As this generation has progressed on, I’ve found myself going more retro. And more into the arms of the downloadable world.

There have been a lot of new games based on “retro” content: Mega Man 9 and 10, Scott Pilgrim, the Bit.Trip series, and more for the focus of this post, Telltale Games.

Telltale’s quick history lesson will instantly tell you that they were a bunch of ex-Lucasarts employees who founded themselves in 2004 because they wanted to make adventure games. They had already endeared themselves to me with the release of the Strong Bad series, and their updates of Sam & Max and Monkey Island were certainly notable.

Even tomorrow, they are set to do some crazy reveal with characters from the aforementioned Sam & Max and Strong Bad, but also from Penny Arcade and Valve’s Team Fortress 2.

The trailer raises a lot of questions while saying nothing in return, other than apparently joining forces with another great developer and another popular webcomic.

Speaking of popular licenses, there’s also this matter:

Telltale is also making a Back to the Future and Jurassic Park series of games, which were two of my favorite films (and theme park rides) growing up.

Back To the Future seems very promising, from what little information has come out. Jurassic Park makes me wonder if they’ll recapture that “exploration” feel of the Sega CD game:

Or do something different.

These games have usually debuted on the Wii, as far as home consoles go, which largely makes sense, as the “point and click” aesthetic works perfectly for games like these. It’s also an interesting observation that downloadable games such as this actually feel more “inspired” in comparison to the multi-million budget projects out there, with smaller teams, and more of a seeming understanding of basic gameplay fundamentals.

More of the creative and interesting games I see these days tend to be more from smaller studios, a return to form with old-school ideas, and are originating on downloadable services. I think these companies, with their “return to form” approach, are going to be the next leaders for the future of gaming, because in many respects, certain aspects have grown stagnant, and we really do need fresh blood, or a flat-out reboot. Not a crash like 1983, but with escalating development budgets, a tightening economy, and a greater interest in retro-nostalgia, I think repetitive concepts are strangling the industry.

Telltale seems to be pressing my buttons more and more these days, as I think they “get” what makes gaming fun. I hope other companies will start looking at their philosophy, and recognize that while the bottom line of profits will always be a driving factor, you can only extend the consumer’s goodwill for so long if you don’t put a little bit of heart and fun in the game. A series is only as long-lived as the success of its next sequel, and you can’t rely on the name alone forever if there’s nothing else there past the title’s history.

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Filed under: back to the futurestrong badtelltale gamesupcoming gameswiiware