A Retro-Futuristic Odyssey: Unpacking the Wonders of UFO 50

It’s an impossible ask for a game released in a digital age where players can connect to the old days while looking securely into the future. But then, one game manages to do just that. The new project from the Spelunky team at Mossmouth – which includes the studio’s founder Derek Yu (who is not involved in the UFO 50 part of the project) and designer Quinns – is a collection of 50 games bundled into one, ambitious package. Not a mere anthology, it’s a collection of original, playable games – perhaps the biggest game ever assembled – and one that could change everything. Entitled UFO 50, it will release on Steam for Windows, Mac and Linux on 18 September, and was six years in the making.

The Genesis of UFO 50: A CLASSIC Reimagined

And at the core of UFO 50 is an absorbing fable that takes you back to a nostalgic heyday of gaming, the period between 1982 and 1990, that video game fans today refer to as the NES and Genesis era. UFO Soft is the fictional developer of a series of videogames that, while fictional, are meant to be UFO 50’s version of obscure but groundbreaking titles that are now part of gaming lore within the artificial universe of the UFO 50 multiverse.

Crafting Authenticity: THE CLASSIC Challenge

The Mossmouth team has done so out of a desire to recreate a classic gaming experience, carefully striving to stay within the 1980s-era limits and aesthetics. The games thus share a single proprietary 32-color palette, and ‘are purposefully built to not flicker or have slowdown,’ according to the game’s FAQ. The aim from the earliest planning stages was to replicate the limitations and aesthetics of late-1980s game development.

Diverse Genres: A CLASSIC Spectrum

What really stands out about UFO 50 beyond its sheer size, though, is its diversity. The compilation offers a wide range of genres, from platformer, role-playing, roguelite and shoot-em-up to third-person fighting – each with a standalone narrative, gameplay and art style that evolves throughout in tandem with game development from the early to late ’80s. Anyone who liked any of those games should like at least one of the experiences UFO 50 has to offer, be it single-player or multiplayer.

A Classic Multiplayer Twist

Apart from that, what sets UFO 50 apart, and what is a welcome inclusion in half the collection, is the multiplayer function: that games can be shared, connecting to a communal ethos at the core of much of the original computing entertainment that inspired these games, while also breaking new ground by allowing you to explore these neo-retro worlds together, sharing past and forging a common future.

Beyond 50: The Hidden Facet of UFO 50

Even if you were to dismiss UFO 50 as a series of 50 games, it is still definitely more. The conceit of the meta-narrative that binds the 50 varied experience into a coherent work means that UFO 50 is already a meta-game in itself. This sheer level of detail, beyond a homage to classic gaming, is what makes UFO 50 into a rich, interactive alternative video game history.

A CLASSIC Revival: Why UFO 50 Matters

Amid a gaming landscape that is increasingly being critiqued for its focus on remakes and sequels, a light, a banner, an indie game called UFO 50: the remake. In a world where indie titles are always applauded for taking risks and starting from scratch, Mossmouth is reclaiming parts of the past, taking guts from old games and bringing them into the future in an incredibly unique way.

Exploring the Essence of CLASSIC

Greatness in gaming is measured by the word ‘classic’, and not by mere age or era. Classic games are those that, regardless of the limitations of their outdated technical specifications (or the age of the consoles they debuted on), retain the undying ability to charm playability, narrative and creativity onto the players. In a story arc that’s about to drag UFO 50 into the classic ranks, the pure thrill of playing (and having the chance to play, for the first time, with new generations of players) will be shared by publishers, gamers and all those who have for years believed that the classics should always have a home in our digital hearts.

Jun 08, 2024
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