4. Single player games were more plentiful
Look, I enjoy multiplayer titles just as much as the next guy, but it’s no secret that the quality of the single-player experience has greatly diminished with the popularity of online gaming. Franchises that once featured grand campaigns full of action and intrigue have scaled back their offline offerings in favor of a greater emphasis on multiplayer content. Worse still, other multiplayer games have made their way to retail with a nearly criminal lack of content (Here’s looking at you, Evolve!).
Back before the days of online gaming – that is, unless you were one of the cool kids whose parents let them rack up long distance charges with an X-Band Modem – playing with anyone beyond the confines of your couch was nothing but a pipe dream. That said, the overwhelming majority of games were built with one player in mind, and if a game featured any multiplayer to speak of we just considered that icing on the cake.
While some studios have managed to find interesting ways to meld the two modes together, most of the time these results are less than spectacular. That said, while developers are more frequently forcefully shoehorning their multiplayer portions into their game’s campaign modes, I can’t help but feel grateful for the games of the olden days that didn’t see anything wrong with players embracing a little bit of voluntary isolation.
3. Consoles were built to last
Over the past decade I found myself dealing with four Xbox 360 Red Ring of Deaths, a bricked PlayStation 3, and a Wii that makes a better paper weight than a game console. Having said that, it comes as no surprise that pray to the Flying Spaghetti Monster whenever I fire up my Xbox One and PlayStation 4, and make sure to avert my eyes from the console power LED’s fickle gaze, lest my system explode into flames with the fury of a thousand tortured souls.
Hyperbole or not, you better believe I count my lucky stars whenever I turn on the current crop of consoles, because it’s plain to see they’re running on borrowed time. Sure, the plethora of moving parts and the bleeding fast GPUs of today’s machines obviously make them more prone to failure, but my behemoth of a Sega Genesis/Sega CD/32X combo never sounded like it was opening a gateway to the blackest abyss when I booted up my copy of Corpse Killer, so dammit, why should my Xbox One when I’m doing something as benign as installing a new game to play?
Sitting right next to me in my office closet as I type this is a mountain of arcade hardware and classic gaming consoles – pretty much every one you can imagine from the Atari 2600 to the Sega Dreamcast – and almost every last one works the way it did when it was first taken out of the shrink wrap. When I think about when my grandchildren want to see the games I played when I was younger, I can’t help but imagine our trip down memory lane to the current generation of hardware will be something akin to to scouring the jungles of Cambodia. Only instead of combing the foliage as I try not to stumble upon any dusty munitions that have been waiting patiently to blast me into chunks of finely aged geek gristle, I’ll be praying my Xbox One doesn’t turn my retirement home into a five alarm fire.