Memory Lane

We’ve all experienced it. The actual idea can come from a myriad of sources: reminiscing with friends, casual web surfing, spring cleaning. One way or another the idea gets into our head, which is something akin to: “You know what? I haven’t played that game in YEARS! Let’s go for it.” Next thing you know you’re jacking in the old system and listening to the, seemingly, ancient start up sounds (“Se-ga!” comes to mind).  From this point on, you’re sucked in. Dated sound effects, admittedly sub-par graphics, and gameplay that now feels clunky in light of recent advancements do nothing but help to transport you back in time. I look at it as taking a step back and re-examining your roots; it may not be the peak of gaming nirvana, but it sure as hell makes for one damn fine weekend.

This feeling usually catches up with me every two or three years. The gaming industry moves faster than Sonic himself and it’s not uncommon for me to feel like I’m simply being dragged along for the ride. I was speaking with a friend of mine recently about the upcoming games we were looking forward to; from us flowed excess amounts of excitement for the likes of Mass Effect, Portal and others, which I’m sure a vast number of others are also looking forward to. When we mentioned the Batman sequel, a third companion of mine looked over and said “Wait, didn’t the first one just come out?” While it’s true a game released less than two years ago may still feel new to someone not as dedicated to the pad as others, it made me try and come up with why a sequel was already due. The only explanation I had for him was that the  game industry moves so fast, if it didn’t keep in our faces, it was doomed to be forgotten. Yearly releases are becoming more and more common, even amongst big name titles like Call of Duty, in addition to the already established sport releases that grace us annually. Add to that the constant stream of other unrelated games, releases new and old are simply washed away by the outpouring of products vying for your buck. Taking a break from the rush may not be the most effective way of screaming “fuck you” in the face of ‘The Man’, but it certainly helps to keep things in perspective.

Seriously? A sequel already... are you dicking with me?!

Like most other entertainment mediums, the gaming library of yore is filled with titles both memorable for their sheer amazing execution of digital bliss, and those that are unforgettable simply because of how god forsakenly terrible they were. I often replay games that were not only memorable on their own, but also hold some kind of personal story to them. When I play Mortal Kombat on my PS one, I’m taken straight back to a time nearly a decade ago when my friend Mitchel and I sat around the soft glow of the TV in the wee hours of the morning; during a rather intense match I impulsively yelled aloud “Stop touching me!” This surprised my mate to the point where he simply stopped playing in order to look at me in confusion. He was under the impression that, somehow, I was actually being touched. Playing through Super Mario World on the SNES transports me to the desert of my youth, as a cousin and I tried to escape the summer heat by conquering the dangers of the Mushroom Kingdom.

It doesn’t always have to be “old” games either. I have fond memories that are too numerous to even attempt cataloging from the countless hours I’ve spent playing the first two Halo installments with my high school friends. These involve a range of ridiculous events, from the inclusion of the theme song from Indiana Jones, the title of “Freakin Ninja” being passed around freely, and a hilarious outing of one of our collective attempting to play while on a painkiller high (they were prescribed!!). To me, it’s the time we have with the games, with each other, just as much the quality of the game itself that makes a bit of code contained in some plastic much more than that, and turns it into something that leaves a lasting impression on us and, if we’re lucky, on the entire gaming industry as a whole.

So next time you find yourself with some free time, or if you’re browsing through the library of your current gaming system, or hell, even if you are just really effing bored, take some time stroll down your gaming memory lane. Keep from being overwhelmed by the “NEW NEW NEW” and instead, embrace what made you love gaming in the first place, and why you continue to love it even now.




Last five articles by Adam R

  

8 Comments

  1. Samuel says:

    I couldn’t agree more. My PS1, Gamecube, and SEGA Megadrive are all just a plug away from being connected when the mood takes me, and the rest of my older consoles and handhelds aren’t buried in storage either. Old doesn’t always mean boring or obsolete.

  2. theJimmy says:

    that was beautiful.
    almost brought a tear to my eye

  3. Stu says:

    I’m afraid I’m one of those gamers that drops obsolete consoles like hot coals when I have a suitable replacement. I often think back to my favourite era of gaming (Elite, Wing Commander, UFO: Enemy Unknown, etc) but I refuse to go near them now after I went back to an old game and it ruined all of my fond memories. I couldn’t get past the dated graphics, clunky control and extremely simplistic things we take for granted like collision detection, AI, etc.

    I consume modern re-imaginings of those games on day one but none of them lived up to the rose-tinted view of the original games. I also want to keep those fond memories alive, and so not to have the last few pieces of my childhood destroyed (I already lost Santa, tooth fairies, the idea I could be whoever I wanted to be) I will forever compare the quality of a game with the amount of time spent playing it (and enjoying it) and the number of times I replay it (even when maxed) when putting them against the older ones. Perhaps I forget it was probably because I only had a new game every few months as opposed to the constant releases now that I played them so much, but it matters not. In my mind they were the ultimate games and I often wonder if in 15 years time people will be saying “Remember Mass Effect? Let’s put it on!”? I have a horrible feeling that the constant exposure to new games, constant sequels and DLC plus the soon to be obligatory online components will render the simple act of plugging in an old game impossible (and judging by EA’s online retirement strategy for games like LOTR conquest, the servers won’t exist for a year, let alone 5).

    In some ways I want to throw myself backwards and re-live the good old days, but at the same time I know I’ve changed in those years gone by and I don’t want to taint that which I remember so well.

    :)

  4. rich says:

    Yeah retro is all good. Especially when new games are all zombie horde mode DJ Striker DLC infested fucking pieces of absolute shit.

    Bomb Jack for the win.

  5. Adam says:

    I can be weird with old games, I love them but like with Stu, once something has done it better, it just makes me want to move on from that and go back to the future.

    I love Mass Effect 1, its a legendary game that changed the RPG for me and I’ll be thanking it for many years to come. It has a great story, great script, cool sequences and the greatest characters of all time. It also has a fuck awful combat system, piss poor inventory UI, dog shite jogging movement and is filled with far too much guff. I went back to it recently and it nearly killed me to run the whole thing but I was determined to do it purely so it fed into Mass Effect 2 how I wanted it to.

    Retro is loose for me. I love the games, love the memories but I changed in the years since game x was released and I can’t ever hope to go back

  6. Lorna says:

    I still have most of my retro consoles and ‘puters stashed away in various places in the house and stacks of games and mags cluttering up every available space. It can be hard to find the time to go back to older games, though the desire is there. Often, I tend to choose one of the many games from my tottering current gen ‘to play’ pile, rather than a retro title.

    When I do go back though, it can be made more difficult thanks to new TVs making things look more appalling than I ever remembered them, but it doesn’t really rob any of the charm from the experience. One of the things that I noticed was how easily I could blast through some of them. Three years ago I actually dug out my original Game Boy and played Supermarioland. I nailed it first time through – granted, I didn’t remember every secret and shortcut – but when I beat the end boss, I remembered wondering if it had ever been that easy… I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t.

    I have a great love and respect for retro titles, and those games which helped immerse me in gaming, that form core parts of my gaming and, indeed, life memories. As such, they may waver a little int he test of time, but they are always worht a play, for what the represent as much as the games themselves.

  7. Edward says:

    Brilliant article, Adam! :D

    I completely agree with this kind of outlook, and it’s precisely why I still like to give the N64 some regular loving in the form of revisiting Ocarina of Time, Goldeneye, Mario Kart, or trying to beat Majora’s Mask and Banjo Tooie…

    It’s something we should form a weekend for, or something! :D

  8. MarkuzR says:

    What’s funny about this is that I have that “A sequel… already!?” moment quite often. I think the first time I really had that immediate WTF expression was when Left4Dead2 was announced as it only seemed like a week since the original was released. For me it was the video game equivalent of America’s Next Top Model where one “cycle” finishes and three months later we have yet another new series on screen. Worse yet was Hell’s Kitchen USA, which announced a winner and then three or four weeks later the doors opened once more, with a new bunch of hopefuls.

    Gaming seems to be pretty good when it comes to spacing out sequels for the most part. When I think about how long we’ve waited for certain franchises to produce another link in the chain, it leaves me with a sense of comfort to think that they’re taking their time over it to get it right. There are, of course, so many that just seem to vomit out release after release to the point where you know that they MUST be heavily diluted by now. There are only so many times you can copy from one VCR to another before the image becomes unrecognisable, and I think this may end up being the case for some franchises in time.

    I love my old machines though. I love that we have so many retro consoles and computers in the house, and not from a desire to simply collect either… these are machines that we grew up with, machines that helped grow our love for gaming, and we STILL go back and play them. As I’ve said on countless comments, and within numerous articles, I will always install UFO: Enemy Unknown on a new PC or laptop before I install any other game. I’ve been playing it since release and, unless something drastic happens to my taste, I’ll continue to do so.

    If only for the sake of nostalgia, we should all doff our hats to the games that made gaming what it is, even if it’s just once every few years.

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