Nostalgia Goggles: Revisiting Retro Games

Ripping the nostalgia goggles off and testing everyone's favorite retro games from their childhood to see if they stand the test of time.

Ripping the nostalgia goggles off and testing everyone's favorite retro games from their childhood to see if they stand the test of time.
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The following situation is all too common for me: I hype my friends up about a game that was extremely memorable from my childhood. Something I spent hours playing with childhood friends during summer break. We pop it in and start playing and within 5 minutes, the look of enthusiasm is wiped from their face as they realize my nostalgia goggles were what was doing all the talking and the game I talked up just isn’t interesting as an adult. People love to talk up retro games, but there were just as many bad titles back then as there are today.

A Vicious Cycle

As you grow older, it becomes too easy to get overly sentimental regarding what we loved as children. It happens to every generation; if they had video games during the reign of Nero, he’d be clinging to the Roman retro games of yore, bashing their equivalent of Call of Duty for being brown and bloom, lacking the character that games like Gladiator Country 2: Caesar’s Kong Quest and Super Greeks ‘n’ Goblins had.

You suffer from nostalgia goggles. Most of the games you loved as a kid probably suck if you judge with the taste you have now, but you only remember them fondly because of the tinting of your eye wear.

It’s painful to go back and find that those games you thought were classics didn’t stand up to the test of time; what if they actually are awful? How embarrassing would that be?

Before you start considering ritual suicide to save face, I have some good news. I can do it. I’ll go back and revisit your favorite retro games because I can take it. I’m the reviewer that you deserve and the one you need right now. I’d call myself the Dork Knight, but even I know that that joke is awful.

 I will journey back in time and revisit games from the Dreamcast era and before. In the start of this series of articles, I will look at my personal favorites that I have’nt played in quite some time. I will take requests. In the comments section, leave a few retro games that had a huge impact on your childhood, along with platform information if the game isn’t something like Super Mario World or Sonic the Hedgehog 2 where the console is obvious. Explain what stood out about said game to you and I will play it.

What I Will Be Looking For

I will be judging these games keeping in mind the capabilities of the machines they were created with. I’m not going to look at Snafu and go “AWFUL GRAPHICS. GET OUTTA MY FACE WITH THESE NASTY HAMMED OUT PIXELS, NERDWAD!”

If I play something on a console I’m unfamiliar with, I will play games released for the same platform in a close time frame in order to get an idea of what the standard was back then.

I will be paying close attention to the art direction, the musical score, the storyline, and, most importantly, the gameplay. If a game looks and sounds awful, but manages to play amazing, I will give it a better score than something that is visually perfect with an amazing score but plays like stinky dog buns.

When reviewing retro games, I won’t use a 1-10 score system, as that jazz is too modern. I will give ratings based on my favorite and least favorite actors and musical artists from the time. If it receives a Kyle MacLachlan, then it is, excuse me, one damn, fine cup of game. If it receives a Gary Busey, then it is scarily bad and should probably work on its teeth.

What I Won’t Be Looking For

As previously stated, I will look at the retro games I review within their respective time frames, not expecting a Colecovision to compare to a high-end gaming PC from today in terms of graphics, audio quality (although the actual score will be judged), or conventions that are common in today’s games but didn’t come around until recently. It’s unfair to expect Toejam and Earl to have a morality system when the Fable series is still struggling to get it right.

If I deem a game bad, it’s not because of something superficial. I will address, in length, what issues I had with the game and why it doesn’t hold up. If you disagree with me, though, leave a comment and defend the retro games you love.

Participate or Die!

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Revisit this page often as I will regularly update the list of games reviewed. Post some suggestions and maybe, just maybe if you’re lucky, I will confirm your egotistical thoughts that your opinions are better than the opinions of others (at least when regarding retro games!)

About the author

Joseph Rowe

World traveling English teacher, writer, and aspiring front-end developer.