It's no secret that #E32017 was, well, an eensy bit disappointing. That isn't to say the reveals and announcements including the Xbox One X, Metroid Prime 4, Beyond Good and Evil 2 and Life is Strange: Before the Storm weren't fantastic. With all that processing power, jaw-dropping textures, an open season for open worlds, flashing lights and smiles, it could be argued that the games on offer are lackluster in comparison to the tech propping them up. The Last of Us 2 was notably absent from Sony's conference - moreover, a The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for Nintendo Switch announcement didn't cause even the most die-hard RPG fans to bat an eyelid. And as always, there was a big focus on multiplayer games over singleplayer escapades, which divides gamer opinions into those who want to share their experience with friends, and those who prefer a more introspective time.
But what if you could turn the clocks back, to the games you sank hours and hours into, even though the graphics weren't amazing and you might have rage-quit a few times? Of course, not in Mom and Dad's earshot though, in case they took the game back to the store.
Lo and behold, the YouTube channel Penney Pixels is creating snapshots of those slightly broken games you loved to soldier through, with a modern pop-culture twist.
Penney Pixels' rendition of the Academy Award-winning film #Gravity will bring a tear to your eye... because actually playing this game would be horribly difficult. The game throws you in with next to no instruction and space debris approaching at high velocities. The space debris is the most accurate feature, as the rest of the game bears very little resemblance to the source material - perhaps this one came in a cereal box created by a marketing team that hadn't been invited to the premiere. My favorite part is when the player character still requires an oxygen meter, despite being back on Earth, while kickboxing snakes.
#StrangerThings riffs off of old console games that required many different disks for just one playthrough - digital downloads have never felt more like a blessing. The theme sounds excellent and even more authentically '80s, and copies the title sequence very satisfyingly as the screen bends at the edges.
Playing as Joyce Byers attempting to contact Will who is trapped in the Upside Down, the mock-up is witty, self-aware and clearly the result of admirable dedication to construct a great homage to both the decade and the characters. Penney Pixels sentences the highly popular Netflix series to become needlessly in-depth and complicated, just like the best point-and-click adventures are... right?!
Scarif was a gorgeous planet, and frankly, it was a shame that the epic Rebel and Imperial battle had to occur on its white sandy shorelines, eventually exploding the whole shebang. (If you do miss it terribly, don't worry! It was filmed in the Maldives, so if you're at a loss as to where to take your vacation this summer...)
Thankfully, Rogue One: Scarif Beach Resort is the building sim that showcases the planet's potential to be the hottest destination in a galaxy far far away. A cluster of #StarWars references and in-jokes await the player as they are berated by a savvy Twi'lek investor accompanied by jaunty chiptune music. Even though we know how it will all end, it's my favorite of the bunch.
The mind behind Penney Pixels, Penney Design, is an accomplished freelance graphic designer in the UK. You can find their portfolio here, where they also apply the kitschy-retro aesthetic to contemporary classics like Batman: The Dark Knight and Lost to name examples. Their main project at the moment appears to be designing spiffy album covers for '60s and '70s artists, though fingers crossed that inspiration strikes for another fictional bad game rendition. They really can do everything.