RPGs More Susceptible To Nostalgia?
Many hardcore role-playing fans often bemoan the loss of old-school RPGs, especially those that featured "archaic" mechanics. But over the years, I've noticed this particular genre is especially susceptible to the rose-colored tinge of nostalgia, while action/adventure games, on the other hand...
I suppose it depends on the game, but I'm going to use a personal example- this past week, I went and downloaded Fighting Force from the PlayStation Store. It was a game I really liked back in the day; I went through it at least a dozen times, just for the fun of it. You could rip through it in less than an hour, I think, and I enjoyed beating the snot out of everyone in this 3D version of Streets of Rage. I couldn't wait to play again. And because I often go back and play various PS1 games, I didn't expect to be shocked...but oh, dear Lord...
Even knowing I would have to re-program my brain and make certain allowances, I found it almost unplayable. We aren't just spoiled; we've been playing what amounts to entirely different forms of interactive entertainment. And as I'm sitting there, wondering if I should make a sandwich in the time it takes my character to punch, and trying to remember how I dealt with a camera that would routinely make half the foes invisible, I thought- "but why do I not have any trouble with Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy Tactics, or Castlevania: Symphony of the Night?" Ah, the answer was quick and obvious- the latter three games involved a lot more than gameplay, which is all something like Fighting Force subsisted on.
Storylines, characters, atmospheres, and mechanics that don't seem to age keep games entertaining for the fans. Turn-based never seems to get old for me, because it was never an issue of graphics or camera or control; it was mostly about thinking. Experiencing FFVII is more about the memorable characters and the story. SotN is beautiful side-scrolling that can't get much better. But when it comes to action games, where gameplay is basically all that matters (especially in the old days), there's just no comparison. I know it's blasphemy to say but I really can't play the original Metal Gear Solid anymore. And I can't see any reason to play Gran Turismo 2 ever again.
But RPGs like the ones I mentioned and Shadow Hearts and Legaia and what have you; games that put story, character, and unique mechanics that emphasize thought more than technical superiority in the limelight...they are the recipient of more nostalgia. It makes far more sense. I deleted Fighting Force; I really can't play it. But I'll even play FFVI or Chrono Trigger on the SNES and I don't believe it's all due to personal preference. I repeat: I loved Fighting Force. No, it's just because RPGs have always - and should always - continue to give us a multitude of reasons to play besides mechanical and technical foundations.
P.S. One game that seems resistant to this theory is Twisted Metal 2. I can still play it and love it.
3/4/2011 Ben Dutka