Anatomy of a Review

Anatomy of a Game Review #003: “Nostalgia, what it is and how to circumnavigate it”

Who controls the past controls the future.
-George Orwell, 1984



Happy today, NPCs!

Thanks for joining us today for another episode of the Anatomy of a Game Review series. The goal of this collection of articles is to attempt to (however clumsily) deepen the craft of criticism and invite critical, scholarly, academic, and historical disciplines into the field of games study and writing. That’s not going to appeal to everyone, of course, because we’re all different, but hopefully, it is something which at the very least gets us away from the game reviewer’s go-to “It just doesn’t work”. Our goal is to brighten the shadowy corners through the illumination of science (the science of criticism), and who would be against that?

If things like understanding what consumers of reviews look for and the structural uses of points systems interest you, then check out the previous entries in this quasi-monthly series.

So, onto the basis for this month’s entry! Special thanks to everyone who voted in our recent poll on Twitter and shared their thoughts! My thanks also to those who suffered through their notifications being blown up, something I’m determined to develop a reputation for, I guess.

This was yet another example of sharing our opinions only without having an argument. Can you believe it? That’s two times already in as many months and the topic was potentially even more controversial this time around. Checkmate, internet, you stupid idiot.

For those who didn’t get to participate or who had trouble keeping up with everyone’s replies, I’ve linked to the original poll and I’ll share my takeaways below.



A few takeaways I had:

  1. Many found choosing a specific decade difficult.
  2. The SNES was a fan favorite, which does my heart happy.
  3. I was personally surprised the ’80s didn’t get more love!
  4. There was some guilt expressed by those who voted for the 2010s, which may be due to the defensiveness of some retrogaming arenas.
  5. Favorite decades were directly tied to favorite games, not eras or advancements in technology or even primarily to consoles and systems.
  6. I like the point someone made: “Right now is the best time ever to be a gamer. If nothing else, it is probably easier to play games from the 80s and 90s than it was in the 80s and 90s.”
  7. Variety is a big benefit of the current era in gaming whereas some saw the rise in prevalence of the internet as a downfall in preserving the mystery of games.
  8. The 90s was the clear winner for favorite decade and reasons cited included the tail end of the NES, the birth of the SNES, the rise and fall of Sega, the genesis of true 3D with both PlayStation and the N64, the rise of handhelds, the console wars, great PC games, the arcades were still around. It was the best of so many worlds. What a time to be a gamer.

The big takeaway, the one thing that’s clearest, is that nostalgia is powerful.

Many commenters were upfront about it, but what is nostalgia? Should the critic be aware of the allure of nostalgia? I think so, just as the critic should be aware of their own biases.


Nostalgia combines the potential impact of several feelings: a sense of loss, longing, yearning, a sense of specific joy and pride. It can be happy or sad. Sometimes it even feels like both. It’s sentimentality for the past. Nostalgia is powerful because it often penetrates into our oldest memories and the deepest fundamentals of the people that we turned out to be

That explains why people so easily take offense when something they enjoy through nostalgia is defamed or bad-mouthed; nostalgia requires that the person with those sentiments makes a cultural statement of identity and ownership over something (a home, a place, a product, an activity). It explains why the results of the poll could be anticipated: “greatest” and “favorite” are often combined by some but ask what a person’s favorite is in any category and the pull of nostalgia is going to be present to some degree.

It also explains why retro gaming has such a large presence in the gaming scene today, why people are still playing, enjoying, creating content for, and talking about games that came out over two decades ago. Now to what extent nostalgia explains away the infatuation with retro classics as balanced against the assertion that those games have aged well and retain objectively good qualities is something that must be described per individual and per game, it seems. That’s a conversation for another day.


“Nostalgia” was a neologism first coined in 1668 by Johannes Hofer, a word for homesickness. It comes as a compound word from the Greek νόστος (nostos) which means “homecoming” and ἄλγος (algos) which means “pain, ache, grief, distress”. Nostalgia came to mean intense homesickness, originally made in reference to Swiss mercenaries fighting abroad.

I’m reminded of the closing song of the game Journey, “I Was Born For This”, which has as part of its translation: “To each his day is given, ‘Tis time that I fare from you, Lost is my homecoming, I was born for this”. These lyrics tell of the solitude and isolation of the journey, and the bittersweet memories of a home that cannot be returned to.


Next question(s): What purpose does nostalgia have? Does it possess a positive potential? The answer is yes. In fact, I came across a variety of writings from academics about the positive functions of nostalgia.

A 2014 article in Psychology Today by Neel Burton M.D. stated:

“Our everyday is humdrum, often even absurd. Nostalgia can lend us much-needed context, perspective, and direction, reminding and reassuring us that our life (and that of others) is not as banal as it may seem, that it is rooted in a narrative, and that there have been—and will once again be—meaningful moments and experiences. In that much, nostalgia serves a similar function to anticipation, which can be defined as enthusiasm and excitement for some expected or hoped-for positive event. The hauntings of times gone by, and the imaginings of times to come, strengthen us in lesser times.”

A 2008 article which appeared on ScienceDaily from the Association for Psychological Science entitled “More Than Just Being A Sentimental Fool: The Psychology Of Nostalgia” summarized:

“Nostalgia has a long history, being viewed initially as a medical disease, then as a psychiatric disease. According to a new report in Current Directions in Psychological Science, only recently have psychologists begun focusing on the positive and potentially therapeutic aspects of nostalgia. Research suggests that nostalgia can promote psychological health, including counteracting the effects of loneliness and providing us with a greater sense of continuity and meaning to our lives.”

Elsewhere, in a very long-form analysis of Chrono Trigger where I talked about objectivity, exaggeration, and nostalgia, I attempted to address the difficulties of the reviewer/critic when confronted by these things and how they can impact rationality. Of hype and nostalgia I said:

“I see the both of these like the two-faced Janus, Roman idol of duality, with hype facing toward the future and nostalgia facing toward the past. Hype is concerned with over-inflating the expectation, significance, and quality of an upcoming title before its release based on rumor, conjecture, and a lot of imagination. Nostalgia involves ignoring or actively forgetting the downsides and shortcomings of old experiences, especially the ones which made an impact on us during the impressionable years of our youth, occasionally drawing the ire of those who feel as if “their childhood is being ruined”. See? More hyperbole.


As confusing as you’d expect life to be if you had two faces on your head, attempting to surmount both hype and nostalgia can be bamboozling and require a lot of hard work. These self-inflicted, twin illusory states involve the glorification of experiences in our minds beyond what is reasonable or factual, and how can one be factual about sepia-toned memories out of our youth or about experiences which haven’t even happened yet?”

How? Well, you’ll just have to go read that “dissertation” to find out! There’s a much larger breakdown of these concepts there.


So what is the critic’s responsibility when it comes to nostalgia? Five things:

#1. Recognize that nostalgia is ever-present. There’s no getting away from it, just as there’s no getting away from one’s biases. This is a running issue in many forms of journalism, gaming journalism without exception. If you know a writer can’t appreciate a JRPG on a pre-conceived bias, then you’ll know to take their opinion with a grain of salt if you’re looking for an evaluation of a JRPG, especially if their opinion leans toward the uninformed rather than the informed!

#2. Recognize that nostalgia is not new. It’s a fundamentally human attribute we share with our ancestors. There’s been the suggestion bandied about that people are becoming more nostalgic as time goes on thanks to the growing efficiency of marketing and the increase in consumerism. While that may be true to some extent (have fun trying to prove it), nostalgia has been around for thousands of years. Experiencing nostalgia is something we’ve done as a species for millennia. In the Bible’s Numbers 11:5, the Israelites remembered even slavery with fondness: “We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic.” The 1788 Scots poem “Auld Lang Syne” sings fondly of “days gone by”. Nostalgia is a major theme in Homer’s Odyssey, where the concept of νόστος pervades Odysseus’ yearning to return home after the Trojan war.

#3. Because nostalgia is ever-present and because it is not new people who are nostalgic cannot have their opinions disregarded on that basis alone. If nostalgia is everywhere, then nobody’s opinion “counts”, right? Nostalgia may partially explain why someone likes something, but there’s still the task of digging deeper to see if there’s anything else fueling that appreciation. Merely saying “it’s just nostalgia” to explain why someone likes something seems lazy and rude to me. Not only does that depreciate the person’s past experiences in question, their validity and personal value, but it also ends the conversation. If it’s “just that”, then what else is there to say? Certainly, there’s nothing to say about the subject’s the intrinsic qualities, if any! They’re no longer discoverable because, well, it’s just nostalgia, after all. Really, “just” is a poor way to excuse something without having to work to disprove it.

Nostalgia does not automatically equal inadequacy.

#4. Be aware and honest about one’s nostalgia, which can skew critical evaluation toward favor or disapproval. It’s the duty of the writer (not the writer’s fans or following) to be transparent about what they favor and what they don’t, what they feel they’re most qualified to evaluate, and so on so that the reader can understand where they’re coming from. Critics can wield an immense power, I hope you believe that, so sharing your opinion and criticisms has value to it inasmuch as swaying another person’s opinion or changing their mind is a significant thing. Don’t take it lightly but be honest about your nostalgia.

#5. Stand on the facts. While nostalgia is always there to some extent, it is the privilege of the critic to find provable facts which exist beyond the reach of nostalgic bias. This is easier for some subjects than others: it will take a great deal more proving to found “Super Mario Bros. is the greatest” versus the relative simplicity of saying “Super Mario Bros. is a platformer”. This is all provided you believe in an objective reality we can all agree on to some extent based on our senses, of course. If not, I can’t help you there since you can’t even prove you’re reading this.


In conclusion, maybe you didn’t have a chance to vote in the Twitter poll yourself. Well, today’s your lucky day because I’ve created a new poll for you. What is your favorite decade of gaming and why? Let us know in the comments! The collection of data never stops. Just watch out for nostalgia.

In your service,
-The Well-Red Mage


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36 replies »

  1. I am a little sad that the 80’s didn’t get a little more love. So hard to deny though that the 90’s were a huge Renaissance in gaming, and the tech was advancing really swiftly. (It is still advancing swiftly even now, but the little steps taken one after the other made such a difference then). Each gen looks a little crisper and cleaner around the edges now, but back then the limitations being pushed by 8/16/32/64 seemed mind blowing in the capabilities that each stage unleashed upon us at each phase. it was incredible to see the difference between Zelda 1 and Zelda LTTP, then Boom OCARINA. FF1, FF6, boom FF7. It was a great evolution to see.

    Does FF15 really look that different in graphical quality to FF13, Is the “next” Zelda gonna be a huge leap over BOTW? Sure games will always look better and better at each phase. But I will always miss seeing those much more noticeable leaps in visual.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have a strange way of using nostalgia when playing games. I remember the games I played when I was younger and how I used to enjoy playing them. I remember the games I liked to play just to relax, the games I would attempt to get every secret and the games I used to enjoy replaying because I wanted to experience the story again. When I play games now, I wonder how I would have felt if I played them as a kid. For example, I would play Okami, wondering if the story was light enough, but enthralling, to encourage me to play the game multiple times, like with Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. It can be interesting as it makes me realise how games have changed since I was younger.
    I actually selected the 2000s as my favourite decade. My memories of the games I played during this decade were more varied and had more developed stories than the games I played throughout the whole of the 1990s, but were not as expensive as games from the 2010s.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. But we can all agree that SMB3 is the greatest Mario game if not the greatest game ever right? I mean in terms of having nothing that needs changing. I can’t even say that about my beloved FFVII. They’re not remaking SMB3, because they don’t have to :p

    Liked by 2 people

    • Of course! 🙂 I think that nostalgia can present a difficulty with evaluating retro games but it’s not impossible to overcome. With a set amount of agreed upon objective qualities to trace, any work should be able to be sufficiently measured (creators’ intent, execution, relationship to limitations, impact, structure, gameplay, the invitational nature of visuals are all things to consider and there’s plenty more).

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think so, too. I also think sometimes people will throw the nostalgia thing as sort of a barb, as if insinuating that a person can’t be more objective because of the seemingly rose colored glasses. I have definitely gone back to things I used to love and recoiled in horror, and I can admit where long beloved works have their failings.

        Liked by 1 person

          • *nods emphatically* If you think about older movies, of course if you grew up on that, you might have the rose tint, but on the other hand if you didn’t, you might not consider the zeitgeist they were made in and miss integral parts. There’s a certain mien to everything, and the context they were made in is important.

            Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m part of the majority who voted for the 90s. Like you said, it’s kind of an all-in-one decade, pioneering 3D graphics and color handhelds, a good balance of strategy heavy games and pick-up-and-play, the start or evolution of many key franchises, and wider acceptance of games in general. It may be easier to play games now, but it just doesn’t feel as big of an explosion as the 90s.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I feel like evolution is becoming an apparent theme for the 90s and I haven’t exactly always thought of it that way. When you phrase it thusly, it really does seem like it was a packed decade. Thanks for the comment 🙂 oh and for voting, too!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Nostalgia is a powerful and inescapable emotion, and will always be an influencing factor in any criticism or review. That said, any critic has a responsibility to recognize that fact and try to limit the direct impact that their own nostalgia has on their assessment of a work. As you said – writers and critics wield a tremendous amount of power and influence, and it is their responsibility to be judicious in its use.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. As always, your research is impeccable. I loved reading how you took a simple twitter poll and comments and made them a fully-fleshed out article. The power of nostalgia cannot be overstated. But I’m so glad there’s research out there to prove it can be a positive state instead of a negative one. I see the games of the 90s as a time jump to my childhood-less responsibilities, less cares and fears, and more time to spend simply playing. Whenever I pick one up I can feel the stress melting away. It’s why I’ll continue to play Ocarina of Time till the day I die!

    Liked by 1 person

    • As always, thanks for the kind words! This didn’t take too long to research for and to top it off I had a blast putting it together and hearing from so many different people who believe the same things as me, and those who don’t. That’s diversity, right?

      Nostalgia is such a fascinating thing, potentially positive or negative, happy or sad. That feeling of belonging to a cultural identity, tied to nostalgia, is actually something that is beneficial, too. I came across reading how social integration (whatever form that takes) is of immense benefit to one’s health and a significant factor in lengthening our lifespans. We are social creatures, after all, and nostalgia is a big facet of that! Just be careful about it if you’re going to be a level-headed critic 🙂


  7. Nostalgia runs rampant in gaming more than any other medium. I think this is tied to the fact that, unlike a movie, games are interactive and so you end up forming deeper connections with them. People take ownership over those experiences in a different way than movies, and they end up putting them on a pedestal. They aren’t just games any longer, they are crystallized bits of their childhood, untouchable by any, and fiercely defended if spoke ill of.

    I tire of the idea that modern gaming has so many problems, when for every one of those I could point out a similar problem previously experienced during the SNES and PS eras. I don’t even really think it is debatable that games like Breath of the Wild and God of War are utter masterpieces, and ones not possible in previous generations.

    Gaming is partly based around technology, not just for graphics, but also to improve your experience. When you open a door in Breath of the Wild, there is no load, you are just in the room. God of War takes place from one camera, with almost no loads even though it is gorgeous. These make the game far more immersive then waiting 2-5 seconds every time you walk in a door for the room to load.

    This idea of modern gaming being broken or corrupted is ridiculous, as it is simply growing with the times. It makes a lot of retro gamers sound like those old people who pine for the 50’s, when if you look back the 50s were kind of awful. Retro games should never be forgotten, and there are some games from past generations I would put on par with anything nowadays, but a vast majority of them simply don’t hold up to the experiences being put out today, regardless of patches and DLC.

    Liked by 2 people

    • AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Just kidding but hey check this out: the truth is that originally when I came up with this poll I had it as “best decade in gaming”. I changed it to the final “favorite decade in gaming” because it automatically seems less confrontational. One could correct another on what’s best or not (potentially) but you can’t correct what someone’s favorite is based on their experiences with it. I think that made for a less argumentative Twitter interaction than it might’ve been. As ever, I’ll try to respond by paragraph 🙂

      1) Nostalgia running rampant in gaming more than any other medium is a theory I’d like data on, because I’ve heard that before but I’m unsure of how true it is. It may seem that way because we interact with gamers more than film-lovers or book-readers or foodies, and because the internet allows us a ton of transparent commonality when it comes to expressing our feelings of nostalgia. I also included a few references to nostalgia in literature and song predating games, so I’m curious as to your thoughts on that. It would seem to me to indicate that nostalgia isn’t a phenomenon unique to gaming as some would posit.

      That said, I do of course agree that many people make idols out of their nostalgic objects, which is why I wrote that nostalgia is about making a cultural statement of identity. I believe you and I talked about this before? People take offense because it’s not just a product that’s being degraded, but in their eyes it’s the validity of their memories, their identity. Note that doesn’t excuse people who hide behind nostalgia, as it were, or pretend it does’t exist and ignore their own biases, neither does that excuse people who criticize the opinions of others and dismiss them as inadequate by saying “it’s just nostalgia” without asking if there’s more to it.

      2) “I tire of the idea that modern gaming has so many problems, when for every one of those I could point out a similar problem previously experienced during the SNES and PS eras.” What I take issue with here is a kind of whataboutism set of arguments. I can only speak for myself when I say that criticizing modern gaming doesn’t imply that retro gaming is perfect or without notable flaws, or vice versa, that criticizing retro gaming means modern gaming is perfect. There are masterpieces all across gaming’s storied history.

      I don’t think that either of them are and I attempted an underhanded post once where I polled people about what flaws they perceived in both modern and retro gaming, then compared the lists to show that neither camp is standing on a perfect foundation. Reading through the other comments here, people have furnished a ton of reasons why this era or that era is bad. There are flaws to find everywhere and whataboutisms in that light almost seem like you have an ax to grind against a specific era of gaming (which undoubtedly many people do).

      3) I agree that improvements in technology are objectively good things and you’ve cited specific examples of games that use advancements in great ways. I agree. I’d also agree on individual bases when someone cites specific examples where advancements were misused or ignored.

      4) I’m not out to psychoanalyze you or anything, but I think that people find things to like in various eras regardless of their flaws, and this is the paragraph that read a little bitter to me. That’s not at all intended as a personal attack against your character, as I deeply respect you as a fellow wordsmith and an intelligent individual; it’s a reflection upon your phrasing.

      You mentioned elsewhere that you’ve had conversations with people who play retro games exclusively? I wonder if it’s those that have worn you down? Either way, I’ve changed my ID from retro gamer to classics gamer now that I’ve finally began playing current games again (there was a large stint when I stopped), and the question of which is better I find largely tedious since again it seems to boil down to whataboutisms. That may make me sound like an old person but I think it’s balanced to pine for old games AND enjoy new games. Or enjoy whatever makes you happy! That’s what gaming is about, once you get outside of the fandoms that don’t understand each other.

      Ultimately, we can both agree that gaming is pretty great right now, though the extent to which we believe that may fundamentally differ, patches or RF cables, DLC and loading times or aged unplayables and inaccessible ideas, and all.

      I appreciate the comment!


      • 1.) Of course other mediums do inspire nostalgia, pretty much anything in your past can obviously. I just feel that with games, because we make these things our own, that maybe the connection can be deeper. Believe me, as a previous hardcore Star Wars fans who thought the prequels were just fine, I know that people can attach nostalgia to things such as movies just as strongly.

        2.) That would be a very clever poll, that I would have love to see. Maybe I came on too strong here, it just seems to me that so many times people think older just equals better, and it isn’t true. Look at the Zelda effect, a subset of gamers always hate the newest one, until time goes by and the next one comes out, and then they tend to look back on the other fondly. Nothing has changed, time just passed, and so it become a part of an echelon of nostalgia ridden console memories.

        3.) We mostly agree here.

        4.) I may sound bitter, and perhaps it is those conversations with my friend that have beaten me down in this regards, but I do think people pine for the past as a natural state of things. It doesn’t really usually matter if those things were better, they just want them back because they are older, and that is such an odd way of thinking to me.

        That being said, of course there were masterpieces that are older, just as much as there are terrible games that are newer. I would argue that the ratio today is far more tipped towards the really good games when it comes towards consoles, especially the AAA space, but that isn’t really the point here.

        I tend to consume media differently from a lot of people I know. I watch a movie, read a book, play a game, watch a TV show, and that is it usually. Unless it is an absolute favorite I won’t go back to it again, unless a long time has passed and it has been updated extensively, or it happens to be on (with a movie obviously, games never happen to be on). I’m always about exploring new horizons, not always reliving the old ones. I’ll still indulge myself with a yearly Lord of the Rings reading, or a bi-yearly playthrough of Chrono Trigger, but usually once I’m done with something it is on to the next, only looking back for a moment to say: hey that was cool.

        Anyway, as always, we agree on most things. Games are cool, I love them, and I feel we are living in the golden age of gaming. Anybody can of course feel differently, this is all based on opinion obviously, but I just wish a vast majority would stop bashing on this generation of gaming because of nostalgia (not you obviously).

        Thanks for the discussion!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. i posted this about my feelings towards nostalgia a while back.

    As for gaming decades, the 80’s they were still getting their footing. Most of the games are just messes.
    90’s, they perfected it with some solid platforming and some new ideas, branching gaming out quite a bit.
    The N64-PS era was also messy, having moved into 3D for the first time, and many of the games were obvious experiments on what works and what doesn’t.
    The GC/XB/PS2 era is my favorite, for they mastered 3D games, implementing a lot of new ideas, huge stories, tons of unlockables and great gameplay.
    Next gen was also excellent, but that started the whole online craze, long updates every other day and the dreaded DLC taking place of unlocking things. This is where gaming has started going downhill.
    The current gen takes this even further to the point where it is just ridiculous. I don’t even want to buy new consoles anymore, save for a few beloved franchises, which is what keeps me playing. Single player is playing second fiddle to online games it seems, everything is open world, which I don’t love. It’s just a mess now, taking over by popular crap I hate and greedy corporations.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing your link with us! If I stop to think about it, the clunky introduction of widespread 3D, the 3D era, is probably the worst thing about 90s gaming (excepting the fact that it had to happen eventually to get where we’re at today). I am also not a fan of online-everything today, and I echo the sentiment (to an extent) that a lot feels cut-and-paste today.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. One of the main problems with nostalgia is it can distort the truth and make you think something is better than it really was. I’ve found this with quite a few N64 games, on revisiting them, but happily the SNES era largely stays intact. Something like Super Metroid… I can’t see it ever ageing. Contemporary indie devs are riffing off this nostalgia, too, to build on it and deliver all these glorious Metroidvania titles. Which is nice.

    Liked by 3 people

    • There are also some indies who miss the point, sadly, particularly when it comes to the appeal of pixel art. If I have to see one more characterless, bandy-legged protagonist with no face I might scream.

      The ones who get it right get it REALLY right, though. See: anything by WayForward, Freedom Planet, Sonic Mania.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yeah, there are so many indie games coming out, with early access too, I feel they’re rush jobs to get peoples’ cash. You have to pick them carefully, but strong reviews usually speak for themselves.

        Yacht Club Games has managed it to perfection with Shovel Knight, I think. It’s so much fun! All the little extra touches they put in, like using actual NES technology to record the soundtrack.

        Liked by 2 people

        • So here’s a potentially interesting point:

          Someone suggested that the average game today is much better than the average game in the 90s. Now, given that the pool of games coming out today is MUCH larger than back then, you still have to consider that the average game today is among the hundreds of games coming out on Steam every week… NOT the AAA games that win Game Oscars. If that’s the case, I’d take the average retro game over the average Steam indie any day.

          What’s your opinion on that? Also, Shovel Knight is exceptionally good.

          Liked by 1 person

          • The very best Steam indies are certainly up there with the best retro titles – I’m thinking Ori (which I did a review on, of course), Shovel Knight, INSIDE, Axiom Verge, and Teslagrad. There’s no denying overall game quality has gone up, but I think most modern games don’t hit the heights of the SNES era, when it was just masterpiece after masterpiece. It’ll always be retro games for me, although I do love the indie scene. But something like Super Metroid is total genius, which is hard to replicate.

            Liked by 1 person

      • I sincerely empathize with this! Having played a significant amount of indies over the past few years, much more so than in previous years, I think I’ve burned out on pixel platformers for the time being. There are certainly those diamonds in the rough, though, and some of my new favorite games are indie games. Got to weed through the masses to find the jewels, like you said: there are those who get it REALLY right.

        Liked by 2 people

    • I wholeheartedly agree! One of the big themes of my writing has been that late-2D is much better than early-3D. N64 and PS1 were pioneers but they were steps back in terms of quality following on the heels of the SNES. There’s a reason why those games (and not ones that came out a year or two later on PS1/N64) top lists and remain perennial favorites (generally speaking, of course).


  10. Woah, it is weird to be in the minority in choosing a specific decade for technological reasons AND games. People are right though, the now time is pretty great because these past games are even more accessible and able to be played on better hardware for better experiences. Enjoyed the reading 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Just what I noticed. It would have been nice to get an even larger polling base but over 200 participants had to suffice. The accessibility of past games is a big factor in a lot of people still playing games today, with some great collections and remasters coming out. I like the caveat that someone proposed though… would you still vote for 2010 if you couldn’t play any retro games (let’s say nothing older than 10 years)?

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ah, well over 200 participants is still really good. Let me know if you ever need help setting up a survey and distributing it to reach even more people 🙂 I used to do that for a living and would be more than happy to help with that.

        Any time 😀


  11. “[…] the assertion that those games have aged well and retain objectively good qualities is something that must be described per individual and per game […]”
    Boot up console _ _ _ Boot up console
    Press start _ _ _ Console menu
    Level 1 _ _ _ Downloading system update
    First boss _ _ _ Downloading game update
    Level 2 _ _ _ Cinematics
    Second boss _ _ _ Forced tutorial
    Level 3 _ _ _ Still forced tutorial
    Third boss _ _ _ Loading
    Level 4 _ _ _ Cinematics
    Fourth boss _ _ _ Level 1

    Personally, I consider this to be a rock hard evidence of one not having all the trappings of modernity and ‘form over substance’. Back in that time you just played, the fun came immediately, and I am pretty sure that some games such as Megaman can be finished before you get into actual action in more modern titles. So yes, nolsagia, maybe, but facts are still here to explain it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m partial to agreeing with you, though of course not every modern game falls into the modern characteristics you’ve described. The question of whether enough of them do to cause you to dislike the whole is a question each individual must answer. For me, though, that sort of thing is enough to keep me from rushing out to pick up every big AAA title coming out these days right at launch. I think of the games I’ve played that were broken, unfinished, incomplete at launch and it doesn’t seem worth it to me. I’ve wasted many a day off sitting in front of my TV watching a game download after I purchased the disc or waiting for “maintenance”.

      I’m glad you picked up on the theme of this article that yes there is nostalgia but facts are still facts, and that’s where the discussion lies.

      I also laughed that you could finish a classic game like Mega Man by the time you get to the actual game! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, 45 minutes is perfectly doable when waiting for Metal Gear 4 to load or for Call of Duty to get you out of the training camp and past the introduction, but yes, not all game falls in that mold thankfully.

        The mention of incomplete games is a point I didn’t mention, yes. Sure, old games had bugs (just looking at FF 6’s list is baffling) but at least they were complete! Nowaday, when I want to explain why older games are better, I only need to point at FF XV’s general direction, does the work for me.

        Liked by 1 person

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