Why Old Games Still Rock
1. They're easy to play, but hard to beat!You know what got me interested in making my own games? PS2; But not in the way you think. To me, those games were insanely hard... to play. Three directional controls, 12 buttons (not including start & select) and each one of them does different things in different situations? Forget that! I figured it would be easier to learn to create my own games than to learn how to play theirs. But NES, Super NES, Sega Genesis etc. were different: they were easy to figure out, but you had to play them like crazy to be able to beat the game. Gannon was hard to kill because he turned invisible and could shoot at you from any direction - not because I forgot how to use my sword! King Koopa's castle was tough to get through because it was a maze loaded with baddies, dead ends and traps - not because I couldn't figure out how to shoot a fireball! They were most definitely hard, but there wasn't a vertical wall of a learning curve just to play the thing! In other words, the challenge was in the levels (the obstacles, the AI etc.), not the gameplay. This is something that I think we've lost in today's games. We've forgotten how to KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid! :)). If we combined the amazing graphics and sound available today with the simplicity of the OGs, those old games might actually become a thing of the past. But until then, gamers and game addicts everywhere keep on makin'em like they did in the old days - and that's cool with me! :)
3. They're just plain fun!Games back in the day weren't trying to tell a story, prove a point, or be as realistic as possible. Back stories were written in the same document as the instructions, which were quickly thrown away (see point #1). So adventure games were simply Good vs. Evil. Heroes explored strange new lands, defeated monsters and rescued princesses. Sports games were about scoring points. And some games were just about getting your initials on a highscore list. So whatever you were doing, it was fun, not work. Maybe I'm just getting old... but to me a lot of the newer games are more work than fun. But my neice, who is growing up with all the latest tech, rocks the new games like I rocked the originals. So "fun" is a subjective term, no doubt about it. So how do we translate this into something more concrete? To answer that, I would suggest you ask yourself, what makes games fun to you? Back on the topic of the classics, here are some of the things I always enjoyed:
- Secret places that feel like cheating (like the whistles in Mario 3) - why try to find ways to actually cheat when you can just use what's built into the game?
- Weapons and other tricks that give you new abilities (like the frog suit in Mario 3 or the hook-shot in Zelda/Link to the Past)
- Random stuff that's just plain funny (like in Link to the Past when you go to the Dark World and turn into a bunny - that was so hilarious! Or in Mario World how Yoshi can eat... well just about anything, and spit it at the enemies! I could go on all night with this one.)
- Anything you can play with someone else (sports, Mario, Mario Kart, etc. - the more the merrier! This one is especially important because multiplayer online games are so big nowadays)
- Anything where the object of the game is stupidly obvious (even as a kid playing Zelda, I often bypassed the frustrating puzzle-like parts by using a book or bugging a friend who already beat it; not that adding some brain-teasing "figure it out" stuff to games is bad, but it's not always fun; for me it went from brain-teasing to mind-grinding way too quick)