Wall of text alert!
I’ve been a gamer since the late 80′s. You name it, I’ve probably played it. I started with games like The Caverns of Zoarre (an extreme Rogue-like), Monty, Deathtrack, moved on to the Ultima series, the Diablos, etc. I’ve had Spectrums, MSX’s, basically everything but an Atari (They didn’t really take off in South Africa). Many a time I fondly look back at the games I haven’t touched in over 10 years and think of the joy I had playing them, the countless hours bent over that green screen trying to get to the next level, the next upgrade. I sometimes wish that the games of today had the same intense storylines as those text-based adventures, the same action as those Commander Keen games, the same immersion that makes you believe that you’re there, not behind a grimy keyboard.
And then I go do something stupid like downloading and playing my old heroes. Then I find Zoarre to be so much more infuriating than I remember. X-Com to be unforgiving to the pick-up-and-play generation. Ultima (the 3 -7 range) to be impossible to play without resorting to mountains of notes or googling a map and a spellbook walkthrough. Gran Turismo, the game that stunned us with its awesome graphics, realistic driving and stunning tracks, to be no better looking than what the average indie producer does as a side-job. I have a hundred other heroes that have disappointed me but I won’t go through the lot.
The problem is that my memory isn’t what it used to be, and I idolize the old games a bit too much. I look at todays games with the flashy graphics and expect them to have no depth, no proper story, no fun once you look past the pretty lights. A lot of the time I don’t give them enough credit. Another problem is that when I was younger, the choices we had wasn’t too great. We HAD to play whatever we had so we made it enjoyable, we lived into the games. But take Bioshock as an example: not many games of old had that much story behind it, that much choice, action, adventure.
Ok, some games do live up to the test of time – Arcanum is still one of the best RPGs I’ve played, and I still play it from time to time. Those old side-scrollers are still good for a pick up every now and then. Diablo will still be on my shelf to be dusted off every now and again for years to come. Syndicate Wars is still as captivating as ever.
I guess what I’m saying is that I for one shouldn’t live in the past and put today’s games against yesterday’s games. They hold their own memories, memories that should stay just that. Let them be, play today’s games, and if I do decide to relive the past, do so as a 15 year old boy again, not as a gamer with 20 years experience. Don’t expect too much of the old heroes, they’ve been in the retirement home for a long time.
Do you have any retro gems or relived disappointments from your gaming history? Let me know.