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Nostalgia pandering

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Basically the saying "Old is gold", but in a literal manner.

Nostalgia pandering is a term used when a video game company adds nostalgia to their games with no new features or originality that make it stand out, and can be used as a tactic to make extra cash by adding nostalgia to lure fans of past games into spending money on this practice.

This practice was started in mid-2010s and has been criticized by many gamers for being involved in predatory practices, over-reliance on old stuff rather than new, and making people feel sick and tired of seeing nostalgia being shoved in video games.

Notable examples

  1. Sega is infamously known for their constant nostalgia pandering ever since the release of Sonic Generations.
    • Releasing Sega Genesis/Mega Drive game compilations for just about every single platform, while ignoring their other platforms.
    • Sonic Mania was supposed to be all of the levels are original but Sega mandated to re-use the old zones, as a result only five new zones made into the game, however, the eight old zones have new design choices to help them stand out from their original counterparts.
    • Putting nostalgia elements to Sonic Forces, even though Sonic Generations and Sonic Mania already did that and Forces was released right after Mania.
    • They're also turning Modern Sonic himself into Classic Sonic. The example is the fact that his quills and legs are shorter, which just makes him look disproportionate, and Sonic Forces went even further with this by outright changing Sonic's color and giving him even shorter quills.
  2. While Nintendo mostly does a great job at adding nostalgia to their games, they still cash in on this trend. One notable example being the notorious Super Mario 3D All-Stars, which is just a barebones port of Super Mario 64, Sunshine and the first Galaxy game, with no significant improvements or changes at all.
  3. Blizzard: When Blizzard merged with Activision, they began to create quick cash grab "remastered" games and milk the money via nostalgia pandering instead of creating an entirely new game. The most infamous example is Warcraft III: Reforged.
  4. Atari usually cashes in on nostalgia of the Atari 2600. In fact, Infogrames, Atari's parent company, changed its name to capitalize off the brand.
  5. Despite their status as an awful company today, Konami does a pretty good job of adding previous song charts to its newer BEMANI games.
  6. Capcom has a habit of porting older games from previous generations to current consoles, mostly because they consider ports to be "cheaper and easier" to make than brand new ones, which is, in other words, considered nostalgia pandering. They also re-release older games on the Nintendo Switch, with very few new titles such as Mega Man 11 and Monster Hunter Rise.
    • In fact, they brought the idea of nostalgia pandering in gaming to life in 2003 with Mega Man X7, a decade before this practice became popular.
  7. Playtonic Games, which is a dev with ex-Rare members, often makes games that rely on nostalgia rather than innovation or modernization, with the worst offender being Yooka-Laylee, a spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie (which due to being almost too faithful to its predecessor) was criticized for its outdated mechanics and its lack of originality. Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair, which was positively received by critics ands fans, was also criticized for being too identical to the Donkey Kong Country series with very little innovation and no new mechanics that make it stand out from other games of its genre.
  8. Square Enix likes to squish money from their older RPGs, examples include but not limited to:
    • They constantly make ports and remasters of the Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts games and they announce them like if they were a big deal.
    • The Chrono Trigger PC port was initially criticized for being a shamelessly lazy conversion of the mobile version, and to add salt to the wound; they charged $5 more for it.
    • The first version of FFXIV was so heavily criticized that Square Enix was forced to make a new version of the game, which was far better received.
    • EVERYTHING related to Final Fantasy VII, despite adding new game elements.
    • They are releasing pixel remasters of Final Fantasy 1-6 with no additional changes whatsoever to the original games, besides the graphics and music.
    • They also have recently been re-releasing the first three games of the Dragon Quest franchise, better known as the Erdrick Trilogy, with a new localization containing Old English as fan-pandering to the NES originals.
  9. The crowdfounding pages have been a place where several scams in name of nostalgia pandering have happened:
    • Peter Molyneux is well-known for while having created great franchises, he is practically a mythomaniac at the moment of announcing games, when he announced Godus (the spiritual sequel of Populous) he asked for funds, and despite he reached the goal and he promised the game would be ready in 9 months after that, the game has been on early access for more than 7 years and counting.
    • The Mighty No. 9 campaign was so disastrous that this game is the face of failed crowdfounding.
    • After a successful campaign, Shenmue III was very criticized for the fraudulent decision of publishing the game on Epic Games Store instead of Steam (it was a temporal exclusivity, but still) despite them promising it would be the complete opposite.
  10. Yuji Naka announced Balan Wonderworld, using his image of being the co-creator of Sonic and NiGHTS, just to give a game with very dated mechanics and a story who is supposed to talk about depression and while it's not the worst attempt, it's so pretentious that can give Zack Snyder a run for his money.
  11. Game Freak has been pandering towards nostalgia with their Pokémon games regarding the Kanto region starting with X and Y. In that game, Santalune Forest is just a reskin of Viridian Forest, most of the Generation 1 Pokémon can be found in the wild, and the player is given one of the Kanto starters upon reaching Lumiose City. Game Freak continued the Kanto pandering in their future games.
    • Pokémon GO only contained Gen 1 Pokémon when it initially released, with the later generations getting added in future updates.
    • Pokémon Sun and Moon introduced regional forms, but all of the Pokémon that received these new forms were Gen 1 Pokémon.
    • Pokémon: Let's Go Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee! only contains the original 151 Pokémon (plus Meltan and Melmetal), and removed a few mechanics that weren't present in the Gen 1 games.
    • In Pokémon Sword and Shield, Leon's signature Pokémon is a Charizard instead of a powerful Pokémon introduced in his respective generation, unlike most other champions.
      • Although, Diantha from Pokemon X and Y (which is an amazing game, despite being easy) has a Gardevoir (a Pokemon from the Hoenn region) instead of a powerful Pokemon in her respective generation.
  12. Microsoft has been working with merchandising companies like First4Figures or Totaku to make merch off of the Banjo-Kazooie franchise instead of making a brand-new game or even a remake, which has led to fans doubting that the series will ever make an official comeback besides Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
  13. The Kirby series is known for having Nostalgia pandering in it's games, mainly the Whispy Woods boss fight (including variants like Flowery Woods and Clanky Woods) was used in all of the Kirby games (except Amazing Mirror, Canvas Curse, and Squeak Squad).
  14. Lots of Indie developers tend to do this a lot, most famous kind of genres being Super Mario Bros. 3 clones or Quirky inspired Earthbound RPGs that are about mental illness.
  15. Rovio made a downgraded remaster of the original game called Rovio Classics: Angry Birds, that tried to be like the 2012 version of Angry Birds, after several protests from fans to bring the original back to the App Store. However, the game uses an entirely new physics engine, which is something not a lot of fans wanted. It also lacked several episodes from 2012, like Bad Piggies and Red's Mighty Feathers.
  16. Gameloft brought back their early Java games with the game collection Gameloft Classics: 20 Years. However, this is acceptable, as they have only done it once, and the collection has no monetization schemes.
  17. When Rockstar Games isn't busy milking GTA Online, they occasionally cash in on this trend, notably by releasing some of their older games on mobile devices (prior to GTA Online), like Max Payne, Bully, and most notably, the PS2 era/3D Universe Grand Theft Auto games (minus Vice City Stories), with mixed-to-negative results (excluding GTA III and Vice City which are based on the Xbox versions, and Liberty City Stories, which was ported by a different developer), and most recently, Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition, a half-assed "remaster" of the original Trilogy containing GTA III, Vice City and San Andreas made in Unreal Engine for PC and modern consoles (plus an upcoming mobile port) that was based off the code from the original mobile ports.
  18. Cubic Games will add old weapons in Pixel Gun 3D that many people liked in 2014/15, but will lock it behind a paywall, then remove it for a year, and add back for a few days behind a paywall, cycle repeats.

Why This Practice Sucks

  1. This practice implies the refusing of making something new and taking advantage of the constantly evolving technology to go the easy way recycling things from the past.
  2. As stated above, it has been used to scam people.
  3. If the franchise has an unfinished story, like Shenmue or Kingdom Hearts; it's hurting to see how that story goes to the toilet.
  4. This practice can also add in outdated stuff in games as well.
  5. Because of this practice, people who are big fans of nostalgia can get very easily sick of nostalgic elements being forced onto games.
  6. This type of pandering often holds back originality and innovation, and only encourages companies to recycle the same thing over and over again.
  7. Some products such as games or even DLC can be overpriced because of their over-reliance on nostalgia.
  8. Companies often port older games from previous generations to each new console constantly rather than focus on creating a brand-new game from the ground-up, because they see it as "cheaper and easier to make", and they usually make lots of money.
  9. Some of these nostalgia pandering practices are usually made that will only appeal to certain fans, which could make most fans left out.
  10. Some companies often perpetrate this practice after they've been involved in controversy and are on their fanbase's bad side, in an attempt to dismiss the scandal.
  11. Some of them use the game's anniversary as an excuse to pandering.

Redeeming Qualities

  1. A game with nostalgia pandering doesn't automatically make it garbage, for example; the aforementioned Yooka-Laylee and its sequel, most Pokémon games, Sonic Mania, Final Fantasy VII Remake, Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania, and Mario Party Superstars are pretty good games, and even pretty awesome.
    • Even a few remakes can be great, such as the Spyro the Dragon and Crash Bandicoot trilogies.
  2. Suprisingly, Konami does a pretty good job of adding Nostalgia to its Bemani games (Dance Dance Revoultion, Beatmania IDX, etc.).
  3. Regardless of what you think of Naughty Dog nowadays, even in The Last Of Us Part II, they added cool nostalgia in it without making it feel overwhelming.
  4. As mentioned above, Nintendo does a wonderful job at adding nostalgia to their games without pandering to it.

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