Why I like classic games

A defense of my preference
June 24, 2013

I’m constantly asked why I don’t find today’s games appealing. It seems like a crazy idea that something new isn’t better. Well, call me crazy. I prefer the classics.

In the opposing view’s defense, my opinion is completely subjective. If you only like games that came out in the last five years, take solace, because I’m no more right in my preference than anyone else. Liking particular video games does not rest in the world of fact, like the age of the earth or the existence of germs, it is mere whimsy. With that caveat out of the way, let’s get to the meat of it.

Disliking older video games on the sole fact that they’re old, is like disliking On the Waterfront because it’s black and white. To say that classic games are bad because the graphics have aged would be comparable to complaining that Star Wars or Indiana Jones “suck” because they don’t have computer generated special effects.

The core soul of film exists in any era. Look at the 1927 silent black and white film, Metropolis. Its dystopian vision didn’t need 3d to be entirely engaging. Similarly, video games as basic as Ms. Pac-Man, don’t need bumpmapping and bloom lighting to be enjoyable.

My favorite game, Super Mario Bros. 3, is simple and unassuming. However, when you boot up your NES and start to play, you’re shown a world of wonder. You run around a fantastical land, and just have fun. Isn’t that what games are supposed to be about?
Why must newer always be better? What a sad outlook it must be to only think that games made in the last few years are worthwhile. It means that even the games you now love, will eventually become the dreaded retro game, something untouchable. Is that all art is to some people? Temporary? I think that’s an awful way at looking at things.

To go further, think of the newest Indiana Jones. The original trilogy of Indiana Jones was amazing (although Temple of Doom could have been better). Should we abandon those memories for Indy’s new godforsaken alien misadventure with Shia Labeouf? I pray not.

I love classic games because they are so raw and primal. They pushed the boundaries of where we only dared dream. Something like Mario 64 or Ocarina of Time will always blow my mind. I don’t need a shinier version of it.

Why must I play Halo 4 when the first two did everything I wanted them to do? I’m happy with those original experiences. I don’t need to play a hundred sequels in the same way I don’t need to see a 7th Star Wars film.

I will be honest though. It’s true that part of my reason for playing classic games lies in the pastoral landscape of nostalgia. It’s through idyllic lens that I call the Super Nintendo the best system ever made. Still, is that a bad thing? Why is something that I cherish from childhood somehow unacceptable? As I get older, and the world gets worse, I like to think of when things were pure.

If you think that old games don’t have story, play Final Fantasy VI or I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream. If you think old games are ugly, play Another World or Nights into Dreams. Generations of people enjoyed games on floppy discs and cartridges, they still have the power to give your imagination a ride. Give the classics a try, I promise they won’t disappoint.
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