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Digital Upcycling


I’m not usually a fan of remakes. Or continuing a story/experience for the sake of easy money. Capitalism and entertainment are often at odds with creativity. How many movie sequels are on the way right now? 136, apparently. How many Fast and Furious movies are there? Too many. Another Toy Story? Who cares. Remember Cars 2? WTF was that. Or S.Darko? Make something new.

There’s that saying, “good artists borrow, great artists steal” but I’d take it a step further and say an exceptional artist steals from themselves. If it’s improvement, then we all win.

Video games are another story, and that’s the point of this. “Links Awakening” was released on Game Boy when I was 11 and I played it on and off for almost a decade. It was/is perfect. I recently, apprehensively, picked up the “new” version for Nintendo Switch, which came out almost five years ago! I’m slow, clearly. But (!) I still have my Game Boy Pocket and cartridge. Check out the side-by-side 👇

I wondered how true could it be to the original game, the thing I loved and played on car rides from Maine to Wisconsin (2-3 days) or Maine to Florida (again, 2-3 days). And back. But only in daylight, because the original Game Boy wasn’t backlit. So I fired it up the “remastered” version, and any conflicted feelings I had immediately evaporated. The new version was simultaneously more gorgeous than I could have imagined (I’m not nostalgic for pixels) and absolutely the same game that I remember. Color alone, would have been enough for me to weep (and I realize that Game Boy Color exists, but I never had one).

I immediately lost myself in the game for almost two hours, going through the same map I had memorized 25 years ago. It isn’t a clone, and isn’t a sequel. It’s somehow a better version of its original self. Calling it nostalgia would be a disservice to whoever worked on this new gem of an old game.

I didn’t think this could be improve on, honestly. Happy to be wrong.
The tree is in the same place! Chicken nearby. Worn path? ✅

Except the music, they should have kept the old soundtrack! I’m kidding, kind of. The newly orchestrated old songs (strings?!) take some getting used to. Now to find a few more hours in my days to play this 🫠