by Bob Reinhard
God Of War. One of the most cinematic, visually stunning game series’ of the modern day. Known for it’s immense boss fights and detailed violence, God Of War is the embodiment of the power of modern game consoles. It’s hard to imagine God Of War without it’s stylized cutting-edge graphics and visuals. So… what in Hades is THIS?!
This is Bit Of War, a freeware “demake” of God Of War that puts you in the shoes (does he even wear shoes?) of an adorable 8-Bit Kratos. Who knew it’d take just a handful of pixels to make homicidal rage so cute!
That’s right, developers over at Holmade Games decided that God Of War needed an 8-Bit NES-style counterpart. So they shrank down everyone’s blood thirsty God-slayer to tiny proportions and threw him into a classic-style platformer. And after trekking through it’s few levels and boss fights I can say with some certainty… it’s ok?
The game itself is familiar territory for anyone that’s played NES platformers. In other words, all the poor enemy placement, cheap platform layouts, and annoying recoil-when-hit frustration is here in top form. The game essentially has three enemy types that they reskin for each level, which makes the entire thing feel a bit monotonous. But with four power ups including Zeus’ Lightning and a turn-them-to-stone Medusa’s head, there is a little variety and thought that can go into getting around the enemy placement.
But I know what you’re wondering: What of God of War’s large, epic boss battles? Ye…no. With the exception of one larger boss, all the other bosses are the same size as you, basically pitting you into a Mega Man style throwdown. Except with one catch: I was able to beat most of the bosses by standing still. There is a “safe zone” in each battle that allows you to stand perfectly still and just strike when the boss comes to you.
So ultimately, most of the things that make God Of War, God Of War were mostly missing from the game. It worked perfectly fine as a game, but it wasn’t quite capable of catching the epic feel of the originals. It didn’t pull off the satisfaction of brutal combos or kills.
That’s not to say it’s not without it’s merit. It definitely has some great stuff here. It did manage a few interesting visual things in it’s later level designs which are neat and worth checking out. It’s cutscenes were a great retro style version of the Greek tragedy storytelling presented in the franchise. At it’s best, it did do a nice job of representing it’s source material. It’s definitely worth checking out for a quick, interesting experience. I applaud the developers for doing with it what they could, from such a humble place. It’s great fan service!
I say that knowing that this is just a freeware game. They didn’t have a huge budget and a team working on it. So, let’s think for a second, could this have worked if it was approached as a full-on game? Could we have made an 8-Bit God of War game that could capture some of the feel? Think on that.
It got me thinking about this concept of “Demakes”, and that in turn got me thinking about other modern games and if they would have worked had they been made 10, 15, 20 years earlier. Would Uncharted 2 have been as epic? Would Silent Hill 2 be as disturbing? Would Portal be… well… this?
There is no doubt most of these games could have been made in some format back in the day, as most of these games do owe a lot to similar games from the past, but I have a feeling most of them simply wouldn’t hold the same meaning or importance that they do thanks to more modern tech. Nathan Drake would be without his wisecracks. Silent Hill 2 would be without it’s atmosphere. And Portal would be without it’s physics.
Modern games have given developers a whole slew of new tool sets. Voice acting, full-blown cinematic cutscenes, the ability to render massive worlds to give you a sense of enormity. We have characters with tons of facial animation and realistic sound design to drop us right into the world we’re in and attach us to it. This is something that is much, much more rare in the early days of video games. While it’s easy to get lost in a world, it’s hard to separate ourselves from the fact it’s a pixel-filled video game. The emotional projection of Kratos’ rage is MIA.
I think this speaks volumes to how much the video game industry really has advanced over the last few decades. Developers have a lot more room to explore all facets of human experience in different ways. Being able to utilize these abilities to create new experiences that we may never have had back when we were kids. With each new advancement, it’s exciting to think of the possibilities of what experiences we could have or create with them.
Now, that isn’t to say all games couldn’t work back then, just certain ones. And it would seem that God Of War was one of them. Or at least this time around.
What games would you like to see “demade”? What retro games didn’t work well in the past, but may have worked if they were made today? And how damn cute is pixel Kratos?!