Times change, and I understand that; but does that mean I cannot yearn for the old days? I cannot be the only one who misses some things about the good old days of video games, a time when things were simpler. A time when fuzzy puppy dogs and rainbows abounded, and everyone was happy. That is not to say that I do not love modern video games, because obviously I do, seeing as I write a weekly column where most of the games featured are newer titles. Still, I look back to my childhood and I feel a kindred bond with some of these old games.
There are things about older games that suck, but the positives outweigh most of the negatives, and sometimes I miss those simpler times. I am sure a lot of you younger readers will have no idea why we old fogies miss those good old games with crappy graphics and almost no stories, but I can help you gain a firm understanding about why we miss the old school. For my fellow old geezers, let us take a trip down memory lane and relive what was so great back in the day.
In the old days, games were hard. Sure, the games may have only been 2 hours long, but when you have to try it 1,000 times to beat it, it becomes a lot longer and a million times more satisfying than most of the games out there today. The feeling of playing a hard boss repeatedly in a game like Contra is something that today’s games rarely even attempt to duplicate.
Video games today are all about telling a great story. They are filled with cinematic scenes, dialog and characters acting like real human beings. This is fine, but it is such a rarity to see a game where the whole point is just to survive. Back then, games could not rely on simply allowing you to live out a story, they had to create their fun with a feeling of accomplishment by doing something incredibly difficult, and it is something that is sorely missed with modern video games.
Less Emphasis On Being Pretty & More Emphasis On Mechanics
Back in the day, all those “good old games” looked like crap. It was never a competition between games to see who could push the hardware to its limits and make the prettiest looking game. Back then, it was all about who could make the most fun video game. No one cared if your sprites had a little extra pop on their graphics; all we cared about was whether the game had good mechanics.
It was a glorious time where video game studios did not have to invest millions of dollars in high-end motion capture devices and 3D rendering. Instead, they spent all of their time thinking about how to take the hardware they had, and put out a game that was challenging and fun.
I like good graphics as much as the next person, but I do not like when a game developer clearly was more concerned with developing their art than they were the actual game. After all, we play games for fun, and fun should always be the number one priority for game developers.
No Hand Holding
Today, when you first launch almost any game, you have to play through some kind of massive tutorial that breaks down and explains how to do every little thing in the game. Back in the day, this did not exist. Part of the fun of playing a game was trying to figure out how the heck you were supposed to do anything. You wandered around aimlessly, you died a lot, but in the end, you figured out how to play the game by yourself.
That was so incredibly satisfying. A game like Mario, which is one of the most universally played video games ever, had no hand holding process. You simply pushed “start” and were thrust into the world, forced to figure out what to do on your own.
If Mario came out today, the first level would consist of tips like, “press A to jump” and “that turtle is bad, you should not let him touch you.” Common sense should tell you that the turtle is bad, but that just is not enough for most modern games. When I played Mario I was somewhere around 4 years old, yet I managed to brute force my way through it. I learned as I went, and I figured out how to beat the game.
To this day, beating the original Mario on my own is one of the most satisfying experiences of my gaming life, and I fear that the new generation of gamers may never get to experience something like this.
As I said before, I love modern video games. I just wish that developers would take some cues from the good old games that came before and bring them into new games. The next generation of gamers is missing much of the thrill and challenge that we got to experience as we were coming up and learning the ropes of being a gamer.
What do you miss about old school video games? Let us know in the comments!