The problems (and joy) of Retro-Gaming: Is a classic always a classic?

Posted by Renouncereality (87 posts) -

Game releases are in a constant state of flux. I like to play as many creative new games as possible across a wide array of genres but there are times when there is simply nothing for me to play that I am particularly interested in. Right now is one of those times for me. I am really keen for Bound by Flame but that doesn't release for another few weeks. I am also going to play Child of Light but that is the same. To be honest South Park was the last big release that I have bought and played on release day.

In these lulls between releases I like to work through my back catalogue. I usually have a few random indie games that I picked up in a steam sale or I will head down to EB games (Australia's Gamestop) and buy something old that looks interesting or that I may have missed when it released. Most recently I purchased Final Fantasy: 8 and Half-Life 2. I had played neither of these games before but bought them simply because of the hype that surrounds them. The problem is I just can't bring myself to enjoy them.

HL: 2 from all accounts redefined shooters. It was obviously a pretty amazing game of its time and its (possibly) impending sequel has a major internet cult following. It was for these reasons that I thought I would play it. I picked it up for only $2 so I figured it wouldn't hurt! However upon playing it I just couldn't get past the outdated graphics and mechanics. It was simply awful. I feel bad about saying this about a game that so many people revere and I also understand that it first released in 2004 but for me it is unplayable now.

As for FF: 8 it had been recommended to me by a mate as "the best Final Fantasy ever" and also by a few people in the community. I was one of the few people who really enjoyed FF:13 so I thought I would have a crack at playing one of the games in the franchise that stamped its authority as a JRPG leader (in 1999).

I really wanted to love this game. It apparently has a great story and interesting characters but once again It was extremely hard to get through the game. It was difficult as a new player to understand the menus and it took me far too long to even work out how to get magic and use it. Also the characters are highly stereotyped and Squall was a dick to everyone the whole time I played. It all seemed a bit one dimensional to me. I was willing to see past these things but my tipping point was when I kidnapped the president and got killed in the ensuing battle. Dying is fine BUT I had obviously missed a save point somewhere along the line and was thrown back more than an hour of game time from where I was. I cried for a little bit and then rage quit. I just can't bring myself to play through a whole hour of a game that I have just got through. This save point mechanic doesn't exist in this form in games anymore. Auto-saves might make games too easy in some opinions but my god they save so much frustration!!

The main reason why I couldn't finish these games is because I never played them when I was younger. I don't have that nostalgic connection to the game which would be required to see past these little problems. Nostalgia is a very powerful thing and gives people the ability to view things they used to like through rose tinted glasses. Whereas all I can see is graphics and mechanics that have been done better in newer games.

Another problem that was brought up on the Pubcast a few weeks ago is that 3D games age terribly because new games are constantly making the 3D space look infinitely better. 2D games on the other hand can't be improved by that much. People actually love that 'Pixal art' style of game and the reason it works is because of nostalgic connection to our childhood when that is all we played.

Now to my positive retro-gaming experience. The motherload of nostalgic gaming for me is the original Pokemon.

Fuck Yeah!

This was the first game I ever owned and my god did I play the absolute shit out of it. Like FF: 8 there are many newer, more advanced iterations of it but in this case I can still play Pokemon and love it! There are obvious annoyances that have been fixed in newer games (having to fiddle through the menu just to get on your bike) but I put up with it because I love the game so much.

Another major help is that fact that I have completed the game so many times that it is now really easy. I know what Pokemon each enemy owns and how to beat them. I also know where the best items are and how to get through the mazes. Therefore I can just enjoy the experience and fuck Gary/Bumface up in every encounter. They have obviously created much more visually pleasing and mechanically sound Pokemon's since the first one but I will always consider it the best version of the game.

In wrapping this up I feel that you can get a lot out of retro gaming but you also need to understand that some games become unplayable over time. It definitely helps if you have played a game before and even though I really want to experience HL: 2 and FF: 8 I fear that they are simply too old and outdated now and that ship has sailed :(

On the other hand I am filled with overwhelming joy writing and thinking about Pokemon and the far too many hours spent playing it over the course of nearly 20 years! Praise the Helix fossil...

I hope you guys enjoyed reading this (if you made it to the end) and let me know what old games you still enjoy playing.



#1 Posted by Randolph (10542 posts) -

Great 2d games in general age better than any other kind. Most PSone and Saturn games for instance, have aged terribly. Whereas SNES games like Chrono Trigger, SMW, and Yoshi's Island have aged very well and are still to this day highly enjoyable.

#2 Edited by Renegade_Fury (17938 posts) -

@Randolph said:

Great 2d games in general age better than any other kind. Most PSone and Saturn games for instance, have aged terribly. Whereas SNES games like Chrono Trigger, SMW, and Yoshi's Island have aged very well and are still to this day highly enjoyable.

Most Saturn games have aged terribly? I'd replace "Saturn" with "N64," because the Saturn is known for being a BEAST at 2D games, as its claim to fame are mainly shmups and fighters. It's so good at 2D, its version of Street Fighter Zero 3 plays better than the Dreamcast's, for example.

And TC, yes, I agree, a lot of games age pretty badly, and do require some nostalgia to be enjoyed today. With that said, there are also many titles that truly do stand the test of time, both 2D and 3D. Personally, I like playing Genesis, SNES, and Saturn games (which includes some 3D games like the Panzer Dragoon series and NiGHTS) more often than modern titles, and a lot of them, I didn't own when I was a kid.

#3 Posted by Renouncereality (87 posts) -

@Renegade_Fury: Yeah it is hard to play a few N64 games these days. I actually find that the controller has aged terribly. I used to love it but now i have NFC how to even hold it haha. That being said I think that Smash bros 64 is still the best version of it. Possibly because I have played so much of it on there.

#4 Posted by LoG-Sacrament (20397 posts) -

honestly, i haven't played either (not playing HL2 is one of my gaming shames) so i can't really comment on those particular games. with that said, i disagree with the general sentiment that the only value older games have now is to tap into the good memories we have of playing them when they were new. in the last few years, i've played deus ex and planescape: torment for the first time and enjoyed each. planescape in particular is an example of a game where age actually makes it better. no big RPG now is going to rely on text like planescape, so no big RPG is going to be able to pull off dialogue system it has or the characters that rely on text description.

#5 Posted by thereal25 (849 posts) -

Totally agree with you on hl2.

I tried to play it recently but it's oh so boring.

#6 Posted by benleslie5 (8192 posts) -

I'm surprised you didn't do a blog about this and not on the forum page

#7 Edited by wiouds (5775 posts) -

Some games to age well. I will still play FF9 from time to time.

FF8 was one of the most over complex RPG out there.

Some games are eclipsed by more current games. It not that they were bad for their time but other games took what they did and built from it. For example, Doom earned it place in gaming history but there is no reason to play it or any doom clone any more. There were better dungeon crawlers when Doom was new and the shootout in Doom are nothing compared to current shooters. (This will most likely get a person trying to defend Doom because it is a maze instead of shootout focus that most current shooters are and I referred them to the comment about better dungeon crawler.)

#8 Edited by loafofgame (1353 posts) -
@LoG-Sacrament said:

i disagree with the general sentiment that the only value older games have now is to tap into the good memories we have of playing them when they were new.

I second this, although I do tend to stay away from older 3D games (that said, I did enjoy the first Deus Ex recently). I didn't really play a lot of videogames when I was a child, so I have little nostalgic feelings towards older games. Still, I've played and enjoyed a fair amount of them recently, mostly strategy games and point and click adventures (I solely play on pc). These tend to hold up pretty well, apart from some minor issues regarding dated mechanics and interfaces, but in my experience you get used to those pretty quickly.

As for the question in the thread title: that's difficult. Some people claim classics should be a timeless experience, aside from having left their mark on the development and/or history of videogames. Given the fact that videogames rely so much more on technology than do films and music, I'd say the timeless factor is a less important. So in that regard, if a game's importance is recognised and proven, then it'll remain a classic in the history of videogames. Granted, one could also say the same of music and films.

#9 Posted by Stinger78 (5834 posts) -

TC - to complain about outdated graphics in Half-Life 2 is to completely disregard that the game was released about 9 1/2 years ago. At that time Source was new, and HL2 was the showcase.

Half-Life 2, like any other game tends to look exactly the same as when it released, unless modified contents replace the originals or, in the case of many old games, might be running in some kind of emulator, where filtering effects can be applied.

I'm sorry you can't look past graphics that are 9 1/2 years old now that they are 9 1/2 years old, but when it was new I found a lot of enjoyment in the game, and I have no problem going back and replaying it. I guess the difference is because I played it when it was new.

#10 Posted by turtlethetaffer (17665 posts) -

Just depends on the game. Sometimes, people take what a game did too much into consideration. Even if a game was revolutionary for its time, that doesn't mean it's aged well.

Take Pokemon Red and Blue. Absolutely revolutionary back when it was released, but now there is literally zero reason to play the games besides nostalgia. Every single version of Pokemon since has made Red and Blue obsolete. It's mechanics are dated as hell, not that many Pokemon and all around glitchy. Future versions are vastly improved and far less annoying.

#11 Posted by Netret0120 (2993 posts) -

@Randolph said:

Great 2d games in general age better than any other kind. Most PSone and Saturn games for instance, have aged terribly. Whereas SNES games like Chrono Trigger, SMW, and Yoshi's Island have aged very well and are still to this day highly enjoyable.

#12 Posted by Renouncereality (87 posts) -

@loafofgame: Good point about strategy games. I still play the original Rome: Total War from time to time. Maybe because these types of games rely less on graphics than they do on fun tactics and explore a great historical timeline?

#13 Posted by Renouncereality (87 posts) -

@benleslie5: Its in my blog but I also post them to the forums so I can get a few more opinions.

#14 Posted by blueboxdoctor (2489 posts) -

I never liked Half Life 2 so that's no surprise. I've found a lot of classics I like to still hold up well. I find myself going back to games like Super Mario 64 a lot. Same goes for NES games, the good ones are still good (Mega Man, Mario 1 and 3, Star Force and Star Soldier).

#15 Edited by Renouncereality (87 posts) -

@turtlethetaffer: I wouldn't agree with you 100% the original pokemon was not glitchy for me. Also the newer ones may have a lot more to do in them but there is a certain magic to the original and 150 pokemon is a hell of a lot easier than 750!

#16 Posted by jasean79 (2571 posts) -

I believe that to be true of most older games, especially of those that were released on earlier gaming systems. One that comes to mind is Tomb Raider 1 for the PS1. When it came out that game was amazing. The exploring, the puzzles, the combat. Everything about that game hit the mark. Playing it now just doesn't have the same appeal to me. The graphics make my brain hurt, and the controls are horrendous (since we now have dual sticks and do not need to rely on the D-pad for movement). And to think that PS1 graphics were a step above Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo. I'm always amazed at how far gaming and technology in general has come.

#17 Edited by Gamerno66666 (175 posts) -

I have the opposite opinion about half-life2 playing it recently. Though the graphics didn't draw me in at first but the story, gameplay and physics based puzzles hooked me in and it became of the best game I've ever played.

#18 Posted by turtlethetaffer (17665 posts) -

@renouncereality: To me there are mechanics (like MISSING WHEN YOU TOSS A POKE BALL) that are just too dated. I totally understand the nostalgia factor, but as a game, it's literally the worst in the series. Every other game has improved on it too much.