: Editorial: Nostalgia, Changing Game Preferences

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Editorial: Nostalgia, Changing Game Preferences

Okay, I need some help on this one, because at the present time, I can only use myself as an example. That kind of anecdotal "evidence" has always bugged me and I'd like to see if fellow veteran gamers have experienced something similar.

By now, most of our avid readers know my favorite game of all time is Final Fantasy Tactics. I won't go into any real depth explaining why - we all have our personal reasons in regards to our favorite games - but let's just say it was one of those titles that nailed me at the start and never let go. To this day, I get the urge to play through it at least a couple times a year, and although the urge is also there for games like Final Fantasy VII, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (which I just finished again over the holidays), Alundra, and Super Mario Bros., it's never quite as sharp as it is with FFT. Now, I've always held firm to the entrenched belief that I would love FFT until the day I die; I will always get that unparalleled level of enjoyment out of it. And while I still haven't lost that love for the game, I'm starting to wonder if my belief is crucially flawed...

See, I just recently reviewed Eternal Poison, which is a traditional strat/RPG for the PS2. I'm well aware I got to it late, but after the insanity of October and November, it was ridiculously difficult to catch up (and I'm still behind on some things). Anyway, the game certainly has its fair share of issues, and I stand by everything I said in that review. However, today, I was driving down the road and started to wonder if I would've really loved that game ten years ago. It's basically the same thing as FFT, only with a little more in the way of off-the-field depth. Granted, FFT beats the crap out of it overall - superior story and characters, a better base gameplay system, better pacing, more freedom, etc, etc, etc. - but I always loved the grid-based strat/RPGs back then. I just adored the time-consuming micromanagement part of it, and I really liked planning out my attack well ahead of time. I keep wondering if something like Eternal Poison had come out back then...wouldn't I have enjoyed it immensely?

For instance, I have very fond memories of Vandal Hearts II, which I still maintain has one of the best scripts in video game history (no, seriously). It wasn't a masterpiece, though, and I still distinctly recall loving every last second of my 60-hour adventure. That being the case, I'm thinking I should pop it back in today to see if I get the same feeling... Thing is, I just got really bored of Eternal Poison, and ten years ago, I'm not sure I would've gotten bored at all. One can chalk up the difference to any number of factors, including age, the obvious advances in the game industry, the fact that I've greatly expanded my gaming tastes since the PS1 days, and that kind of thing. But I'm wondering if I'm clinging to a preference that is slowly but surely disappearing; although I believe I still get endless entertainment out of older games I previously listed, I'm beginning to consider a frightening change of heart. In another five years, will I still love FFT so much? Or will I just be lying to myself?

Some people find it hard to believe that I can list the three last-gen GTAs as some of my favorite games ever, and then say my favorite game ever is FFT. But genres have never really bothered me; if the game is great, I want to play it, regardless of the genre. There are a few exceptions (I'll never play a flight sim or a skateboarding game, for example), but for the most part, if I see a game scoring 9s, I wanna try it. In the PS1 days, all I wanted to do was play RPGs, so review scores didn't matter so much. This may account for something, but also remember that I hated FFT wannabes like Kartia and Tactics Ogre, so it's not like I just automatically liked every strat/RPG back then. And Eternal Poison wasn't a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination. But I just can't help thinking...considering my love for the Vandal Hearts games, unless they were significantly better than reviews said they were, why shouldn't I have liked Eternal Poison? I guess it worries me a little, in truth.

1/9/2009 Ben Dutka

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Comments (26 posts)

GoldenShadow
Friday, January 09, 2009 @ 10:26:56 PM
Reply

I have had similar thoughts in the past, and the conclusion about why I enjoy older games more than newer games of the same caliber is, quite simply, nostalgia. The excitement that I felt playing a game for the first time doesn't disappear on the next playthroughs. I absolutely loved a game the first time I played a game, I will most likely love it the second time through.

However, in this day and age the excitement that I feel playing a game that may be of a similar quality of an older game is lessened. For me, the reason that this occurs is the rising quality of games being released in the same time period. The recognition of achievement is part of my whole video gaming experience.

For me it won't be "lying to myself" by loving older games like FFT. If my mind is telling me that the game I am playing is awesome then I am going to keep on believing that it's awesome. If, by some unfortunate occurrence, playing FFT or similar games becomes more of a chore than a game then I will stop playing that game.

Last edited by GoldenShadow on 1/9/2009 10:34:27 PM

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, January 09, 2009 @ 10:36:33 PM
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Really great games, like anything else are timeless. However there is in our lives moments when we watch a movie we used to love or listen to a song we used to play nonstop and think "Why on earth did I like that?" But I assure you good times associated with Final Fantasy won't ever hit that category.

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bustin98
Friday, January 09, 2009 @ 11:17:38 PM
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This topic leads to why I feel some game reviews are broken.

There are games that are from previous generations and are completely playable, meaningful, just plain classic. They deserve high praise and never get old.

Then there are games that are the game of the moment. They may have awesome graphics, or just don't do much wrong, but the level of hype that comes like a tidal wave washes high scores all over the place. Once the tide goes back out, we're left with a game that was fun to get through but visiting again starts to feel like a chore, and those graphics we gushed over can now be found on 5 other games that have come out since and a new one just previewed is doing it one step better.

A good game is a good game, but the quality of a game is relative to its longevity.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, January 10, 2009 @ 12:05:43 AM

This implies that "good" games are all old and the only thing that new games have going for them is graphics. It insinuates that no current games can be the classics of tomorrow...and that's a seriously flawed argument.

Reviews can only go by the competition at the time.

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Scarecrow
Saturday, January 10, 2009 @ 3:16:26 AM

12, with the exception of FFXI

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eLLeJuss
Saturday, January 10, 2009 @ 12:44:44 AM
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ahhh.. i remember playing pokemon red for the first time xD.. it was a boy's dream come true :D..

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Scarecrow
Saturday, January 10, 2009 @ 3:16:50 AM

Hehe Pokemon Silver here :3

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Scarecrow
Saturday, January 10, 2009 @ 3:26:29 AM
Reply

Ben I think the best way to compare this is to music albums.

There are certain periods where games become classics and those games stay in that period.

So comparing older generation games to newer generation games is never good if you ask me.

It's like comparing thrash metal to like nu-metal.

It's hard to compare Super Mario Bros. to Mario Galaxy.

Still even my explanation isn't clear and then I'd say to myself "wish Mario Galaxy was more like Super Mario Bros." I'd actually love a Super Mario Bros like game more than another Mario Galaxy. Don't know if this is nostalgia or if it's because I feel it was a better experience...

In the end of the game sucks it just sucks, there were a lot of games like Eternal Poison on the ps1....and we didn't feel sorry for them.

Look at Valkyria Chronicles, it's a good game and we acknowledge it. So it's not like we've lost sense of what's good.

You know what I think we measure games by the console it's in.

Yup that's it, a Eternal Poison back then could've survived greatly.

Thousand Arms is probably my favorite ps1 rpg of all time. But I ask myself "would I love a game similar to Thousand Arms with the same graphics if it came out now?" Not sure and I don't think I would.

It all really does depend on the console and the time period.

For the record classics will forever be classics, you can never get bored of them.

PS: Wow I changed my thoughts like 3 times there, the last one I think is the best lol.

Last edited by Scarecrow on 1/10/2009 3:27:04 AM

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Skatejimmy5
Saturday, January 10, 2009 @ 4:43:47 AM
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I have the opposite taste myself, basically. I really dislike JRPG's, though I love RPG's like Elder Scrolls and Fallout (WRPG). Plus, skateboarding games is the favorite genre ever according to me (hence my username).

I do agree about flight sims though, I hate them. I have friends who play those kind of games, and I can't see what's the fun in them. But I guess we all have different tastes.

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Random_Steve
Saturday, January 10, 2009 @ 8:16:06 AM

Did u like skate-i really didnt like it. i liked the realism, i just hated the objectives you had to achieve. i also found it really boring

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K ASH
Saturday, January 10, 2009 @ 7:02:09 AM
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There are classic games which if think most of them are from 8 & 16 bit era because they are uncomplecated fun. Then from the 32 bit era onwards the are and there will be classics but most of them are what i call personal classics. I for one have a personal genrer that i like and 90% of the game that fall into that genre are classics to me.most of the time 2D FIGHTERS can never do me wrong. Can't wait for The King Of Fighters XII

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K ASH
Saturday, January 10, 2009 @ 7:21:10 AM
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Wich is the true next-gen 2d fighter.

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Aerifale
Saturday, January 10, 2009 @ 8:57:33 AM
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Ben, you and I must have quite different tastes as i bought Final Fantasy Tactics and found that i didn't like it at all lol I think I'm definately a gamer who moves with the times (not to say i don't have a few favoutrite oldies of my own)

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pavlovic
Saturday, January 10, 2009 @ 9:03:26 AM
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I think my first PS game was Resident Evil, I loved the game beat it a couple of times, after that played RE: Director's Cut, 2, 3 and Code Veronica. RE4? It's not my kind of game, I played RE4 long time after RE and I just felt let down. That game wasn't RE. My question is, if I would have played RE4 back in 1996/97 would I have liked it?

I know I want some commodore 64 remakes in HD, but I'm afraid I wouldn't enjoy those remakes as I enjoyed them 25 years ago.

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Akuma07
Sunday, January 11, 2009 @ 1:00:59 AM

i agree with you on RE4.

i loved all the RE games. from Zero - 3
but i just dont like 4, and i dont think ill like 5 either.
im a huge fan of the "if it aint broken, dont fix it" theory. and i think they broke the RE franchise.

i miss the days where i would sit here for hours and try to figure out the evil ambitions of the Umbrella Corporation, and how the T-virus was truely created/released.

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JohnnyGold
Saturday, January 10, 2009 @ 9:53:27 AM
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A lot of factors can influence the way you percieve things. You said that you were ridiculously behind in your work, and finally got around to reviewing a Eternal Poison... AND you were doing it as a job (no offense.)

I'm sure when you first played FFT, or Vandal Hearts, you were doing it recreationally, with no time frame imposed on you. In this case, you were under pressure, and were forced to scrutinize aspects of the title that you otherwise would have over looked.

To use a simple analogy... Imagine waking up in bed next to a supermodel and reading a book that the NYT said was the best book ever written while she lies asleep next to you. Now imagine reading that same book in a hospital waiting room while your mother is having open heart surgery.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, January 10, 2009 @ 10:28:04 AM

That's a good way of putting it, but playing games for recreation and for work isn't much different. Yeah, I may have to take notes and closely look at things with the latter, but I'm still trying to see if I have fun. Ultimately, if I do, it means that - even if the game has its drawbacks - I'm more likely to recommend it.

I basically sat down and played EP the same way I would've 10 years ago, and I knew what it was going in so I thought I'd really love it. But I didn't. I guess that's the point.

As for the supermodel, one can always dream. LOL

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mastiffchild
Saturday, January 10, 2009 @ 9:53:28 AM
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I know it's a different genre but the game suits the topic quite well and I'm talking about the original N64 Goldeneye FPS. Now, as far as FPS games go it's possibly the most influential of all time. With all the arguments between MS and Nintendo over ownership for VC perposes I thought I'd get out the old console and go down memory lane-so I did. It was really disappointing to be honest because even the most sluggish and fugly game of today makes it seem like a museum piece.
It can't change the great times we had back i the day but as far as replay for today goes it's a bust. Now some genres aren't as effected by this. I played OoT through last year and it was just as great as the first time so I guess adventure and RPG games(esp if the srtstyle is distinctive so it doesn't date so much)along with some 8-bit platformers(MM, Sonic,Mario etc)can stand the test of graphical time with more ease and grace. Those games that depend more on great stories and freedom(or pixel perfect jumps and timing)retain more of their freshness whereas action and FPS titles have changed far more with tech advances just because of their nature.
In a good RPG the combat isn't always as important as the script and experience all round and to this day many retain a strict turn based system which tech can't effect so much-perhaps that's why people returning to those have more joy-ou can't improve a story with faster tech or a bigger HDD.
I might be wrong but there has to be an elemant to what I say that holds water.

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Dante399
Saturday, January 10, 2009 @ 10:16:23 AM
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yeah I love that game too, FFT was a love at first sight (have beaten it many times) just like MGS1, LOD, FF8 and DMC. Great story with awesome gameplay.

u know 11 years ago I spent months trying to convince my friends that FFVII and FFT were really great games but of no avail. Looking back now I see that those same friends have become even more addicted on JRPGs than me!
How ironic.

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Fane1024
Saturday, January 10, 2009 @ 2:55:58 PM

(follow-up to earlier post)

Ben, THIS is a good example of irony. ;)

I have to agree with the general consensus that it is mostly nostalgia which makes people so fond of outdated games, except for FFT, which is just awesome.

I've said this before, but I'll say it again: I never played FF7 back in the day and when I did play it (after FF10), I found it so outdated and tedious that I couldn't get past the Saucer before I quit. Admittedly, that means I didn't see the key moment that probably makes everyone so fond of it (which I won't spoil like someone did for me, in case anyone doesn't know what it is), but I just don't see why anyone wants a remake.

FFTactics, on the other hand, which I played right after I stopped FF7, had a magic to it (despite many flaws) that I do believe will persist. My most desired game is probably a Final Fantasy Tactics 2, though I doubt it would live up to the version I've created in my head and on paper. Hell, I bought a GBA-SP just for FFTA.

Last edited by Fane1024 on 1/10/2009 3:10:30 PM

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, January 10, 2009 @ 3:55:31 PM

Yeah, well, I guess that's the point. I suppose because you played FFVII so late, it doesn't hold the same value for you. For me, I played it when it came out and I adore it to this day...so maybe nostalgia plays a more important role than we all care to admit.

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Zorigo
Saturday, January 10, 2009 @ 10:19:17 AM
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game preferences change. i never though of myself liking fps's as much as i do.

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LightShow
Saturday, January 10, 2009 @ 1:53:14 PM
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i find that Jak and Daxter: the Precursor Legacy occupies the same spot in my heart that FFT does for ben. it's STILL fun, even after all the playthroughs I've put into it. A bunch of other games i loved to death, however, aren't aging as well.

I think its the straightforward games that age the best, if only because there isnt much for time and nostalgia to distort. FFT, J&D, Castlevania, Mario, while all great games, are fairly straightforward in execution. They most definitely fit in the mold of their genre, and often CREATED the mold for their genre.

so, the point is that perhaps the reason our favorite games age better than others because we loved them for what they were back then, not for what we perceived them to be...

*Harvest Moon 64 FTW*

Last edited by LightShow on 1/10/2009 1:54:16 PM

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Fane1024
Saturday, January 10, 2009 @ 3:20:25 PM

I wish Jak and Daxter didn't have what I call bottlenecks (moments of increased difficulty that one is required to pass in order to progress), because I really enjoyed 90% of the game. Unfortunately, the other 10% (e.g., the first zoomer ride through the lava area) took more actual time to complete, making the overall experience aversive rather than enjoyable, so I just quit it as well.

BTW, FF7 and J&D are two of the very few games that I have mostly finished but not. I've got plenty where I've played a little bit and then got pulled to another game, but few where I've just become fed-up and quit.

J&D is the ONLY game I've ever traded-in because I didn't want to play it again. Which makes me sad, because I want to finish the story.

Last edited by Fane1024 on 1/10/2009 3:22:22 PM

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Scarecrow
Saturday, January 10, 2009 @ 9:28:16 PM

Love the Jak series
And yeah Jak2 and Jak3 were hard as hell :X

I probably died a few 50+ times in that game, maybe even more lol.

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rell
Sunday, January 11, 2009 @ 1:00:22 AM
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I love old games sony need to put classic on the psn, my favorites are xenogears, ffvii, ffviii,FFT legend of legaia, legend of dragoon, wild arms 2, suikedon, intelligent cube, enhinder. I appreciate these games and can't help but to brag to the next gen that these games I like are better then some of these new generation game, story wise the next gen rpg's has come up short some stories don't have that finess like old gen rpg's.

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