Growing up in the 90’s like all Wallnuts posted on prostheses, gaming has been part of my childhood at a very early age. And can you blame me? With all those great titles on various platforms ranging from Sega mega drive to the first Playstation, it seems like it was the Golden Age for good quality games. But how much of that is true and what is viewed behind Nostalgia Goggles (TM pending)?
Nostalgia can be a good thing, remembering the good old days, sharing it with a new generation via a remaster or what not, but the arguing that old games are somehow better than new ones is…well, wrong.
The “good ol’days”
Everyone can remember how it felt like back “in the old days” . Finishing a video game was not just a matter of time, but an actual accomplishment, and many of us would compete on who would finish a game first. After all, the quicker you finished a game, the more of a “gamer badass” you were thought to be.
Which, in retrospect, makes a lot of sense, considering how back then we were a) a log younger and b) access to the internet was both extremely rare and way harder to do than it is today.
To put this into perspective Google was funded at 1998 and started to get a following at the early 2000, so back when I was a kid growing up in the 90’s, things such as walkthroughs and speed runs were not only hard to get, but also shunned!
“Yeah, -anyone- could finish a game if we all had the magazine saying how” was the go-to response for anyone using the -printed- walkthroughs on video games. I mean where is the challenge in that? You just got the magazine, did whatever was written there and boom, game end.
PFSH! There is no fun in that! We yearned for the test, the struggle! Every new game was not only taking our time in front of the screen, oh no no no, we would talk about it, think about it, brainstorm about it. We would even argue about it on school recess! (when we were not too busy playing ninja turtles)
Not to mention, all those games were targeting teens, 14-18 year olds and we were like what? 7? 10?So how -did- we finish those games one could ask.
Well, like a mini Voltron fueled by sugar and the brewing hormones of pre-teen years, we combined our forces and formed little feral packs of children around the console.
Screaming, swearing and shoving each other as we argued which direction to go, or what to do next. But as it often the case with such things, those good memories of companionship, laughs, soda and good friends often gets in the way of us being objective. When it comes to criticizing those games now, in our mid twenties or early thirties, most of us always start by putting on the Nostalgia Goggles (TM absolutely pending, honest)
To begin with, what exactly are Nostalgia Goggles?
Well, its that feeling you have, when you are about to pass judgement or critique on X, Y or Z game/song/whatever and as you are going to, all those pleasant memories described above, flood your mind, nay, your soul, and you just smile and immediately think of how awesome that was and lock your opinion there, throwing objectivity out of the window to be eaten by wolves.
After all, it -was- that good right?
DISCLAIMER: Just because I am about to -blow your human minds- by being so absolutely totally right, does not take away the good moments, laughs and enjoyment you (and even I, -The- Wallnut) got from these games.
Even if you choose to be wrong and disagree, taste in video games is subjective. Nobody can take away your opinion.
Even if its wrong. Which it is. And mine is not.
Gamer VS Mechanics
Lets be honest here boys, girls, etc, most of the times playing those old but gold video games, those “difficult moments” were more likely the mechanics fighting us, rather than actual puzzle difficulty. Common, how many times do you remember yourselves standing up, veins on your human necks bulked up, face red, potato chip remains falling to the ground, hand extended at the screen while you screamed at the top of your lungs:
-JUST JUMP THE GAP YOU *insert profanity*…
Many. I know. We all have been there
Truth is, game mechanics have evolved and are now more fluid and responsive.
With better and more experienced programmers and more advanced tools it is way easier for your character to do, on screen, what you are shouting for him to do -off- screen. And, well true, that has made gaming significantly easier, but lets be honest. Do we -truly- want to go back to those days?
Do we -really- want to go back to the days where you spent 20 minutes of your life, agonizing and diving into real, actual despair, because Lara Croft would just. not. jump?
When you wanted her to jump from one ledge to another and instead ended up half-assing that jump, falling down in a pool of water two stories bellow and now you have to re-do the entire puzzle from the start and you cant quit because you just got back at the save point from which you started from meaning that two hours of gameplay are completely wasted because LARA. REFUSED. TO JUMP. PROPERLY?
I know I dont.
Being an adult has its drawbacks.
This argument pops up a lot: “old games were so hardcore you needed -days- to finish, while those new games only 4 hours”
Yeah, sorry to burst your bubble there , but have you -tried- replaying those old “tough as nails” “hardcore” “oh so difficult” games -now-?
When I first came in contact with Titan of what was hardcore back in the day: Metal Gear Solid, it took me, my brother, and all our friends a -week- to finish the game.
The best of us (me, obviously me) finished it in five days, and the mad bragging rights we got?
Lets just say, I was the alpha wolf in the pack of feral kids for about, 2 hours before we found something else to go nuts over
I did the mistake of playing the game again a few years back, just to get that “hardcore” challenge out of my system. Yeah…took me less than a full afternoon to wrap it up.
“But master gamer Wallnut, you had already finished it once you remembered all the puzzles”
True, but honestly guys, common, it was never -that- complex and difficult, lets be honest.
“Hmm the card seems to react to temperature and unlock doors”
-GEE. I WONDER HOW I WILL MAKE IT TURN BLUE, RED AND YELLOW, said no adult -ever-
Because that is something most people seem to forget. We were -children- back then. You cant expect the new games that are released -now- to ever compete with how hard those old games seemed in our eyes, because, quite frankly, you are not that kid anymore.
Ask kids nowadays how modern games look, and they will as well, say that their games are hard, the fools. But can they be blamed? We have had series of game after game to hone our muscle movement and rotor functions. We have had years of going through every single variation of the RPG action adventure puzzle solving battle royal third person shooting strategy game mmo.
They just begun their journey. Where we can see through every possible plot hole, twist and major character death before it happens, they, like we used to, cant. And that is why we are better than them. In every way.
To wrap up:
Age has given us skills, smarts and experience in games. With those tools we can deconstruct most puzzles and gaming cliches we encounter a lot faster than we did in “the old days”. This has unfortunately took off the “difficult” edge out of many video games that are released now and many are left wanting (and who can blame them?).
But in the end of the day, in the eternal argument of Old VS New we forget two major things
a) That games are, whether we like it or not, mostly aimed at teenagers and as such difficulty has to be adjusted so they can enjoy it as well. That does not mean we do not get our share of video games aimed at adults (Witcher series we are looking at you)
b) We were -children- back then. I cant stress this enough, we were a bunch of 7 to 10 year olds playing games aimed at teenagers of that time. Off -course- everything seemed tougher and more hardcore!
In the end of the day, nostalgia roots us to the past, when we should be looking into the future. I still love those old games, and still play the occasional oldie, but that does not mean that I sit on my window looking at Boston at winter, yearning for those “good ol days” of gaming. Despite what the featured image may show.
I loved those games, and I still do, but in the end of the day, I was just a kid fighting against clunky mechanics while facing puzzles with a child’s mental capacity, most of the time.
That is all for me, this has been the Wallnut, for Codingjar, signing off.