Did you ever consider that the good old days weren’t always perfect?
For those of you who grew up in the 80’s or 90’s, those days are pretty much considered “the good old days;” the “golden era of gaming” if you will. And it’s not hard to see why. Even as somebody who didn’t really get into the gaming scene until the mid 2000’s, it’s understandable why so many wish we could go back to a time where games were released after they were actually finished and we didn’t have to worry about our consoles breaking every six months. In fact, one of our own wrote a whole list about it.
But reading that article caused me to have a sudden realisation. As much as we love to praise the days of yonder, how come we never discuss what was bad about it? Why do we never think back to the things we hated about those times and breathe a sigh of relief that we don’t have to worry about them anymore? These days may not be perfect, but improvements HAVE been made over the last couple of decades.
So, just because I’m a massive contrarian, here are six things about retro gaming that, at least for some of us, we’re glad to be rid of or have been improved over the years.
1. Visuals and Music
Before you start jumping down my throat, I am in no way bashing the aesthetics of old games. If anything, I have nothing but respect for artists, designers and musicians that had so little to work with in terms of the technology at the time and were somehow still able to create spectacular worlds seen in games like Final Fantasy VI and amazing pieces of music like this or this. Plus, there’s something inherently charming about the old 8-bit graphics; why do you think so many indie games deliberately go with that kind of art-style?
That being said, however, can anyone really say they wish games hadn’t improved in those areas? As good as some classic titles may still be, there were also a surplus of ugly as sin games as well. And while we do have an overwhelming amount of games that look “realistic” with their browns and greys all blending together like some depressing milkshake, the fact that he have games that do borderline look like that is impressive.
And even if you ignore that, we’ve got games with even more vibrant colours, games with even smoother character animations that are bursting with personality, even games with the kind of visuals the likes of the SNES could only dream of. Just look at something like Kirby’s Epic Yarn; a game where everything looks like it’s made of wool.
As for music, while there are plenty of retro tracks that hold up to this day, if you asked me to pick between the soundtracks for Super Mario World and Super Mario Galaxy, I’m going to go with the one that uses actual instruments and makes me feel like I’m going on the most glorious adventure of all time.
2. Lack of Save Features
You want to know why I’ve never got round to beating old retro games? Because the moment I lose all my lives, I’m booted right back to the beginning and have to go through all that BS all over again. It’s quite a demoraliser, which is why I’m particularly grateful that games started to save my progress. The only thing more satisfying that taking down a difficult boss is knowing that I can turn off the game and said game will remember that I beat said boss.
Granted, some games had passwords that were offered once you cleared a level that you could use to reach it should you need to stop playing or something – the key word being “some.” For the rest, the moment you failed, it was back to the start and all your hard work and effort was now wasted.
The obvious response for some would be “just get good” but not everybody has the time to do just that. There’s nothing wrong with a game having challenge; just don’t tell me that I have to do all the things I did correctly again just to get another chance to take on the thing I didn’t do.
I remember trying out the original Crash Bandicoot, making some progress, losing all my lives and finding all my progress undone – just because I didn’t clear a bonus stage or collect an optional Gem item; the ONLY WAY you could even save. I don’t care what anyone says; that’s bullshit and I’m glad memory cards are a thing now.