Posted by Rampant Coyote on September 8, 2010
So you’ve decided to take a stab at “retrogaming”… playing one of those old video games from six, eight, ten, maybe even twenty or more years in the past. I have a little bit of an advantage as I remember when most of the games were hot and new. But still, it’s not all smooth sailing when I start playing my newest acquisition from GOG.COM, Steam, XBLA, or the back of the rack at the used game store.
But if you are like me, you may go through most or all of these stages of emotion as you play.
Stage 1: Anticipation
Could this game be as awesome as you remember, or you have heard about? It’s considered a classic by most gaming journalists – a wonder of its era. Better than many games of today, some say. Why, this antique game may be the best thing you’ve installed on your system this year! You can hardly wait…
Stage 2: Confusion
What’s EMS memory? What Soundblaster IRQ settings to use? How do you get DOSBOX to work with this? Okay, now that it’s installed, how do you freaking play it? Hadn’t they heard of tooltips back than? How do you leave the freaking inn? They commands are all over the keyboard! Argh! This is impossible. How did people play these games back then.
Wait, the manual you have to read to be able to play is HOW BIG?
Stage 3: Disappointment
Umm… you know, as much as you try to look past the old graphics, they really are… rough. What is that object really supposed to be? It’s either a sword or a person… Oh, it’s a house. The gameplay is a little more simplistic (in spite of its obtuse interface) than you expected, and there are a lot of things they are doing here that really have been done far better by more modern games. And did we mention ugly graphics?
Stage 4: Acceptance
Hmmm – okay, once you have read the manual and spent an hour or two playing, you kinda get into the rhythm of things. And it’s maybe not that bad. Sure, the graphics are primitive, but after a while you can look past that. But now, at last, you are finally playing, really playing the game. You begin to see the game as they must have seen it back when it was new. It’s not so much of a chore now, at least.
Stage 5: Enthusiasm
Now you are a few hours into it, and things are humming now. By now, most modern games would be half-over, but you are firing on all cylinders.
And you are having fun.
And you are impressed by small things that they’ve done. Things that maybe haven’t been imitated to death in modern games. They weren’t necessarily features or ideas that hit the ball out over the fences, but they are different. And cool. And fun. You are enjoying the game, warts and all.
Stage 6: Respect
If you get to this stage, everything changes.
You haven’t transcended or anything like that. But you have managed to take a trip back into time, without the need of a modified DeLorean. You’ve experienced a game of yesteryear much as gamers of an earlier time had. You’ve come to realize that “fun” wasn’t suddenly invented three years ago, and been inspired by what could be done with a game on a system that had little more computing power than your microwave.
Stage 7: Freedom
After going through these stages a few times (and I go through ’em every time, though with some games I never get past the disappointment stage), a peculiar feeling of freedom sets in. You are no longer in the thrall of the current release schedules. You no longer are constrained by what’s “current.” Inexpensive back-catalog offerings, used games, and indie games in the style of the old classics now offer nearly as much excitement (and a heck of a lot more bang-for-the-buck) than the latest releases.
Welcome to retrogaming. It won’t be “cool,” but hey — most of us remember when there was absolutely nothing cool about playing video games, anyway. But it will be fun, and that’s the point, isn’t it?
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