Gaming Nostalgia

Isn’t new technology great? The gaming world has tripped happily along from the days of three buttons and a joystick to the wonderful world of Wii motion sensors, and is now making covert inroads in the niche markets of facially activated controls and a console that allows you to literally steer with your penis (research has not yet revealed whether the ‘Joydick’ comes with a box of tissues). Viva la technological revolution.

Games last longer, look more realistic (if we quietly ignore Wii Sports, which I hope you’ll agree we should) and have hugely expanded the number of things you can make explode within the comfort of your own home.

No longer the days of squinting mournfully at your Gameboy in an attempt to discover what the tiny bundle of pixels you just obliterated were supposed to resemble (it was a turtle, which makes perfect sense, because plumbers obviously hate turtles), and no longer can we take short cuts through walls that aren’t actually there because the game’s creators forgot to make them solid.

And yet, I’m just going to have to come out and say it. I miss those pixels, damn it. I miss Tetris, and I suspect I’m not the only one. I miss Super Mario 64, I miss Goldeneye as only a repressed rage addict cooped up in a small, dark room can, and I would say that I missed Ocarina of Time if I weren’t in the process of hooking up my laptop so that I can play it once the dreaded exams are over.

I miss the second Tekken more than I miss the third, because getting a bear to fart on your opponent is overrated (who knew?), and I miss Lara Croft before her boobs weren’t pointy. I even miss Snake II.

In my sordid little heart of hearts, the gazillionth Call Of Duty or Fallout or Skyward Sword or Mario Has A Dance Revolution In A Galaxy Space Rocket Race With All His Pals XVIII just doesn’t cut it.

There have been amazing advances in gaming technology, from the aforementioned Joydick to items that are actually appropriate for people who want to find love some day, like Viva Pinata (nothing says ‘I would make an excellent husband’ like rearing cardboard horses for slaughter together). But all these new, dazzling changes are actually sucking the fun (yes, I am suppressing the urge to make a crass joke about the Joydick here) out of gaming.
Instead of screw-ups, we get easter eggs, which would be really great if they didn’t leave you feeling cheated of the stick-it-to-the-Man thrill of randomly climbing into empty space because you can.

Slicker communication between international companies mean that hilarious errors of translation are a thing of the past, but you have to admit that “we now have possession of all of your bases” is a pretty flaccid statement.

And, frankly, there’s something slightly worrying about gaming technology that is significantly smarter than you are witnessing your terrifying bloodlust, particularly if you’ve watched The Matrix within the last year.

The longstanding appeal of the Nintendo 64/Playstation era games lies in the perfect balance between the obsessive button-mashing pull of the early arcade games and the darker narrative edge of later creations.

Whilst modern titles might have the edge on realism, the more realistic Call Of Duty gets, the more traumatised you will eventually be when you best friend is blown up right in front of you, innards actually staining your clothing with reeking faeces and blood, and he clutches your hand and says “Johnny (your name is now Johnny)…I want you to tell Sally…I…lo-AAAraarghspleeeeurgh.” There is no going back to finding Anju’s cuccos THEN. You’ve seen some things.

Whilst now gamers often have to choose between the chaotic slaughter of the ‘adult’ games or the sickening adorability of Animal Crossing and co, back in the day it was possible to be violently humped by zombies on one level and then happily chase chickens on another, in the same game. Since we aren’t a nation of serial killers just yet, I think it can be safely assumed that none of it did us any harm. We patronise the youth of today when we thrust ambling puppies down their throats without tossing the odd moon-crash or mutating laboratory experiment in there for afters.

I’m not convinced that the appeal of the older games lies simply in their dating from a simpler time, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and ‘dissertation’ sounded like something sweet you ate after dinner. The fact is, they are just plain awesome.
So, while it might not be cool to admit you prefer the soft buzz of a rumble pak to the unblinking eye of the Wii, or that any dressing down by Sergeant Foley in Call Of Duty can be outclassed by the subtle racism of “It’sa me, Mario!” there’s nothing stopping you covertly firing up the old consoles this summer behind closed curtains with the door locked. It’ll be exactly like being 13 again.


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