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.