Imagine Grand Theft Auto 5, but made in the 1990s, or maybe Assassin's Creed, but as a PlayStation One game. These are the kind of speculative projects the YouTube channel 98Demake tackles in its quest to make what's new old again.
The channel presents popular games from the present, then "demakes" them using old-school graphics. The tagline for the channel says it all: "Making pretty games ugly again." But there's a beauty to be found in those blocky textures.
In the demake video for Rocket League, you can see all the telltale signs of 1990s games. Instead of real 3D, you get an isometric view, the graphics are blocky, scan lines are abundant, and there's no anti-aliasing (the smoothing of rough edges). The gameplay on view is also true to early games, with sudden, jerky movements, simple explosion animations and physics that are basic at best. While simple looking compared with today's games, you can tell a lot of work went into it.
Check it out for yourself and note the old-school VHS camera-tracking lines as we get a look at the cover in the beginning:
I reached out to the channel owner (who wishes to remain anonymous) and he explained why he does it.
"I've been a gamer for my whole life and the PlayStation 1 era was easily the most important gaming era for me, since those are the games I used to play when I was young," he said. "Now later in life I've found myself fascinated with the 3D graphics and aesthetic of that era and how the developers could convey such emotion and give people countless hours of enjoyment with very limited technology."
He started out in much more modest fashion by making slideshows to show what graphics from 1998 might look like. By his estimation, those early slideshows could be whipped up in less than 10 hours. But the gameplay videos he does now involve using Blender for the models and Photoshop for the textures, and between the mock disc covers, modeling, animations, heads up displays and other details, it takes an average of 50 hours to make a single video.
That's a ton of work for a single YouTube video, but for the sake of gamers bitten by the nostalgia bug, let's hope our mysterious demaker never quits.
Tech Culture: From film and television to social media and games, here's your place for the lighter side of tech.
Batteries Not Included: The CNET team shares experiences that remind us why tech stuff is cool.