Street_fighter_2_xboxlive_arcade_12-thumbThere’s a variety of strategies to take when releasing games these days, especially when there are literally hundreds of them a year. There are some interesting ways in which developers decide to build a bit of buzz for their title, whether it’s through interesting little backstory video or through subtle viral machinations.

But one that comes ready-made and has the greatest potential is nostalgia. If you have a game that has classic memories that roll around in a player’s head, you can use that to great advantage to spin an update or a stylistically similar title into a huge, smashing success. Now sure, this is a double-edged sword. If a developer fails to create or capitalize on nostalgia, and creates a game that doesn’t meet expectations, it can be disastrous. But in many cases, those that play on the nostalgia factor of a game end up making decently good games.

Recently I borrowed Street Fighter IV from a friend of mine. I was pretty excited for when Street Fighter IV came out earlier this year, but wasn’t really able to play it due to all the other stuff that I was doing at the time. But before I even had the game in my hands, I was giddy with anticipation about the potential re-kindling of all those arcade trips I made back in the day, where my Ryu-playing dominated the 4 or so city blocks the arcade served.

Now, I immediately got online and was shown that perhaps using 10 year old combos to play Ryu was a bit unwise, and ended up being slaughtered. But for every match where Ryu spun around at an odd angle after being trashed for 20 seconds, I felt a great sense of old school feeling washing over me. Street Fighter IV, which is careful to update things without changing the core gameplay too much, has arguably succeeded in this respect.

Another example is Torchlight, a little title that a few of my fellow bloggers are posting up as a Diablo lovechild. This isn’t surprising, considering that there are people on the Diablo II team that worked on this game, but the argument remains the same – create nostalgia for a classic and people will at least come running to try it to see if it lives up to their caffeine-filled, younger days of gameplay. I’m tempted to check this title out, though the problem is that the nostalgic memories I have of it involve playing with people, and I don’t have anyone I really know too well that wanted to try it. Still, the game apparently has played on its roots to create buzz, and it’s working.

Now if only there’d be a real Tetris update…