Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be

This last year has seen a lot in the way of end of life consoles and features. The Wii U is dead (finally), though frankly it was stillborn to begin with. PS3 will no longer support PS Now.

But this year also saw the release of the NES Classic console and a bevy of retro games (specifically on the E-Shop). And in the last couple of years, the “retro” 8 and 16 bit games have become increasingly popular.

But, how does this all stand up?

Don’t get me wrong – I grew up on the NES/SNES. Games like Contra, Zelda and of course, the titular Mario Bros games. And I do still love them. In fact, I recently got myself an SNES. But with the sophistication of current games – is simple nostalgia enough to keep us engaged?

I think of games like Mega Man. An absolute classic. I don’t think anyone could dispute that Mega Man 2 is easily one of the best games of the generations. That being said – how does it stack up next to say, Fallout 4 or The Witcher 3?

Obviously the older stuff isn’t as technically proficient. And, things like the controls are considerably more simplistic. But are those the deciding factors? Is there a way to say “X is better than Y”? Is that the question we should even be asking?

All I can say, from personal experience, is a lot of those games just don’t hold up like I (and I’ll say we and speak for some of you) would like them to.

I think of picking up the NES Classic, but then I look at those games and think: Do I really want to spend 80$ to play Bubble Bobble? Or, is the real fun of Bubble Bobble, in my mind – I mean, the memory of playing it side by side with my friends (and in my case, my grand mother) as a kid?

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And I know, for whatever reason, nostalgia is a huge part of this generation (age group). So I, by default, should be in love with all of the retro stuff coming out. And part of me is. But it’s just nostalgia for nostalgia’s purpose.

I think I’m more interested in where we are, and where we will be potentially over the course of the next few years. The potential in the gaming industry right now seems virtually limitless. VR, despite it being an early incarnation, has some very interesting possibilities. Games, in general, have gotten more complex in terms of actual gameplay, graphics, stories, etc. Even games that I thought there was no hope for the series – like Resident Evil – have surprised me and put out some super high quality games. Which is especially amazing, given the proclivity towards the retro, since Resident Evil 1 was easily one of my favourite PS1 games. In that sense, this nostalgic indulgence is definitely a positive for the future of the industry.

Ok, don’t get me wrong. I think it’s great that indie developers are reaching back to our roots and showing us where we came from – and are doing some things to make them new and innovative. I also think it’s great that consoles like NES Classic exist for those who never had the opportunity to play through Zelda when it came out.

But this focus (read: cashing in) on the nostalgia of our generation isn’t something I can really get on board with. As far as my consumer dollar goes – I will be laying it down for the new and truly innovative. That is to say, there is nothing wrong with working on something new with a nostalgic twist to it. Every new Zelda has been as good or better than the last – with a few exceptions.

What do you think? Are we better off looking to the past for inspiration and fun, or keep our eyes on the horizon and wait to see what breakthroughs are sure to develop – some in the near future. Let me know in the comments.

– The Ego

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Classic vs Classic

So the NES Classic edition is coming out in just seven short days. What are people thinking? I just inherited (no, they didn’t die, they just gave them to me) two-too many original NES’ from my grandparents. I was fortunate enough to already have one, and a few awesome games. Some of them were my grandmother’s – and are straight out of my childhood. I also snagged my old N64 and their SNES. Which is definitely one of my prized possessions. If only I could find a reasonably priced copy of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Mario RPG – I’d be all set.

So, personally, I’m torn. Do I or don’t I?

The thought of having an NES that doesn’t require me blowing into every cartridge is incredibly appealing. Even though this apparently “does nothing”.

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And, even though I do have a fair assortment of games, like I said – stuff like Tiny Toons and Zelda – there are a lot of games built into that console that I don’t have. Castlevania,  Donkey Kong (and Jr), Ghost N’Goblins and Punch Out! Oh man. Plus Dr. Mario. The nostalgia is just flooding back. I used to have a running competition with one of my elementary school teachers in Dr. Mario.

Plus, from what I’ve read, the updated graphics are something to write home about. I’ll chalk it up to the HDMI running the show instead of an RF cable. As a side note – when I unpacked my NES to hook up to my 4K TV, I wasn’t even sure it was going to hook up. But it did. Plus the “classic” look mode is supposed to be pretty cool as well.

And the new console looks pretty awesome. Tiny, but awesome. Apparently the controllers are as wide as the entire console.

The controllers have been upgraded as well. The new controllers include tighter, better functioning D-Pads. Which will hopefully make playing games like Mega Man 2 – with it’s incredibly infuriating platforming sections – a more workable nightmare.

But, and yea we’re onto the negatives now – on the topic of the controllers: The cord. It’s way too short. For me, it’s not a huge issue. My living room isn’t large, so short wired controllers isn’t a big deal. But, the choice to do that in the first place is kind of baffling. It’s a Nintendo decision for sure. “Do people still sit two feet from the TV like they did when they were kids? No? Fuck it. Make the cords 3′ long anyway”.

The biggest no for me is the pre-loaded games. I don’t mean the choices – although while I’m at it, some of the choices are a little wonky. Super C instead of Contra? Why? I digress. The real problem is that there are only 30 games built into the console. Which, for a start, is perfectly fine. And at (I’m assuming 80$) 30 games is a good amount. Even if they aren’t all winners. But the fact that you can’t upload, download or add any more games in any way makes this system kind of a let down. I think I speak for most people when I say that when this system was announced and they said pre-installed games, that at some point we would be able to take advantage of the built in hard drive and actually be able to get some new games for it. Of course, it’s Nintendo, so I assumed it would be at my expense from the Nintendo eShop. Which, I guess, is to be expected. It’s not like they’re going to just hand out free titles – I mean, their competition has been doing it for years, but hey, it’s Nintendo.

So, with that in mind, I still don’t know what to do. If I buy the Classic, I’ll still have to buy some of the NES games I don’t have. But it’ll save me a bunch of money and time not having to track down the games that are already installed.

What am I to do?

– The Ego