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Are Classic Games Just Nostalgic? (Far Cry, Legend of Zelda, Rainbow Six, Metroid, Elder Scrolls)



Are the classic games we grew up with beloved because of merit, or is it just nostalgia? When comparing Zelda: A Link to the Past to Breath of the Wild, there is a world of difference in terms of game design philosophy and mechanics. From Mega Man X to Mighty No. 9, from Thief: The Dark Project to Dishonored, from Super Metroid to the Metroid Prime series, there are numerous comparisons that can be made… some personal, some objective.

Join me on a journey through our gaming childhoods to find out which of these have merit, or which are simply great in our minds, due to the time and state we were in when we played.

Let’s take a look…

0:00 – Is It Just Nostalgia?
1:04 – The Virgin Effect
2:27 – The Acid Wash
5:15 – The Obsession Recession
7:21 – Design Decisions vs. Improvements

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GAMES FEATURED

Call of Duty 3
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Dishonored 2
EverQuest
Far Cry 2
Far Cry 4
GTA IV
GTA V
MajorMUD
Mass Effect 2
Metroid Prime
Mighty No. 9
No Man’s Sky
Secret of Mana / Seiken Densetsu 2
Super Metroid
The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
The Witcher 3
Thief: The Dark Project
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege
Uncharted 4
World of Warcraft
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

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MUSIC CREDITS

‘Thinking Back’ by Max Surla
‘Days are Long’ by Silent Partner
‘Finding the Balance’ by Kevin MacLeod
‘So Lost’ by MK2
‘Time Passing By’ by Audionautix
‘Let Go’ by Riot

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26 comments

  1. aderek79 says:

    It's funny to me that you mentioned those specific Metroid, Zelda, and Far Cry games around the topic of the "virgin effect". They were each my favorite games in their series but none were my first foray into those game types or individual series.

  2. Klawykser says:

    I really love when I express my love for older titles and I get accused of being nostalgia and rose tinted glasses. Because I love telling them that I (Truthfully) only played most of them recently, after having played a lot of newer games and that most of them were made before I was born or when I was still a relatively small kid.

  3. NomisIsGozulike says:

    This year i replayed Gothic I & II and i had exactly the feeling i had when i was 12

  4. Luke's Game Page says:

    Great stuff, quality insight

  5. Aldor PeaceKeeper says:

    classic games had distinct styles, were more challenging, had better storylines and gave more content (DLC was not a thing at the time, only sequals or large expansions)

    classic games really were just better games, the industry couldnt rely on pretty youtube videos and multi billion dollar ad campaigns to make up for a shoddy product like in today's industry, you had to make a great game and thats how you made it sell, you can sell games in today's industry like no mans sky and ME Andromeda and be succesful but that would kill your brand name and your buisness in 1999 where the gamers ruled the industry not the corporations

    dark souls is still the best new series of our generation, and thats only because its a throwback to harder classic games in a way

  6. Bucky•JaKRBT says:

    Elder Scrolls 4 Oblivion was the first entry in the series that I played.
    Even though I've heard about the series before it, mainly Morrowind.
    But, the first game in the series I played after finishing Oblivion was Daggerfall.
    Holy shit not only was it true what was told about the game in terms of design but it surpassed my enjoyment I'd previously had with Oblivion.
    Because I played and replayed Daggerfall so much, it has become quite nostalgic for me that moment I first played it and discovered all the complexities it had over it's successors.
    I have newly developed nostalgia for a game I never played as a kid after I played a newer entry in the series and buried my memories of Oblivion.

  7. Thatmanjames says:

    Minor gripe but Rainbow 6 Siege plays a lot more like Counter Strike than call of duty, and because of that still has a very strategic and methodical feel to it like earlier installments in the series

  8. HardWarUK says:

    I am not so sure about the "virgin" game system. Many people like me played Arena and Daggerfall, yet still say Morrowind is the best Elder Scrolls RPG. I played all the Ultima's, yet my favourite isometric cRPG is Darklands (yes, ahead of Baldur's Gate and Fallout!), a historically true cRPG, with many fdeatures never put into any other cRPG after it!

  9. Nos says:

    Am I the only one who thinks Indigo sounds like Hiko?

  10. Kyle Parkerson says:

    In hindsight most of the early 3D games of the PS1/N64 era even if they got good reviews when they first came out have not stood the test of time. We were largely blinded by the "WOW!" feeling of moving in three dimensions. It caused us to overlook the flaws and gave a strong virgin effect like you said in your video. The games that got good reviews of the 16 bit era have aged better. With the SNES classic edition coming I am looking forward to that because in hindsight most of those games have fun game-play that has held up over the years.

  11. Viking II says:

    All that you've mentioned is correct, but also exist objectivity too.

    Baldur's Gate was an inflection point in RPGs, I feel Neverwinter Nights some different, all in 3D, designed mainly to play online with a DM, etc, but equally good, then Dragon Age Origins and Drakensang, in the same style of Baldur's Gate but in complete 3D, still equally good. But that is not happening on Dragon Age 2, or Inquisition. So it is not nostalgia, it is about quality.

    When we saw a Diablo 3 that is not the successor of Diablo 2, is not nostalgia, because I saw in Grim Dawn and Path of Exile the same that got me hooked on Diablo 2 but in a modern game.

    Now in strategy, Starcraft, Age of Empires, Heroes of Might and Magic, were great, and now Starcraft 2, Total War Warhammer, Xcom, still good, so again, it is not nostalgia, is quality.

    I found the problem in multiplatform started with PlayStation 3, when games found a way to sell in PC and consoles, so they downgrade their standards to the worst platform, today all triple A game seems the same simil-shooter to play with pad or so. Consoles are the cause of degradation of good sagas.

  12. Brewserker says:

    The nostalgia 'argument' is used to dismiss people's arguments and opinions.

  13. Tarek Chamas says:

    people that say we are blinded by nostalgia clearly need to take a shotgun loaded with explosive rounds and do the world a favor and use it on themselves.. but I digress….

    We just miss the VALUE that was placed into games, the attention to details and how games did not treat us like we were brain dead vegetables , when I see people say:

    HERP DERP why do people compare witcher 3 to skyrim they are not the same type of game…

    it makes me understand why movies like the emoji movie was made and why transformers keep making money…. most people are just an inch higher than animals, its a sad fact of life, I'm not some nazi wannabe moron, I DO believe that all people are equal ..in humanity, but not in knowledge, you have to WORK at it to become an "intelligent" human being, most games dont aim for those people.

    the witcher 3 is better than skyrim not because it has better combat or gore or magic or all that SUPERFICIAL decoration, YES FUCKERS all that shit is DECORATION, the witcher 3 is better because its world is more believable, its characters are more believable, its story is more believable, and it was DESIGNED by people that clearly opened a book once in a blue moon, children die for example…., while in skyshit (skyrim), that had a FUCKING CIVIL GODDAMN WAR children and people are frolicking in the fields like brain dead rocks, way to go BETHESDA …. SUPER BELIEVABLE :D, or how about the CAPITAL OF SKYRIM that is populated by 40 NPCs …wow how much effort does it take to add more buildings and civilian NPCs????

    IN SHORT we critique THE VALUE of games to each other .. the amount of love professionalism and honesty developers put into their games, the witcher 3 has more effort placed in ONE outfit for any main character than the ENTIRE skyrim clothing/armor lines, the animations the beautiful laces, and studded leather armor, and worn metallic plates, or the party dresses for triss and Gerald ..etc explains why you see more witcher 3 cosplay than skyfail….

    frankly I feel like CD project and other older developers (like the people that made populous and dungeon keeper) put as much effort into ONE part of their games as Bethesda and EA put into their entire game.

    I have NO DOUBT in my mind that if the elder scrolls was in CD projects hands it would be a 10000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000times better than anything TODD is gonna shit out next year

  14. sun burn says:

    "You can see series simplify and make concessions for every complicated aspect. The Rainbow Six series […] evolved into a very enjoyable CoD-like game with grappling hooks and breach charges."

    Rainbow Six 1/2/3 had breaching charges, heartbeat monitors and on-by-default auto-aim. You had pre-defined default plans already made for all missions, which in most cases you could simply run again and again until the mission succeeded (if the unbelievably dumb team AI actually managed following the plan). The first RS games were clunky games (that I loved at their time and absolutely hated when replaying years later) with a lot of unneeded complexity tacked on, but they were not difficult.
    Rainbow Six Siege has nothing to do with CoD, except for the fact that they are both modern military shooters. I believe a parallel between Siege and CoD could only be drawn by someone who has played neither. Which makes me seriously doubt the validity of your argument.

    "stealth games like Thief:TDP [..] or a place with mainstream stealth games, with fantastical powers like invisibility, teleportation and x-ray vision <Dishonored 2 gameplay shown>"
    Thief:TDP had an incredible atmosphere, sure, but was easily cheesable with forward lean + blackjack. The stealth mechanics were also exploitable, with guards being unable to see you when 1 foot away, just because you were in a shadow.
    Dishonored is not Thief, nor is it an "easier" game. You have "fantastical powers", yes, but the downside to them is that the stealth mechanics are completely different and more difficult to game. Also, in order to actually use those fantastical powers, skill at using them is necessary, skill that is obtained by playing the game, just like skill at Thief was obtained. Whoever thinks that one of those god-awful casuals, that are seemingly the reason for the complete downfall of modern gaming, can start up Dishonored and instantaneously become StealthGamerBR must have never played Dishonored, or slept through the complete gaming session.

    I've been playing video games on PC since '94. Everything I played before '98 paled in comparison to what came after the advent of the GPUs. I saw the great Interplay cRPG revolution (Fallout, Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale, Planescape: Torment), I saw the arena shooter frenzy, I saw the WW2 shooter madness, I saw the tactical shooter revolution and the birth of the stealth game. And I can tell you that yes, you are being nostalgic. You are selecting a subset of traits that you liked in "classic" games, pointing out that this subset is not present in modern-day games and drawing your conclusion. Not all modern games are worse than all older games. Old games have their strong points, but also their horribly outdated and sometimes rage-inducing problems. Modern games have their own, different, strong points and problems. Artificial difficulty through perma-death and reloads is not necessarily good. Learn to enjoy modern games for what they are, not for what they aren't, and you will be a lot happier.

    Take the best from all video games, regardless of their age and don't deny yourselves incredible gaming experiences just on the basis on pre-conceived ideas.

    The only thing in this video that I agree with is that quicktime events are absolute cancer.

  15. Lord Flaglo says:

    System shock 2 is my favorite video game of all time and i only found out about it a month ago

  16. Timothy Nelson says:

    This was really well done.

  17. ishaq mohamed says:

    I wouldn't say the virgin effect affects me because when i first played game when i was a little lad on me PS1 and PS2, i'd played some really bad games that looking back after replaying them when years later. I only liked them because there are the few games i have at the time and i don't have enough experience in gaming to tell which one is bad or not. I guess i'm not a complainer and enjoy what i have. But now i'm in the mood to play some games that are much older before my birth and it was fun to see what games were created back them and it gave me new appreciation for game in general. Hell in the comparison for Dishonoured and Thief, I played Dishonored but i never made it far because it wasn't engaging enough for me, the game not bad but i feel it's too easy and predictable for me with the powers to see through walls and map markers in the game to tell where the player supposed to go. But Thief after hours of trying to get the game to work is marvellous and has such tension and unknowing that get's me playing for hours even failing multiple times because simply there is no powers and map marker to tell where you are at all times.

    To put a long story short, I was trying to say that there is old-school designs that have been forgotten that are worth revitalise rather than people to written them off because "it's old" and it feel it's lazy of critics who uses the nostalgia argument against those games because the graphics and control aren't exactly like those game in recent years. All i'm saying is i rather play games that its core mechanics are gold but the rest isn't as par than the games that will be remembered for decades that the games that will follow tends of others to capitalise a bigger audience and will be forgettable and boringly safe.

  18. Foxeral Gaming says:

    Y'know, I was thinking about saving up for some proper equipment to make a series called, "Without The Nostalgia Goggles" or something like that where I could review some older games, such as Morrowind and Zelda: OOT. I wanted to do this to give an opinion on what I think having not played them as a kid, because I am 13. Thus, because of my age, I cannot afford said equipment.

  19. RetroLand says:

    Classic 90's FPS > Today's 99% of FPS.

  20. Can't Stop Dying This Game Is Too Realistic says:

    There are 3 things that make modern games horrible.

    -They are easy to play
    -DLCs
    -Almost everything is or has multiplayer

  21. IDon'tNeedSaving says:

    I don't agree with this video for a couple of reasons. While it is interesting, it doesn't really seem to have a point. It never makes any conclusion. What about newer games would make somebody favor them to the point of making older games irrelevant? The fun to be had in games like Castlevania SOTN. Megaman 2, Fallout 2, and Super Mario 64 has not been removed at all simply because they were all made over a decade ago. I don't see what this video is trying to say. Many people hold the games I listed as their favorites, yet they are all sequels. Most people played other games in that series first, including your examples, because TES Arena and Metroid for NES were played by most Daggerfall and Super Metroid players.

  22. Odhin's Grace says:

    Its kinda like hating silent hill 2 and 3 but loving the silent hill gambler because its new.

  23. Lockershocker says:

    i think that, old games are wonderful, even without the nostalgia goggles. I've played some bit haven't had the opportunity to play few but I do think some games today get their good parts glossed over because of the nostalgia goggles or comparing them to older titles.

  24. Alon says:

    OK, I don't feel like watching this guy rant after his NMA-esque Fallout elitism video. Can someone give me the short and sweet, does he mention Nintendo or indie games?

  25. Iain Hansen says:

    Compare the old Starcraft story to the new one…………the answer is obvious

  26. Veljko Petrović says:

    Certainly, fond memories play a big part, but I've personally had the experience of only going after old installments afterwards, and finding myself 'nostalgic' for a game I'd never clapped my eyes on before.

    Daggerfall, which you mention, is a fine example. My first Elder Scrolls game was Morrowind (and yes I loved it and am nostalgic for it), and I played Oblivion (didn't care for it), and Skyrim (I liked it a bit better). I only played Daggerfall recently, once GoG made it available in a non-annoying form and I can say with certainty that, through the ancient graphics, and truly, truly, truly appalling controls I could spot, clear as day, that Daggerfall had more of a certain quality of Elder-Scroll-ness that later games had less of. Skyrim was very, almost addictively, playable, but had almost none of this ineffable quality.

    In the acid wash (a brilliant metaphor, by the by) this essential feature was entirely lost. It's hard to quantify it, but if pressed, I'd say that it is an almost comical devotion to immersion. You could (and had to!) use banking services to get on in life, for heaven's sake. It's a rollicking epic fantasy adventure where the sentence "I had to sell my a house I got as a grant from my knightly order to the bank to pay back the loan I took out in order to be able to afford mithril gear I used to kill a mighty Daedra Lord." may be a reasonable description of your last four hours of gameplay.

    Was it all fiddly? Yes. Was it janky and broken half the time? Sadly. But it's something you simply cannot do in a modern game. Anywhere.

    I think the chief design difference between Ye Olde Style and the modern approach is that features used to be king. You built systems and allowed the player to do more and more and more without, sometimes, much of a plan. "Here, have a banking system. Might be fun. Go nuts with it." Today, in the pursuit of clean design, things are being taken out, more often than not. And while you get an occasional polished, minimalist gem, or a tightly designed nothing-to-add nothing-to-take-away masterpiece and that's lovely, you miss on the surprises you used to get.

    I loved the Witcher 3. It's one of my favorite RPGs of all time. But I never once got the feeling I was doing stuff in it the developers haven't really expected me to do, but which the systems that were built into the experience were handling the best they could. And I miss that.

    Sorry. Got a bit wordy there.

    tl;dr: Games used to have a grab-bag of systems and features and that made for a much less smooth but considerably more intriguing experience.

    Great video as ever. 🙂

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