The Classic Effect
By AntonCaptainSeagull. Wednesday, May 30, 2012 5:38:53 PM
We look at these games through rose colored glasses, probably this is what makes up the majority of why we need to revisit games like Super Metroid or Battletoads. I think for most of our readers it's a safe bet that this golden age of gaming was taking place all the while most of us were having our tenth birthday, give or take five to six years. None of us had jobs, at least not real jobs, those of us looking into our futures may have taken a job at Taco Bell at sixteen just to save up for the Gameboy Color that would be launching soon. Having parents/grandparents/other legal guardians to pay all of our living expenses we had nothing but time, friends, and games. It was great when one of us had a basement for gaming, and parents that didn't care if sleep-overs lasted four to five days in the middle of summer. For nine hours at a time we would just burn through Kanto all together, synchronizing decisions like Hitmonlee or Hitmonchan, who was going to get the Dome Fossil, which of us would have Jolteon, Flareon, or Vaporeon. There would be full one hour battles in Smash Bros 64 just to see who really was the best, Bomber-manning each other all night was the name of the game, and it didn't get old – it just got too noisy for the parents upstairs trying to sleep.
During these days we had our closest bonds to gaming, because we weren't tied to anything else, how many of you would hear the bicycle music continue playing after the batteries died? It wasn't even faint, it was as if the music kept playing right? We had the opportunities to play until we either fell asleep or the game ran out of juice. Today we have to fit campaigns in-between work, viral job-seeking strategies, and taking on missions like driving your sister to the hospital to deliver your nephew to the world. Our lives are filled with adulthood now, and we are grasping for anything that makes us feel as carefree as these old days. Hot Topic loves selling the past to us through trendy T shirts, wallets, and buckles. But nothing does the trick like blowing the dust out of a cartridge... it's like foreplay for video-gaming, you anticipate finding out the Donkey Kong was kidnapped, you can already hear Flying Battery Zone music, you've already envisioned exactly how you will win the DK Jungle course with that cheap-ass trick you've perfected, the one you wait until the last lap to preform so no one can recover from it fast enough. You haven't even inserted the cartridge yet and your palms are sweaty, we are BACK to where we belong.
It would be great if Sigmund Freud could tell us that as gamers we all want to marry our first consoles, because basically that's it isn't it? Super Mario Galaxy and Donkey Kong Country Returns are probably the very best examples of current games NOT loosing the magic they had, these games are two of only a handful of games that “never lost it”, we don't complain about them because they are perfect, they brought everything that was perfect about the originals, and somehow updated everything without breaking a damn thing. But, we still get that “itch” don't we? That “call to arms” to boot up Super Mario World and murder Bowser again, and Launch Octopus isn't just going to defeat himself now is he? Well, OK you have a point, his ass has been grass about 200 times already, but that wont stop you from 201 will it? The point is this, those games tie us to the greatest times in a gamers life.
But rose colored glasses can't be the entire reason can it? Sonic is absolutely the best example of how current games “lost it”. We love Sonic, he's got the looks, he's got the history, and that's all he has now. He lost the music, he lost the speed (I mean really Bowser competing with him in the hurdles and winning?), he lost his bad-assery too, why in the world is Sonic hanging out with Flo selling auto-insurance? Why the hell is Sonic in a race car that looks like his head?! He can run faster than that car! I watched him run so fast he ran through the fabric of time in a comic book once! His decline started with Dreamcast, we like Sonic Adventure 1 & 2, but there were things madly busted about them, and after that the series iconically rolled itself into a ball and started a downhill descent it has yet to recover from. We get pumped, we get really pumped, and then we notice the were-hog in the room, the game's gonna suck. But none of this sours what we really know about Sonic does it? When he defeated Robotnik those first three (four) times, it was honestly epic, the entire game was epic, no matter how many times we drowned looking for bubbles to breath. Obviously something happened to the games these days, for Sonic he tried to keep up with the times in the real world, something games shouldn't try to do, they become dated like 80's action movies. Sonic was all R&B music for a while, then pretty bland basic rock, and probably Will.I.Am will make his next appearance in whatever else Sonic has going for him post E3 2012.
There's also a very small, but very beautiful collection of young gamers out there (like John: pictured) these days who honestly love playing “the classics” as my 13 year old cousin calls them. He frickin' LOVES Super Mario Brothers 3, Super Mario World, Mortal Kombats 1 and 2, Clayfighters, DKC 1- 3, Sonic 1-3. He isn't a guy trying to make a statement either, he's not trying to be the unique guy at school because he rocks Pokemon Gold, he's rockin' Pokemon Gold because he wants to PLAY Pokemon Gold. How many tween girls have you seen running around with Pikachu shirts? This is probably the only Pokemon they know, it's fashionable to them to have retro cartoons on their shirts. But these youngsters who's first Mario Game is Galaxy, get turned on to Mario's perfected style, are interested in more Mario, and rather than just wait for the next one, they go backwards, or start at the beginning and work their way up to now, THIS is the proof that there is something different in “The Classics”, he wasn't around when they were selling rose-colored glasses, he doesn't own a pair. He knows Sonic used to be fun. When he wants a "new" "classic" to play he comes to me, he wants to get in on the Goldeneye battles, and "Perfect the Dark" too. Some new games, I mean entirely new, 'brand new franchise new' somehow capture the “essence” of the classics, for some mystical reason No More Heroes immediately has this timeless aura to it, it feels like we've played it since childhood, even though everything is new, there is always this desire to relive Travis' rise to #1 assassin again and again, he just feels “old school”. So there really is something that exists that hasn't actually vanished with time, it's there, but for some reason it's not being used...
Damn it, what is it? What is it that made these older games so much better? Why are they timeless? Readers, I'm begging you to write in the comments section, what you believe the older games had that most newer games don't have. Is it something that we can't define? Like love, is it just something you have to feel to understand?