Nostalgia is odd, isn’t it? As we venture further into the world of receding hairlines, joint pain, and hangovers that we affectionately call adulthood, we heave great sighs and look fondly back at the past. To a simpler time when there were no responsibilities, television shows, movies, and video games were so much better and the rivers flowed with wine and the clouds were cotton candy. It’s fun to revisit the past. You decide to dust off your old console or get an emulator to play your favourite video games from when you were young. And your rose tinted view of the past is quickly crushed by reality.
There are arguments that nostalgia and memories are responsible for many gaming experiences being held up as classics. But often if you go back and play them, they don’t hold up for one reason or another. With this in mind, we’ve listed the ways that old video games kind of sucked.
Being a giant time sink
Nowadays, we want to overturn the coffee table when we fail and have to retread even a few minutes of a game, but back in the day, you had limited lives and time limits, not to mention the crazy difficulty that was the norm for games of that time. Games were meant to be tackled through trial and error, not finished in one go like many are today. This was due to programming restraints and memory allocation. Developers just had to make sure players got their money’s worth. Because of this convention of gaming in that era, I salute anyone who can complete the original Super Mario Brothers for the NES in one go.
People like to whinge about the checkpoints in video games such as Call of Duty, I wonder if they would rather lose hours hours of their lives just because they turned off their console, having forgotten to write down the password to the level they just reached. Thinking of that moment just makes you want to tear your hair out.
Being Ridiculously Difficult for Absolutely no Reason
Video games made in the NES generation were abnormally hard. The people who made them made games for a living, so they were experts, not to mention the fact that they breathed these games day in and day out. It was these people that decided the difficulty that regular players would tackle. As a result, games from that time are harder than Chinese algebra. People say that hames have gone soft on difficulty, but really just try to play Contra without dying… It’s insane.
While these are iconic:
We all have to admit controllers are far superior. Dual analog sticks, responsive triggers and buttons don’t get stuck under the plastic of the controller. There’s also the fact that the limited number of buttons on old school controllers meant ridiculous button combinations to perform certain actions.
Handheld gaming consoles were impossible to play in the dark
I remember trying to play my Game Boy in the backseat of a car at night when I was young. Because handheld consoles from that era had no backlight, this was completely impossible.
Lack of Storylines
Can you tell me the story for Duck Hunt? You can’t because there isn’t one. You shoot ducks and a dog laughs at you if you f*ck up (Read our video game douchebags article for more on this). Stories in games are a big deal now. Just play The Last of Us and I challenge you to tell me that there is a better zombie apocalypse story out there, even among the hundreds we are bombarded with in movies and television. Video games are medium that can tell great stories with great twists and turns now, but back in the NES era the story of the most popular game in the world could be summed up easily in one line. Like this:
“Italian plumber man goes on a quest to save a princess from a turtle and save the kingdom. He eats mushrooms that do stuff to his body.”
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