There I was, no more than 8 years old, huddled around a SEGA Master System at my Nan’s house with 17 of my cousins flanking me on both sides. It was Christmas and as usual, the older ones would get their go first. Due to the age order, there were 5 others ahead of me in the queue. The task? Complete Sonic The Hedgehog. I sat there transfixed with the speedy blue spike-ball waiting for my turn and when it finally arrived, oh the joy. I would ensure my turn was of sufficient length by veering off course and exploring, much to the chagrin of my younger cousins. The further we progressed the more the excitement built and the more important our turns became. It was like pass the parcel, but when the music stopped, whoever held the pad was safe in the knowledge that they had finished the last level.
This is one of so many memories I have from my gaming life. Vivid memories include California Games, Strider, Gods, Goldeneye 64, Sonic, Mario, Streets Of Rage, Ecco The Dolphin and so much more. These memories aren’t all linked with offline multiplayer either. But you will notice these are all retro games; the most recent of the lot was Goldeneye. I look back and that’s the time period most of my memories come from. My fondness of more recent games could probably be counted on one hand. MGS1, God of War 1, GTA: San Andreas, Crackdown and Uncharted spring to mind. Sure, there have been loads of games that have impressed and entertained but once they are complete, I think no more of them. Has gaming nostalgia been made redundant?
The younger generation coming through are at a stage whereby their first experience of games will be in ‘HD’ with stunning graphics and expansive levels. Obviously there will be another generation of consoles and 3D technology will advance and begin to take up a more prominant role, but when I look at a game like Uncharted 2 for example, is there much more scope for improvement, graphics wise? I understand we asked ourselves the same question when we played those early games, as mentioned at the start of this musing, but deep down we knew more was to come. Has the scale and quality of today’s gaming generation hindered it’s long term appeal?
I have a tendancy to waffle but do you get where I’m coming from? The reason I remember Sonic and the rest, so vividly, is because a) gaming wasn’t such a household thing so it was more of a social event, b) it was charming to play an 8-bit character, c) online gaming didn’t exist, you had to play on your own or with someone sat next to you (which I suppose is part if A really) and d) the gameplay was simple but most importantly, addictive.
Can you honestly say that in ten or twenty years time you can look back and think of the PS3 or 360 generation with the same love? I’m struggling to say yes. I know I will look back and say things like: ‘Oh, Uncharted 2 was such an event. I remember being stunned by the graphics…’ or ‘I soiled myself in anticipation of God of War 3’ but this isn’t the same. I think the Wii is the only console offering these experiences at the moment. Agree?
Maybe it’s purely an age thing and I’d love to hear whether some of our younger members can prove me wrong with their memories, but it will be a real shame if ‘generations, yet unborn’ will miss out on some great gaming memories of this nature. I’ve steered away from this phrase due to fear of realising I’m getting older but, back in my day (there, I said it) games had a much more magical feel about them.
There is a huge possibility that these thoughts have originated through pessimism and negativity that comes with realising that growing up, for the most part, sucks!