Virtual reality provides a variety of new ways to explore familiar gaming worlds.
Some developers have already begun planning out how VR could augment the experience of playing classic games, and there are multiple available emulators which output a fun retro arcade or 90s bedroom environment in VR.
But as much as gaming is about looking forward to new technologies, there’s always a place for old classics. Plenty of old school video games would work fantastically well in virtual reality, and the unique perspective offered by this tech could breathe new life into gaming’s most iconic titles.
I’m a huge fan of retro games—classic titles are an important part of gaming heritage and the development of technology over the past few decades. Here are three games which I think would work particularly well in VR, and why I think this new viewpoint could make them even more enjoyable.
Pac-Man Gets Real
One of the most iconic franchises in gaming is no stranger to innovation—whether everyone’s favorite yellow spherical game hero is leaping into 3D, or even trying his hand at adventure games, Pac-Man’s proven to be a very versatile character.
In VR, though, the Pac-Man gameplay experience would change dramatically. While the traditional arcade game is all about munching on fruit, collecting dots, and avoiding colorful baddies, a first-person VR experience would add more than a little tension to the experience. Running along dark, neon-lit corridors while being chased by glowing ghosts would feel like a fantastic premise for a horror game, and it’d no doubt mean that VR fans could never see Pac-Man the same way again.
Anybody who’s ever played Pac-Man will have experienced the brief moment of terror as the player finds themselves pinned in on both sides by ghosts—and it’s this temporary moment of panic which sets up the peril for the game, making it so much more satisfying in moments when the player can pull off a narrow escape. In a VR Pac-Man game, however, the experience of getting cornered is all the more terrifying. As a ghost approaches from one side, the player would instinctively wheel around, turning their head physically to run in the opposite direction—only to encounter yet another ghost!
While the experience of playing Pac-Man in first person would certainly be more tense and exhilarating, it’s not without its problems. For one thing, the strategy of the original Pac-Man has always come from the third-person, top-down perspective—losing this, the player can’t plan for ghost positions as easily, and the game could end up becoming very frustrating.
That said, there have been titles such as the multiplayer Pac-Man VS which have played with the idea of giving players a limited range of vision, and putting players in the role of ghosts, to great effect, creating a team-based manhunt mode for the classic arcade staple. Utilizing ideas from this game could help to further transform the experience of playing Pac-Man in VR.
Swinging into Pitfall!
If leaping across vines and avoiding crocodiles is your thing, Pitfall! in VR would be perfect for you. The classic sidescrolling game has gone on to inspire generations of similar jungle platformers, and it’s clear to see where games like Tomb Raider and Uncharted draw their inspiration.
A VR Pitfall! experience would add an extra layer of danger to the whole experience—hazards would feel more intimidating, while a near escape would bring a particularly thrilling adrenaline rush, leading to an experience that builds upon everything great from the original game. Especially considering the simplistic nature of the original design for Pitfall!, a chance to use lush next-gen hardware to create an immersive, visually stimulating experience while maintaining the fast-paced energy of the original is enticing.
This game would come with a challenge, though: owing to the linear nature of Pitfall!, it’d be difficult to make the VR experience one that would stay true to the original without feeling like a cheap knockoff of Temple Run. Linearity isn’t a popular trait in three-dimensional games in general, so in order to appeal to audiences and make for a more varied gameplay experience, it might be worth seeing Pitfall! embrace a more open-world environment, providing players with a variety of new ways of interacting with the world around them.
The important element to the game would be a sense of speed—players should feel, as they do with the original Pitfall!, that they’re running full pelt through a jungle environment that’s littered with vines to swing from and enemies to be dodged. Provided the game can carry that same level of forward momentum, a VR Pitfall! could deliver an exhilarating modern gaming experience while staying true to the original.
Meeting Your Doom
The granddaddy of first person shooters would be perfect in VR. The game series, which is filled with explosions, aliens, monsters, violence, and gore is already a visual treat for anyone who can stomach the blood and guts on display. Doom succeeds in large part because of the chaotic atmosphere it creates, and this would translate perfectly into VR, putting gamers right in front of some of the most terrifying horrors that have ever appeared in gaming.
For purists, of course, there’s nothing quite like the original. One thing that would be fantastic to see (and something that fans are already hard at work on) is a faithful recreation of the original Doom for a virtual reality platform. This is the kind of tribute project that will get retro gamers really excited—as long as the pixelated experience isn’t too nauseating.
While Doom earned its initial popularity among gamers thanks to its then-revolutionary gameplay, as anyone who’s ever entered a cheat code into the game will know, the continued success of the franchise stems from the wish-fulfilment fantasy at its heart. Doom is a ridiculous series, mashing together horror and science fantasy as only a game about a Martian portal to Hell can do. Picking up a controller to play Doom means taking on the role of a gritty action hero, armed to the teeth and capable of dealing with any demonic adversary that happens to cross the player’s path.
The one downside to this gameplay, traditionally, has been that while the first person perspective puts gamers straight into the heart of the game, there’s still a level of disassociation between what’s happening on-screen and the room that the player is physically sitting in. Doom is known for straining the suspension of disbelief that’s required for a player to buy into its mythos and take the game seriously—whether the game is featuring the floating head of its creator or simply throwing wave after wave of implausible enemies at players, it’s not a game that’s easy to invest in emotionally.
All of this would change with the move to virtual reality: were the game to become even more in-your-face, it’d be harder for players to dismiss the outlandish monsters that they’re squaring off against. There’d be no turning away from the grotesque horrors on display, and, with that, the gameplay becomes all the more believable. The characters, enemies, and environment would pop with a never-before-seen believability, in spite of their sci-fi/fantasy designs. VR would transform Doom from something outlandish and exciting into something more believably terrifying.
Looking Forward to VR Reboots and Exciting New Games
Retro games are well worth keeping alive, and the potential for VR to revolutionize classic gaming experiences is very exciting.
What made these games succeed so well, though, was their iconic characters, settings, stories and gameplay. This is why, while there are plenty of old games that would translate well to VR, it’s also exciting to see what new titles we’ll be getting our hands on soon enough.
One of those new titles, Loading Human, is a game which stays true to the gameplay elements that made these classic games so enjoyable. It places story, setting, and characters right at its heart, giving players the opportunity to interact with the game’s world in a deep and meaningful way, priming it to earn its place among pioneering titles in VR gaming.
And in 30 years, who knows what exciting new reboots fans might envision for it.
Loading Human is a truly unique and immersive video game experience. Click here to sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date on all the exciting new developments with this groundbreaking VR title!