Any true movie-lover or music fan will have a profound respect for the work that has come before their time, but not out of a misplaced sense of obligation. They instinctually develop this fondness by virtue of past work being that good in the first place, automatically worthy of remembrance no matter what our own personal views are.
You can show soul classics to even the youngest person and they’ll understand how wonderful these records are. Artists like Marvin Gaye, James Brown, Ray Charles, and famous groups like The Beatles, the Beach Boys, and the Jackson Five all have timeless appeal and will for many decades, and hopefully centuries to come.
The same can be said for the culture of gaming. Any true gamer knows that the latest and shiniest video game is not necessarily the best. Moreover, with battle passes, microtransactions, formulaic design principles and sometimes baffling creative directions, modern gaming hasn’t developed the greatest of reputations for itself. Sure, we still receive that knock-it-out-of-the-park title (Baldur’s Gate 3 and Armored Core, anyone?), but from time to time, it’s healthy to go back and remember what helped you fall in love with gaming in the first place.
The texture of nostalgia will differ from person to person. For one person, playing Solitaire on their computer brings back echoes of their first office job, while playing ported movie licensed games on their Gameboy Color was a blast for others. If you’re looking to explore nostalgia through stellar gaming histories, then we hope some of the following suggestions can provide you with comfort and joy:
Metal Gear Solid Series
Hideo Kojima is currently famous for Death Stranding, a fantastic game initially presenting itself as a quasi-Fed-Ex simulator, that slowly uncovers a story with a heart of gold about connection, consolation, and sacrifice.
But of course, Kojima has been no stranger to visionary ideas and the balance between fun and subverted game design principles. The Metal Gear Solid series offers some of the most iconic quotes in gaming history and bosses that people still talk about to this day.
With its self-referential humor, fascinating codec calls and dialogues, a staggering level of detail for the time, cinematic virtuosity and total self-indulgence, Metal Gear Solid has long been an iconic series worth playing through and revisiting multiple times over. Better yet, Metal Gear Solid is currently awaiting the release of the “MASTER COLLECTION” volumes, which are porting these fantastic titles to PC and modern consoles. Moreover, Metal Gear Solid 3 is currently undergoing the remake treatment.
If you can’t wait, Metal Gear 1 - 4 are playable on PS3 and it’s easy to purchase a cheap HD collection copy from websites like eBay.
Baldur’s Gate 3, developed by Larian Studios, has been making waves since releasing on PC, earning the highest praise of video game critics who see this as a worthy follow-up of its pedigree. But let’s not forget that Baldur’s Gate 1 & 2 were revelations in their own right, and with the Definitive Editions offering new resolutions and upscaled UI, anyone hoping to dig into the series past have every chance to do so.
Going back to learn the basics of CRPG’s and how they dominated the gaming market in the late 90s, to the resurgence that took place in the latter half of the 2010s with titles like Pillars of Eternity and Pathfinder, there’s plenty of role-playing meat to sink your teeth into. Some of the old concepts still hold up, as many were developed thanks to Dungeons & Dragons rules that have been refined over the years but still have many common characteristics.
Back in the 90s, this genre rarely had stunning graphics to work with or complex animations, and so they used descriptive, floral prose to describe the world you were in and the character interactions that were happening. As such, some of the best writing in gaming history is available in titles like Planescape: Torment, Icewind Dale, Arcanum, and more. As mentioned above, many offer slight remasters you can enjoy from storefronts like Steam and GOG.
The Evolution Of Deus Ex
Deus Ex may not have invented the immersive SIM (that credit goes to System Shock which has recently been remade), but it certainly popularized it and serves as a shining example of the genre.
Moreover, the history of Deus Ex is a fascinating set of releases to follow. The initial game offers wild gameplay variety to this day, and a fantastic conspiracy storyline with many philosophies that have actually come to light in the modern day. But as you chart the series, from the original game to Infinity War, to the Xbox 360-era reboot with Human Revolution and the Xbox One generation’s Mankind Divided, you can see how certain design principles have expanded, streamlined, and changed over time.
In other words, if you’re looking for a fun journey through gaming history, you can’t go wrong with Deus Ex, even if not all the titles are as good as their first interpretation.
Remakes/Remasters Of Old Classics
There’s always value in going back, picking up retro consoles, and enjoying the first interpretation of how games were and what they stood for. This way, you get to see the primary experience and enjoy it thoroughly.
But there’s no shame in playing remakes or remasters either. For example, playing games like Shenmue on modern consoles in no way limits your enjoyment of the game, even though it was bound to Dreamcast for so long.
Moreover, the Resident Evil Remakes (at least 2 and 4) are widely considered to be fantastic reimaginings of previous titles worth engaging with and enjoying. Of course, some games have been updated with only minor creative liberties taken, like the original RE Remake.
Some games may be quite hard to engage with from a modern perspective, but enjoying a remake can help you understand why that title was considered so iconic while enjoying all the conveniences of modern norms. For example - the aforementioned System Shock remake is considered a brilliant modernization of the old classic.
You’re always free to define how exactly a remake will inspire your purchase or not. For some, only a remaster is acceptable, as they prefer to see the original vision. As we’ve seen with the Grand Theft Auto: Definitive Editions, sometimes remasters are perfunctory and add very little to the core experience, or in some cases override it.
There’s zero shame in going back and enjoying old comforts. Odds are, others have considered doing so before you and helped sustain a community. Using sites like Reddit you may find private PVP servers for old PC games like Battlefield 2142 or even MMOs that are still ticking over thanks to fan support.
Old comforts might mean diving into Halo 3 PVP through the Master Chief Collection or blasting through the old Playstation 2 platformers you used to love, like some of the later Crash Bandicoot games or the Jak and Daxter series.
In other words - it can be fun to go back to the games you used to enjoy in childhood or your teenage years, and see how they hold up. Sure, not all of them might be as mechanically or graphically impressive as they felt back then, but you’re sure to evoke some warm feelings thanks to your efforts.
This is an important point, because it’s very easy to “explore nostalgia” as if it were a test you had to pass, or a lesson you have to learn. Video games can be art, sure, but ultimately they’re art you enjoy. Gaming can absolutely be viewed from an analytical perspective, and if that’s what you enjoy then more power to you; but nostalgia isn’t always a matter of the mind, but the heart.
Before Ubisoft became known for releasing sub-par titles that rehashed their old formula time and time again, they dominated the gaming space with a fantastic range of titles that held a great deal of intrigue.
Their Tom Clancy licensed games such as Splinter Cell, Rainbow Six and Ghost Recon hold up to this day, while their other titles like Rayman serve as fantastic platforming examples. Of course, they also spawned certain titles in their hallmark franchises, like Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag that became emblematic of their creativity at this time.
Luckily, Ubisoft has a subscription service you can sign up for and get access to the entire back catalog provided you have a compatible device to play these titles on. If you’re looking to go back and see the lost virtues of a once iconic studio, then it can’t hurt to look back and see some of the classics. You may even understand why some of the animosity toward Ubisoft continues today thanks to this prior pedigree, and why their newer titles, like AC: Mirage, promise to use the design principles of the past for inspiration.
With this advice, you’re sure to explore nostalgia through stellar gaming history. Keep reading our site for a range of reviews and to make the best of your gaming hobby.
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