Thursday, September 9, 2010

Retro Curmudgeon

If there's one thing I've learned from modern gaming, it is that I am expressly not a modern gamer. While dozens--nay, millions--of people might go wild over motion-sensitive controls, stunning 3-D graphics, and online multiplayer with huge groups of people from around the world, I don't see myself ever being a proponent of "the next big thing in gaming."

Truth be told, I'm not bothered by the fact that the games are modern. I don't automatically reject a game because it was made after a certain date, or because it has stunning 3-D graphics, online multiplayer, motion-sensitive controls, achievements, downloadable content, a $60 price tag, etc. I cling to my retro games because of the differing philosophy with which many modern games seem to be designed.

When the Nintendo 64 came out, everything was in 3-D. Not just the graphics, but the gameplay, too--sidescrolling platformers, my favorite genre of video game, all but disappeared because of this apparent need for total freedom of movement in any direction, regardless of the game.

When the Nintendo DS and Nintendo Wii first came out, everything utilized the funky new touch screen and motion controls, regardless of whether or not the gameplay was enhanced by them. Once again, the guiding philosophy seemed to be, "because we can."

As I play more modern games and expand my collection of older games, I'm finding more and more that the Nintendo GameCube is one of my favorite systems. The need for every game to take maximum advantage of the system's 3-D capabilities subsided after the N64, and so the focus of the developers seems to have returned to a philosophy of, "let's make a game" rather than, "let's show off this new technology with a game."

I grew up on the Atari 2600; I don't need all the bells and whistles to have a good time. If you're going to implement anything--from a fully orchestrated soundtrack to that one button on the controller that nobody uses--it had better be for a darn good reason. I demand gameplay and things that enhance the gameplay, not additions that distract you from the fact that there is no gameplay.

Are all modern games bad? No. Are all retro games good? No. Do I need to wave my arm around every time I want to attack in Twilight Princess? No. Will GoldenEye lose all its charm if it gets a graphical facelift? No. Well, probably not, anyhow.

I'm ready for a new era of gaming. An era where none of the gaming innovations pioneered and popularized in the past 5-10 years are mandatory. Either that, or I need to upgrade to a faster computer that can handle the glut of PC games that have been exempt from all the console-based headaches (and wristaches) of the last decade.


Michael Gray said...

I'm interested in seeing what the new Metroid game will be like. They specifically designed it to NOT have motion controls or the nunchuck, from what I've heard. That's a big anti-motion controls move, coming for the motion control platform.

Scott said...

How do you feel about 2.5D, then? For example, Street Fighter IV or Mega Man Universe?

My main gripe with Mega Man Universe at this point is that when you see him in the game, the screen is just too large...

Flashman85 said...

Because I'm so timely in responding...

Michael: If you're talking about Other M, the controls worked fine, though the first-person sections weren't nearly as polished as Metroid Prime's when there was actual action going on.

Scott: If there's a purpose to 2.5-D, I'm cool with it. Surrounding 3-D environments with a 2-D playing field; that's fine. A 2-D platformer that got stretched out to three dees just seems gimmicky to me.