The lights are on
I’ve wanted to replay the original Metal Gear Solid for the last five years. I used to play through it every fall. I’m a nostalgic guy, and autumn reminds of when I first played the fantastic stealth game one Halloween almost fifteen years ago. Finding free time to revisit Shadow Moses Island has been tricky since I first struck out on the path toward video games journalism. The tidal wave of great games has swelled over the years, and now I’m up to my neck in big-budget, 30+ hour epics. I love most of the new releases I play, but I don’t have time for everything old and new. This conundrum has me thinking: Is it better to leave some blind spots in your backlog or return to the well of known favorites?
Unless you dedicate untold hours to playing games, some titles are bound to slip by no matter how popular or interesting they are. I missed out on Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Dragon’s Dogma, and Final Fantasy XIII-2 following their release. I want to fill these gaps, but now Darksiders II, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, and New Super Mario Bros. 2 are on the way. Not to mention that I capitalized on this year’s single, fleeting game drought to catch up on my biggest embarrassment: playing Final Fantasy VI. No matter how much fun I have hunting after the evil Kefka and collecting Magicite, I’m constantly plagued by the gnawing guilt that’s telling me I should be playing something new.
Before I landed my job at Game Informer and earned access to our vast vault of games, I subscribed to mail order game rental services and purchased games in order to stay knowledgeable (drooling over Mega Man X screenshots as a Sega kid). I learned about the newest games through multiple video-game magazine subscriptions, before my family had regular Internet access. My limited knowledge of upcoming titles, small personal library, and occasional trips to the game rental store meant I’d be playing my favorites into the dirt. I don’t regret this a bit. Replaying and becoming knowledgeable about series like Sonic, Mega Man, and Resident Evil are what helped me distinguish myself as an editor at Game Informer. But now that I’ve got my dream job, I rarely find the appropriate occasion to frolic down memory lane with Wind Waker or Alex Kidd in Miracle World. I feel like I’m losing my identity as a gamer by gluttonously consuming all the best new stuff.
On paper, having too many good games to play is a wonderful problem, but playing them all is impossible. When’s the last time you cleared your gaming schedule to reacquaint yourself with one of the titles that got you into it in the first place? Staying up to date with your favorite series and exploring new IPs is important and exhilarating, but dragging out the old systems and game collections should not become a lost art. We shouldn’t leave it up to game publishers to decide when we replay the classics with HD collections and digital rereleases. Those retro favorites are like old friends. You may have new priorities and interests, but these ghosts from the past formed who you are and deserve a morsel of your time. It’s time to catch up.
Email the author Tim Turi, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.
I think a lot of us will be able to relate to this "problem." Like you, I have some pretty serious blind spots that keep nagging at me to make the time to play them. However, I came to terms with the fact that I'll probably never have time to play them. How do you make time to play through the entire Final Fantasy series? Is it even possible with a full time job and tons of current games stacking up creating an even bigger more immediate backlog? Not likely. I would love to, but there is only so much time in the day and days in a year. I would rather play the new titles before they end up getting lost in the shuffle and then years down the road realizing that one of those games was a seminal title of its generation but then having no time to go back to play it because I have to stay current.
Replaying games is huge for me. I most recently replayed Mass Effect, one of my most charished experiences in gaming. I also picked up an obscure title called Darious Twin on the Wii online store. My brother and I played that game over and over in the 90s on SNES and it is still great. I just recently delved into the vast world of PC gaming which has given me the opportunity to replay some of my most beloved titles with a face lift. I find that playing older games is much cheaper too.
I go back and replay old games often, so its not much of a big deal for me. I have alot of free time. However, I tend to not have alot of money, and so I miss out on alot of new games for at least a few months after release. I tend to feel left behind, because by the time I get the game, everyone else is bored with it and it ends up collecting dust on my shelf. Now, mostly, I play games for the singleplayer campaign, never really cared about multipleyer. The problem with getting it a few months after release, is that people want to talk about the game, and then its spoilers galore everywhere. Thats gonna be the problem with this fall and every subsequent fall.
I know I'm never going to get to play all the games that I want when they come out. That's fine because I just picked up Deus Ex: Human Revolution new for $20. When I don't play them when they're fresh, I can indulge on more new games when I get the chance. Until then, I play the hell out of what I already have, plus, you now can always try to 100% games. I'm going through MGS4 for like the 9th time because of the trophy patch and it feels like when I first got the game over 4 years ago. I'm actually exploring for the first time since my first playthrough because of it and I'm finding a ton of things. I'll get to my backlog eventually, so I'll just enjoy what I have now.