Virtual Vox Pop is a weekly open mic in which we ask you, the reader, to sound off on a particular topic. This week, it’s neo-retro games (potentially) gone wrong.
Never let it be said that Capcom doesn’t know how to capitalize on a hot property.
Much like the multiple incarnations of Street Fighter II, Street Fighter Alpha, Street Fighter III, and Street Fighter IV, Dark Void, the upcoming jetpack action game developed by Airtight Games, will have another franchise entry come January: Dark Void Zero.
Dark Void Zero is a game designed explicitly to siphon the Dark Void hype, help build buzz, and net Capcom some decent coin. Unlike Jetpack Attack, a free, simple, Web game that is essentially Dark Void in 2D, Dark Void Zero is a prequel gloriously rendered in 8-bit. Capcom even whipped up some delightful awful old school box art a la Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10, and even created a bogus back story.
As the ‘80s were drawing to a close, the developers at Capcom began work on a top secret project that aimed to set new standards for the platformer genre. That game was called “Dark Rift”, and it blended the intense shooting action of Section Z™ with the latest innovations in platform jumping from Mega Man. In order to properly fulfill the producer’s vision for Dark Rift (later renamed Dark Void), the hardware engineering team at Capcom was enlisted to design and produce an all-new chipset that would be included in every cartridge, enabling huge numbers of sprites and never-before-seen special effects to be displayed on the aging NES® platform and the PlayChoice-10 NES arcade cabinet.
Alas, time waits for no man and game developers are no exception. The dawn of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System® made the additional hardware requirements for Dark Void redundant. Capcom suspended development on Dark Void as it began to evaluate the SNES. Before long, the game was shelved and drifted into the annals of gaming history. Even the internal tape-based archives were lost due to an unfortunate magnet incident which even today is best left un-discussed. Dark Void became a legendary “lost project” at Capcom…until now.
Nearly twenty years later the next gen version of the game, Dark Void, is back on the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC! But to commemorate the game’s humble origins, Capcom has commissioned this recreation of the original 8-bit classic, now re-titled “Dark Void Zero,” on the DSi platform. You play Rusty, the first human born in the Void, who must take on the Watchers in a quest to stop their domination of Earth. With the aid of Nikola Tesla, and his state-of-the-art rocket pack, Rusty must take down the Watchers and their minions across three intense levels of action and intrigue.
It also sounds very awesome, but Dark Void Zero is taking the neo-retro genre in a wrong direction, money-grubbing direction. The reason old school gamers get hyped for titles such as Contra ReBirth and Mega Man 10 is due to those games’ ties to the past. They look, feel, and sound like direct continuations of the games of many of our youth; hall of fame-caliber games of our youth. Dark Void Zero has ties to a game that has yet to be released, and thus comes off as a hollow attempt at retroness.
But that’s just one grumpy old gamer’s opinion–what say you?