be available to anybody who wants to play with it. The impact will be massive.
Updating The Past
Now, I should say that the best way to preserve old games is for them to be available and played in the original way. And, by default, RTX Remix gives these games a fresh chance at being played. Would anybody play Desperate Housewives: The Game in 2024 if not for the unusual potential of an RTX Remix? No, but bizarrely, now maybe they will.
And sure, some games are going to be purely released because they’re relatively easy to produce and fairly low stakes in terms of reaction. Nobody is going to have a meltdown on Twitter if Playboy: The Mansion doesn’t retain its original vibe.
But by removing the barrier of entry to some of these games and making them look modern (so modern some decent PCs won’t even be able to boot them), you remove a reason for people not to play. Combine with other mods that fix control schemes or update quality of life stuff, and a game from 2007 can easily become a modern classic.
That can only be a good thing. No longer will people look at incredible video games and say that it is missing something.
And while I’d rather help people understand that, actually, something like Majora’s Mask is doing exactly what it should be doing… RTX Remix is an impressive and exciting compromise. I can’t wait to see what the community manages to come up with.
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