Κυριακή, 8 Απριλίου 2012

Why do we love retro games?


I was born in 1986. That means that I grew up during the 90’s and passed my puberty in early 00’s. During that time, a lot of great games released on the 16-bit and I got a good taste on what was going on on 8-bit era in retrospective. Yeah. A lot of great games. Or were they?

Nostalgia is a key word to both retro game lovers and haters. To the lovers, nostalgia is a given plus o all games of the 90’s 80’s or even 70’s games that make them feel comfortable playing them. To some extend, I agree with that. While playing Mega Drive or Super Nintendo, I get that comfort from the 2D pixelation they create that really draws me to them.

The haters though, including my Editor in Chief, argue that the games aren’t themselves great anymore, since technology and gameplay mechanics have evomved through the ages, that makes a good game in terms of game design has been researched deeply, allowing the creators to provide experiences that are designed from beginning to the end to be enjoyable and addictive.


To the last one, I have some objections, even though some of it isn’t entirely a lie. Let’s start with the parts I agree.

There were times that we had to rely on the cover of the game in order to buy it. There were very few magazines about games, and they were expensive to get. So it was better off to gamble than being informed what game to get. There was also the “word of mouth” where other kids provided insights about the games they bought. Both of them were risky. Gambling was, obviously, resulting in mediocre games with awesome covers. The word of mouth, if it wasn’t for a big franchise (e.g. Megaman, Castlevania, Mario, Sonic) had a lot to do with justifying the purchase of a mediocre game. Yes, a lot of kids felt the urge to justify their shitty purchases by convincing other kids to buy the same games.

So, after throwing away our carol or gathered pocket money, we were left with a game we wouldn’t entirely like. If it was playable, it was the best game ever. If not, we would regret.

That mediocrity with maturity somehow became greatness. I mean, I liked the GameBoy Killer Instict just because I had to study for the semester really hard. Now that I replay it, I love it but not because of its greatness but because I spent an entire summer stuck with it, forcifully convincing myself that I like it.


But not all games were Game Boy Killer Instict. And that’s the part I strongly disagree with the Retro Haters.

I remember my surprise when I popped in Super Metroid. I wasn’t a fan of Metroid on the NES like my older brother. So, even if I knew roughly the story, I wasn’t interested at all. It was my brother’s turn to choose a game, so I just endured his decision.

And it was fucking good.

Even today, Super Metroid is blessed with some merits that today’s games have either completely ignored or suppressed in a criminally bad way.

First of all, Super Metroid was telling a story within its gameplay. The longest cutscene – the ending- wasn’t that long and it was a direct result of the gameplay. Other than that, story and gameplay were one inseparable thing. The same goes with Sonic saga. Sonic 3 & Knuckles was an epic story told through small cutscenes but the game would tell the story itself.

So, that’s one thing missed on todays games. You can make your own conversation through choices, but the actual gameplay is completely isolated to the story. There are a few exceptions such as Half Life 2, but the crushing majority of the titles today, are prone to give a Holywood movie experience than an atmospheric game.


Another thing that’s forgotten is the gameplay and level structure.

As Egoraptor stated in his “Sequelitis” series, there were times where the games were respectful about the players’ ability to think and estimate patterns that are logical and probably vital for survival.

Megaman was a great example of how clever level design could teach the player and hone his skills for the rest of the game without the need of “hints” or annoying assistant characters to bombard him with details that are obvious.


The same goes to the majority of the good games of the past. They had less “Be carfeful blah blah blah” and made the gamer feel smart, self resourcible and felt more related to his own achievements.

For conclusion, I need to say that good games are good games. We enjoy playing them no matter the age. Just like movies and books. Pride and Prejudice isn’t a bad book just because it was written in old english language nor it was inferior because Jane Austen penned it initially with a feather pen.

The same goes with cinema, where some movies are still enjoyable even if the cameras were not HD, and the special effects were essentially stop motion dolls, ketchup for blood and plastic intestines. The same way, retro games aren’t inferior because of the limitations they had on the hardware side.

There are though many games that we love, just because we had to pass a shitty weekend with them, but that doesn’t apply to the most of them. So, thumbs up retro.

4 σχόλια:

  1. I agree completely. One has to wonder what the retro games of tomorrow will be. Will today's children look back with nostalgia at Dora the Explorer, Ben 10, Minecraft, Lego Star Wars, even the newer Zeldas or Marios? It's going to be interesting. But even then, what you're saying here will stand true: the truly good games will stand the test of time even if in their day they were overlooked.

  2. Well this is akward, I need to comment, but the post is in english so I have to write my comment in the same language, excuse my rusty skills, I only read, never need to write.

    For starters I was born in '84 so I am more inclined to these reasons you stated by 2 years more.
    There is no doubt that nostalgia is a great force, so great that is hugely overrated.

    With the exeption of music, EVERY time I get misty eyed and want to relive or reexperience an old Game or movie, the result is to put it blutly... dissapointing.

    Two examples that I have fresh in my mind is Kindergarten Cop that felt the need to rewach, and Mario Land for the Original Game Boy that I felt the need to play before starting Mario 3D Land on 3DS.

    oh god I destroyed two of my most cherished memories of my life.

    You can probably understand the reasons why I was dissapointed. From one hand, we have juvenile naivity and inexperience, and from the other the evolution of the Industries. and the critical factor of the Increased "Standards" you aquire from the amount of entertainment you consume as a person over the years.

    I do not know if I am getting thhrough to you, but where I am trying to conclude is this.

    I find it greatly exagerated to spent money on Games of years gone by, where you need the exact operational system to play it.

    In contrast, I have over 8 gigabytes of roms, This collection is of NO COST, and most flexible, playable on a smartphone, a Modded console, or a PC (and so on)

    This money is invested in modern games (we need to play modern games right?)

    at the end of the day, every veteran gamers dream is a mansion with 4 Rooms, each of its own Video Game Era complete with every mainstream console and its complete Library for everyone to Droole over.

    Well, this in not possible, And how could be, excluding the cost of this, how can one possibly sit in a chair and play seriously RC Pro Am, or Metroid 1 on an Nes console?
    ... These games are so bad for todays standards that it would be a torment. Yes, Metroid 1 is unplayable, if you want to experience the majestic of this game you ought to play Zero Mission on GBA.

    At the end of the day, one greek saying says it all, "Kathe prama ston kairo toy kai o kolios ton aygousto"
    Everything must Come in its time, and A summer fish (Kolios) in August.

    Money is too short to spent on Kolios on January!

    One more time, excuse my english :)

  3. It all comes down to this, boy;

    Either playing on an Emulator, or on a re-release, or being a purist and play on the original console and be a retro collector

    you are practicing retrogaming.

    Retro gaming is different with retro collection. Those two can be two completely different thing in a sense that a Retro collector is an obsessed collector that probably never plays its collection seriously. He migh as well keep things in their initial wrap.

    A reto gamer just wants to play those games because [insert a personal reason here] and he/she doesn't care to have all those special editions or sealed packages or expensive obscure items. They are the people who made Nintendo's Virtual Console such a hit. There are plenty of games to play in descent prices (for the ones who aren't tech savy enough to play roms and emulators). They are the same people who bought Sonic the Hedgehog collections over and over again, the people who keep the emulation community alive.

    Then there's the middle where I identify myself. I don't collect seriously. I just want to get my hands on what I want to play in the best possible price. It's like having a backlog but glorifying it with original items. That means, I don't give a fuck about obscure cult RPG's or games in their initial wrapping. All I want is those cartridges/disks I want to play in playable condition and that's why I opened up my sealed copy of Jet Set Radio. It's a sin, I KNOW, but I wanted to PLAY. Also I don't care much about the originals if I can get it in a great price somewhere else. Rhondo of Blood was a freaking deal for the PSP (plus portability!) with two originals I don't own; Symphony of the Night and Rhondo of Blood. In the case of the second game, I will never own it.

    So, there. We all retrogame in the end of the day, so we still love it, either in free or paid emulation forms or original hardware.

    p.s. Super Mario Land is perfectly playable, kid. If you still don't like it, try the almost-better-in-any-way Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins.

  4. Regarding Mario Land, I never said that it is not playable today, IT IS, but not the kind of stuff I nostalgically remembered. Also I still have the original Game Boy Cartridge!

    P.S. I am older than you, show some respect :P
    P.S.2. Get rid of the fucking captcha