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How Much Does Nostalgia Count?

My name is Jere, and at the time of writing I am 20 years old.

The very first game I ever played was The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Since my parents wouldn't allow me to have a Super Nintendo, I had to play it at a friend's house. At the time, I was seven years old. The very next year, they broke down and allowed me to purchase a Nintendo 64. Two years later, I found a brand-new Playstation at somebody's garage sale (for the low, low price of $50). From 1995 to 2002, those werethe systems that I experienced gaming on.

Now, I didn't mention my current age to be vain; I did it so you could see that from the time I played A Link to the Past, to the time I got my Gamecube, I had gone from age 7 to age 14. These are, roughly, the years I would choose as the years I changed most as a person.

These days I hear alot of people talking trash about gaming. I'm not referring to your normal, everyday, Joe-Schmoe person-- I'm talking about gamers themselves. They say thatit's all about the graphics, that gameplay has taken a backseat, that they don't make 'em like they used to. That may or may not be true, but I'm here to throw something else into the mix-- nostalgia.

I'm a personal fan of the Nintendo 64 / Playstation era of gaming. I think the games made for those systems are the best games, period. I'd take GoldenEye 64 over Halo, Final Fantasy VII over Lost Odyssey, and Ocarina of Time over Twilight Princess any day. All of these games are acclaimed (or would be, Lost Odyssey is bashed because it does very little differently from older RPG's). So why don't I like them equally? Indeed, the logical person would wonder why the OPPOSITE isn't true, since the newer games have the benefit of better graphics. The answer: I played the older games during my maturing years.

Here's an analogy to help: if you want to make an impression in cement, you do it while the cement is still wet. Putting your hand-print in wet cement is simple. However, I dare someone to impress their hand-print in dry cement. It requires crazy strength or something very durable with which to strike the cement. To bring the point back to the formative mind, a developing child is much more easily impressed by something because they aren't yet set in their ways. However, an adult that has stopped maturing (around the age of 18 ) will have a much harder time accepting new ideas or imprinting things onto their brain.

The impressions made by games on the young, developing mind manifest themselves throughout that person's life, even after maturity has been reached. I still get the urge to pull out my Nintendo 64 and pop in Mario 64. Twisted Metal 2 is another one I love to go back to from time to time. Because these games have endeared themselves so well to me, I perceive this new gaming generation as "lacking," because none of these new games seem so "classic."

Hence, nostalgia does count quite a bit when you are trying to find new, great games. The games we played as we grew up will forever remain in our memories as the best of the best, regardless of how good any new releases can be. Gamers who harp on the current generation as being lacking will forever be misunderstood by the gamers who are still growing up and are forming bonds with these games, just as I did with my N64 games and PS games.

The Next Gen is Here, and One Will Fall

The newest generation of game consoles (Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and Nintendo Wii) has been the most intense yet. The different companies have been toting about their systems and that their competitors' systems aren't up to the task. Well, what it truly comes down is the games. Whatever they say, people won't buy an Xbox 360 because it has HD-DVD. They won't buy a Playstation 3 for its IBM designed cell microprocessor. They'll buy the 360 for Halo and the Playstation for Final Fantasy, among the other popular franchises that grace the respective consoles. However, those games that appear on one system and one system only are becoming fewer and fewer.

The greatest example of a series going multi-platform is GTA 4. While the previous GTA games appeared on Xbox as well as Playstation 2, they were always released for Microsoft's giant black brick months after the Playstation release, and thus the series was always known as a Sony product. If this great has gone multi-platform, how long until others follow suit? Will we eventually see Final Fantasy games being released for Xbox 360 alongside its Playstation 3 brother? Will the next Halo game be specially developed to appear on the Wii?

And why shouldn't developers go multi-platform? It would be silliness to believe that their main concern is to keep Solid Snake away from Halo fans or prevent Ratchet and Clank players from destroying Locust hordes as Marcus Fenix. No, developers want as many people as possible to play their games. This is best achieved by many methods, such as quality of the game (duh), advertising, and going multiplatform. Some developers want the cash in their pocket, some want their creation to be loved by all, but they want the some thing.

And eventually we will see the day where any game will be available for any system. Think back to the early 90's. The two biggest names in gaming were also owned by the two biggest rivals--they were, obviously, Sonic and Mario owned by Sega and Nintendo. If you could go back in time and show the gamers Sonic and the Secret Rings for a NINTENDO console, they would think that you were insane. However, here we are in 2008 looking at Sonic on a Nintendo system (and on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3!).

And finally, we reach the point of this article. This generation of consoles has shown us that the important part of owning a specific console, the games, is not so unique anymore. As developers become more and more favorable towards multi-platform games, it becomes more and more likely that in the next generation of gaming one of the three "superpowers" is going to fall. Likely it will be the Playstation or Xbox, because Nintendo seems to be holding onto its IP's alot more ferociously than the other two. Perhaps Microsoft and Sony will join forces to create consoles. Perhaps when one of the two becomes dominant, the other will simply bow out of the console war. However, something is going to happen, and that something is going to create an upheaval.

Now, the important question: Is this good or bad for the gamer? Well, the answer is both. Let's assume that Nintendo and Microsoft both stop making gaming consoles, leaving Sony the sole ruler of gaming. This is good for the gamer in that there is only one console to buy. All of the good games will available for that one console, and nobody will have to go through an episode of "HA YOU HAVE A PLAYSTATION AND I HAVE HALO" because Halo, if it is still around, will be ON the Playstation. Players can also avoid having to buy multiple gaming systems to get the bst experience. However, it is bad in that the sole power in gaming will now have a monopoly on the market, and everybody knows that monopolies do not benefit the consumer. Everything would be overpriced and gamers would have to pay an arm and a leg to get to have their fun.

Is this something we can stop? Probably not. Not unless we all become developers and promote uni-platform games. But regardless, for better or for worse, within the next four or five years, the gaming world as we know it is going to change. Big time.