Monday, July 29, 2013

Revisiting Games: Is it Best to Leave Nostalgia Alone?

Recently, I've been revisiting a vast majority of my old games. I'm talking the original PlayStation and GameBoy. I've read many accounts of people revisiting their old games and realizing that games they once loved were actually flawed in major ways, especially since a majority of old games existed before game design was an established 'design' method. Developers back then didn't have a handbook of rules like they do now. It was open season for ideas, and that's partially why we remember them so fondly. They didn't fit with the mold that we've become accustomed to in recent years.

While reading these accounts of disappointment in classic favorites I decided to figure out wether it was best to look back at my childhood favorites without my rose tinted glasses. These are my thoughts on a few select games that I visited that I feel still hold up. Three champions.



Yes, I popped in good old Pokémon Yellow. Now, I'm not blind, the game still has problems, pretty major ones too. EXP management is a bit of a nuisance, the dialogue is atrociously bad, and the battle system doesn't quite understand what 'turn based' actually means. That being said, the game has still aged rather well. It's very playable, which is more than I can say for a vast majority of the PS1 and N64 library. The battles are fun and satisfying, and the atrocious dialogue provides some nice humor for an older audience.
This will never not be funny.

The game is old, so it doesn't benefit from big budgets and tons of flash, but it's a charming game, and I wasn't disappointed when I revisited it. In fact, I think I appreciate it even more now.


The graphics are terrible, the loading screens are all over the place, the camera is frustrating, and the combat is awkward. I love it. I remember a simpler time, when games were worlds to explore and stories to experience. One of the benefits of revisiting games like these in the modern era is being able to look up everything you missed when you played it as a child. Games used to be riddled with secrets, and this game is from that time. I had ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA that there was a 'what if' mode that would alter the game for a second play through. In todays climate, the developers want you to know everything about their games and they'll market the crap out of them to show you. Spider-Man for PS1 hasn't aged well, but again, I wasn't disappointed, in fact I was blown away by just how many things I missed when I played it all those years ago.


The graphics are terrible ... that's literally all that's changed for me. If this game was remastered Halo Anniversary style, this game would hold up as a monumentally amazing cart racer. The controls are tight, which is quite the feat for a game as old as this one. The music is fun, the tracks are fun, the controls are great and nuanced. Of all the games that I revisited, this one is definitely the best and it's the only one that holds a candle up to even the most recent games in it's genre out of the three champions.  

This game has aged very badly, but for whatever 
reason, I loved playing it, and I'll probably play it again
very soon.

I played a ton of games. I played Strider, Spyro, Halo CE, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, The Grinch, Ape Escape, etc. I love them all, and now that I've revisited them with no rose tinted glasses, what do I think of them? Are they as pristine as I remember them? No. Of course not. The person I am now is a vastly more intelligent person that the person I was when I played these games the first time. I understand design, I understand video games as a medium. I know that there's nothing beyond the border of the game because they are no longer worlds, they are entertainment. Does that disappoint me like it does so many others?

I don't understand why it would? Yeah, some games are better in your mind, but I liked visiting the classics. Some games are worse than I remember them, like Medievil and Spyro, and some games are better than I remember them, like Spider-Man and Ape Escape, and some are just as pristine as I remember them, like Crash Team Racing. It's interesting to see what games actually stand the test of time, not disappointing. The games we loved as children, we'll always love. They were the first and they'll hold special places in our memory. Hell, I revisited Medievil and Spyro and even though I remembered them being better games, I still love them. Because I had fun with them as a kid, and no amount of age or criticism is going to prevent myself from enjoying them in the past. That ship's sailed. 

It's important to be critical, but it's also important to appreciate as well. As bad as a game might seem ten years from now, all that matters is that it's fun now. So do yourself a favor. Revisit your classics. You might be surprised at how accurate or inaccurate your memory is. 

SkyRoads. This takes me back.

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