They are integral patches in the quilt that is our gaming history, a past that is not as extensive as that of literature or film, both long accepted as forms of art worthy of systematic preservation, but one that even the U.S. Government feels is worthy of cataloguing, having introduced video games to the Library of Congress.
That's all well and good, but the appeal of games is that one can play them, and often the existing versions of them have compatibility issues with modern hardware and software, not whether in their programming or in the physical medium to which they are written. But we're in the digital age, now, and downloadable content is a very real and feasible thing with our broadband Internet and improved emulation technology. Every game mentioned thus far, save Terminator, has found a new home online by way of digital distribution, be it through GOG.com or the Xbox LIVE Arcade. Many of these titles didn't make a big splash when they landed, but have contributed something to the genres and overall industry into which they were spawned.
And what of the history of gaming outside of the U.S.? Video games are, after all, a global tapestry. Japan in particular made countless contributions to the early shape of modern game development, but so much of what was created in Japan, where gaming was biggest in the eighties and early nineties, was never brought over to the West. These are the lost elements of the narrative, the games that fill in the cracks between the big Nintendo releases—such as Fire Emblem—and the majority of the early Final Fantasy games. Much has been rectified by way of anthologies and collections that brought translated editions of these titles to the West during the PlayStation generation and later, but even up through the PSX-era there were Japanese productions that failed to cross the ocean.
Monkey Paw is one of the companies that seeks to rectify such oversights. The president, John Greiner, worked for Hudson Soft and its American subsidiary for twenty years, during which he helped convince the Japanese corporation of the validity of digital distribution by way of XBLA title Bomberman Live, which garnered sufficient figures to justify what Mr. Greiner said has, in Japan, been a very tentative venture. Thus the purpose of Monkey Paw, which focuses on releasing original PlayStation games on the PSN as PSone Classics (along with publishing more esoteric recent releases such as the PSP's Class of Heroes 2 and original games like Burger Time: World Tour). Such titles as Alundra, Arc the Lad, Tomba! And Cho Aniki are all available on the U.S. PlayStation Network due to their efforts.
It's in this way that gaming history becomes more than simply a set of facts and carefully preserved and curated relics, transcending that to become a playable, palpable echo of gaming's earlier days that stretches into the present.
Date: July 11, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central. This week's is also purely a work of fiction*