Updated: Aug 20, 2021
--This is a script for the first video in a series about playing video games for the first time. I went off the rails (more than I intended to) so I won't be making a video for this script. Still, I wanted to post this because I will be making the series as a whole. I hope you enjoy and if you have suggestions for games I should try, please leave them in the comments.--
Hi, I’m Patrick. This is No-Stalgia, a series about learning from the past and playing video games while doing it. Nostalgia is a feeling associated with past happiness, and while there are plenty of games I have nostalgia for, I’d rather find out what I might have missed. I’m a different person than I was as a kid or a teenager. I’ve grown since college and even in the last decade, but a few things I’ve always loved are video games, learning and puns. The first two things will be relevant to the rest of this episode and the series as a whole. The third is only important for now in that nostalgia is a function of the passage of time and it’s important to remember that times flies like an arrow… and fruit flies like a banana. Oh and I suppose that third thing also applies to the title of the series.
I want to develop a game myself so it’s worth looking critically at games I play instead of only playing. So I’ll be taking a bananas look back through time at games I either overlooked or disliked and seeing what I can learn from them as well as decide if I think they’re worth playing today. In this first episode I was going to gush about my time playing Super Metroid for the first time, but as I began to capture footage and editing the video I started writing a different episode, this episode. Super Metroid will have to wait until next time because I have things I need to say about playing classic games in the early 2020s and what you can expect from this series in general.
Scrolling through the Switch virtual console is what prompted all of this initiative and learning to capture game footage on the Switch got me thinking about some of the benefits and drawbacks of playing classic games today. I’m no expert, but I’d say the biggest difference in the way games are played now versus how they were played in the 70s, 80s and early 90s is the internet. Online multiplayer is its own huge change; the interconnectivity of games was there from the first pong game bouncing back and forth across an oscilloscope. Then the internet took multiplayer into a whole different plane of existence, letting you play with someone in another room, another city, another country! That may be a topic for another time though. What I’m actually talking about is information. Nowadays, I can go find a text walkthrough of a game, watch a perfect play-through on YouTube or perhaps catch a live stream on twitch. Not to mention all the blogs, forum posts, and advertisements everywhere. The amount a player can know about games new and old before ever picking them up is mind-boggling. Before all of these advances, you had to wait for next month’s magazine or talk to Derek at lunch because his brother had shown him where to find the secret on level 5.
Another way the internet has made playing classic games different is the ease with which titles can be obtained. The major systems all have older games that can be played on their respective virtual consoles. There are mini versions of classic systems like the Atari, SNES, and Genesis that can be ordered online and come with tens of titles. There are also several classic titles available on the Google and Apple play stores that can be enjoyed on your phone. Then of course there are emulators. In the coming episodes, I’ll be using emulators to capture footage from some of the titles I talk about then deleting the copies. The decision came after I had played through super Metroid on the Switch and began to replay it to actually capture footage instead of just play for fun. The Switch has an easy and intuitive( if not robust) capture and edit system built-in, but transferring video off the switch became an almost immediate hassle involving my phone, QR codes, and an extra step of transfer from my phone to my computer before I could really edit. When I found the next game I meant to play through on the Google play store and could only play it comfortably on my Chromebook, I knew I would have an even harder time capturing that footage. It was then that I began to look at using emulation to capture footage easily and the merits far outweighed the drawbacks. That said, I will own all the games in some form even if I’m using an emulator to capture the footage. So, if I can’t purchase the game in some way, I won’t be able to play through it.
It blows my mind how many emulations features Nintendo built into the switch. Not only are there multiple save states, but I can rewind and try again if I royally bungle a boss or plummet into a pit. Alternately if I amuse myself with my inability to perform a simple task I can hit a button and record the last few seconds of gameplay and hold onto my hilarious highlight. Players can also use some of those features on the Genesis and SNES mini-systems, so even some of the more impossible games of yesteryear become complete-able, if not easy. (I’m looking at you Altered beast! WTF is that!? Down/kick kicks up?!? Sigh…)
Now let’s talk about some of the innovations in game design. Since the 70s, videogame design has gone from non-existence to having intricate and varied schools of thought for every aspect of video games. Many early games are a confusing muddle of nonsense unless you have the manual and even then it’s not a sure bet you can understand them. The design has come a long way and luckily, modern ports often also get modern tweaks. Changes to the way the player can view or navigate a menu or the ability to remap buttons. Tiny quality of play changes that end up making a huge difference. Then there are the graphical and visual improvements. Eagle-eyed viewers will have noticed the up-scaled graphics on some of the game footage. What about the gyroscopic and haptic feedback in the dual analog stick controllers? Wow, video games have come so far and the more I think about it the more topics come to mind.
I guess I’ll wrap up this inaugural episode with what I mean by ‘classic’ video game. I’ve said it several times and it is, by nature a subjective word. In the context of this series, I’ll be looking at games that are relevant to the cultural zeitgeist of their era or became such through the cult following. “Old” doesn’t necessarily equate to “classic” and vice-versa. There may be new games that I end up taking a look at. Sometimes I may agree that a game has earned its status as a classic and other times I may roast a game unmercifully. I’ll do my best to be objective and insightful and I hope to get a lot of feedback from you all. So, please hit the like and subscribe buttons so you don’t miss the next episode of No-Stalgia, where I explore the vast and varied corridors of Zebes in Super Metroid. Until then, thanks for watching, and stay sound.