The Unfair Advantage of Older Games

Posted: February 3, 2014 in Current Gaming, Retro Gaming
Tags: , , , , , ,

Mario Old vs New

A few days ago, I finally started playing The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds for the 3DS. My son got it for Christmas (no, not from me, I’m not that self-serving), and I was already in the middle of a couple of games, so I put it off. I’ll do a “Post Game Wrap-up” for it when I’m done, but will say that it completely pulled me in right away.

Hey! That’s me saying that! Ahem…

Part of the appeal of the game is that it’s a revisit to the Hyrule that I played through so many times in A Link to the Past. My love affair with that game started when I was about 12, and I’ve replayed it as recently as last year. It never gets old or stops being fun.

One thing I’ve noticed about myself is that when it comes to franchises that had entries when I was younger as well as entries I play today, I almost always prefer the older games. I can say objectively that some of the newer entries really are better games, but when I look at it subjectively, I can no longer make that declaration.

For a long time I chalked this up to nostalgia, and while I believe that’s part of it, I think the bulk of it comes down to the fact that my patience with games as a kid was much greater than it is today. Let me explain what I mean. When I was younger, games didn’t get old. I would play through them again and again, hunting for secrets or hidden areas or neat tricks I could do. Want to know where the secret exits in Super Mario World are? I can still tell you each one. All the little tricks in Super Mario Bros. 3? Yeah, not an issue. I can guide you through any of the Mega Man games up to and including Mega Man 5 without breaking a sweat, and know the best paths to choose in Castlevania 3. Don’t ask me how to sequence break in Super Metroid unless you want a lecture. Then there’s A Link to the Past. I know every bomb-able wall, every cave, every nook and cranny of the game. See, all of that knowledge has stayed with me, and I revisit all of those games regularly, which refreshes them in my mind.

I even know the high-jump secret to Mega Man 3.

I even know the high-jump secret to Mega Man 3.

This is a big part of why newer entries such as the New Super Mario Brothers series or the DS Castlevanias will never top their older incarnations. I no longer have the time and patience to put into them the way I once did. Yes, I did eventually find all the secret exits in New Super Mario Brothers U, but I’m not sure if I could find them again right now without doing some searching. The Hyrule of Twilight Princess is pretty amazing, but I can’t tell you where everything is located in Hyrule Field. The same is even true for Mega Man 9 & 10. They were great games. Definitely recaptured the feel of the originals, but it was still one and done when I played and beat them. I had other games to play, and other responsibilities to attend to. I can’t commit myself to learning a game inside and out anymore. Again, all of these games are fun and well made, I want to make it clear that I’m not calling these newer games bad.

Any Metroid fan worth anything better know how to get items via morph ball bombing.

Any Metroid fan worth anything better know how to get items via morph ball bombing.

It’s really quite unfair for newer games. It’s not their fault that I can’t adore them the way I did games on the NES and Super NES. But it is the case. They aren’t bad games at all. As I said, objectively, Super Mario Galaxy is probably a better game than Super Mario Brothers 3, but I know Super Mario Brothers 3. I know the Hyrule of A Link to the Past, which is why A Link Between Worlds is immediately familiar to me. It taps into a game I already know well, and expands on it. Sure, there are exceptions to this rule. Resident Evil 4 and Metroid Prime come to mind as games I’m intimately familiar with, but in most cases, newer incarnations of games will always pale in my eyes to what I played in the past and still know so well.

I have to say, it’s neat to see a familiar scene playing out in my seven year old, who does know those secret exits of NSMBU and the little tricks of Super Mario 3D World. The fascination and patience to learn a game is alive and well in him, and one day I’m sure he’ll look back on those games the same way I look back on the games of my childhood.

That is one beautiful map.

That is one beautiful map.

  1. Gabriel says:

    I hear you man, I feel like when I play games nowadays I never put in the time I would have as when I was younger meaning they won’t stick with me as long. Let’s take Super Mario Galaxy for an example, it’s a wonderful game yet it didn’t stick with me like let’s say Mario 64 did in the way where I could tell you where everything is hidden and at and I haven’t replayed that since the DS remake came out!

    I don’t know if that will ever change due to the time restraints of the real world as an adult compared to when I was a child. I am still happy though that gaming has stuck with me as an adult and is a hobby I feel I’ll always have šŸ™‚

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