You’re feeling restless. You want to play some video games, but you’re not really in the mood for anything that you’ve been playing recently. Try as you might to entertain yourself, nothing seems to get the job done. Suddenly, you get the idea to put in an old favorite, something you haven’t been back to in quite some time and haven’t had the heart to sell. You put it in, get excited as the old familiar screens pop up. Within a few minutes, though, you notice something. The magic is gone. This game doesn’t feel nearly as great as it did all those years ago. Wtf?
I don’t know if that’s happened to you, but it’s happened to me on more than one occasion. As sad as it is to admit, there are plenty of games that don’t withstand the most inscrutable of all tests: time. Whether it’s because they were overhyped pieces of junk to begin with, or our tastes have matured, or other games have done it better, there are any number of reasons that certain old school titles don’t tickle our fancies they way they used to.
I came across a recent article on 1Up (thanks Anthony) that talked about this very same issue, so it really got me thinking about what it is that makes a game age well. In the article, the writer lists several old school video games. Some of the titles he goes over include Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Super Mario World, Earth Bound, Chrono Trigger, Link to the Past, and then some. I noticed an interesting trend in this list: namely, that none of the games seemed to be from the 3D era.
What’s notable about that observation is that this was something Nick and I spoke about some time ago: the idea that the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis generation was the last generation where gaming had that classic look. Once we graduated into that last great dimension, the likelihood of your game aging well seems to have diminished. Take Mario 64 for instance. Great game, and beautiful at its release. In fact, in terms of design, nearly all 3D games are still judged alongside it, which is a testament to its staying power in terms of how it was made. However, even Mario 64 on a current viewing doesn’t maintain its grace very well, and seems to have lost a lot of its luster.
So what is it about that particular era of gaming that makes games have that classic and timeless feel? Honestly, I think part of it has to do with the simplicity of design and focus of many 2D games. Whether they are top down or side-scrolling, the pixelated sprites we navigated were so meticulously set in their functions, and the games so uniquely set in terms of what they were made to do, I think a sort of cohesion was formed that’s sorely lacking from many games of today. Loading up a game now is a crazy exercise in tutorials, button combos, and new sets of rules. While I’m not saying that I dislike complicated games, I do think it is partly to blame for how well games tend to age, not only visually but in terms of how they are played, as well.
Anyway, that’s just a few of my thoughts on the matter. Recently, the oldest game I’ve played in the last few months was Metal Gear Solid, and I do have to say that I was somewhat impressed with how it has aged in just how it’s played. It was still a blast to spend my time with, and never really got frustrating or limiting. So what do you guys think? What’s the last old game you’ve played? What are some other games that you think have aged well? Haven’t aged well? Go!
Source- Games That Have Aged With Grace, by 1Up