Gaming Nostalgia

posted by on 12th May 2010, at 12:00pm

Nostalgia can be considered one of the best feelings out there. To gamers it’s a pleasant word which brings a lot of wonderful memories. That one and only time we found ourselves in love with video gaming as kids. All of us remember picking up that video game controller for the first time and never wanting to let go.

What is nostalgia for me? Well I grew up in Ukraine where the influence of West lagged behind. It was never an easy task keeping up to date with latest games and consoles. When majority of the kids in America were trying to save the princess playing Super Mario Bros I was playing Comix Zone on Sega Genesis. It’s a typical scenario. You get to play as a comic book artist who gets trapped inside his own creation by a villain who… you guessed it… kidnapped his girlfriend. The idea wasn’t original, but the concept of the game was something that any kid would enjoy playing. A live action comic book? Yes please. It was a game which I nearly poured my heart into and would not give up until I would get through the entire game which consumed nearly a month of my life.

Anybody who is even remotely familiar with the retro gaming era knows that games were never easy. So it’s not that difficult to picture the amount of joy I felt as a child after spending countless days just to get through the first level of Comix Zone let alone the entire game. Today I can blaze through GTA IV in less than 20 hours without breaking a sweat. Have we as gamers gotten better or have the games themselves gotten easier over time with us realizing it? In my personal opinion I think it’s a combination of both. We all remember some of the most impossible games to complete out there be it Ninja Gaiden on NES or any of the Mega Man games for that matter. Today we can simply sneak a peek online and check out the walkthroughs on the internet if you ever run in any trouble, but “back in the day” when internet wasn’t that commonly used you would often see yourself stuck on that same level, that same stage, that same boss which keeps on killing you. You would not have to simply go to online and check out a guide, you would have to get things done the old fashioned way. Now I just imagine that exhilarating feeling I got once I actually completed an entire game was nothing like I ever experienced before as a child. It gave me massive bragging rights in my school knowing that I just beat a difficult game. Today completing in games even on the hardest difficulties just isn’t quite the same. I don’t think anybody will be impressed by the fact I was one of the million people who completed Modern Warfare 2 on veteran.

Another unusual game which I found myself enjoying a lot was Aladdin. Yes that same game which was based on a popular Disney movie. No don’t hover in fear considering that today we look at games based on movies with disgust, disregarding them completely. Aladdin was a rare exception to my own surprise. It combined new elements of platforming, some interesting boss fights, and that same Disney humor which we came to adore when growing up something which is not that common in today’s movie based games.

Arcades are often forgotten and left in the shadow when it comes to retro gaming and are practically none existent on Western soil today. We all know that feeling, as a child you would be asking your parents for couple of quarters just so you can find the nearest Street Fighter II arcade machine to play with your friends. I was in familiar shoes, but playing Tekken 3. It opened up a nearly entire new view on the fighting genre at general. To me it featured an amazing roast of characters which were unique in their own way and from that point I was instantly hooked still following Tekken franchise up to this day.

But enough with going on and on about the games I loved as a child because one article would never be enough. I think it’s time to take a look on how nostalgia impact the present, not the past. In today’s gaming world a lot of video game companies use gamers’ nostalgia more as a marketing tool is it in a good or even a bad way. Take for example Street Fighter IV. The game was primarily aiming at fans of Street Fighters II in general focusing on 2D gameplay and a familiar roast of characters which we came to love. We can look at any famous gaming franchise where nostalgia is often used to lure the gamers in. Be it the famous GTA games which showed us a new way to play games up to this day. I wouldn’t be surprised to know if half of the people who have purchased GTA IV were plainly because they found themselves enjoying playing its predecessor games. Let’s take a look at Mario games for that matter. They defiantly have a decent hardcore fan base which would still stick to the franchise through anything. The reason why Nintendo remained a successful company up this date is that their Mario franchise in general still has that magical ability to appeal not just that “soccer mom” crowd, but to us true fanboys at heart.

But why all of us find ourselves looking back to that certain time? It can’t just be nostalgia. Maybe it was something about the era in general which appealed to us more. It showed us that games didn’t have to have superb graphics or big budgets to be enjoyable like a lot of games are today, but times change and unfortunately we are forced to go along with it whether we like it or not. I don’t know about you, but I’ll go and give Comix Zone another shot and see what is like being 6 again.

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One Comment

  • killer Says:
    10th June 2010, at 1:44am

    The problem with games these days is that their difficulty just couldn’t top the 90’s.

    Back then, games were hard because of terrible programming, blocky controls, or plain simply meant to be hard.

    These days, we get “play through the game on Normal before you can even unlock Hard”, then once we unlock Hard, we realize it’s just you dealing less damage and getting hit more damage.