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 However upon playing it I just couldn't get past the outdated graphics and mechanics.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.
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.