Going back in time…not working for me

I love time travel. Not that I’ve ever managed doing it myself (now that would surely be in the news all around the globe!). No, what I mean is I love books, movies and TV shows where Time Travel was a normal thing. For Dutch and Belgian readers, remember the Suske and Wiske books, with the machine Professor Barabas developed? And popular movies like Back to the Future and Men in Black? Some of my favorite episodes of Star Trek had time Travel in them. So why is going back in time not working for me?

I realized this when my daughter decided to enter my old town of Bearpath in Animal Crossing Wild World after all these years. Blowing off the dust of the game cartridge, she pried open the gate that Booker was trying hard to keep closed. He must have really been ashamed of the state of the town, she had to wade through all the weeds that were clogging up the grassy areas. I can almost hear him mumbling: “I’m sorry, I apologize…I think”.

Wild World was my first game ever and I have so many fond memories. I played it for 1,5 year straight, but I’ve since gotten used to other graphics. I got used to playing Animal Crossing New Leaf and hadn’t even realized how much better the graphics were. Frankly, I was shocked to see my old little YvoCaro, she was much more pixely and flatter in a way. I guess it’s sometimes best to let memories be memories.

I have the same feeling when I go back to older Pokemon Games. Platinum was my first game and a wonderful encounter with the game series. , but it doesn’t work for me to go back to it. I’ll happily go with the new graphics in the new games. Now I saw the news that Harvest Moon 64 is available on the European Virtual Console on the WiiU. I’m really into Harvest Moon games, but I’m going to pass on that one. I just know I won’t be able to get myself enthusiastic to play it.

Still, a lot of people stick to retro gaming, feeling them way superior to current games. I wonder if it has to do with nostalgia, of wanting to go back to your earliest days of gaming. My gaming history only started a mere 10 years ago, but other then that I’m always into the latest gadgets. In gaming too.  They might be right, but I will never know: I can’t get into retro graphics.

Strange then that I don’t feel the same about other older things. For instance, give me an original Frank Sinatra rendition anytime over all the people who have tried to sing his song.

How is it for you? Are visuals equally important for you? Or is the gameplay the most important thing for you?


  1. This happens with me sometimes, but it really depends on the game. If I’ve gotten used to higher resolution graphics on a newer system, then yes, it’s very hard to go backwards. But this isn’t always the case, for example, I played Pokemon Yellow after playing X, then went to Moon. Playing on Tony Hawk Pro Skater games recently made me realize I liked the flow of the old ones more. But playing older Metroid games, well, I’d rather have the snappiness of the newer ones. RPGs stand the test of time very well for me.

    I think the common theme here is that games that haven’t changed much in core gameplay mechanics do better as they age and makes it hard to go backwards, but with games that totally change those core mechanics as they age, it’s easier to go back because it feels different enough to see past the dated graphics.

    1. That’s an interesting idea that you mention. You might be right, when the core gameplay stays the same, then why go back in time? Some games stand the test of time better then others though. Last year I picked up Okamiden for the DS again to make an article about it, and I was pleased at how well it still played. Same goes for the older Layton games.They changed up the gameplay when making the first game for the 3DS, but somehow the older games play more intuitive for me.

  2. Very interesting! I like both retro and modern games, as well as modern retro-inspired games (what an age we live in!), but what I play boils down to if the game is good. I have a lot of nostalgia for older games, but I might have trouble going back to say, Harvest Moon 64, despite loving it when I was younger. I might want a newer game for its upgraded features or improved quality-of-life mechanics. For a game like Pokemon, I went back to play Blue when the 3DS Virtual Console versions came out. I expected to not like it as much because of how much later games have improved upon it. To my surprise, the solid gameplay held up. There were minor quality-of-life annoyances like item management, but otherwise, I still had a lot of fun despite its age. In summary, I enjoy great games from any generation.

    1. Now that you mention it: I did play Emerald at one time after I had finished Platinum, and it held up pretty well. It was the second Pokemon game I played, and I was just happy to have another great adventure. But like you said, going back to the old Harvest Moon games doesn’t work. After all, the gameplay has changed to much and has added such nice features too. It would feel like missing something.
      Still, the visuals do a lot for me. I wouldn’t easily pick up new games that are made in retro style either.

  3. I feel that there are two sides to this matter, namely graphics and gameplay. I play retro games occasionally and I always have a visual shock when booting a retro game for the first time. Heck, I even have a mild visual shock when going from Vita and 3DS games to PSP and DS ones! But usually, that first striking impression fades away after a couple of minutes of play and I soon find myself at ease with the game and not noticing the bare graphics anymore. It’s a bit like the 3DS effect of the 3DS: it wows you the first minutes, but soon you don’t even notice it anymore. Gameplay, on the other hand, can be much more of a hindrance in enjoying retro games: there are some gaming genres and styles I simply cannot play anymore nowadays, just because I cannot tolerate the frustration and clunkiness that comes with the territory. Stuff like harcore platformers and die-and-retry games kept me occupied for hours when I was a kid, but I wouldn’t touch them with a pole nowadays!

    1. You have a point, maybe gameplay is even more important when going back to retro games. That may be why a game like Shovel Knight is doing so well. To me, visually it looks retro but they say the gameplay is solid.
      And if a game series has progressed and added to it over the years, it’s hard to go back. Like for instance to an old Harvest Moon game!

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