Last week I played a short preview of a Gameboy Color game that was never released. Infinity is a Strategy RPG by game developer Affinix. It was a planned release for the Gameboy Color but was never finished and released because publishers refused to pick it up. They were much more interested in publishing games for the newly released Gameboy Advance.
It is a shame that the game was never able to be made. Infinity is a lot of fun. Its gameplay is excellent, if a little buggy (the game is incomplete after all). The story was engaging. I would have loved to see it completed. Sadly, it is likely to never be.
The game developer has released the source code to Github and open sourced it. If anyone is interested in classic Gameboy programming, you are free to review and contribute to it.
This game got me nostalgic for all the great RPGs that came out during that era of consoles. It also got me thinking about all the great games we could have had back then, if only the technology we have today existed then.
Think about it. The internet has brought about a massive renaissance of game development. Indie game developers are making more games, releasing more games, and having more success today than they ever could. They are able to make and release games on a variety of platforms, including major consoles and handhelds. They can do this on their own without the need for a publisher to act as a middleman.
In the first few decades of gaming, that was a pipe dream for almost all game developers. While the PC was the most open platform for gaming, it still required the production of physical media to distribute games, something out of reach for many hobbyist developers. Console game production was completely out of reach for anyone without the capital of major publishers.
Which led to a lot of development stories like Affinix. If you wanted to make a game, you had to go through a publisher. If your game didn’t strike the right irons and the right time, you were completely out of luck. You couldn’t release your game. This led to a lot of missed opportunities for everyone.
I can only imagine what might have happened to Infinity had Kickstarter existed then and had Nintendo had the same open publishing policy it has today for indie developers. It likely would have been released. Yet, that was not the case. Instead, we missed out on a wonderful RPG.
While it is sad to sit and think about what might have been, to look at all the interesting games that could have been made, it is far more interesting and productive to look at what is being made today. Games like The Banner Saga, Cosmic Star Heroine, and Hyper Light Drifter have all come about thanks to the vast open nature of the internet, including open and accessible funding systems and free and open distribution systems have made these game possible.