Seeing all of the Metroid I hate being flung around has put this topic on my mind.
What makes a game age well? What makes a game age poorly? Is nostalgia the biggest factor of your enjoyment of an old title?
Feel free to share any of your experiences. I'll start with one: StarTropics. A very divisive game. Never played it back in the day, bought it on VC. It was clunky by modern standards, but still eminently playable, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. In fact, I found it's lack of mercy to be quite refreshing. That's how most of the games that I was introduced to on the VC feel to me: refreshing. It seems that many of the modern tenets of game design annoy me.
A counter-example: Beyond Oasis. Blech. Interesting in concept. Horrible in execution. Actually, much of the Sega Genesis Collection gave me that impression.
Begin the Segacide!
But first, let's go back to good ol', controversial ol' Metroid 1. When I played that game, it was like a nuclear bomb. Just so fresh and innovative and incredible, and, at the time, I was so receptive to that type of exploratory experience. And, like StarTropics, I feel like the game design generally accounts for those 'antiquated' elements. But maybe it's almost impossible for a new player to appreciate things like the Ice Beam and Morph Ball after the game has had so many sequels.
On the other hand, I got the 3D Classics version of Twinbee, which is significantly more simple than the sequels that I am familiar with. But I can appreciate it for what it is.
So it seems that I am capable of enjoying an old game, as long as the design is solid (or NOT enjoying one, if it's a Sega game). The question is, can I personally overcome the power of nostalgia? I'm trying to think of a game that I loved before, but hate now (or vice versa), and I'm having some difficulty. So either my judgment was always coolly rational, or I can't separate out my happy memories.
How about you guys? What's your take on vintage games?
Goldeneye and Perfect Dark are both very antiquated.
Nah, for me, these are some of the most replayable N64 games and FPSes. I love the stealth-based gameplay and wide variety of weaponry (two things that have since died out), not to mention the sheer volume of stuff to do in the games. I don't think I'll ever get tired of PD.
A lot of N64 games do feel pretty old and chunky at this point though, mainly due to the graphics and early 3D training ground feel. I feel like I can't play 99% of Atari games either--that's the point where it's just too old for me.
Metroid has a lot of things about it that have aged poorly (or maybe were never that good to begin with), like having to sit at a pot and shoot enemies for 10 minutes to get your health back up.
I think a lot of games like Donkey Kong Jr., Ice Hockey, and ExciteBike haven't aged well, not due to the core gameplay lacking per se, but due to the fact that really... you play these games for 30 minutes and you have pretty much experienced everything they have to offer.
I've been playing a lot of older FPSs lately, and I feel they've generally aged quite well. Doom and Doom II are still infinitely playable today, and Duke Nukem 3D in particular is an absolutely amazing game. I guess for some people Wolfenstein 3D might not have aged as well since it's very simple (only four weapons total, only a few different enemy types, most levels looking very similar to each other, etc.), but I still enjoy it. One of the major things I love about these games is how nonlinear they are. You often have to look all over the place in each level in order to find the path to the next exit, or to find hidden secrets. I often felt in Duke Nukem 3D that the things I was having to do in order to simply make it to the next level, were things that if they were in any other game, they would be the means of discovering hidden secrets the programmers put in. But in Duke Nukem 3D, those incredibly obscure, unconventional methods were simply part of how you make it to the next stage. I think of it as a rather intelligently-designed FPS; I feel it's rather underrated today (particularly since many people like to bash Duke Nukem Forever today; I haven't played it yet, but regardless of that game's quality, Duke Nukem 3D is still incredible).
One old FPS that I feel really hasn't aged too well in comparison to those games, despite ironically being more advanced than those games, is GoldenEye 007. It can also be somewhat freeform at times, but I don't think its design is nearly as tight as Duke Nukem 3D's or Doom's. It's quite easy to end up doing something which results in you failing a stage over and over, and with the way the levels are designed, it's like you're shooting in the dark in order to try and figure out what is actually necessary to make it to the end of a stage. Also some levels will endlessly send respawning enemies at you, which can be a total pain to deal with, given GoldenEye's control setups. I found 1.2 to have the best controls (I moved with the d-pad, while aiming the sole analog stick with my right thumb, occasionally moving it awkwardly to the A and B buttons to reload/switch weapons, and using L to precision-aim), but even that isn't quite perfect. Often the game will intend for you to sneak around and use stealth (most notoriously in Bunker 2) to avoid the constantly-respawning enemies, but the stealth mechanics aren't immediately apparent to the player. I didn't realize until going online that you could fire a single shot from the KF7 Soviet without alerting guards, which made sneaking around much easier from that point on. I had some fun with GoldenEye once I really started to get the hang of things, but its learning curve is not as well-designed as prior FPS games, in my opinion. There's also the technical difficulties to deal with to this day, such as the incredibly low framerate and the limitations a single analog stick bring into the game.
EDIT: When it comes to old pre-NES era games, I still think most of those games are fun to this day; it just depends on how well you're able to handle the differences in design concept compared to how most games are today. People didn't play games back then in order to see everything they had to offer; they played them in order to get as good at the game as they could possibly be. I personally think those types of games can be quite fun, even though I wasn't around to experience them back when they were new. Games like Frogger, Food Fight, Galaga, Donkey Kong/Donkey Kong Jr., Centipede/Millipede, etc. I think are awesome. It feels great when you manage to set a new high score in one of those games.
Deus Ex just came out and is all about stealthy, open-ended gameplay (if you decide to play it that way). So it's not totally dead. Are you saying that the number of available weapons was higher or that you could carry and swap between more weapons or maybe perhaps that it had more unique weapons?
Regardless, it's not those aspects of the games that are outdated now anyway. Graphics and Audio are a given but that's forgivable since hardware and standards change. The multiplayer is absolutely broken by today's standards and the controls are needlessly complicated. Why have a bounding box on the screen for an analog input? It just makes no sense.
Hmm. I can't really speak on all of that, since I didn't find Toejam & Earl to be very entertaining back in the day. Maybe they are parodies, maybe they are a result of the era in which they were conceived, maybe I'm missing something about the game... but myeh. Yeah, 'timeless' probably isn't the right word, but in my honest opinion, that character design is so terribly off-putting it actually ruins the rest of the game for me. Well, that and the slow, jerky animation and the random wandering around picking up doodads gameplay. But that's another topic, and of course entirely subjective.
Those old games were games in their purest sense. It wasn't about trying to wow you with the next new world or challenge. It was about this ONE task, and the player perfecting his or her ability with that one task. Like... I dunno. Solitare, I guess? Pinball? Sports in general? I'm not entirely sure, but they're about achieving high scores, not about an epic journey or something like that.
But there are no high scores in Ice Hockey, and ExciteBike's save feature NEVER FREAKING WORKED so you couldn't really save high scores there. I guess DK Jr. has high scores but you'd have to just keep playing the same stages over and over to get a high score. I honestly never run out of lives in that game, I just get bored when I've played through the same stages a few times and stop.
I love high score games, but I don't think these three really fit the bill.
I've been going back and re-trying out a lot of my older games. Well, not so much NES, and SNES has aged fairly well in a lot of cases. Man does Donkey Kong 64 feel like crap--even more than it did then. It's a polished game, huge world, tons of variety--no doubt. But my goodness, does it run bad and the controls just feel sloppy. I plopped SM64 in right after, and that game still controls much like a dream. The actual game has grown sort of old to me, but the controls are still top-notch for the time.
I'm surprised nobody has mentioned aesthetics. I tried to play Deus Ex earlier this year and the game looked so bad it made it gave me a headache in some instances. It looks like somebody puked and defecated all over the floor and wall. It's that bad.
In fact, a lot of the early 3D games aged more poorly than contemporary 2D games because of visuals.
All I know is, when I was a kid playing ToeJam and Earl, we liked those two characters because we thought they were hilarious out-of-touch posers. They might as well have been named Milli and Vanilli. If it wasn't intentional, then SEGA was so far behind the curve that they ended up ahead of it. This was 1991, after all. That's the same year Nevermind came out and swept the hair bands away.
Yeah, in the case of Ice Hockey (a sports game of course) the point of that wasn't really to beat the computer; it was to practice so you could beat your friends. Just like real sports! And uh, I suppose like fighting games, too. Ice Hockey was out long before the fighting genre really took off.
Excitebike was all about top-scores right? In the effect of low lap times? I thought that's what the game was all about - it wasn't even really about racing. But yeah, the inability to save any of that was a bummer, to say the least. In any case, a large majority of games from that era (and shortly before that era) were just high-score attack games. Because that's all games were back then. For the most part. And THAT kind of game design still works, I think. (YMMV)
I mean, Tetris is still fun, right? And maybe I'm alone in this, but I love that Donkey Kong Jr. was an Ambassador game - being able to fire that one up and see how long I can last is super-fun. Same with newer released games, like Geometry Wars and the retro-revival Pac-Man: Championship Edition.
Maybe I'm just a sucker for those old, high-score kind of games. I downloaded Game & Watch: Donkey Kong Jr. on DSiWare and I get a kick out of playing that, too. (not sure if that's nostalgia or not though, to be honest)
@kriswright@Cubed777 Aside from the camera controls, which aren't perfect since it uses the digital C-buttons, I agree. And I was just about to liken it to Super Mario Bros. Despite being over 25 years old, that game still controls just as well as (or even better than) any other 2D platformer out there. Level designs have improved and there are more power ups and new abilities, but when you get right down to it, SMB's core mechanics don't feel any less tight than any Mario game to come after it.
Bad game design for sure. Also, era-specific nods and references. This mostly applies to old sports games - those games get dated within a year's time. Sometimes less.
Yeah, but what about games that we enjoyed back then? I find it difficult to go back to N64 games now, but back when they released, a lot of them were a blast. Some of them still hold up (Ocarina of Time, Mario 64, and Banjo-Kazooie to name a few), but just because a game has aged poorly, does that mean it was a bad game at the time? I don't necessarily think so. It's just that game design has progressed so much that it might seem bad in comparison to games now.
@GameDadGrant "Tetris" isn't still fun to me though. Only Tetris DS which has like a billion modes and the ability to play against other people locally and online and yada yada. I'd never sit around playing Brick Gameboy Tetris nowadays.
But then, I was never the biggest Tetris fan to begin with. I didn't really get into it until Tetris DS and its billion modes.
Anyway, point is, in this day and age it's tough to sit around playing something like Ice Hockey. The question is has it aged well? And I don't think it has. We expect more from games nowadays.
Ice Hockey is still fun IMO (as is Blades of Steel!) but I suppose my nostalgia factors into that quite a bit. We probably wouldn't accept this particular game as a *new* game, but it's not like hockey games in general don't have an audience. Right?
I think this game could be fun for a new, modern audience if the graphics were polished up. Y'know, as a downloadable for the iPhone or even Nintendo's eShop. A quick, fun arcade-style sports game you can get for a few bucks? Heck yeah, people would eat that up. At least, I would hope so.