No matter how many modern video games I play, I can not help but always return to the retro games. Old games have a much greater appeal and here is why.

Why old video games appeal more to me

No matter how many modern video games I play, I can not help but always return to the retro games. Old games have a much greater appeal and here is why.
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There are plenty of modern video games out there that have given me plenty of fun and entertainment for my money. No matter how many modern games I play, no matter how good they are, they simply do not appeal to me the same way that old games do.

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Why is this the case? What is it that old video games have that make me come back to them time and time again? Let’s take a look at some old and modern games and see what it is old games have that modern games don’t.

Modern video games

Let’s take a look at modern games before having some blasts from the past. My two favorite genres of a video game are that of the FPS and RPG. One of the more recent FPS games that I played is Shadow Warrior. Shadow Warrior is a reboot of 3D Realms 1997 controversial title of the same name.

I do not deny that the reboot is a damn fine game in its right, but it has that typical modern issue that other titles of its kind also have. Such titles would include Serious Sam and Painkiller. The problem with the games is that while in combat, players are locked in a certain room or area.

Only after defeating all the enemies can the player progress to the next area where this repeats. The main reason for this mechanic is to ensure that the game doesn’t suffer any frame rate issues due to large amounts of enemies. The problem with such a mechanic is that it slows down the overall pace of the games. In addition, it makes the game feel incredibly repetitive. It makes the player feel like they are trapped or forcibly blocked off from experiencing the world at their pace. It also gives me the impression of making the game feel longer than it otherwise would be.

Shadow Warriors has amazingly realistic melee combat, beautiful graphics and is fun in short doses. Despite all of that, it lacks the smooth, constant fast paced action of that which it is rebooting. Despite getting my money’s worth of gameplay, it doesn’t satisfy what I am looking for in such a game. RPGs are no different.

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim I found to be the blandest of series. I will give the game respect where it deserves, and I will say that its world is one of the most beautiful and detailed you will find in any RPG. That is where my praise ends for the game.

With each new entry in the Elder Scrolls series, the games are becoming more and more dumbed down. They are losing more RPG elements and becoming more like action games than actual RPGs. As far as I am concerned, Morrowind was the last proper RPG in the series.

With each new addition to the series, there are fewer skills and less character building. I found the whole experience to be bland from the storyline to the quests to the combat. It was the only entry in the series that I didn’t spend several hundred hours playing.

So, yes, modern video games are not scratching that itch that I constantly have. They always feel like something is missing. To find out what that is, we need to take a look at a retro FPSs and RPGs.

Blasts from the past

We have looked at the modern end of the spectrum, and now we need to look at the older end of it. My choice of an old FPS would be that of QUAKE. A game which the likes of Serious Sam and Shadow Warrior gain their inspiration.

The question is, what is it that QUAKE has that a more modern FPS of the same vein is lacking? Such an FPS is always about the gameplay above anything else. The action and the level design are the primary focus of the developers while the storyline and atmosphere are secondary.

That focus is QUAKE in a nutshell. The action and level design of QUAKE are second to none, and Id Software uses their new found technology in every way that they possibly could. Not only is QUAKE a fine FPS, at the time it was a game that would cause brown trouser time.

The gameplay was fluent, smooth and the only stops are when the player finishes a level. The level design allows the player to explore the levels as they see fit. Often, levels branched which added an exploration element to the game where players could seek out secret areas.

As long as the player continues to explore in a direction they have not yet entered, there will be enemies to combat. Unlike in the modern FPS of the same style where there is at times several minutes of just wandering around before the next battle.

They are missing that constant onslaught that made such classics like QUAKE and DOOM the legends that they are. There is no denying the games lack story, but if the game is repetitive and boring, what good is a story? There is nothing to keep the player interested while awaiting plot progression.

What about RPGs you might ask? There are tons of classic RPGs that I could use as a comparison, such as Anvil of DawnIshar Trilogy and much more. Since I used Skyrim as a modern example, I see it fitting that I use Daggerfall.

Daggerfall is the second entry in the Elder Scrolls series and to my mind the best of the series. “What is it that separates it from the likes of Skyrim?” You might ask. For a start, adventure. Daggerfall has a huge world that is 161,600 kilometers squared.

Of course, there is the argument that the world is created using procedural generation as opposed to hand crafted like in later games. That may be the case, but it also creates a world of wonder along with huge dungeons to explore. There is a certain element of excitement, journeying into a massive dungeon attempting to find an insane wizard that the Mages Guide hired you to kill.

It provides a sense of adventure that is lacking in the dungeons and caves of the later games. You would have a dungeon explored in Skyrim in approximately fifteen-twenty minutes, depending on how many floors it has. In Daggerfall, however, you could be exploring a dungeon for a lot longer.

As for quests and guilds, they were far more fulfilling than in later games. Completing quests and rising the ranks of a guild was far more exciting and rewarding. An example would be the Mages Guild. When the player first joins, they have access to only the most basic facilities.

As they progress, they can begin to buy magical items, enchant their items, and summon daedric princes to complete tasks for artifacts–all of which are extremely useful. In later games, the daedric artifacts were almost useless and enchantments were extremely limited.

Daggerfall allowed the player to create weapons of immense power but not without adverse side effects. It was up to the player to balance out the positives with the negatives in a way that would suit them. It is a game that only ends when the player wants it to as there is always something to do.

Less is sometimes more

Indeed, old games are not for everyone. Graphics and certain gameplay mechanics are a must for some gamers which would make such games not appeal to them. If you can look past dated graphics and gameplay mechanics that older games possess, you are sure to enjoy yourself.

Old video games have much more character to them along with much more depth. Modern video games have fallen into the trap of using the advancement in technology to show off as opposed to focusing on what makes them great.

I find that with modern games, for all their graphics and all the gimmicky mechanics it doesn’t enhance the overall experience. In fact, they lessen it. Developers focus so much on adding cool mechanics and features that they tend to forget what makes a game fun.

I admit there are still excellent games out there which use today’s advanced video game technology to its fullest to create fun and exciting experiences. We do, however, also get plenty more bland experiences. The technological limitations that developers faced while creating video games years ago forced them to use their creativity.

It is what gives old games such uniqueness. Developers often had to think outside the box to create the game of their dreams. Sometimes with video games, less is more, and that is why old video games appeal more to me.

What are your thoughts on old video games? Do you feel they have more depth to them than modern games? Let me know in the comments below.



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Damien Smith
Playing video games for over 23 years, love to write and love everything video game related.