Do Old Games Have An Active Place In The World? Discuss.

Most cinema buffs have a list of movies they can’t wait to show their kids. Likewise, any self-respecting muso plans to give their child a crash-course in songs that changed the world. However, when it comes to gamers, things are a little different. With the exception of hardcore collectors, we’re not particularly big on preserving our hobby’s history – particularly on legacy hardware. Which begs the question: just what do you plan to pass on to your kids? Or will it all be given the boot for the latest augmented-reality smell-o-vision console?

Over the weekend, I introduced my daughter to Silly Symphonies; a collection of Disney animated shorts from the 1920s and 1930s. Despite the lack of colour, rudimentary animation and outdated storytelling, the cartoons managed to keep her enthralled for hours on end (especially The Skeleton Dance. She's pretty dark for a six-year old.) This got me thinking about old video games and our tendency to sweep them under the carpet after they've had their moment in the sun.

Think about it: when was the last time you played a game that was released prior to the year 2000? When did you last fire up your trusty PS2, Xbox, N64, PSX or SNES for a bout of retro gaming? While we're happy to revisit old games when they're given a spit-and-polish on new hardware, most of us tend to avoid the originals — despite the ease of access via emulation software and PSN/XBLA. It's almost as if we're only interested in stuff that's shiny and new.

This is in stark contrast to other entertainment mediums. Anyone who is remotely interested in cinema will happily watch movies regardless of how old they are, while 'golden oldie' radio stations continue to fill the airwaves. Games, meanwhile, languish in landfills and cupboards; ignored by the fans that once held them dear. Why is this?

According to some critics, old games are difficult to enjoy due to their fiddly controls, woeful graphics and glacial pace. While this is true of some titles — particularly when graphics were the chief selling point — I'd argue that any game that was playable then is equally playable today. The only enjoyment barrier is our misplaced prejudice.

As an experiment, I decided to download R-Type Dimensions from the PlayStation Store and got my daughter to play using the original 8-bit graphics. Despite being rubbish at it, she really enjoyed it.

As the decades roll by, many of these old classics are in danger of becoming footnotes and half-forgotten memories. Most veteran gamers don't have the time or wherewithal to revisit their past favourites and the new generation of gamers couldn't care less.

This really makes me wonder about the validity of games criticism, let along games as an art form. If a film critic refused to watch anything prior to the 1990s he would be openly ridiculed and swiftly out of a job. And yet, that seems to be becoming the norm for video game writers. (On a related note, I just discovered Kotaku doesn't have a 'Manic Miner' tag. Tch.)

I'm curious to hear what you guys think about all this. Should old games be treated as primitive relics; talked about but seldom played? Or should we continue to experience their greatness first-hand; just like classic movies and music? Cast your vote in our poll and share your two cents in the comments section below!


Comments

    Uhhh YES!
    i finished deus ex this year for the first time, and i fell in love with it, so much so that its my favorite gamw of all time.
    played half life source with rift on last year and thats my second favorite game.
    so yes.

    I've been slowly introducing my daughter to more and more old games. They are just as great as they used to be. Although in general, games were also harder back then, but she'll get there. She's only 4 at the moment.

    I still play old Zelda games and Final Fantasy. They never run out of charm. ^^

    The lads and I regularly gather round at someones place and drag out the old consoles - Mario kart on the snes is timeless.
    Whenever a bout of nostalgia hits, I'll smash out a few hours on FF7 or A link to the past. Old games have something most modern games don't; difficulty, charm and replayability.

    wow... well i didn't think i was part of the minority in the fact that i still have old consoles and i still play old games. why throw them out if they are good. Perfect Example i would Gladly play Final Fantasy VIII any day over Final Fantasy XIII.

    Managed to pick up another NES with a pile of games recently for $60. Zelda 2, castlevania, Mario 2, Mario 3, and streets of rage. NES needs a new 72 pin connector though. Had my NES going strong since the mid 80's, but pretty much only played my old Mario bros for the last 10 years on it. Plug in Mario 3. Bam, white flashing screen. Now I need a new 72 pin connector and cart cleaning kit anyway!

    I actually had the original box with all foam and manuals until recently too, until my mum cleaned out her storage and binned it. Recently saw a good condition box with original NES go on eBay for bloody 6k!

    I've never thrown out or traded in a game though, and still have my NES, Gameboy, SNES, N64, PS2, PS3 and Xbox 360 collections.

    Last edited 03/06/14 2:51 pm

    Old games are mostly rubbish but then ALL games are mostly rubbish. The number of genuinely good ones are really quite small. The exact same thing is true of films. For every Godfather, Casablanca or Maltese Falcon, there were a hundred bits of vapid mindless schlock that no one remembers because they were worthless, since people only remember the good films from the past they treat film as a rarefied medium when it's the same cesspit of shit with the occasional speck of gold in it that the games industry is. When Georges Méliès was making A Trip To The Moon, Hollywood was just starting to make bathing beauty pictures that seemed to be entirely comprised of moderately overweight women vaguely dancing around in what passed for swimwear at the time and apparently the audience were considering it funny... The invention of filmed Sci-Fi and practical special effects vs a few people prancing badly in front of a backdrop... is it any wonder Méliès is the one that film historians remember?

    It was worse back in the early days of gaming with, for example, the sheer number of pacman clones with a different skin slapped on them. I mean most el-generico FPS' are basically just call of duty knockoffs but even they have a bit more creativity than replacing pacman with ripley, ghosts with xenomorphs and the power pills with a flamethrower. The genuinely creative and brilliant things were few and far between but everything built on the layers below it. Someone who played that shithouse Alien game may well have gone on to work on the good version of the Aliens game on the C64 and made something that was actually really good. You can't judge relevance or merit based exclusively on quality, even the shittiest of stuff can inspire people to do better. I mean some people must have gotten into film thinking that if someone as inept as Edward D Wood Jr could do it, they sure as hell could.

    Preserve everything, even the shit stuff, it's all history and given that it's all digital there's no sensible excuse not to do it, it's only because "they're only games" that it's not being treated as seriously as film preservation. You can fit the entire history of the Atari 2600 on a 4gb flash drive for fucks sake!

    Last edited 03/06/14 2:50 pm

    the only reason i dont play old games as much as i watch say an old movie is time.
    i would be sacrificing playing new games to play the old ones.

    I tend to start the old games and never get very far.

    i still like to play super mario every now and then.
    space invaders and pac man are as fun as ever and lttp and super metroid are still brilliant now matter how much games progress

    I've been trying to finish Banjo Tooie on my N64 and Donkey Kong Country on my SNES. :)

    I have found that most of my 're-visiting' is done either on the Vita or via the VC - it's very rare for me to bust out the original hardware these days. The games are still as enjoyable, though. It's also a great way to see how much unnecessary hand-holding goes on in a lot of modern titles.

    I have a few emulatoors loaded up on my NUC and when the wife let's me have the TV for half an hour play a few games to bring back the memories. I like the authors idea of letting the kids play some of the older games. Many had very simple controls so I might look into that

    I don't think I could select either option in the poll there. I mean I fit in the hardcore collector category, so I've still got every game I've ever owned, and even just at the turn of the year pulled out both Battletoads and Super Metroid to give another run through. Games like those, they're just as enjoyable as they day they were released. Actually, I think I find them even more enjoyable now than I did back then.

    On the other hand though, plenty of games have aged terribly and I can't imagine how I ever managed to enjoy them as a kid, struggling to give them the time of day now.

    Actually, a couple of months ago my friends were housesitting and invited me over, the place had a GIGANTIC old rear-projection TV so I brought along my SNES and 64 to play games. One had grown up with those consoles, but the other hadn't. Both loved Unirally (neither having played it before), but only one managed to enjoy Smash Bros. The other who had only played Brawl hated it and said it was stupid :P

    It's because games take way longer to enjoy than movies or songs. Whatever new game you're currently playing is pretty much guaranteed to be taking up all the time you allocate for gaming.

    I don't have enough time for new games, let alone old ones!

    this article strikes me as a bit odd considering retro gaming has had such a huge increase in the last few years....
    All retro gaming has been in a boost including pinball machines and arcade machines.
    Even the gaming industry has caught onto this and started releasing retro themed games and HD remakes

    Last edited 03/06/14 3:30 pm

    Fired up the NES on the weekend and my 4 yr old learned how to play Gradius. He declared he's better than me so, game on. He's not quite good enough to play Mario but we'll get there

    The last time I played a game made before the year 2000 was either a few days ago or a few weeks ago depending on if you count the DS version of Final Fantasy III to be the original game with a new skin or not. I'm not really sure where the author is getting the idea that we let our old games languish and die in a closet or basement somewhere from. Especially seeing as there are more ways to access old games these days (GOG.com, Steam, Virtual Console, PSN, tablets, etc.) than ever before. They wouldn't do that if there wasn't a market for it.

    As a 90s kid who was introduced to my dad's Commodore 64, I can vouch for the longevity of old games. I have a M.A.M.E cocktail cabinet with titles like Frogger and Joust, and it's still a big hit when we have kids over.
    While some of the flash wears off, I think a good game remains good. Arcade titles in particular HAD to be addictive to survive more than a few years circulation.

    All the time. In fact - the majority of games I play would be considered retro. I spend more money on retro games than modern. I have a pinball machine and two arcade machines that are regularly powered on. My nieces, nephews and friends love all my stuff. The pinball machine in particular is requested by everyone who visits.

    It seems the author is trolling but that's cool -better than a cut and paste.

    I don't know where you get the idea from that people don't look at old games??
    Look at the popularity of MAME for old arcade games, the slew of emulators for Atari, Sega, Nintendo, Coleco, Amstrad etc. etc.

    Typically, for old old films, people only re-watch the classics (stuff like Casablanca, Lost Horizon, Metropolis, Citizen Kane, Thief of Bagdad etc.), for oldish films, they watch what was cult/popular ( Ghostbusters, Star Wars, The Warriors, Indianna Jones, Gallipoli etc etc.)
    Most older films tend to be ignored, only a handful (say a few hundred out of the thousands and thousands made) are dug out and re-watched and introduced to new viewers.

    It is the same with gaming, plenty of people fire up PacMan, Donkey Kong, Defender, Dig-Dug, Metal Slug, Star Raiders, Rolling Thunder, Paperboy, Ghosts and goblins, Moon Cresta, Galaga, Galaxian, Centipede, (add favourite game here). The older classics get trotted out all the time, and introduced to new players.
    More recent history, games like Soul Calibre, Ridge Racer, Tekken, MGS, Halo etc. tend to get re-releases with better graphics, which makes it hard to play the original when there is a version with better graphics but the same gameplay.

    "Some" games are worth replaying, and they are almost all console titles. PC games have not aged particularly well (not to mention the chore associated with getting some of the older titles to boot properly).

    I will play Chronotrigger, Tetris, DKC, Final Fantasy (pick one), Tales series, some older GBA games, N64 library and I would love to have access to a gamecube and small selection of games just to power them up again. Retro gaming has its place and it is more than a nostalgia trip, some of the games are genuinely great even now when compared to the chaff that gets churned out of the FPS factory but as was mentioned earlier, with every classic game/movie there is a pile of garbage games/movies to go with it.

      I beg to differ. I still play Master Of Orion 2 and Civ 2 regularly, since they are arguably the best 4x turn-based strategy games of all time (and if not the best, still my favourites). They are easy to fire up using dos-box.

      While they can't compete with modern big-budget releases, retro games are still better than alot of indie games coming out. Put them at a similar price point, and they will become viable products again.

        Master of Orion 2 will always be the best you cant top that. People have been trying to copy MOO2 ever since then and they have all sucked.

    Counterpoint at extreme length: http://www.kotaku.com.au/2013/01/why-every-gamer-should-be-a-retro-gamer/

    Galaga, moon cresta, 1942, maze craze, commando these are classics and still very much playable today lots more to choose from golden axe need I say more

    Some old titles still haven't had their awesomeness replicated/updated recently, and so to me the appeal is their uniqueness. At the moment nothing comes close to Point Blank, or Abe's Oddysee. Or even the first Ghost Recon and it's expansions. Miles different to the recent iterations. No relying on OP tech, just micro managing squad position. Good times.

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