This week, WayForward is releasing their remake of David Crane’s single most bizarre game, "A Boy and His Blob." They’ve taken Crane’s bizarre and unforgiving original and recast it as a whimsical, tender cartoon about a kid and his alien pal. If early reviews are to be believed, it's a winning revision. "A Boy and His Blob" is a good model for preserving Crane’s legacy. His originals are simply too strange and cumbersome to play today, so why not remake and re-imagine them for today’s audience? Here are some ideas on where to start.
For anyone unfamiliar, "Freeway" was one of the first Atari 2600 games ever made and it attempted to answer why the chicken crossed the road. The answer is pretty much what you’d expect. It hasn’t, as you can imagine given its vintage, aged particularly well. That’s why "Freeway" should be remade as an iPhone game under its original prototype name "Bloody Human Freeway." Touch-control a hilariously animated pixel character as he tries to make it across a busy interstate. A little black humor, a little retro visual flare, and you’ve got a killer iPhone game as well as a Crane remake for the ages.
“Little Computer People”
“Little Computer People” was arguably more significant than even "Pitfall!" This primitive sim is, more or less, “The Sims” from 1985. Every time the game was fired up, it would randomly create a new avatar for you to interact with and guide around a digital three-story house. You could decorate the house, play simple games like poker with your new character, and give them gifts. It was really quite ingenious. Little known fact: there was an NES port of "Little Computer People" made in Japan called "Apple Town Story." Lesser known fact: it was made by Squaresoft and had music by “Final Fantasy” composer Nobuo Uematsu. That’s precisely who should remake it today. Square-Enix should make an elegant, hand-drawn version of "Little Computer People" for DSiWare. Have Nobuo Uematsu write some new jams for it and make it so players can save their randomly created characters and trade them with each other over Nintendo Wi-Fi.
After the brouhaha this game caused, it’s no wonder David Crane left game design after he finished it. It’s hard to see what the big deal is now. What about "Night Trap"'s ridiculous cutscenes made it such an ideal target for the public’s fears about video game violence? Who knows. Those people thought "Mortal Kombat" was too explicit. 1992 was a weird time. More than any other game in his catalog, "Night Trap" is probably the most deserving of a remake, because of the opportunity it represents. The game could be redone as a satire, one made to lampoon not only its source material but also outmoded stereotypes about game content. Make it with live action cutscenes again and have the performers constantly break the fourth wall. Make it a send up of the industry’s predilection with violence and juvenile sexuality. It would be awesome and, hopefully, it would redeem David Crane’s last mainstream work.