Our Gaming Heritage

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Seriously. Some dude went to this place once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away...

Do you remember your ancestry?

Chances are, if you are a modern day videogamer, you are 18-34 years old and a male. Judging by that demographic, many of us are 25 years or older. We might not have experienced games from the very beginning but we have a rich, storied heritage with both Nintendo and Sega at the very least.

In a recent discussion with friends around a couple of beers, the topic of games from yesteryear arose. I began to ask my group what classic games they might go back to the cabinet and revisit, but startlingly, the response was negative. All of them said “Nothing,” or something else in that same vein.

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Flash Fact: In 2008, Swedish developer GRIN took the 1988 original NES game, Bionic Commando, and Rearmed it. In 2009, they also released a modern edition, simply titled Bionic Commando. It didn't sell. Shortly after, GRIN closed their doors and went bankrupt.

It seems like the gamers of today are more savvy. We understand that nearly every other week a top of the line title will be released on any one platform. We are stuck in a cycle where we have money, and if we want to stay up to date with what all the industry pros are talking about, we have to play the latest releases on day one, lest we be ridiculed by our peers as being “n00bs.”

There will always be a handful of us who travel back in time a decade or so, or whenever the advent of 3D gaming was beginning to take shape, but it feels like we’re less willing to return to our two-dimensional past. The irony of this being, of course, that classic games are seeing all sorts of sequels in the shape of downloadable content on all platforms including Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, and Steam. Capcom appears to support this niche more than anyone else, with the company’s recent Mega Man and Bionic Commando 2D action games.

Are these games meant to attract newer users perhaps void of a past, or is this an attempt to satiate the older gamers who remember their championed history?

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Halo: Contra Evolved.

Another question brought to mind, is whether or not 3D re-imaginations are meant to appear like entirely new franchises, or are they banking on tradition? How many kids knew Wolfenstein or Bionic Commando, both recent game releases, were cherished franchises from nigh-on two decades ago? Certainly, these titles were marketed towards the informed as re-imagined classics, but it is almost guaranteed that much of that was lost on a demographic who just wasn’t informed as of yet, or simply did not care to learn.

Ask yourself this: Do you, no doubt a gamer of legendary proportions, reflect on how you got to where you are today? Do you remember the industry before it was a household name, or do you often times find yourself reminiscing about classic memories from games you will never get a chance to truly re-experience?

Interactive media is no doubt a constantly evolving medium, and day after day our experiences and expectations are altered. For instance, Prototype is a decent game, but I have no wanton need to revisit it. I know it wouldn’t be as thrilling for me the second time as it was the first. Tribes 2? Well, I’m going to assume that it’s always going to be just as good now as it was then. Dare I revisit it? I really shouldn’t. What if its jetpacks feel clunky and incomparable to Halo: Reach’s fancy-pants jetpacks? Why, I might be devastated!

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Okay, okay. Maybe some of us take gaming way too seriously.

Remember the Clint Eastwood film, Gran Torino? I wonder if the cliche of old men sitting on their porch also hold true for gamers? Do those of us with a healthy respect for retro-gaming turn our noses up at the generation who grew up with Halo as their first experience, or do we learn what they like now, and present to them their chosen genre’s true gaming roots?

Is it even our job to care?

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Written by Adam R.

This author procured a media pass for E3 under false pretences, and no longer writes for Critical Gamer.

4 comments

  1. Krazyface /

    Nice thought provoker, I’m a retro freak to be honest. There’s something pleasing about looking at games from years ago and seeing how we needed more of an imagination to immerse ourselves in their worlds, but (for example) if I try to get my nephew into an older game, he just dosen’t want to know (I think they’re too hard for him) and why should he? If an old Clint Eastwood type came up to you with one of those Hoop & Stick thingies and asked you to have a go, would you even want to? I know it’s hard to admit it; but you and me are old timers now and the ‘yoof of 2day’ couldn’t care less that “In my day this were nowt but 8-Bits”

    Nice article by the way, I love reading stuff like this.

  2. half_empty80 /

    There are timeless classics from up to 20 years ago or more that can still be great to play today. In the same way I imagine a sprinkling of contemporary games will hold up well in 2030. My concern would be if we had the functioning hardware to play it on. A basic 8/16bit machine will work fine today, but will a PS3 or 360 still be working when you’re middle aged? Plus the fact that online servers will be shut off. Perhaps the answer is emulation or a download only future?

  3. Oni-Samurai /

    There is no school like the old school.

  4. Cheeky /

    What? None of your friends, if they sat down at their computers to be confronted by Tetris would give it a whirl?

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