Monday, February 14, 2011

It's not what is used to be...

I'm finally fessing up, sometimes I am clouded with nostalgia that I flat out forget a game's shortcomings. Thank you, PSN, for finally making me see the error of my ways. Ever since PSN has put up more and more PSone Classics, I've been like a giddy little school girl. OMGZ Final Fantasy VII, VIII, IX, I must buy. Alundra? Squeals in delight as I automatically press "purchase." Silent Hill? You bet. Wild Arms 2? Couldn't resist. Suikoden - Love at first sight, buying was a must. All of these purchases and more, I didn't need to second guess. To relive the experience of playing some of my favorite games on my PSP or PlayStation 3 was like one big nostalgic dream. So where did it all go wrong?

I've started actually playing these games and they're not as fun as they used to be. It's exciting to look back and reminisce, but it almost ruins your memories of your sacred RPG gems. Years later, the game is never as special or important as you remember it being. There's something always so archaic about these oldies. Even so, I still do miss the old school feel of these games.

Recently, I played Earthbound again, and I just forgot how menu based heavy the game Earthbound was and still is one of my favorite games for the SNES along with Secret of Mana (we'll get to that later), but I've been so spoiled by the games of this decade that the menus started to bother me. Earthbound still has that sassy humor that nobody has ever managed to recreate in a game (and characters I'll never forget). But, the point is - playing these games now you have obstacles you never felt you had before. I wanted to show my boyfriend the awesomeness of Secret of Mana, so as soon as it hit the Virtual Console, it was an instant purchase. Naturally, I played it with him. What I found was not an experience where I could convince him of putting it down as his favorite game, because the whole battle system felt extremely archaic. This doesn't mean Secret of Mana still isn't a great game, it was for its time, but it hasn't aged well at all. That pains me so, because some of my fondest memories are attached to that game. A similar reaction happened when I played FFVII again, to this day, I claim that as one of my favorite Final Fantasy games, the problem? The game just hasn't aged well.

So, is it worth going back to these titles, will it ruin the memories/nostalgia you have about them? I think all these games and more are worth another run through, just don't expect the same experience you had playing it at a younger age. Now, it's a new adventure we should embrace, but not be scared of - maybe you'll realize something about the game wasn't as amazing as you remember...but you know what? You still have that strong memory of playing it for the first time and not being able to put it down for hours. I'll never forget standing under that godforsaken waterfall in Earthbound. But, I digress. Playing through these games again can't take your memories away from you. And who knows, maybe, giving these games a try at an older age you'll be able to see magic where you didn't. Maybe, now that you're older you're able to comprehend and experience it in a new way. I think it's like watching the Care Bears again, you'll remember certain parts and smile, but you'll also know you've outgrown them. You can't take away my childhood - these games are more than that - fond memories I will never part with, but I'll also remember things have changed now.


  1. I completely agree with you. I go back and force my cousins to play a lot of my old games to see why I like the games I do. For the most part my enthusiasm for them gets them past the "whoa these graphics are not hot" stage and into the charm.

    IE: EARTHBOUND. All 5 of my cousins have played this to completion and agree Nintendo is off their rocker for not making this a staple in Nintendo's library. This is something that would have (and did in Japan as Mother 1+2) translated to portable. It is still my most favorite Rpg ever. I bought it while on christmas vacation in California. Perfect weather. Our family ventured to Wal-mart for beach supplies while I naturally grazed the videogame area. With my newly acquired holiday money I saw the collectors dream that was the Earthbound game box. I saw the strategy guide included and requested to look at the box from the clerk. I was in awe at how non-fantasy it was themed. I had remembered seeing the game screenshots in a few videogame magazines but didn't know what to make of it. I couldn't resist, I took the plunge. From there I proceeded to play the game from noon till dusk for the next 4 days absorbed in it wholeheartedly (till we went back to home).

    Secret of Mana: first one holds dear in my heart but Sieken Densetsu 3 (what would have been Secret of Mana 2) did not come out in the states so I was forced to import it W/O knowledge of the japanese language. Later on I had to find alternative methods into enjoying what I still believe is one of the best SNES (or even console Rpg's ever) to this day.

    Outside of the "Renewal of Mana" or whatever the project was called I think it was absurd that SquareEnix skipout on this title.

    Also worth mentioning at lease was a game I loved before FF7 which was SUIKODEN. After Beyond the Beyond I was itching for another rpg, Arc The Lad was nowhere to be found so I picked this up solely on a review I saw on EGM. Normally something I never do without more research but was mentioned (to the best of my knowledge) was that this was going to be one of those games certain people will be talking about in the future but most will pass on but it was not to be missed. As a middleschool student at the time I didn't have tons of extra cash laying around so I tended to gravitate towards Rpg's for the main reason was that they lasted longer. So I begged my mother to take me to Toy's R Us nearly half an hour before it closed where I beelined to the game slips and back to the game pick up counter. I arrived back home and immediately wanted to just get to the first save point in the game (even then I loathed getting through intros) I proceeded to play till nearly 2am which was Unheard of for me at that time of my life.

    I believe we can come back to these games just with a different light. Poking at what once blown us away or shocked us is quite interesting. It definitely has made me more aware of the type of games that I tend to attach to. I'm glad I am able to share some of these experiences with some of my family and that have had the chance to enjoy the games that to this day make me as giddy as the kid I was.

  2. Kim, I'm glad it's not just me!

    I've been playing through a whole bunch of my old favourites recently and for a lot of them I'm getting the "Man, I thought this game was better than it is..." sorta vibe. But it does make me appreciate the few games that actually DO age well.

    I reckon this is worth an editorial on RPGFan. It's really interesting and I think most gamers can relate to it.

    ~ Andrew