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Thread: Retrogaming vs. modern gaming: then and now

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    Default Retrogaming vs. modern gaming: then and now

    Nowadays, with the 64-bit generation coming of age, the period for chldhood/youth nostalgia can go from the very first generation of consoles (for us over the age of 35) all the way to the days of the N64 and PS1. Nonetheless, I sometimes see rants from younger retrogamers who will claim how (for example) the SNES' games were classic and amazing and how today's games are all uninteresting crap that bring nothing new under the sun.

    Here's a reader's letter I found in issue 21 of the Digital Press Zine (Sept./Oct. 1994):

    I don't know why today's games are so inferior, maybe it's because the classics are just that -- classics. They remind us of a simpler time where we thought we could be kids forever. We all grew up but keep the classics to remind us of our childhood. I think a lot of people feel the same way. We've come out of the cellar and our numbers are rising. Today's games are style with no substance. They sell the sizzle but not the steak.
    Keep in mind that in the above quote, "today's games" span the following consoles: SNES, Genesis/Sega-CD/32X, 3DO, Atari Jaguar, and that to this person, chances are that the previous generation (including the NES) also belongs in that contemporary category. Yes, certain genres and technological advancements were overhyped or aged badly, but it's a bold move to make a blanket statement that implies that a whole generation of games is utter crap. And that's the issue I've always had with the "today = bad, yesteryear = good" approach towards videogames. Every generation has good and bad releases, as well as classics that will be played for years and decades.

    In any case, I think it's only normal to see the games of our childhood under rose-colored lens. That'd also explain why the less-popular consoles of the era aren't as much the focus of nostalgia (the Neo Geo case being an exception due to its arcade roots that went much beyond the adoption rate of its home consoles). It is a case of YMMV: for me, true nostalgia spans the Atari 2600 all the way to the SNES, while for others the PS1 is their console of choice for retrogaming (whereas to me it feels like it only came out yesterday).
    Last edited by Lady Jaye; 01-16-2012 at 01:37 PM.

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    I will be turning 28 this year and my first console was an NES in 88' when i was 4 years old. I've owned every system produced after. I'm mostly a Sega kid though since I didnt own an SNES or N64 until after I started collecting. I will agree that video games definitely fall into the whole childhood nostalgia category for a lot of people. I know younger kids who look back fondly at the N64 just like I look back to the NES/SMS or Genesis. I haven't done much modern gaming post xbox/gamecube/ps2. I've lost a lot of interest in modern games. I mostly play MMO's now, but I do spend a lot of time in front of all my classic consoles. Modern games feel less like "games" to me as they feel more like an interactive movie. Is my childhood nostalgia just much more in tune with me that other peoples is with them? could be. I also love 80's and early 90's movies, music, and fashion. Everyone is different.

    Another big reason I prefer retro vs modern...my tastes lay heavenly on the line with eastern style games, and unfortunately the Japanese game market isn't what it used to. A lot of developers are now trying to cater to the Western world and we aren't seeing many Japanese style games of old.
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    I don't think it's about what you grew up with, I've seen many teenagers today grab older games like Chrono Trigger or Mario Bros 3 and they feel that this completely rocks their boat.

    Today's games have a lot of substance but there are two major changes in the industry, 1. culture is far more represented in today's games. 2. games are no longer as abstract they lean far more towards realism.

    This leads to a different kind of experience which can leave the audience divided over which was better.

    Games like Metal Gear which are heavily story oriented and FPS have thrived from the latest gen (for reason beyond me Survival horror hasn't) while rpg's and platformers are on life support. Not to mention some genres like shoot en ups and beat em ups are almost phased out. :/
    Last edited by Taiyaki; 01-16-2012 at 02:11 PM.

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    That quote...

    I don't know why today's games are so inferior, maybe it's because the classics are just that -- classics.
    ...and the rest of it represents an opinion that's hard to take seriously, I feel. It's mainly the fault of nostalgia closing a person off to what today's games have to offer while simultaneously inflating the games central to that person's formative years. The timespan that the Digital Press reader was referring to in that quote is obviously irrelevant now when "classic gaming" today doesn't necessarily distinguish between the so-called "superior/inferior" console generations the individual in question was concerned about. Time renders everything retro eventually.

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    Well, I can't blame someone for feeling that way in 1994. Reading through old Nintendo Power issues from around then has made me draw the conclusion that '92 and '93 were pretty lame years for games. Sure, there was a handful of good releases, but there were WAY too many crappy licensed games and other junky games. I'm less knowledgeable about the specific release dates of Sega games, but even so, I don't think the good releases could overpower the general opinion I've come to. And there was good stuff on TurboGrafx/PC Engine too, of course, but in terms of US releases only, that system's release schedule was always pretty lame in my book.

    So maybe the reader changed his/her mind after highly acclaimed stuff like Super Metroid, Yoshi's Island, Chrono Trigger, etc. Probably not, though. You're probably right in that the reader likely had those feelings about more than just the previous year or two. I can't understand that thinking, but maybe I'm slightly hypocritical for not liking modern gaming as much. I think it's just hype and all that stupid shit that gets to me, though. I won't say that modern gaming is bad. It's just that I don't want to get into it much right now. I'm slowly warming up to the GameCube and PS2 now. It took me time to really embrace the N64 and PS1 too, and now I love them a ton. I don't know why I'm like that, but that's just how it goes for me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Drixxel View Post
    The timespan that the Digital Press reader was referring to in that quote is obviously irrelevant now when "classic gaming" today doesn't necessarily distinguish between the so-called "superior/inferior" console generations the individual in question was concerned about. Time renders everything retro eventually.
    Well, it's still relevant to some. I've noticed over the years I've been on Digital Press that there are still some gamers, even today, that think gaming went to crap with the NES, so their playing/collecting is limited exclusively to pre-crash games. It's very bizarre to me. Now that's HEAVILY nostalgia-based gaming, as far as it looks to me.

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    I'm 33 and I first cut my video game teeth on the Atari 2600. I play more retro than modern games, and part of that is certainly due to how much nostalgia sweetens playing video games. However, I also enjoy the side-scrolling genre much more than the first-person genre that dominates the current generation's games, so I am, naturally, much more at home on retro systems that are filled with the kind of games that I like. With that said, I love recent games like Muramasa: The Demon Blade, Bit-Trip Runner, and Little Big Planet. I am no purist who is unable to enjoy a video game unless he pops in a cartridge rather than a disc; an enjoyable game is an enjoyable game. There is an attraction that I have to more pixelated graphics and their more primitive digital music and sounds that will always make me prefer retro and neo-retro games, though. Of course, newer stylized games like Okami and Katamari capture my affections too. The only game series that I appreciate and desire realistic graphics for is Tekken. Other than that, pixelate me, please!

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    Today I can play modern or retro gaming and be happy for different reasons. As far as nostalgia goes, my first console was a 2600, followed a few years later by a 7800. Today I wouldn't play either system unless it was a punishment ordered down to me by a judge for crimes committed. I thought they were both awesome back when I was a kid but I think it's more that I had no idea how lame most of those gaming experiences were back then. Not even the fun times I had playing them back in the day can convince me to try them again. Today I only collect from the Nes and up.

    Although I do love my retro gaming, sometimes I just want a shoot a real person in the face(in the virtual world of course) So the two experiences differ in ways but I'd never reach a point where I would pick one over the other. I definitely do alot more modern gaming these days but I'll always make time for both.
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    The effect of filtering plays a role as well. Over the years, the junk sinks to the bottom, and you're left with the best 10%. Suddenly that becomes indicative of the whole generation. It's easy to how this generation will be viewed if you only keep the top 10%. Best. Generation. Ever.

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    Once I stopped settling for what's new and popular, it opened up a whole new world of fun and possibilities for me. This goes for both modern and retro gaming. It's so easy to get caught up in the "hottest" new thing and then be disappointed when it's not all you had hoped it would be, but when you dig deeper you'll find that gaming now can be just as good as it was decades ago. And, that gaming back then could be just as bad as it is today. :P

    There are so many good titles, new and old, that I missed out on because they were muted by something more popular I was playing instead at the time. Then there's other gems such as the Parodius series and the Cave shooters that never even saw an American release but are now easily available thanks to the magic of online shopping.

    What brought me back into retro gaming (as in actually getting the physical copies) is when I started looking at videos of clone consoles and unboxings of old games on YouTube. I forget exactly how I stumbled upon it, but it reminded me of the feeling I used to get when I got a new game or system back then. I soon found that clone systems and old games are a fun and inexpensive way to relive the excitement of my youth, even for a brief moment in my less flexible adult schedule. I love the physical media element, and I love that I can get a brand new clone console for the same price as a new game or lower.

    I think the problem occurs when you look at gaming "trends" instead of what's on the market as a whole, objectively. There are a lot of current gaming trends that I strongly disagree with, as well as popular games I don't find impressive or interesting at all, but as a whole? Modern games aren't so bad. You just need to know where to look.
    Last edited by Dr. BaconStein; 01-16-2012 at 08:26 PM.

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    I love my SNES, and all the gaming goodness it has given me over the years.

    But now, I play my Xbox 360, with gems like Bioshock and Fallout 3, and many of those games that I thought were acceptable back in the mid 90s just don't cut it now. How could I play something like Breath of Fire, when Fallout 3 is many times the immersive and engaging RPG? I don't game as much as I used to, but I certainly don't claim that the current generation of games are crap compared to the 16 bit era.
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    I think there are still plenty of awesome games coming out, but they just aren't the big titles anymore.
    It used to be that a platformer or a shmup or a puzzle game could be a AAA blockbuster game.
    Now the biggest games are all either generic military shooters or over-produced wannabe movies.

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    One thing that I'm sure that gamers of all fields of experience can agree upon is licensed games - they are the same guarantee of mediocrity/turdishness today as they were in the age of the 2600. There are notable exceptions, for sure, but poor and highly derivative game design has always been common of licensed games. Are there any hardcore fans of licensed fare out there that draw the line at the NES, claiming the golden years had already passed?

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    Quote Originally Posted by kedawa View Post
    I think there are still plenty of awesome games coming out, but they just aren't the big titles anymore.
    It used to be that a platformer or a shmup or a puzzle game could be a AAA blockbuster game.
    Now the biggest games are all either generic military shooters or over-produced wannabe movies.
    To play the devil: at one point game media (VG&CE comes to mind) was saying the same thing about platformers in the late 80's/early 90's as you are about shooters. Further back I think I read something about the deluge of maze games (the Pac clones) of the early 80's.

    I think it's hard to really judge with some objectivity the games of today vs the past. For one many of us are older and see the world differently. I love platformers and I'll visit them from time to time but I find myself landing in modern territory, liking games I lambasted (either in title or concept) then praising the classics like they were flawless.

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    Now you see, the funny thing is I have possibly the exact opposite mindset to the guy from 1994 quoted in the OP. To me, games are a constantly evolving medium, finding new and exciting ways of bettering themselves with each year that passes.

    Okay, I'm not saying that newer games are inherently better, I'm not that suicidal. There is a hell of a lot of shovelware out there- mostly on the Wii and DS- and to quote Yahtzee, an absolute shedload of sequels, rip-offs and wank. Mostly on the 360 and PS3. The thing is, for every fifty CoD rip-offs- and CoD itself, for that matter- we get a Skyrim or a Super Mario Galaxy, gaming experiences that would be almost completely unheard of back in the NES/SNES era and will stand the test of time. And it's not just the Triple-As, but games like Braid, Limbo, Flower- all show that innovation is thriving in the industry despite the seemingly suffocating presence of the uber-franchises.

    I'm willing to bet that in 2030, on whatever form this forum will take by then, there will be people dissing the most recent games and reminiscing on the 360/PS3 era as fondly as we remember the SNES/Mega Drive era. My flat, wide 47-year old arse will probably be amongst those voices. Difference is, I'll still be having fun playing the most recent games as well.

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    I was like 33 in 1989 and my first console was a Sega Genesis, then a SNES, TG16, NES, Neo Geo CD,etc. The addiction began! I prefer the cart based gaming. I like the simple two and four button gaming. It is just my taste in gaming. I spend about all my gaming time in retro games of the 8 bit and 16 bit era. I like the 2D cartoony hand drawn graphics. I like the high score survival shmup stuff. There is no nostalgia in my desire to play the retro. If I was to look back into my childhood for nostalgia, it would be pinball and pong. I just find the old games more fun than the offerings of present day gaming.

    And I think that maybe when someone finds that they like the old stuff, it is hard for them to realize that it is sometimes preference, or their taste, in gaming that is the real issue. I am sure that there are some really good games out for the present generation of gaming. My problem is, nothing has really caught my attention like the old stuff. Nothing has ever grabbed me in the way the older systems have, making me excited enough to say, Got to have that system.

    My excitement is still running across an old cart that I don't have in a flea market. Gotta have that game!

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    i bought my sega genesis lot last year off a guy i believe was 25 or 26 and refuses to play anything newer then PS1.

    I think some people its nostalgia
    Some people its as said before that abstract feel that seems to have kinda been left behind due to games being made for realism
    and some people its the simplicity of retro games.
    You don't need to push a billion buttons and memorize a million commands and such. Just a simple tap of the A Button and your in heaven
    and some people specially the younger generation that actually didn't grow up with a 16bit console or whatever. They wanna experience the stuff us older gamers experienced when we were growing up.

    Its kinda like a mid 20s kid buying a 57 chevy belair.
    Grandpa rants and raves how he had one when he was a young gun and use to take grandma out into town with it.
    Kid wants to experience what grandpa experienced in a sense by buying that same car.

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    Quote Originally Posted by badinsults View Post
    I love my SNES, and all the gaming goodness it has given me over the years.

    But now, I play my Xbox 360, with gems like Bioshock and Fallout 3, and many of those games that I thought were acceptable back in the mid 90s just don't cut it now. How could I play something like Breath of Fire, when Fallout 3 is many times the immersive and engaging RPG? I don't game as much as I used to, but I certainly don't claim that the current generation of games are crap compared to the 16 bit era.
    Well...the mid-90s did have its own "Fallout 3", and I believe it was called...Fallout. What I think you're really seeing is that consoles now have the capacity today to do what PCs could in 1995 - even better, because they're superior pieces of technology. But games with the immersion and depth and interesting choices and more meaningful dialogue / character interaction? Richard Garriott and Warren Specter and Doug Church and Peter Molyneux and Chris Roberts (etc., etc.) were making those games way back when - the interface just wasn't really as good as it is today. The gameplay was a lot more in-depth than most of what was available on consoles at the time, though. Zelda for SNES was cool and all, and fun to play, but I personally was more interested in X-COM: UFO Defense and System Shock and Wing Commander and Commander Keen and all those games.

    These days, I would never say that modern games are terrible, as there are loads of interesting experiments going on in the indie gaming scene. People are making games whose graphics and sounds are reminiscent of the days of yore, and yet which have entirely new and different mechanics that could never have been possible on the machines of the days of yore. There was a time period where the focus on 3D was killing 2D gaming, and I almost thought that there was a genuine threat of all gaming dying out as the focus shifted almost entirely to the presentation, while the design and mechanics were given short shrift. Indie devs, however, have turned that focus around and are competing on mechanics - where they can compete, since they can't top the multi-million dollar 3D effects that a place like EA can turn out.

    I think gaming today is better than ever. I like some of those retro games, and they're fun to play for kicks, but I wouldn't say the days of yore were better than they are now. Five years ago, before the indie scene kicked in, I might have, but not today.
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    It seems like as soon as games became massive productions with feature film budgets and huge development teams, they just lost their 'soul'. Music and story are often ousourced to other teams entirely, and creative decisions are driven by market research rather than inspiration. Millions of dollars are spent on non-interactive filler, while real content is being cut out and sold separately as DLC,

    I think that's where the magic of indie games comes from. They've rolled back the clock to the days when a small team of passionate people could make the kinds of games that they wanted to play. That's a far cry from the spirit-crushing sweatshops that most games come from these days.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aussie2B View Post
    Well, it's still relevant to some. I've noticed over the years I've been on Digital Press that there are still some gamers, even today, that think gaming went to crap with the NES, so their playing/collecting is limited exclusively to pre-crash games. It's very bizarre to me. Now that's HEAVILY nostalgia-based gaming, as far as it looks to me.
    Heh. I actually think gaming went to crap after the Xbox was released. Consolized FPS games arrived and stayed. But that's just me.
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