Backwards Compatibility: Would You Even Want It?

I can't imagine life without constantly coming home to Ocarina of Time or PlayStation 1 & 2 era Final Fantasy. I go back to them, constantly. Is that weird?
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Who even needs backwards capabilities nowadays?

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Who’s going to go back and play all their old games anyway?

I had a conversation the other day about future-gen consoles announcing no backwards compatibility, but having the inclusion of cloud streaming for older games. I’m all for it. If I can’t have true backwards capability, I have to love being given an alternative to craigslisting an old PlayStation covered in cat hair, and the scuff marks from a generation of nerdrage.

But am I the only one who would even do that?

There’s a thrill in ripping into the cellophane wrapper of The Last of Us. There’s a certain joy in starting up long-anticipated The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for the first time. There is an immensely satisfying ripple of success and accomplishment in finally blowing the Warrior’s head to smithereens with the moon cannon, and shooting Handsome Jack in the face before you realize gee, Lilith could’ve done it too.

I’m not denying any of that.

But then there’s starting up the N64 again, settling down on the couch with the most comfortable controller you’ve ever found to fit your admittedly tiny hand (then getting up off the couch again, crouching back next to it to blow on the cartridge and start it up again), and starting a new game of Ocarina of Time. With your boyfriend’s preferred screen-name even, since yours is way too long and “Link” and “Zelda” became dull ten years ago.

Who doesn’t have those moments?

Ocarina of Time is my feel-good game.

It’s my milk and cookies and a crackling fireplace and slow kisses on a cold stormy night game. It’s my haven of familiarity, and I know absolutely everything about it. I can still tell you with perfect clarity where every last Golden Skulltula is, and every piece of Heart because once upon a time this was one of the only three games I ever owned.

But perhaps that’s a bad example. The thought of Nintendo ever being backwards-compatible is funny and somewhere on the scale between “ahahahahahah” and “nupe.”

Final Fantasy then. Pick your poison. Why wouldn’t I want to go back to that? The hymn of the fayth? Baby Squall trying not to cry in the rain? Tifa’s helpless little gesture towards her friend before she runs from the sight of Aerith’s poor broken body? That’s a level of feels that all the king’s horses and all the king’s men (which is to say all of HBO and George R. R. Martin magic) could not wrestle even a fraction of into Game of Thrones’ televised Red Wedding.

So who would go back and play all their old games?

Well, hey. I would. You’re right, maybe not all of them. But I would do it often, and I would do it for a long time. Is that enough incentive to maintain backwards compatibility on future generations of consoles just to accommodate those of us who just can’t let go?

Maybe not. But I know if one console is willing to let me consolidate three generations on the same console, it has my money. No questions asked.

Am I the only one?

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Stephanie Tang
Avid PC gamer, long-time console lover. I enjoy shooting things in the face and am dangerously addicted to pretty. I'm also a cat.