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They Don't Make 'em Like They Used To: Why do old people like retro games?

Have you noticed how almost anyone over 20 who has regularly played games in their younger days seem to go...

Woah, wait! Have you seen this?

Wow, that is a blast from the past my friend.

This is a list of (arguably) all the worthwhile games on DOS, basically the PC games that came out roughly from the start of the 80's till a few years before the start of the new millennium, go on and check it out, I'll give you a few minutes... Back? Wonderful.

You see, I was born dead in the center of this era (specifically, '87), so while half of my time was spent playing on my NES and Sega Genesis, the other half was of me sitting at the computer trying to explore the villages in Albion, figure out the best way to outmaneuver the enemy in Dune, or just make sense of the puzzles in Day of The Tentacle and...

Okay, I'm rambling, I almost fell into the trap I started talking about at the beginning of this post, are those games really that much better? or is it simply nostalgia goggles?

This is a really treacherous question, it's not as simple comparing the two eras, and you could easily dismiss it as being a matter of opinion.

Naturally, I'm not one to say that all games from back then are better than the ones we have now, there are some real stinkers back in the 5th and 6th generation of consoles (AKA the PSX era and anything before) and, and there are some seriously awesome gems in this era.

one of the more notorious "stinkers" of the 16-bit era.

"So it wasn't a better era?" You may ask, but here's the thing, I do believe it was better.

And the main reason for that? Ironically, it's because the games were not allowed to go bigger and be more bombastic than they can now.

Let me explain the point with, say, a movie!


Ah! John Carpenter's The Thing, considered to be one of the (if not just THE) most influential and well-crafted horror movie to date.

now this film was made in 1982, this movie is literally 30 years old, it's older than me! And recently, there was a prequel made, and that prequel did not fare as well as its predecessor, where the original garnered a damn impressive %79 freshness rate on Rotten Tomatoes, the prequel got paltry and, to be honest, downright embarrassing %39.

Now, maybe you're going "of course this movie failed, remakes and old franchise sequels are always shit!", and if you did, I want to stop you right there:


Now there are obvious points to attack are the fact that these movies are mostly cash-ins, they're not interested in the franchise as much as the money the franchise can bring in, but The Thing has a bit of a special property to it; there's one aspect that helped make the original movie better than its successor; the tools!

One thing the original movie could not do is show you the monster, I mean let's face it, it was the 80's and the best you could do is make an animatronic of the monster that eventually only reminded you of the Ewoks and how shitty and goofy it actually looks, so they did the only thing they could logically do: they adapted.

The need to hide the fakeness of the monster and the props lead them to use a more atmospheric approach in their cinematography, mood appropriate lighting and tight editing, one that drove the movie from being a creature feature into a psychological horror flick that has aged exceptionally well, even after 30 years.

Seriously, look at this thing for more than 10 seconds... Erm...

And to me, that's why recent video games are not on the same level as the older ones, mostly because the older generations had to find different ways to utilize any tool in their arsenal just to make their games around the lack of resources, while these days, there's more than enough resources to go twice over a game, that's not necessarily a bad thing, but for such a young and underdeveloped medium, it might be better to rein in the excitement.

Necessity is the mother of invention, and in this case, innovation as well, limitations push you to create new ways to present your ideas in an engaging and unique fashion.

Now I'm not saying that this doesn't happen in newer games, and that there are no limitations to engender innovation in this generation, but maybe, just maybe, it's possible that we moved too fast on this point? Maybe there are still lessons to learn before we try and embrace the more powerful tools and ideas?

I think so, but who knows...
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About Viredaeone of us since 11:51 AM on 10.13.2011

(sung to the tune of Jonathan Coulton's "Code Monkey")

Viredae get up get coffee. Viredae go to job. Viredae have boring meeting, with boring manager Rob. Rob say: "Viredae very diligent, but his output stinks. His designs not functional or elegant, what do Viredae think?"

Viredae think maybe goddamn manager wanna draw UML himself. Viredae not say it out loud. Viredae not crazy, just proud. Viredae like Wiimotes, Viredae like gamepads and keyboards too. Viredae very simple man, with big, full, precious memory cards. Viredae thinks games are real cool!
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