Thursday, April 12, 2007

Retro schmetro.

I'm not really a big fan of retro gaming. Partly it's because of the scene - everyone who's really in to it seems to be a bit of a moron, preaching on about how 3d games ruined everything and how old games were a lot more fun. Partly it's because I'm an unapologetic graphics whore, and so many retro games look like pap these days. And partly it's because most of the fondly-remembered games I've gone back to have turned out to be rubbish.

Now, this usually raises the heckles of a dedicated retro gamer. "How can that be? Surely if a game used to be fun, then it should still be fun today?"

My off-the cuff answer tends to be that, once upon a time I found the shiny square on Baby's First Activity Center to be pretty entertaining, but I've moved on now (okay, you dragged it out of me - I was 26).

If they don't get put off by my flippant response and keep asking, I'll go for something along the lines of the following...

What usually makes a game fun to me is mainly the interactivity, but also the combination of that with the audiovisuals (graphics whore, remember?).

I might have enjoyed an olden days game (calling them that tends to annoy retro people too) years ago because, although the gameplay was fairly weak, I found the AVs really impressive. Those games I wouldn't find fun any more, because their flashy crutch is rubbish by today's standards. Something like Resident Evil would fit into this line-up.

On the other end, I might have found a retro game great because of its at-the-time unheard of interactivity and scope. Unfortunately the genre that particular game sits in has moved on now to provide much more finely tuned or expansive experiences, making the game feel shallow or clunky in comparison. I would put all of the Tomb Raiders up to Legends here (how on earth did they manage to keep that going all of those years?).

There's some cross over between these two categories as well, wherein both the ground-breaking interaction, and awesome AVs have dated badly. Hello, Carmageddon!

The thing is, I have to point out at about this time that I don't think all old games are shit, or look like steaming dog mess. There are plenty of old games that are still fun. Some because their AVs haven't dated so heavily (for someone who turns their nose up at retro, you might be surprised to know I have a couple of books on pixel art - done well it's timeless). And some still feel as well-tuned and deep as their current genre-mates (or moreso, but "LOL dumbing down" is a different kettle of gamer morons).

But if Xbox Live Arcade, Wii's Virtual Console, and Sony's eDist (though I'm led to believe this isn't full of Digital Eclipse shovelware. Yet) should have taught you anything, it's that old games aren't all as much fun as they used to be. And they certainly aren't worth paying £2 for (two pounds?!? I remember when all of the new releases were two pounds, not like games these days costing forty quid. Sorry, what did you say about Street Fighter 2 on the SNES, I wasn't listening? etc. Fade to black).


JC Barnett said...

I agree, sort of. I mean, games that are truly "retro" are pretty tiresome to play, as about 5000 Wii points' worth of wasted downloads has reminded me. Anything pre-SNES can't hold my attention for more than 5 minutes. I start with the best of intentions but just give up; bad controls, bad graphics, 0.001 gameplay. Games have moved on since then and the minimum-barrier has shifted enormously.

Don't confuse the 2D/3D debate with retro though! 2D still ROCKS, and some *recent* 2D games have only proven that.

Anonymous said...

I agree also. Even back when I preferred strategy games to quick action ones. I have never been that good nor liked platformers that much. But I love TBS games like MOO, Civ and even the early RTSs like Warcraft and I played the orginial Herzog Zwie, and loved it then. But overall I don't retro game much, but I do casual game, along with the hardcore games, I am really enjoying XBLA. Haven't purchase many games, but the ones I do have are a nice diversion from GoWs, Crackdown, Oblivion etc.