I was made in the 80s. Coincidentally, some of my favorite games were made there, too: Super Mario Bros. 2, Mega Man 2 & 3, Metroid, Castlevania, Ninja Gaiden, etc. It was indeed a glorious time. But then, out of nowhere, the 90s came, and with it came some of the best consoles to ever grace Mother Earth: SNES, Genesis, and the TurboGrafx-16/PCE (though the latter 2 consoles came out in the VERY late 80s). And with these consoles, the 16-bit era was born, bringing with it some of the best RPG’s and Platformers known to man even to this day: Super Mario World, Final Fantasy III / VI, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Chrono Trigger, the Phantasy Star Series, etc. However, this didn’t mean the 8-bit era was dead. The early 90s begot many amazing NES titles: Mega Man 3, Star Tropics, Super Mario Bros. 3, Battletoads, Kirby’s Adventure, etc. Needless to say, gaming under the Clinton administration was definitely the industry at its zenith, the Golden Age of Console Gaming, if you will.
Whoa… maybe I did inhale.
So, what’s this post about? Video Game history that we already know? Nah. I was just giving you a little of my background. A lot of my childhood can be defined by these old games. I played the hell out of them when they were brand new, and they all hold a very special place in my heart. What I am here to talk about are a few things: Nostalgia, a generation gap between gamers, and how emulation taints these classics. Don’t worry; I’m not taking a moral stance on emulation. But, first, let’s take a look at nostalgia and a real-life example of a “Gamer Generation Gap.”
While playing these older games, a warm and familiar feeling wells up inside me, and it makes me feel good. This sensation is commonly known as “Nostalgia.” Nostalgic moments always bring me back to simpler and more innocent times when all I had to do was go to school and play video games. I never had to worry about bullshit like paying bills and working so I can pay bills. And let’s not forget about having to feed my kids every other day. You know; the demanding things in life.
Yes, honey, I gave her a beer. I was trying to make her sleepy.
Well, the other day I was just sitting around, thinking about my old jobs and shooting Nerf darts at my daughters, when thoughts of Hollywood Video came rushing back into my head. One thing I loved to do while working there was talk/argue about video games with random strangers who just so happened to be walking by. A time I remember very vividly is when I was standing behind my register talking to a fellow gamer who was just 15 years old. He asked me, “What’s one of your most nostalgic games?” I told him Donkey Kong Country 2, simply because it is. Then he said to me, “I’ve never played it. I hear it’s pretty cool. I’d have to say that my most nostalgic game is the first Halo. I first played it when I was 7.”
I’m not here to bad mouth the kid or rant about how stupid he is for not having played the superior game that is DKC2, the idiot. I can’t really fault him for only being 2 when DKC2 was made, the son of bitch. None of those thoughts even entered my mind as he said that (yet). Instead, a couple of other things came to mind. The first being, “Damn, I’m old!”, and the second, “That sucks for this kid.”
That’s right. For the first time in my life, I actually felt pity before I felt raw, unadulterated hatred. I truly mourned for this child. I mourned because there’s just so much greatness he’s missed. So I asked if he’s ever played any of the games I brought up at the beginning of this post. Not only had he not played a majority of them, but he also had this to say:
“I can’t play a lot of those old [NES] games. They’re either too hard, boring, or both. They just can’t keep my attention. Really, I don’t see what you older guys see in them.”
I didn’t really say much at the time, as to mask my righteous indignation. I more or less just nodded, changed the subject to Gears of War 2, and finished the transaction. I figured there was really no sense in starting a debate while I was at work. Making our customers bleed while on the clock is considered “the wrong service mentality.”
Who Framed Roger Rabbit on the NES is stupid!? I’ll kill you!!!
However, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on what the kid said, and I’d like to share with you what I’ve come up with.
I mostly focused on the part where he said, “I don’t know what you see in [NES games],” because focusing on the “you older guys” part would wreck havoc on my spastic colon. I thought about what that meant: “What you see in [NES games.]” What’s wrong with the games we grew up with? Well, a lot actually. They were mercilessly difficult, glitchy or just straight broken, and some were hard to look at for prolonged periods of time.
Does that make them bad games? Honestly, yes, but only when compared to today’s standards. But our old games weren’t mandated by today’s standards. Instead, we had to deal with what was given to us. And, unlike the gamers of today, we didn’t have much. We only had a few games at a time to go with our brilliant NES machines (some of my friends only had 1 game), so we played them to perfection. We accepted the difficulty and the torment because that was all we had. Modern, younger gamers are able to dive into the gaming world with all these “sub-par” NES games already given to them. Younger gamers have the options to play retro games on the Virtual Console, XBLA, PSN or any other kind of online service, or they can play them absolutely free on emulators.
Again, I’m not taking a moral stance on emulation, but I do feel playing older games on emulators takes away something special a gamer might find in the game they’re playing. Why try and master a game when you have 500+ others to play? This leads to the “This is too hard, let’s play something else” mentality. Well, we “Older” gamers weren’t allowed to have that luxury. We had to endure the unrelenting difficulty of Adventure Island because that might have been one of the only games we had. I had Ghosts ‘n Goblins, and, let me tell you, I loved and played the shit out of that ridiculously hard game, and I don’t remember ever getting past the second level. Oh, the bittersweet memories…
Fuck you, red thing! Just fuck you!
I brought up “Nostalgia” earlier. Nostalgia is a word that we seem to hear a lot these days, especially when talking about Nintendo. Hell, many gaming sites are built on nostalgia. And, since you’re reading this, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. But have you really stopped to think about what that word means? It means more than just remembering the good times. It also means looking at the not-so-good times in a good way. This is where I believe we Older gamers have a sort of a brotherhood, or fraternity. This might sound a bit dramatic, but hear me out. We look back at these games and remember all the time and effort we put into them. For instance, let’s take a look at Kid Icarus on NES.
Not this crap. It’s crap.
Kid Icarus is an extremely hard game. Do you remember those dungeon parts with the Eggplant Wizards? Remember getting hit by one and then having to go find that damn nurse in order to get the spell exercised? You can’t tell me that didn’t suck. How about the vertical levels? Remember how you couldn’t fall off the screen at all without that feather, even though the ground is seriously only 1cm below the screen? What kind of crap was that? That doesn’t even make sense! But we didn’t care because we didn’t know any better. These were the rules of Kid Icarus, and we were to abide by them. Did we just turn the game off and put in another one? Nope, mainly because our parents didn’t buy us many games. But this helped to foster our mentality as younger gamers: May we be damned before we let this game beat us! Despite how hard Kid Icarus was, it was still a great game. To us Older gamers, Kid Icarus’s difficulty only made the game’s inevitable defeat the more sweeter. All the time and effort that we put into it was ultimately rewarded with its ending. And what an ending!
I think if you beat the game in under an hour it shows Pit in a bikini. I’ll pass…
That’s another thing we Older gamers love: the “Ol’ NES Cheese.” You know what I’m talking about: The really crappy endings at the end of NES games that usually consist of one screen riddled with Engrish. Man, those were great! If fact, these old endings were the inspiration for the title of my blog. And that’s another characteristic that makes Older gamers a sort of brotherhood or fraternity: Loving our games despite their flaws.
Grammar cannot be slain with strongth alone.
So, what am I saying about Older gamers in relation to younger, modern gamers? Are we better than them because they’re soft? Are younger gamers spoiled brats? Are they just a bunch of whiny kids that wouldn’t know a good game if it jumped up and bit them on the ass? Yeah, sort of, but it’s hard to fault a generation of gamers whose only real problem was being born too late. So I think it would be fairer to say that we Older gamers are made of different stuff. We grew up in a different time that had different standards.
However, younger gamers can still play all these great games. Whether they have the original systems and games, use an online service, or use emulators, younger gamers can play the greatness I grew up on, but they need to practice patience. I know it’s tempting to just load a new rom after getting your ass handed to you on Monster Party again, but try and stick with it. Dedication and tenacity are the best qualities one can possess in order to gain an appreciation for older games. Who knows? Stick to it long enough, and you may find out how to finally get past the boss that’s been a pain in your ass for so long. Though it’s “just a game,” there’s a certain sense of accomplishment in seeing your time and effort come to fruition by beating a tough boss.
Pro Tip: Just watch their stupid dance.
Thanks for Your Playing! Do any of you feel the same way? Do you think emulation – or the easy accessibility of playing lots of older games – tarnishes older games for modern gamers? Do you think this accessibility fosters a “too hard, move to another game” mentality for modern gamers? Do any of you Old-School gamers feel the same way I do? Should I just tell modern gamers to get off my lawn? Let me know in the comments!