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Veteran Member - Level 13
Mario. Zelda. Pac-Man. These names are shrouded in an aura of mystique and wonder for many gamers. And yet sadly, to others these names mean nothing. Whether they got into gaming late, were born in a different period, or simply didn't have the interest; these names have been tossed aside for the likes of Ezio, Master Chief, and Niko Bellic. Now, nothing against these modern icons, I appreciate the games as much as the next guy. And yet, there's still classics, games that define gaming's pivotal history and still hold up really well today. Why should you bother looking to the past when you have the next big improvements in gameplay and graphics on the horizon? I am here to answer this question.
First, we must define what truly makes a game a classic, as opposed to something that was only good for its era. Things such as pushing graphical limitations, pioneering a certain mechanic, or innovating with new technologies will sadly never be the same thing to a modern gamer as someone who lived in those times. They will serve as a history lesson, Maybe a solid game, but never the true magnificence of seeing the newness of it in all its radiant glory. So what indeed makes a game able to transcend time to provide happiness to a whole new generation? Clever level designs, enjoyable gameplay, great music, memorable characters and stories, or rich worlds. The games need at least some of these to seperate themselves into the upper echelon of timeless masterpieces.
So what would be some of the games that would fit into one of these categories? I'll start off with a fan-favorite from back on the Nintendo 64. Goldeneye 007. One of the most critically acclaimed games on the N64, it revolutionized console shooters with it's controls which were unlike anything seen before it. None of this means anything to a modern-day gamer. So taken out of its elements of innovation and nostalgia, what do you have? If anyone has ever played Call Of Duty, Halo, or Battlefield, quite frankly, they'd find the controls on this game utterly abhorrent. If it wasn't for Bond's auto-aim, you wouldn't be able to hit the broad side of a barn. Trying to look around is a huge chore without the benefit of a second control stick. And as for the graphics, time has not been kind to a majority of N64 character models and textures, and Goldeneye is certainly not an exception to the rule. The NPCs look like they were thrown together from a Lego set, and draw distance is absolutely horrid. I would classify this game as one only to be visited by people who played it back in the day and want a rush of nostalgia or history buffs. For newer gamers, the end result isn't worth it.
Next up, we have Super Mario Bros. 3. One of the greatest-selling games of all time, it provided enjoyment to millions of people upon release. Once again, this means nothing to the modern gamer. So how DOES this stack up? Quite impressively actually. While there isn't really any story worth talking about, platforming in the 2D series has more or less been variations of this for years (which is quite frankly loads of fun to even the newest of gamers). There are tons of secrets and other fun things to find throughout the levels, such as the Magic Whistles and Kuribo's Shoe. The graphics are bright and colorful, without being nauseatingly overbearing, while the music continues to be top-notch (a trademark of Koji Kondo's composing talents). This is one of the games people of all generations should go back to and discover the wonder of crouching on that white block in World 1-3 for ten seconds.
Moving along, we have Donkey Kong Country. A game released to much fanfare, it pushed the SNES to as yet unforeseen graphical limits on the 16 bit consoles. The 3D-rendered graphics were amazing for back then. Now, this game isn't really all it was talked up to be. The platforming is nothing special and somewhat frustrating, and the graphics...they look awful by today's standards. Being rendered in 3D on a 2D world means that it bears neither the benefit of being a 3D game, nor the crispness of the better SNES sprites. A game that's better left untouched by newer gamers.
Lastly we have The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time. Gameplay stands for the most part today, and the dungeon designs were a lot of fun. But the story is where the game truly shines even for someone who hasn't played anything older than an Xbox 360 or a PS3. From Link's parting with Saria on the Kokiri bridge to moving forward in time seven years, this game offers a truly unforgettable experience whether you're a new gamer or not.
You may be asking yourself what the point is to me explaining this, what this has to do with WHY a new gamer raised on the last couple of gens should delve back any farther than the PS2. Because as gaming has evolved, games aren't made the same way they were 10, 20, 30 years ago. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, merely different. It lets you experience certain gaming conventions and ideas that have fallen by the wayside over the years. Some have fallen for the better, and some for the worse. When you go back to see these, you get the full view of gaming and its potentials, be it an amazing story told through limited, yet pleasing 1990's graphics like Chrono Trigger, or a fully realized post-apocalyptic world in modern-day games like Fallout 3's.
Going back, it really lets you know your place as a gamer, the history of your hobby, while at the same time having a whole lot of fun with new experiences and stories you would have otherwise missed. For to deny the games that made the industry what it is today, you only deny yourself of some truly unforgettable memories...and you deny the very essence of what drives one of your most prevalent identities.
Feel free to move forward, but never be afraid to look back at what brought you here.
~ Stranger 2012