Thursday, February 17, 2011

Pixelated Memories

Two games came out this month that are sequels (one direct and one “in spirit”) to two of my favorite games of all time.  Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 and Tactics Ogre (spiritual sequel to Final Fantasy Tactics) have both been getting great reviews, and making me languish the fact that I own neither a PSP nor a PS3.  But this entry isn’t actually about these new games, its about my original favorites, MvC2 and FFT.

Aside from the incredible gameplay, ridiculous replayability and visceral combat effects, these two games shared one thing in common: They were both crap graphics for their time.  FFT was a 2D isometric game that usually looked like it belonged on a SNES instead of a Playstation.  MvC2 was a Playstation 2 game that was composed almost entirely of 2D sprites.

As a result of these amazing games having crappy graphics, and other favorite games of the times having distinctly different graphics styles compared to now, I (along with many of you I’m sure) have a natural fondness for pixelated games and classic games with bad graphics. It takes me back to a time when games had to showcase good mechanics to make up for the lacking visuals, when limited audio capabilities tried their best to do justice to the beautiful scores of video game composers (ie: Nobuo Uematsu), and when game genres were still discovering their boundaries and potential.  Most of all it takes me back to simply being a kid and falling in love with video games.

What makes me sad is that the new generation of gamers doesn’t have that nostalgia and never will.  They didn’t watch game graphics improve from 8 bit to 16 to 32, they’ve seen life like 3D graphics fall into the uncanny valley and slowly climb out.  We watched graphics evolve styles, while they’ve simply seen improvement.  Thus they won’t connect graphics of the past to fond memories, and will simply continue to clamor for improved visuals.

I’m sounding like an old codger “when I was your age”-ing, so I’ll just say one more thing.  I think it was a smart move for Kongregate to start carrying Unity games, because the new generation isn’t going to have the tolerance for visually underwhelming indie games.

What were your favorite “outdated visuals” games?

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