The Philosophy, Art, and Social Influence of games
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J T
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What do the old games have that the new games don't?

by J T Sat Oct 23, 2010 12:55 am

The obvious answer is nostalgia. Revisiting childhood memories often plays a factor into retro gaming. But it's more than just nostalgia. I play old games that I never played as a child and some retro gamers are really young and are playing games from before they were born. Some people even claim that the old games are better than the new ones (I don't think that's universally true, but I've seen some of you post this kind of general sentiment). So I'm curious to know what you guys think the old games did better. What makes the old games special in a way that newer games just can't seem to replicate?

There are a few ideas I have about this. One of the first things that comes to mind is the excitement of playing a game that was truly original. The early videogames didn't have older videogames or genres to copy from. There was no map and game designers had to be creative enough to start from the point of "what is a video game" not just "what should this particular game be about". It's always exciting to see a pioneering idea born. I feel lucky to have played a lot of the original genre starters back when they were originally released.

The other thing I like about some of the really early games is the elegance of a simple concept well executed. I played a bunch of Atari 2600 games the other day and I was struck by how many games have everything you need to know about the game all on one screen. You don't travel anywhere, it's all contained in the screen and all the rules are intuitively obvious. The best example of this from what I played was Yar's Revenge. You have an enemy one side of the screen, your character on the other, and a force field 1/3 of the way across the screen. You can only fire one bullet at a time and it has to hit a target or go off screen before you can fire again. When you are close to the enemy it’s easier to hit him, but harder to dodge his attack. When you are far away, it is easier to dodge his attack, but harder to hit him. You cannot fire within the force field area, which would be the easiest point on the screen to attack from, so this forces you to choose whether you want to have a more difficult time shooting or dodging. To kill the enemy, you have to launch a rocket from across the screen that can accidentally kill your ship and you have a similar dilemma about where to launch your rocket from. All of this basic structure sets the stage for a surprisingly deep game for something so minimal. It’s really kind of brilliant.

So what do you guys like about the old games?
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Breetai
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Re: What do the old games have that the new games don't?

by Breetai Sat Oct 23, 2010 1:08 am

J T wrote:So what do you guys like about the old games?

Blast Processing!

Honestly, it's not just old games. I've spent the past couple days playing Sonic 4 and having a blast (despite the complaints about the physics in it). For me, it's that arcade feel that I like. In other words, I like pick up and play games. I don't like long loading times. I don't like wading through 20 minutes of intro just to play an action game. I want to turn the system on, put start, and play for a little while. I don't usually have the time to sit down for hours and play, so games requiring that (almost any modern game aside from sports!) don't get my time very often. Likewise with online games. I find that half the play time is spent in a lobby waiting for the game to start (plus it's addicting! I don't want to be addicted!).

I like to sit down, pop in something like Gradius, R-Type, Soldier Blade, DoDonpachi, Sonic, Mario, Mega Man, Cover Girl Strip Poker*, etc., play a few levels, and then continue on with my day. Most retro games let me do that (plus I'm familiar with them already and can enjoy getting pretty far in just a few minutes), where most modern games do not.

*j/k
Last edited by Breetai on Sat Oct 23, 2010 1:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What do the old games have that the new games don't?

by sevin0seven Sat Oct 23, 2010 1:19 am

Battletoads.
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Pichu
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Re: What do the old games have that the new games don't?

by Pichu Sat Oct 23, 2010 1:29 am

Simplicity and Challenge.


No complex controllers, 10000 classes to choose from, or instructions on how to start the damn game.


Just turn the console on, get a 2-sec briefing on maybe how to move then go kick ass.
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Re: What do the old games have that the new games don't?

by Rurouni_Fencer Sat Oct 23, 2010 1:37 am

I've gotta agree with everything Breetai has said, (well, except the parts about blast-processing and cover-girl Strip poker..) :lol:

I'm all for a good game with a great story line, killer graphics, and incredible gameplay.. I just don't like, nor look forward to, 20 minutes of tutorials and load times as epic as the "quick-time events"-riddled boss fights that follow.
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Mr.White555
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Re: What do the old games have that the new games don't?

by Mr.White555 Sat Oct 23, 2010 1:54 am

Abstract response:
In regard to most mediums I would say "old" things have the advantage/disadvantage of technical limitations as compared to contemporary games/art/movies etc. The creators had to deal with the limitations they were given and they had to work them to their advantage. Working around these limitations is an embodiment of humanity's innovation and ingenuity which allows for more meaningful and full experience. With contemporary games/art/music etc, the only technical limitations are peoples' imaginations. Here lies the the reason older games/music/art etc, are different but not necessarily superior. Humanity's greatest works are not of implicit will, they are adaptations from necessity. That is what I consider to be the "human element."The development of the wheel, hunting tools, agriculture and so on are examples of the human element. The human element gets personified in technology. Therefore without considerable technical limitations games or art or whatever do not reflect the human element in its entirety which is so very important.

Non abstract response:
The developers had less to work with so they made the best of what they had. Since the developers worked the in and outs of the hardware their products are made better than new games.

P.S. If my post didn't make any sense it is probably because I am tired and a little bit sleep deprived.

P.P.S. If you have made it this far I am assume you have read rest of my post and I thank you.
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Re: What do the old games have that the new games don't?

by RCBH928 Sat Oct 23, 2010 4:17 am

I like the simplicity, 1000 buttons is a bad thing.
Actually one of the things I hate about current gen. games is the tutorial where they tell you all the action due to complex configuration buttons.

Old games you could just jump right in.

Another thing i really miss, is screen clutter.

In older games everything was clear(except for some like Earthworm Jim and Zool) . current games just too much detail, and you have a hard time if an object is meant to be used in gameplay or its their just for aesthetics reasons.
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Lord_Santa
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Re: What do the old games have that the new games don't?

by Lord_Santa Sat Oct 23, 2010 4:41 am

old games usually had lives, which increased the challenge of beating them

and (in my opinion) the challenge was part of the game-play

there are hundreds of games, which I played endless of hours in my youth, but never made it through, due to dying too many times and having no way to save the game

this made it an actual feat to be able of beating the game; whereas today's games are made to be beatable by just about anyone

of course there are exceptions to this, but it seems to be a general rule of thumb

also due to the technical limitations (as people have mentioned) they had to use their imagination in a whole different way

sprites provided us with a more "cartoon" feel to the games and thus you knew that you were actually playing a computer/video-game, instead of watching an interactive movie

there were no AAA-titles out there and thus the competition wasn't about making the best game of any one genre; the budgets didn't exceed those of hollywood block-busters and the "teams" consisted of a few people getting together creating games that they loved, as to share with others

it was a niche-market, targeted for a niche-audience and people seemed to pour their heart and souls into the games they made; not as much to make profit, but because they actually enjoyed creating games (Activision stating that they should "take the fun out of making games" is a splendid example of today's industry)

also there were no "hard-core" gamers out there to speak of
you were a bunch of nerds, getting together doing something that you all thought was fun

there were the nerds/gamers and then there was "the rest of the world"
we didn't have competitions where there were millions of dollars at stake, but rather simple, small tournaments where you could win per example a new game, or similar

't was simpler times and people seemed to actually enjoy what they were doing

these days I play the older games, not only to relive child-hood memories, but because I missed out on so many games back then, which I am happy to have found these many years later

:edit

this was more what the "old days" had, that the "new times" don't
sorry about that

still many things apply to both
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neilencio
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Re: What do the old games have that the new games don't?

by neilencio Sat Oct 23, 2010 5:24 am

Breetai already nailed it right on the head. I can't provide any answer that wouldn't just be repeating what he said.

I also think there's a correlation between the age of us retrogamers, the amount of freetime we can devote to playing games (what with jobs and family duties leaving us with little time to splurge), and the pick-up-and-play aspect of old games that really mesh well.

I know I get dazzled by all the shiny graphics of newer games these days, and try one every once in a while, but I find that by the time I get through the birth pains of learning how to work the game, I've already spent way too much time and have to drop and continue it later. Whereas I can just open a game of Super Mario Bros or Earthworm Jim and play from the start to where I run out of lives/finish. There isn't even any pressure to finish the game in the truest sense of the word, or to play through different areas. I'd be damned if I have to play something like Batman: Arkham Asylum from the start every time I open it. Don't get me wrong, I loved Batman:AA and finished it, but it takes too much time and I'm in no hurry to replay it. Except for the bonus missions, it's fun to just dig in and beat up a bunch of thugs every once in a while.
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bryan_65
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Re: What do the old games have that the new games don't?

by bryan_65 Sat Oct 23, 2010 9:30 am

I like simple controls, I tried playing Reservoir Dogs last night at a friends and almost could not do it. It takes four buttons to shoot. I also have not got used to the two joystick way of moving. With four shoulder buttons I also got confused. Yes I have never had a Playstation, so that is probably why it was hard for me.
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