Weekly Discussion Wrap-Up: Cult Classic

Well this was our most popular discussion topic since we move to the weekly format. I wasn’t expecting that at all, but that’s the thing with cult classics; they have a very vocal fan base. Luckily nobody broke into a brawl, but I did hear of a lot of games I’d never heard of before.

Lets get the depressing comments out of the way, the ones that said foretold the diminishing number of cult titles. First off there were those who saw the dominance of AAA titles and publisher belt tightening meant that no-one would take a risk on more obscure or niche titles any more. For example Grey_Ghost13 saw no future for the cult titles outside of the digital space.

I think with the way that modern gamming is going with publishers putting all there efforts in guaranteed commercial successes, as we’ve seen recently with devs being closed and only the AAA titles getting sequels, we will see less and less cult classics, unless they do go down the digital distribution route.

The other reason I saw for cult classics diminishing over the next few years was the Internet’s ability to push anything beyond cult status in a heartbeat. This actually goes hand-in-hand with the growth of digital distribution, and it seems an odd combination that one thing could push cult titles further whilst, at the same time, removing it’s ability to exist. kjkg has this to say.

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I personally think we are going to see less and less “cult” titles. My only basis on this is view is the fact that everything is accessible on the internet. By this I mean when a title comes out that is great, a lot more people hear that it is great.

However, the most interesting point I saw came from sharpie. His point that was due to the transient nature of games consoles it’s exceptionally difficult to play them any more.

I don’t think that the medium of computer games is suited to cult classics. If I wanted to go and watch a DVD of Metropolis (1927) or Man with a Movie Camera (1929) I could go home and do that this evening. If I wanted to re-play Mid-Winter (1990) or Codemasters Grand Prix Simulator (1988) there is no way to do it without hanging on to obsolete hardware and setting it up every time you fancy a game.

That’s certainly true, although in the last generation or so we’ve seen so much emulation of old systems that I think it’s slowly becoming less of an issue. No, you can’t get hold of everything just yet, but maybe one day we’ll get close.

Of course most of the comments centred around recommending more cult titles. I’m not going to go through and list them all, but I may well pick some up when I get a chance. In particular I’ve been meaning to play Psychonauts forever.

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7 Comments

  1. I like trying to get old/cult games working on new hardware, it’s part of the retro gaming experience for me, though I also own several previous generation consoles/computers that are always set up ready to play in my games room. I pissed around for ages to get Grim Fandango working in XP, it was well worth it. Psychonauts is ace, there will still be demo of it floaty around so give it a go NOW!

    • I’ve got a huge box of old PC games I’ve been meaning to whack on eBay for yonks.

  2. Ohh a mention. Nice. Was an interesting topic. Actually sparked a drunken debate between me and a friend at the pub, since I brought it up. Sadly I don’t remember if we had anything sensible to say.

    • Drunken talk always brings up cult (and retro) games, along with football teams of yesteryear, and the films we grew up with. It was a very interesting topic of the week and I’ve definitely missed out on a few in my time, and I’m 31!

  3. that is a good point about gaming not being very conducive to revisiting old and/or classic titles.

    you can read books that were written centuries ago, you can listen to music written just as long ago, you can watch some of the first moving images recorded over a century ago, but it’s bloody hard to play a game released 20 years ago.

    this is also one of the reasons i hate drm, drm will make the cult games a piece of ancient history, IE dead.

    it’s getting to a point where you wont be able to play games a few years old let alone a few decades.

    just look at all the gaming history that will be lost.

    i can read charles dickens work though he’s been dead for over a century, but if valve go under for some reason then nobody will be able to experience their work, not legally anyway.

    and what about when media goes into the public domain? as pretty much all media does after varying amounts of time, unless disney have their way anyway, search for the mickey mouse protection act.

  4. Are cult games a dying breed? New games are releasing all the time and there hasn’t ever been a time when cult games where super popular, because thats IMO one of the criterias for a cult game, it can’t be a AAA title with a thousand billion sales.

    And try to think of a handful of cult-games, I’m guessing they where all atleast a few years old. That’s because games don’t really reach cult-status until they’ve matured a bit (like a fine wine).

    I belive that they will never seize to exist, if anything I feel that they’ve started to get more popular. I find the talk of such gems seems to be blooming, as more and more people start to explore the wonders of lesser known titles, indie-games and games only digitally distributed.

    And one of the reasons for this is the interwebs, where smaller titles like flower can flourish through PSN, Live Arcade, Steam and emulation (which is a field in growth as people want to re-experience old friends and will at some point in the not too distant future probably allow people to play really old games relativly easily).

    Re-releases is something relativly new, that has gotten a boost through the previously mentioned medias, and the more and more popular HD-releases (Team Ico Collection anyone?) are bringing back old classics with a new shiny paintjob.

    So that’s just my take on the matter, I don’t see any reason to start shedding tears yet.

    I’ll finish this with a quote from a wise man that goes out to all game-developers out there: “Dare to be stupid!”
    (That’s Weird Al Yankovic FYI)

    • weird Al is awesome haven’t listened to his stuff for ages

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