“We’ll Fix it in the Patch” – Imagining 11 Early Access Games From Years Past

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One issue that has been steadily growing for gaming websites large and small over the past year or so is Early Access titles on Steam. Specifically, how can we review a game that on one hand is self-described as unfinished, yet which developers are still charging full price for? It is a real conundrum, and it’s something we’ve talked about on a few occasions; many of these games tend to be small and indie, which means they are being developed by small teams with small budgets and they can benefit from getting reimbursement throughout the development cycle as their project blossoms into a butterfly and rockets to the top of both the NPD charts as well as Metacritic.

Early Access

Mostly though, I find it annoying because most of these games are in such an early state that I have no choice but to give it a low score based on what they’re offering for a fee. Sure, I recognize that many of these games may become great as they are completed, but the minute you begin charging for something is when it’s fair game to be evaluated on its own merits.

As I said, Early Access is very much an indie thing…for now. Who knows; perhaps it will evolve into a AAA model in the future, and while it’s difficult to imagine what future games could be like with this model, I thought it might be worthwhile to see what classic games from past years might have been like if Early Access were always a part of video game development.

Mr Caffeine

GoldenEye 007 (1997)

goldeneye

What the developers say:

“This game will have the most advanced enemy and ally AI to date in a video game. You’ll feel just as if you’re 007 himself, with Nataliya helping you out every step of the way.”

Super Mario Bros 3 (1990)

Super Mario 3 Ship

What the developers say:

“Many levels are still under construction, so cheats are available for players. We’ve created special ‘P-Wing’ items that allow you to bypass some of the ship levels where giant chunks of the levels are missing.”

Halo: Combat Evolved (2001)

Halo Library

What the developers say:

“Level design is currently in active beta. For the time being, and to provide a more lengthy gameplay experience, we’ve re-used assets but will be adding new textures in after next month’s patch.”

Half-Life 2 (2004)

Half-Life 2 E2

What the developers say:

“Be aware that what you are buying is an incomplete story. Our team is feverishly working on getting the physics just right and story will be added in later. These additions may come in the form of added episodes, but rest assured WE WILL SEE THIS STORY THROUGH TO THE END.”

Final Fantasy VII (1997)

Final Fantasy VII Arms

What the developers say:

“We are committed to bringing you the most cinematic storytelling experience in existence. We are also hard at work on rendering the most realistic character models yet, and plan to address the ‘Popeye arms’ glitch in an upcoming patch.”

Metal Gear Solid 2 (2001)

Metal Gear Solid 2 Raiden

What the developers say:

“Become Solid Snake in the biggest Metal Gear adventure yet! As we are in the process of adding details to the Snake character model, we’ve added a placeholder main character that’s playable for Early Access purchasers. Rest assured, Snake will be added prior to the 1.0 release of Metal Gear Solid 2.”

Adventure (1979)

Adventure

What the developers say:

“Go on an epic journey as a brave red square who fights giant dragons. Right now the dragons have been drawn using seahorse textures in order to stress-test the servers. As release comes up, developers are looking into yellow, blue, and green square character customization options.”

Ninja Gaiden (1989)

Ninja Gaiden 6-3

What the developers say:

“We are hard at work tweaking the difficulty to provide a balanced and fun experience. Level 6-3 is currently under construction, and respawning enemies will be removed in the final build.”

Halo 2 (2004)

Halo 2 Ending

What the developers say:

“We’ve got the first few hours of an amazing campaign ready to go for Early Access purchasers. At present there is no ending for the campaign, but our development team is hard at work crafting a truly epic conclusion to this game that’s going to blow you away.”

Street Fighter II (1992)

Street Fighter 2 Ken Ryu

What the developers say:

“At present, we have two fighters available; Ken and Ryu. In future updates, we hope to include at least 8 more characters with individual moves and characteristics. Despite the lack of characters in this current build, Capcom gives you its guarantee that we will never charge for characters or content when it comes to Street Fighter.”

Shadow of the Colossus (2005)

Shadow of the Colossus

What the developers say:

“Our dev team has created 16 unique bosses so far. Thanks to your Early Access purchase, we will be able to soon get to work on creating this ambitious title’s final boss: The Last Guardian. Projected release date is October 1st, 2008.”

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About Author

(Senior Writer)

Born in 1844, I bring a lot of gaming experience to the table. In my day-job, I work for a public library which carries, amongst other formats, video games. I'm very interested in observing and documenting the growing pains this industry is experiencing as it is dragged kicking and screaming towards something resembling maturity. Join me!

  • http://www.thirteen1.com Daniel Allen

    Haha love it, the GoldenEye part me chuckle

    • MikeEaton

      Thanks! I had lots of fun writing this one.

  • NL37

    Lol!!! A++

  • BorlogMalgar

    The dreaded Level 6-3.. So many rage quits…