It’s the holiday season again folks and along with turkeys and tiding and cheer comes the thing we’re all really looking forward to: buying stuff! Yay, consumerism! The holidays also bring us a new slate of video games, which have started to blend together, despite advances in technology which should be giving us a plethora of different game styles to choose from.
Sadly, we are stuck in a time where FPS and MMOs rule with an iron fist while puzzle games and anything that dares to be different is instantly swept under the rug and written off as either a kid’s game or games for old people. Granted, thanks to the Nintendo Wii, older people are skipping the card games and playing video games these days but there’s a sub-category of video games that still can seem fresh, despite being decades old. Of course, I’m talking about retro games.
Games like Call of Duty: Black Ops and Halo 5 may promise amazing graphics with new gameplay modes and added DLC but on the surface they’re not much different from the games that came before it. The market has become so saturated that I don’t even pay attention to the current next gen games, nor do I own a PS4 or Xbox One. Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer the games that I didn’t get to complete as a child – games like Ninja Gaiden and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that were so difficult that I threw the controller, ripped the cart out of the system, never to be played again…until my mid-twenties when I grew tired of the repetitiveness of FPS. Maybe I’ve grown cynical in my old age and think that every game that comes out now is a clone of another game but video games have been around for a while and the market is steady, meaning there’s plenty of people who enjoy these games, but be warned: you may soon grow cynical in regards to these games like I have.
I think the older games had character – a certain simple challenge that seems more exciting than sniping noobs from a tower or coordinating a raid. Sure, most retro games didn’t have as many gameplay modes as today but there were personal challenges we, as people were obsessed with beating and perfecting. How many times did you die before conquering that last boss? How many times did you try that difficult jump only to be even more determined to make it the next time? I find myself giving up with modern games and then I revert back to the classics and enjoy the experience more.
Even arcade games are experiencing their own resurgence with a bunch of 30-50-something guys like me who are now wealthy enough to buy their own arcade cabinets and relive their youth. Some collectors are even opening up their collection to the public to play to introduce these classic games to younger gamers who just want to have fun because isn’t that what it’s all about?
Now to be fair, I will argue that most games these days have different gameplay modes, like challenges and zombie modes but it’s basically still the same with no room for variants and the challenges seem less personal and less fulfilling once you beat the it. Also, I would rather enjoy playing a classic NES or Genesis game with a friend and a few beers instead of 20 people online and Mountain Dew Code Red. Video games that forced two or more players to be in the same room together created a bond, different from any online matchup. While still somewhat social, online multiplayer takes the personality out of the gameplay, leaving you with some twelve-year old you’ve never met talking smack about your mom or your sexuality - wouldn’t you rather have your friend or sibling talking that smack instead? In an online game, even the insults are less personal.
Video games are a work of art – from Pong to Star Wars Battlefront but the thing about art is that it’s all in the eyes of the person viewing it; it’s all about how that art makes you feel. So in this humble writer’s opinion, I prefer the original games – the ones that challenged me as a kid and are still challenging me to this day. After all, one day you are going to get old and get sentimental for the games you used to play while making snarky remarks about what the kids are playing.