Did you have to be there

Discuss and discover all the great games of yesteryear!

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Ergon Ronay
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Post by Ergon Ronay » Sat Jan 21, 2006 8:49 am

Did you have to be there? Not really...sometimes it just helps. Looking back on a lot of the old games many people say they are unplayable. This is not necessarily the case. Peoples perception of games (especially the old ones) alters as we grow accustomed to new ones. We grow-up in a particular era and games like all entertainment forms, soak up the general climate of that era.

During the 70's and 80's (this tends to be considered the dawn of gaming as we know it today). There was a feeling of global change. The Iron curtain was beginning to rust, Political reaction to government policies and an understanding that the terrorist activities of many hijacked planes etc. came home. This all helped to contribute to how games were percieved. The games of these times were simple, very little plot and generally even less of a story. As time moves on they have become more complex...to the point that they are becoming very similar. Graphics and sound were sources of discussion (especially in the playgrounds) but at the end of it we forgave the dodgy sprite collision, colour clash. Plus the fact that games took ages to load and you sat there fingers crossed waiting -with the joystick in a hollowed place so it will not be accidently touched or moved. Thus preventing the game from loading (whether this actually helped or not remains one of lifes eternal questions).

The reason we were so forgiving is simple. All of this was new. It showed promise for the future. It also showed that in the age of mass-corporate institutions a single person at home could touch our hearts and provide us with an entertainment that the rest of the world did not want or understand...In essence it was ours.

Now those institutions have caught up games can very rarely be made at home by one person (retro games being the wonderful exception). Thus the 'big boys' have access to a greater pool of talent-this in turn makes the games (supposedly) better etc. What is most crucial when you fire these old games up is that nowadays they are ready to play almost instantly. Thus you lose the reverence and quasi-religous behaviour that used to take place. The concequence of this is we measure them by our standards today. After all as a race we are a lot less patient than we were, so obviously most of them fall down.

The best thing to do when you play retro games is to think of yourself trawling through history, discovering the games that people used to play and how their live's were shaped by them. So do not judge them too harshly and leave your preconceptions with the current generations (our memories have a habit of only recalling the good times). Many of the so called good games of that period were not good, but mearly astounding technical achievements.

Some games were genuinely good, some were bad but all planted the seeds that people now enjoy.
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Post by Get_in_Gear » Sat Jan 21, 2006 11:03 am

Well, I'd say this.

For me to get what I get out of retro gaming - then I had to be there.
But other people are bound to get different things out of it - so for them, they didn't have to be there.

When you think about it, us "oldies" are, to a greater or lesser degree, fuelled by nostalgia - whereas the kid from the PlayStation generation who is fanatical about Speccy games, well, they are arguably more devoted retro fans having actively sought out these classic games with a non-nostalgia influenced agenda.
They must genuinely love the games for what they are - rather than the fond memories they attach to playing them, whether it be of the halcyon days of gaming or on a far more personal level.

I don't think there is a right or wrong way to enjoy classic games, and if younger generations who didn't grow up in the 80s are becoming converts - then all the better for it.
A bigger and more varied community can only be a good thing.


So I'd say no - you only had to be there...
... if you actually were there.
R Tape loading error, 0:1


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Post by nwosteve » Sat Jan 21, 2006 1:42 pm

I think you had to be there to really appreciate what it's all about.

I mean, how many times has a game been re-made and some sucker had no idea that it's not a new game?

Emulation is great, but nothing beats playing the original. The smell of rubber keys...
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Frank Chickens
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Post by Frank Chickens » Sat Jan 21, 2006 2:14 pm

nwosteve wrote:
Emulation is great, but nothing beats playing the original. The smell of rubber keys...
...the Speccy powerpack warming up your tootsies on a cold evening..
"A cynic is what an optimist calls a realist"

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The Penultimate Ninja
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Post by The Penultimate Ninja » Sat Jan 21, 2006 3:17 pm

I think yes and no.

Yes, you had to be there to appreciate the feelings memories that something like the loading noise on the speccy, loading screen artwork and SID tunes on the C64, blowing in your nes/snes carts etc... Nostalgia and remembering the excitement these games brought to us as kids is a big part of it. There are some games that were very much of their time, and don't really stand up to scrutiny today,

But on the other hand... No, you didn't have to be there to appreciate the sheer brilliance of games like PacMac, Streets of Rage 2, Mario, Zelda, Sonic, Bubble Bobble etc. There are some games out there that stand up even today just because they were/are amazing.

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Post by Kaptain_Von » Mon Jan 23, 2006 7:01 am

I too think yes and no.

To get that warm, fuzzy nostalgic feeling that some things bring back you definitely had to be there. If I had not been there then loading Jetpac wouldn't bring back the memories it does and I wouldn't remember the excitement of loading a game for the first time. Oddly, opening a new piece of hi-fi kit a few weeks ago brought back the day I unwrapped my ZX Spectrum. It was all down to the smell of the packing.

I think you also had to be there to appreciate what exciting times they were. 'Videogaming' was something new and we were at the cutting edge, the pioneers on a new frontier as it were.

However, you did not have to be there to appreciate the good games from those times. If a game is good it will stand the test of time and even though it might not have ultra-realistic 3D graphics and 7.1 sound it can still bring a huge amount of enjoyment.
Cue the music, fade to black...

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Post by kaiserpc » Mon Jan 23, 2006 8:40 am

yep, I agree with most of the comments and I'm definetly in the "you had to be there" camp.

As saw a few comments about playing Goldeneye on a N64 emulator and not being overly impressed. Well I tell you, I can still remember playing this for the 1st time when it was released and being completely blown away. It was by far the most atmospheric 1st person game I had played, and it followed the film perfectly while still being open ended enough to allow you to "do your own thing". Also the 1st time I got three mates around the house to play 4 player deathmatch was great fun.

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Post by will2097 » Mon Jan 23, 2006 5:48 pm

Ash wrote:Of course you didn't have to be there! Did you have to be alive in 1954 to enjoy watching Rear Window? NO Did you have to be there when Romeo + Juliet was first performed to love it? NO

The whole point of a magazine like Retro Gamer (in my opinion) is to get younger people to take an interest in the games they weren't here to enjoy the first time around. To suggest that you have to be of a certain age to appreciate older games is pure elitism to be honest.

I guess it comes down to the nostalgia versus gameplay debate: some people are into retro for the memories and some are in it to learn and experience overlooked gems. I'm in the latter camp...but then I am under 30 so what do I know?
Sorry buddy, you are wrong. I've never seen rear window and I don't know what it it. As for Romeo & Juliet. Some forms of entertainment are timeless - such as this. Very (very very) few games are timeless.


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Post by James A » Mon Jan 23, 2006 6:52 pm

Its always good to look back on found computer memories especially playing Starship Command on my Acorn Electron or getting each new computer that i've had. For me though seeing FF7 for the first time when was in university after not playing games for a while is probably my most nostalgic memory. Basically started a second renaisance for me which has slowly destroyed my bank balance, but its worth it.

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