In the rush of the video game industry, it’s pretty much impossible to play every single game as it comes out. Even if you happen to have the money to do that, you almost certainly won’t have the time; but if you happen to have both, then congratulations sir or madam, you are set for life.
But for us plebs, the realities of money and time often mean making hard choices, choosing between Smash Bros and Street Fighter, Super Mario and Sonic. But what if you still want to play those other games?
As a gamer, I have a bucket list of games that I want/need to play at some point. This includes classics like Banjo-Kazooie and Kirby ’64, as well as newer titles like Dishonored and The Witcher III. Despite their variance, they all represent the opportunity cost of what titles I did choose to play and buy. And while some of these games represent the current fare (e.g. Fire Emblem Echoes), most of the items have been on this list for some time. Which brings to bear an important question: is 19 years too late to play Banjo-Kazooie?
In writing this article, I want to talk about why you should still play those older games even if the original has long since become a series.
The primary reason any game sticks around in our collective memories is simply because it’s good. It’s hard to pin down exactly what this is, but quality isn’t something unappreciated by the gaming community. We love Mario ’64 because yes, it is that amazing.
The variety of the levels, the way Mario controls, the premise of the gameplay; it all adds up in creating a great, one-of-a-kind experience. It may be old, but there’s still something inherently satisfying about the playing of the game.
And in some cases, the older the game is, the better; if something has been around for 10 years, it’s probably because a lot of people have tried it and loved it, across the years.
Merit 2: Nostalgia
In playing an old game, it can be fun just to revisit the scene of one’s childhood. Remember what was it like to first hold that controller, to first hear that lovely sound of Donkey Kong Country’s title music? It’s fine even just to miss the older days and to want to have them brought to life again. And there’s nothing quite like playing a video game if one wants to reexperience the feeling of one’s childhood.
Merit 3: History
Unless you’re really into gaming, this point might not interest you. But as someone who writes about games, I play and watch older games sometimes just to see how they relate with what’s contemporary. A great example of this is Earthbound.
If you’re at all familiar with the game, you’ll likely know that Earthbound was a major source of inspiration for the more recent hit, Undertale. And not to bash Toby Fox’s wonderful game, which I love, but there are a lot of similarities. If you’re at all interested in understanding what maybe drives the creative spark that leads to games like Undertale and Shovel Knight and really any modern hit, then it’s a good idea to play those older games (especially if you’re an aspiring developer).
Merit 4: Cost
You want to know what’s really nice about older games? They’re cheaper than newer games; sometimes by a lot. If you don’t want to shell out $60 bucks for a new title, you could always buy something a little less recent.
In most cases, older generally means cheaper. And during sales like the current Steam Summer Sale, for instance, you could make off with a pretty decent haul of games you couldn’t buy before.
Merit 5: Aesthetics
Ok, this might be a touchy point. It is true that some games haven’t aged too well.
But if you can get past the very modern need for 4K graphics and HD-whatever, you might find that many old games have an aesthetic that, while undeniably dated, is still valuable and intriguing in its own right.
It’s true that games like Majora’s Mask and Beyond Good and Evil were limited by their hardware, but they were still very deliberate in their design. Though you can pick out a sharp corner or pixelated texture or two, there’s something unforgettable about the way these games look and feel, even to this day. I might even go so far as to argue that some old games have better design work than many modern titles. Perhaps its the nostalgia they enduce, the principals of their design, or something else entirely, but many gamers will agree that there’s just something about older titles that’s hard to beat.
If I still haven’t convinced you, then maybe think about why that old game caught your attention in the first place. What was it that originally made you think I need to play this? If you can keep that in mind, then everything else doesn’t really matter. But I don’t think age is a good reason to put a game aside. Games are classics for a reason and you never know what you might be missing out on by never giving them a try.