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Do nostalgic games trick us into loving them?

posted by Woodsyblue on - last edited - Viewed by 346 users

So I just read this article on Joystiq called 'How nostalgic JRPGs trick us into loving them' and about halfway though I realised you could replace "JRPGs" with "Point'n'Click Adventure Games" and you'd have the exact same story (only less marketable; see what I did there?).

So what to people think? Do you agree that "old games can take us to states of euphoria by triggering our memories of the past... which can convince us that they're superior experiences, even when today's games are leaps and bounds better" or are the older games the superior experiences and they just don't make them like they used to? In short, is the problem the games industry or is the problem us? Or is there not a problem at all?

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  • "You should live your life a bit more nervously" is amazing advice for anyone

  • I would say that some old games, are genuinely better.

    Sometimes, graphical detail and gameplay feature can be overdone in modern games, and well... they kind of become less memorable as there is less to focus on.

    I'd play Chrono Trigger over Final Fantasy XIII anyday.

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    Vainamoinen Moderator

    @Chyron8472 said: When the people who most frequent these forums have not and will not play them, I'd say that's an indication of whether they think the games are good or not.

    Pfffffhahahahahahah! Good one. Almost dashingesque in its protest-producing presuppositions. Calm down, people can understand you! And I'll get to those KQ games one day.

    @Chyron8472 said: Today’s role-playing games are all about grinding that I don’t have time for, remember when I got my entire party of characters in Final Fantasy IV to level 99? Man, I was hardcore then.

    There were hard games back then, which needed a lot of levelling, and then there were others which were easier to beat. In Final Fantasy VII, my 69 hours of playtime were enough to beat the game with all side-quests and have all characters on level 99. Final Fantasy Legend on the original GameBoy was considered a "long" game. You can beat it in just a few hours these days. In comparison, some RPGs today wear their expected gaming hours on the package like a badge. 150 hours to finish a game, where am I supposed to get that much time?! On average, I manage to set aside 3 to a maximum of 8 gaming hours a week, do the math and find out why such a game just doesn't sound like fun to me any more.

    It's certainly true that back then, reading huge manuals, trying, trying and retrying and lastly running a lot through seriously empty environments was "part of the game". These things are less common today with the advent of the "casual gamer" (a species which as of yet lacks a proper definition). But I tend to think that one remembers those games most fondly which kept a certain balance. Those games you beat exactly about a minute before you threw your keyboard at the wall out of frustration. Those which tried those very first steps of storytelling.

    @Chyron8472 said: I'd play Chrono Trigger over Final Fantasy XIII anyday.

    Hell yeah! But then again, the 30 minutes of FF XIII I played were already enough for life.

  • It's statistics.

    I'm old enough to have played a lot of the old adventure games when they were still new. And a lot of them were pretty bad. The bad ones aren't around anymore, and no one talks about them.

    The ones everyone still talks about are the ones that were good enough to captivate. And it gives modern adventure games a tough standard for comparison.

    Compare a modern game to one of the best of the past, and the modern game doesn't look so good. Compare it to an "average" game of the past, and it doesn't look so bad.

  • I think there's two parts to this.

    First of all, Nostalgia definitely plays a part in clouding our judgement, making us look at games (and other things) with rose-tinted glasses. We played these games in our childhood, and they were the best we had. Of course we remember them fondly - we hadn't developed our cynicism glands yet!

    But on the other hand, things genuinely were different back in the day. There was more imagination, more passion behind things. There was a lot of variation and it resulted in a much more interesting range of products. We're talking about games, so I'll focus on them, but this applies to other things as well - TV and films, for instance, or music.

    Games could be about any number of things, and they were better for it. Nowadays we get big money machines that churn out high-budget, gritty urban shootathons, but back in the day we could get cutesy platformers and games with a genuine sense of humour about them.

    You'll note that I didn't say things were 'better', just different. And that's because some games aren't great. Some have been bettered. But that doesn't mean that old games are always good or bad. It depends on the game itself.

    Do I think King's Quest is a good game? No. I tried it and found the mechanics very dated. But that doesn't mean others don't love it. And I'm not telling them they're wrong to like a game. I may argue about things about the game not working in modern titles, but if you genuinely like a game and are able to provide valid reasons for doing so, I'll hold my hands up and say something like 'agree to disagree'.

    Everyone's different. I may love Albion, for example, but I know that's through rose-tinted glasses. And I don't care. It may try to trick me into loving it*, but I love it anyway - not for what I remember it, but for what I KNOW it is.

    And that, for me, is real nostalgia.

    *Bet you thought I wouldn't work the thread title into this, did you.

  • You can still get pretty imaginitive games even now, however you have to dig a lot deeper these days to find them. Which is kind of a shame really. It means a lot of people who don't have the time to research it will just miss out on the experience. As an example, I've been recently catching up on the JRPGs I missed on portable consoles, and I'm surprised by how many there are, some I didn't even know existed and I consider myself to be pretty knowledgable about the genre.

  • Wow, some fantastic responses to the topic here. I just saw Midnight in Paris the other night and one of the central themes of that film is Golden Age thinking, described in the film as "the erroneous notion that a different time period is better than the one ones living in – its a flaw in the romantic imagination of those people who find it difficult to cope with the present."

    I just felt that was relevant to the topic at hand. Also, 1,000th post!!!!!!! Finally, I am a man! :cool:

  • It is relevant. It's also spoken of in the book of Proverbs when Solomon says Do not think upon the past as if it were better than today, because you don't really know that.

  • I don't really think so. The only game I can truly claim to be nostalgic about is Age of Empires II. And having played it recently, I still say it lives up to my memory of being a fantastic game that has also aged extremely well.

    All the other older games I like, I didn't start playing until the last six years or so and most of those even more recently than that. So I don't really think nostalgia's really been much of a factor because I have very little to be nostalgic about.

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    Vainamoinen Moderator

    @Darth Marsden said: But on the other hand, things genuinely were different back in the day. There was more imagination, more passion behind things. There was a lot of variation and it resulted in a much more interesting range of products. We're talking about games, so I'll focus on them, but this applies to other things as well - TV and films, for instance, or music.

    Games could be about any number of things, and they were better for it. Nowadays we get big money machines that churn out high-budget, gritty urban shootathons, but back in the day we could get cutesy platformers and games with a genuine sense of humour about them.

    You'll note that I didn't say things were 'better', just different. [...]

    "More imagination, more passion, more interesting" on the nostalgia side, and "high-budget, gritty urban shootathons" as the modern way, that also speaks a clear language. ;)

    I believe that there are still very creative game designers out there, and I believe that there are even more than yesterday. But making games has become much harder for those young companies.

    If I look at yesteryear, companies with 6-9 designers/programmers could make games, they just had to find a publisher. But the combination of both programmer as well as designer/artist did not normally yield an especially great result. "Pixel artists" today make much better art than was seen yesterday, while bugs were as common as today despite the fact that programs were decidedly less complex. Also, designers could not draw on extensive knowledge of "what works", so a lot of past design choices were hit-or-miss. Maybe the best games were those of yesterday, but I assure you: The worst can also be found back then. It's just that they are long-buried in the trash and no one remembers them any more.

    I said that these early game making heroes could be quite creative, but having experienced that time first hand, they normally weren't. Pixelated blood was as popular then as the high-res version is today. I was playing "Moonstone" on my Amiga, which was gore abound. The only reason I wasn't playing first person shooters was because that machine was too slow. But I envied those PC players for "Doom". Really creative stuff had as hard a time to get sold just like today.

    Looking back and comparing brings up even more similarities with the past. You might have been successful with those 9 designers/programmers, but then again, you might really fail also. The game budgets of today and yesterday are virtually incomparable, but the rule still stands: The more money was in those games, the more successful they were.

    Piracy was even more of a problem yesterday. The makers of extremely popular games went bankrupt while the game cracking community demanded recognition and were thought of as heroes. There's really no nostalgia for me there. It was a shitty time when I as a teenager contributed to the ruin of an entire gaming platform.

    The nostalgia article is really right to assume that we look upon these older games without thinking that much about the bad side. Games today partly suffer from the very same illnesses, while those illnesses that were a real pest in old games are replaced with new and different illnesses. Game makers have to think about making money to survive, always, yesterday as well as today, and these decisions are not always creative or player-friendly, whatever the decade. But there's good stuff in gaming also, whatever decade you look at, that much is certain.

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