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Being a Gamer VS Being a Retro Gamer

by Ziggy587 Mon Apr 08, 2019 9:18 am

I think I've finally crossed some kind of figurative line into being almost exclusive with retro gaming.

There's been threads in the past discussing this sort of thing, and my usual thoughts were "Pft, what's the big deal?" For the longest while, I didn't consider myself a "retro gamer" or any kind of labeled gamer. I just considered myself a gamer, and that I would play whatever game I felt like playing despite the era or whatever.

Let's use food to try and draw and analogy. If you're hungry in the morning you might be in the mood for bacon and eggs, or maybe cereal. If it's the middle of the day, you might feel like having a sandwich. When you come home from work, if it's the summer you might be in the mood for a steak on the BBQ with a baked potato. But if it's the winter you might want a pot roast and mashed potatoes. Or if it's kinda rainy and you're sick, maybe chicken soup. Now let's mix it up. You go to a restaurant. You might want to play it safe and order something you know you'll like. Or, maybe you're feeling adventurous and don't mind trying something crazy off the menu.

Point is, you eat what you feel like eating. Say your frying pan is your PS3, and your new George Foreman grill is your PS4. What, you can never use your frying pan ever again? If you get the feeling for a certain dish, you don't NOT make it because it would require your old cookware. This is how I've always felt about games. I've always played new games as they've been released, but I just simply never got rid of my old games. So instead of only having 1 or 2 modern consoles at any given time, I have an arsenal of console that I've amassed over the years. I just considered them all video games. Not old or new, or retro or whatever. Just video games, period.

Things seemed to have changed for me, though. Or maybe it's that things have been changing gradually for some years now. Small things here and there, but now it's enough that I've finally noticed that things are different.

I think the biggest point I have to make is my PS4. In October or November of 2018, I purchased the Red Dead Redemption 2 PS4 bundle. I also picked up The Last of Us Remastered and Grand Theft Auto V since I've yet to play either. My brother gifted me Mortal Kombat XL for Christmas, and I have since picked up the Spyro trilogy. Well, I haven't played any of those games! I played about 30-60 minutes of Red Dead, but that was just enough to get through the hand-holding part in the beginning. I played GTA5 just long enough to get to the first save point, then decided I wasn't in the mood. The other games are still in the shrink wrap (well, except for Last of Us because I bought it used, but yeah).

So far, the only games I've really played on my PS4 are old games that I've played to death already. I downloaded Castlevania Requiem on day 1, and I played the hell out of the two games. Which is funny, because these are two games that I've already played a whole lot. Especially Symphony of the Night, I've played through this game more times than I know. So I have this brand new PS4 Pro that I paid $400 for, and a handful of PS4 games that I paid more money for, but I'm playing these two Castlevania games that I've played a zillion times already (and that I own several times over as well).

But it gets better. I now own my PS4 for about 6 months, and I still haven't played any of the PS4 games that I own. Instead, I decided to get Grand Theft Auto III. Another game that I already own, and a game that I've played to death already. So I paid $400 for my PS4, and so far I've only played 3 games that I already own and could have played any time I want. Well, granted, GTA3 is in HD, but I could have also got the PC version on Steam.

The thing is, I had a blast playing these games on the PS4.

December 2017, my brother got me a Nintendo Switch for Christmas, and someone else got me Super Mario Odyssey. I played through Odyssey and had a blast. Since then, I've bought myself a ton of Switch games. I must have at least a dozen. And... with the exception of Odyssey, I haven't played any of them! Almost all of them are still in their shrink wrap!

Now, it's not that I don't want to play these games. I very much do. But like I said, I think it's a few things that have gradually changing over time.

One thing that I can't ignore is that the time I spend gaming is at an all time low, and it has been dropping (probably steadily) over the years. I'll binge here and there, but the space between has been getting larger. And the space between is probably more often. For example, I've been playing GTA3 this past week, but this is the first time I'm gaming since January. I played a lot of retro games in January, but I haven't touched a video game since. Well, not counting classic DOOM.

It's not that I feel like playing video games any less, it's just that I have other stuff to do. And I don't just mean in the way that you have less gaming time as an adult than as a kid. Well, there is that. But it's also that when I do have free time to game, there's other hobbies I want to do.

Another thing I've noticed, and this is especially with Red Dead Redemption II and Grand Theft Auto V, is that I don't care for the graphics. They're TOO good. Does anyone else feel this way? Let me try to explain...

I played a shit ton of GTA3 on the PS2 when it first came out. Just countless hours. When I got my PS3, I played through GTA4. I didn't spend countless hours playing it, but I did roll the credits and do a number of side missions or just sand boxing. So it's safe to say that I enjoy GTA games. So why no interest in GTA5? Could it be that the type of game just doesn't interest me anymore? Well, no, because I just enjoyed playing GTA3. Or was GTA3 just nostalgia? Did I REALLY enjoy GTA3, or was it just something that made me remember my past?

Back to the graphics though. When I was checking out GTA5 briefly, I got to the first save point then I wanted to just sand box for a while. There was something about it that just put me off. It was like there was TOO much detail. It was just confusing to look at, and kept me from getting immersed. Now, I fired up GTA3 and I find it actually more playable with the lack of detail. I kinda felt the same way about Red Dead 2, that it looks TOO nice. Is this me turning into "Get off my lawn!" or is there something to this I wonder?

Not to be a Nintendo fan boy, but I don't find this same problem with Nintendo games. The Switch games are the same resolution, but the art style is cartoonish instead of photo realistic. I had no problem focusing when playing Mario Odyssey, but I had trouble focusing when playing Red Dead 2 or GTA5. It's not that Mario Odyssey wasn't MUCH more detailed than, say, Mario Galaxy. But the art style just feels like a video game to me.

Do this make sense to anyone else?

I kinda lost my train of thought at this point (I'm at work and keep getting interrupted). But I've noticed the graphics thing a few times over the years. Even with my PS3, I would fire up the PS2 and think, "THIS looks more like a video game!" Is there something to this? Or do I need to take my rose tinted glasses off? I'm not sure how to describe my exact feelings. But it seems like the closer a game gets to photo realism, the less it feels like a game to me. Like my brain is wired to think that a video game is an intentionally fake thing. I'd hate to think this is just the start of me becoming a cranky old man. In the case of Red Dead 2 or GTA5, I found the detail distracting to the gameplay. Is this me aging out? Or is there some actual fact there?

Anyway, I have something like 1-2 dozen Switch and PS4 games that I want to play but just don't have enough motivation or something. Yet, I have no problem getting sucked into a retro game.
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Re: Being a Gamer VS Being a Retro Gamer

by Gunstar Green Mon Apr 08, 2019 11:46 am

Retro games tend to offer more immediacy and less concern regarding whether or not you finish them (not that there isn't insanely complicated ones). I think Nintendo largely continues to follow the mantra of pick up and play plus if you're already a Nintendo fan, it's comfort food.

Big open world or heavily story driven games will often make me feel like I don't want to deal with the game right now unless I'm enjoying the core gameplay so much I don't notice slog. I think that's the core conceit for me, if I'm having fun it doesn't matter. If I feel like a game is wasting my time I get irritated and impatient. There's just so much to play that if I'm having a mediocre experience I have a hard time seeing things through. When I don't like a movie my participation is passive and it will be over soon, when I don't like a game or if it's just not clicking with me I have to actively care about completing it.

I can't say I have a problem with modern graphics. I usually drift towards things with an artistic or stylized approach but I also thought stuff like the rendition of NYC in Spider-Man was fantastic. Realism is just a style that can either be done well or done poorly like anything else I think.

That said I've never really kept up with the cutting edge of gaming, I'm always at least half a generation behind, usually more. Also if I look at my PS4 library the ports, remakes and retro-inspired games vastly outnumber the "new hotness" games. I don't really have a problem with that because there's so many retro inspired indies that I'm interested in and have yet to play. I just wait until I'm in the mood to do so. Even stuff like Sekiro that I'm really excited about I'm in no hurry to play.

The short version is play what's fun for you at the moment. Don't feel pressured to enjoy the new big thing. So often I see the modern vs. retro argument crop up and I think ultimately they're all just games that we either like or we don't and maybe making the distinction between them is silly.
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Re: Being a Gamer VS Being a Retro Gamer

by noiseredux Mon Apr 08, 2019 11:59 am

I really don't make much distinction. I've been a fan of video games since I was a kid. I've been playing games the majority of my life. Old games, new games... they're all just games to me. The one I'm in the mood for is what I play, and that tends to have more to do with genre than the year it was released. I have no aversion to old or new. Granted, I tend to play on newer hardware - mostly out of convenience. But I'm just as likely to get sucked into old games on Virtual Console or compilations as I am to dump hours into something released this year.
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Re: Being a Gamer VS Being a Retro Gamer

by Ziggy587 Mon Apr 08, 2019 12:35 pm

noiseredux wrote:Old games, new games... they're all just games to me. The one I'm in the mood for is what I play, and that tends to have more to do with genre than the year it was released. I have no aversion to old or new.

Right, that has been my exact feelings for as long as I've been gaming. I use to be closer to 50/50 with old/new, but over the past few years I've noticed I'm caring less and less about new games. Now I'm at the point that besides Mario Odyssey I can't even remember the last new game I've played.

Gunstar Green wrote:The short version is play what's fun for you at the moment. Don't feel pressured to enjoy the new big thing. So often I see the modern vs. retro argument crop up and I think ultimately they're all just games that we either like or we don't and maybe making the distinction between them is silly.

I would think the same thing when I saw a thread like this. "Who cares, just play whatever you wanna play!" is what I'd think.

I guess it's just that I came to realize I haven't been playing new games AT ALL recently, and that kind of scares me.

Gunstar Green wrote:it's comfort food.

That's what I've been thinking regarding retro games. Most of the time I play retro games, it's almost always games that I've played before. Comfort food. I'm worried that I may be interested in only having comfort food. And if that's the case, do I even like video games anymore? Or is it just that playing old games gives me nostalgia? LOL, I don't know, maybe I'm just having some sort of existential crisis or some kind of pre-midlife crisis.
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Re: Being a Gamer VS Being a Retro Gamer

by pierrot Mon Apr 08, 2019 1:49 pm

I can certainly relate to a lot of this. For me, it's not even really about the latest generation of consoles/games. This started for me with the PS3. That was sort of my introduction to that generation of consoles (outside of playing some Wii Sports and stuff on other people's Wiis); I picked up a PS3 Slim in 2009. I played it a fair amount, for a while. Looking at my backloggery, though there's only one game I've played on it in the last six years, and that was Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, for last year's summer challenge. It did not instill me with the feeling that I needed to play more of my PS3 collection. I also rarely ever play the Wii, or 360, even though a lot what I have for them is retro inspired. I got a wicked deal on an NIB OLED Vita back in 2013, due to a printing error at Best Buy. It has remained sealed, even though within the last year I bought a 32 gig memory card for it, and imported Sayonara Umihara Kawase Chirari. It's all sitting sealed, on a shelf, within viewing distance of my regular game setup. I used to even play a lot of indie games on the computer, but not anymore. It's been nearly three years since I've bothered to play anything on a PC that wasn't FFXI.

I find that it's mostly that I'm just not motivated enough by newer games. The historical aspects of gaming are more compelling to me than the "new experiences" that companies are pedaling now. I enjoy finding good games in old libraries. That sort of thing is the reason I ever visited Racketboy back in the mid-2000s, in the first place; The Hidden Gems articles were what brought me here, and that was at a time when I was keeping up with the 'latest and greatest' for the PS2.

Your story about the PS4 and Switch is sort of my fear. I have plans to pick up a PS4 Pro, once Shenmue III comes out. At various times in that planning, I've thought that it would give me a chance to delve more into this generation that I've almost entirely bypassed. I really want to play Tetris Effect, as well, because that almost got me to scramble out for a PS4, on its own. My fear is that, once I've finished those two games, the console will go unused for a decade or more at a time, like the fate my PS3 has been somewhat relegated to. I don't really see myself actually investing more time into newer games, just from having a bit easier access to them on the PS4. $750 dollars to play Shenmue III, though? Yeah, that sounds like a decent value to me.

Personally, I always thought that 6th gen 3D graphics were as good as 3D visuals ever needed to be in video games. I sometimes marvel a bit at 3D games in the modern era, but usually that's only the bigger budget games, and even then, it doesn't make me want to play them. I don't buy the part about games just being games, though. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with liking newer games, and wanting to play them, but there's a difference between games made pre-~2006 vs post-~2006, as there are lesser differences between games made pre-~1996 vs post-~1996, or pre-~1986 vs post-~1986. More recently, though, the entire industry has shifted dramatically in terms of budgets, design ethos, target demographics, etc, etc. With the greater money interests that flowed in during the 'multi-billion dollar industry' explosion, video games have become a more sterilized landscape in the past decade or so, I feel. Autours feel like they've been replaced with producers, and man-power. The fidelity, and power of the machines is there, but without AAA budgets, newer games tend to have a weird feel to them, too, and not in a quirky way like generations past. Even most indie games, let's face it, are pretentious.

I don't mean to be so sour, and glum about the industry. I'm not trying to say that games can't be enjoyable anymore, but for me, they aren't as enjoyable as they were. So I play the ones that I think I'll enjoy more, or feel like they have more value to me in playing, and that's almost always older games.

Edit - Put another way, if it weren't for older games, I think I would have been done with video games many years ago. I don't think I would be a gamer at all, at this point. I think it might just be that simple, in my case.
Last edited by pierrot on Mon Apr 08, 2019 5:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Being a Gamer VS Being a Retro Gamer

by Ack Mon Apr 08, 2019 4:07 pm

We've been having this discussion for a long time, and for many of us, it tends to waffle. What I play has shifted over time; when I first got on here, I was very SNES focused, but I beat most of what I had wanted to play. Then I shifted around. Genres came and went as my time and my tastes changed. I was heavy into fighting games and survival horror in 2008. I got back into RPGs around 2013 and played a slew. In the last three years, my focus has shifted more to PC games that I missed out on, and while I've always been a fan of FPS games, that's been the big theme for me this year.

Now a lot of what I've been playing has been stuff released in the past ten years, mainly retro-influenced FPS on Steam, though not all. Have I given up my retro gaming? No, though I suppose some folks wouldn't consider me a "retro gamer" because I'm currently playing a lot of modern titles based on mid-90s gameplay styles. That's ok though, as I'm still enjoying myself, and a lot of what I play may be of interest to folks down the line in however many years.

Bone is someone I want to highlight about shifting tastes. He's bounced around the pre-CD era, but lately he's been hitting the Famicom scene hard. That's not what I'm accustomed to thinking as his chosen era (I associate Bone heavily with RPGs of all stripes), but it's a shift that his tastes took him into. I greatly respect it and admire him looking into games that I wouldn't have sought out.

Maybe next year I'll want to go back to PC RPGs or classic titles available on Switch or point-and-clicks of yesteryear, or wrapping up the remaining few SNES RPGs I haven't beaten. I don't know. I do know that I'm going to still have fun, and I won't rain on anyone else's parade over what they play. So Ziggy, if you're only wanting to play retro games, I say play on! I look forward to reading your thoughts on what you're playing, just as I read Bone's or other members here.
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Re: Being a Gamer VS Being a Retro Gamer

by BoneSnapDeez Mon Apr 08, 2019 5:21 pm

Thanks for the shout out!

My tastes ebb and flow, usually in tandem with real-life events.

I dunno if anyone remembers, but when I joined this forum I was actually somewhat into "modern games" -- I was posting about Etrian Odyssey, Hyperdimension Neptunia, Radiant Historia, DeathSmiles... I got a 3DS and Vita at launch. Of course back when I signed up here I didn't have kids (wasn't even married!) so a giant frothy modern JRPG was something I could binge on the weekends, at nights, whatever. With tighter time constraints + more financial freedom I've really rekindled my love for all things of the retro era. At the moment I'm almost exclusively retro but things will change. I've heard that the Switch can actually play physical game carts, all this time I've been using it as an arcade emulation machine! :mrgreen:

And the Famicom thing is kinda funny. At first I was just interested in the big Famicom (not NES) RPGs - Mother, Just Breed, Ys, whatever - and then it hit me... There are tons of other great games for this system, at a buck apiece!
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Re: Being a Gamer VS Being a Retro Gamer

by MrPopo Mon Apr 08, 2019 5:28 pm

I definitely understand where you're coming from regarding the detail. I put in a ton of time on Vice City, but then when I got GTA IV the whole thing felt very bland, and I found myself for the most part not being able to tell one part of the city from the next. Sometimes you'd have something obvious, like this is downtown with skyscrapers and this is the residential area, but points of interest don't stick out as much. I think different games on the "realistic" area do better or worse in that regard. I thought Horizon: Zero Dawn did a good job of making areas distinct, for example.
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Re: Being a Gamer VS Being a Retro Gamer

by PresidentLeever Mon Apr 08, 2019 7:55 pm

The constant for me is just that I like compact and relatively short game experiences, which I get more of in retro games (as well as retro aesthetics and the process of looking back at gaming history and comparing it to today, which are generally a plus but not always what I'm in the mood for). Optional stuff and extra modes have to be really great for me to bother even if I really like a game.

I still play modern games that tickle my fancy but a lot of them just waste too much time, often on bad story and side stuff. Many feel like a step back in terms of gameplay too. Of course there are a lot of time consuming retro games as well and I play less of those - if I do play an old JRPG for example I tend to emulate so that I can customize the experience (I often emulate shorter games too in case they are frustratingly hard as I hate giving up on a game midway through, and to take screenshots). Longer games divided into missions or chapters I seem to have an easier time staying interested in, mentally separating each session like I would different, shorter games. - Mini-reviews, retro vgm tribute, rom hacks, chip music, mockups, misc. lists
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Re: Being a Gamer VS Being a Retro Gamer

by Nintendork666 Mon Apr 08, 2019 10:53 pm

I just prefer PC games at this point.

Nice and simple, and I dont have to deal with the clutter I once did of having an 800+ title collection.
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