The Phenomena of "Classic" Games

June 25th, 2010 -

What is it about older games that makes them stand out? Why is it that many of the older titles seem to be held at a higher standard? These are just a few of the ponderings I hope to cover. *WARNING* Be prepared to hear way too much Final Fantasy love.

Final Fantasy IX was released on the PlayStation store a couple weeks back, and since then that is all I have been playing. I am once again captured by the world of Gaia and all its fantastic characters. What makes this game so enthralling? Why is it that I still to this day find more enjoyment and thrill in a game that has been out for ten years than the new titles, and even the games yet to come? Does the answer rest in the fact that I am a fanboy??? OF COURSE NOT (it’s just ridiculously good)!!! The fact that I prefer a game that only has text dialog, pixelated graphics, and cinematics that don’t even match today’s regular gameplay is astounding.

Let’s set aside the incredible stories, worlds, and characters we have met in previous games, as we should focus on one element for a moment. Is nostalgia the only thing holding these games together? Perhaps these games were so amazing during their initial release we now see them as untouchable classics or “hall of famers”. At what point can a game achieve this status? Is it when their styles or techniques become obsolete? I believe that we miss some of these older styles. For example, the text dialogue is a tool we seldom see in todays gaming world. As much as I loved the beauty and excellence of Final Fantasy XIII, I almost prefer creating the characters by reading in the old text format. This style forces the gamer to create their own voices, which in turn can heighten the sense of personality (much like a book). The gamer is forced to dig deeper in the dialog to understand the character rather than taking a spoon fed voice (even though some games do amazing audio work). Am I digging way to deep into this, or am I getting at something? Am I just fanboying it up with the Final Fantasy? Probably.

There are only three games on the new consoles that have captured me, and one does not count. First, Final Fantasy XIII – but based on the ranting, you all guessed that. We also have Heavy Rain and Uncharted. These games establish people and settings that draw us in, and these examples still did not come close to the magnitude of how the older Final Fantasy games struck me. AND THEY STILL DO!! These games tug at us emotionally and make us feel involved with the characters. Does the gaming world no longer care about substance? Have we boiled down to gamers who want something pretty to explode in HD? I hope not. Can this issue be fixed??? YES!!! The solution is busy taking its sweet time in games that are under the knife and in development for years. BUT STILL!!!! Even though we have these amazing games, they still cannot jump the hurdle of the classics. What the hell guys!?! Should I stop here???

The new world of gaming certainly has not lost its luster, but we are still left here feeling something is missing. What is it? I do not mean this in a stupid sense, nor is it a joke. Do the developers and producers no longer put their hearts into their games? Is their focus shifted to beating their competitors and making the largest sale rather than creating an unforgettable game? Many of the older games we know and love are still selling today, so making sales is not the issue. Again, not to sound cheesy, but have they run out of imagination or ingenuity? Certainly not. Maybe it was just a cycle of awesome. That might be it. We just witnessed an era of amazing games that has moved on and now we’re experiencing something different. Perhaps the very value of time is what makes these games stand above the rest. The nostalgia… who knows? In a few years we might even feel this way about the games we play today.

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