To some extent, I think we all have a tendency to award special treatment to cherished games of the past. We elevate them above their station, singling them out as being above reproach. Memories blur as we come to view old favourites through rose tinted glasses, forgetting the limitations of antiquated hardware and game design. However, deep down we know that, if played today, there’s a fair chance that an old favourite would disappoint and force us to re-evaluate its spot in our personal gaming pantheon.
Is Final Fantasy VII really the height of JRPGs, or have I just conveniently forgotten about the daft characters and settings that Square Enix has seen fit to alter in subsequent spin-offs? Is Sonic 2 still the speedy mutha I recall, one that shits on almost every Sonic since, or is my memory a victim of SEGA’s clever marketing and hyperbole? Is Metal Gear Solid really the perfect mix of film and game, or has it aged as poorly as the 80's action movies from which it drew inspiration? I'm hoping to answer these questions and more over the course of 2012.
I spent most of yesterday drowning in sweet nostalgia, having downloaded a copy of Final Fantasy VIII on PSN. I first played VIII back in the winter of 1999/2000 and it has remained one of my favourite games ever since. Although I have completed it countless times, up until yesterday I hadn't touched it for the best part of seven years. It was a glorious return, as the soothing tunes of Balamb Garden brought back fond memories, as did the simple charms of Triple Triad. As much as I enjoyed my afternoon with Squall, I’m not sure if I'll continue to play it once the nostalgia has worn off. Despite my attempts to prolong the ’99 vibe by playing Dr Dre’s 2001, shaving my beard and being awkward around women, the nostalgia is bound to wear off and then I’ll be left with a 12 year old game that has to live up to my modern expectations.
Sampling the finest PS1 vintage, I came upon an idea for a series of blog posts that would consist of playing old favourites and then cobbling together some words about the experience. I could be setting myself up for heartbreak or perhaps the justification for years of adoration, but either way I'm excited to re-approach and re-evaluate the games that have come to shape my gaming habits. For the subjects, I'll most likely stick to the ten games I picked as my all-time favourites last year, though I may also add a couple of others if the mood takes me.
Final Fantasy VIII is already underway, and February's Metal Gear Solid HD Collection will provide the perfect opportunity to revisit Snake Eater, but otherwise I'm in no rush to complete this series. I'll tackle the chosen games one at a time over the course of the year, slotting them in alongside newer titles that will continue to take priority. I’m not sure what I’ll discover, but I'm certainly looking forward to getting stuck in and re-discovering the truth about my beloved classics, no matter how gutting it may prove to be.
Odds & Ends
1. I am shite at PixelJunk SideScroller. Completely useless. Utterly wank. I crash into everything and am little more than a projectile magnet, yet I continue to keep coming back for more. Despite my over familiarity with the Game Over screen, I can’t wait to jump-in once more thanks to its simplistic yet addictive gameplay, striking retro visuals and uncommonly funky soundtrack. It’s one of the finest PSN games I’ve played in a while, even if it is giving me an ulcer.
2. I have thoroughly enjoyed the first two hours of Resident Evil Revelations and have even been impressed with the unwieldy Circle Pad Pro add-on. RER is exactly the kind of game the 3DS needs if it is to remain in my rotation. The add-on is a nuisance and makes the system more difficult to hold for extended periods, but RER is a perfect example of the necessity of dual sticks as a feature of the next iteration of the 3DS, even if it comes at the expense of portability.
3. Insomniac has confirmed that its involvement with the Sony exclusive Resistance series has come to an end. I have thoroughly enjoyed the PS3 games, all three of them amongst the best shooters of this generation, but I do feel it has run its course and that now would be the ideal time to walk away. R2 brought Nathan Hale’s story to an abrupt end, and the more personal approach of R3 was a welcome one that brought closure to the Chimeran invasion, or at least the start of it. I doubt I’ll play the forthcoming Vita Resistance from Nihilistic Studio, though I wouldn’t be adverse to a series rebirth much further down the line.