Two quick thoughts

1.

I’ve been working on a column about backwards compatibility in video game systems, and it’s exploded a bit (in a good way). So while I’m sorting out the pieces, I wanted to put out the one thing that I know for sure. I’m deeply interested in backwards compatibility, and right now to me it’s an important sign of a good system. I find, however, that I do not tend to use backwards compatibility to play the same games again and again. There are some exceptions to this—I’ve played at least three different versions of Final Fantasy IV—but for the most part I don’t find it fun to pick up old NES games. Most of them aren’t very good, and I’m immediately reminded that I was never very good at them.

I’m excited by the idea of backwards compatibility much more because of that handful of old games that I’ve never played but want to play now. The first Zelda game I played was Wind Waker on the GameCube (no lie), and while I’m not sure I feel a need to play the first two 8-bit Zelda games, I would really love to play A Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time. I want to play Chrono Trigger and Silent Hill. I really need to give Halo: Combat Evolved at least one more chance. It was important to me to be able to pick up Red Dead Revolver after playing Red Dead Redemption, just as it quickly became important to put it down again. (Seriously, there’s really not much special about Red Dead Revolver.)

I need to play at least one of the Grand Theft Auto games.

I’d also be really interested to hear from other people—how important is backwards compatibility to you in a game system? What old games do you still play or what old games would you like to play? What system would you be most likely to use? Let me know in the comments or send me an email at craiggav [at] idler-mag [dot] com.

2.

I’ve started playing BioShock, and my first impression—other than holy crap it takes a long time to install on a PS3—is that it’s a very lonely game. Red Dead Redemption is every bit as violent, but the sandbox environment of RDR, even in the open, empty West, means that you encounter people who are indifferent or even friendly. There are plenty of missions where dozens and dozens of people are shooting, stabbing, or throwing dynamite at you, but you can also ride into town and play cards, have a drink, or walk around and let people say hello. In BioShock, at least in the early stages of the game, everyone you directly encounter is hostile. For a game vaunted for its complex take on morality (I know, I’ll get there when I get to the Little Sisters), it’s actually a bit draining to just shoot at everything without really having to think about it. (And rather different than RDR, where, feeling genuine guilt, I once restarted a gaming session after shooting a person I hadn’t even realized was there.)

Gavin Craig is co-editor of The Idler. You can follow him on Twitter at @craiggav.

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Comments
5 Responses to “Two quick thoughts”
  1. Maurice Pogue says:

    1. You’re not really talking about backwards compatibility, but a certain degree of retro gaming, past generation to past generation. The idea of backwards compatibility usually applies to a pre-existing library that you can continue to play rather than the option to play a previous generation’s library that you have not played yet.

    2. Moral choices in Bioshock are sophisticated for the genre (FPS), but otherwise unremarkable compared to Bioware RPGs. You can thank the modernization of console gaming which mimics that of the PC world.

    I’ve played every Zelda that isn’t on a handheld, for example.

    Oh, and I’m slowly making that transition from “hardcore” to “casual,” so my perspective is certainly different. I’ve played every Zelda that isn’t on a handheld, for example.

    Forreal, last post. I’ve played and 100% all the GTA III series (VC, SA, and their “stories” expansions) except IV (which I own, just don’t have the time/wife does not like/kids are up most of the day), and the first Saints Row. I own Saints Row 2 and tried it for like, 5 min, but it had soul-crushing bugs. They patched it since then, but I have not gotten back to it for the same reasons as GTA IV.

    I never finished GTA 1 or GTA 2 though. I was too young to understand the score multiplier and ran out of missions to do. GTA 2 was just too friggin hard once you pissed off too many gangs (inevitable, as this is a core feature of the game), who inhibited your ability to do missions. 5 star wanted level was also instant death, unlike GTA III where you can see the tanks coming.

    • Gavin Craig says:

      Maurice, you’ve hit exactly on why the column I was trying to write exploded (although I think it’ll become something interesting still). I wasn’t just writing about backwards compatibility, but also really talking about emulation AND backwards compatibility as part of the impulse to preserve worthwhile games in a playable fashion. (Updates and re-releases of older games factor in there somehow too.)

      That is to say that it isn’t enough to archive a cartridge (and somehow the idea of a dusty, unused archive misses something really essential about video games), in order for a game to still exist, it has to be playable, and the structures we have to do that are more than a little fragile (or skirt the fringes of legality).

      • In the realm of lost games, I love the Wing Commander series for PC, but as my computers improved the older games became unplayable, even with running “slowdown” software.

        The one game in the series I can still play, if I fire up my PII 266, is Wing Commander: Prophecy. Prophecy, to me, has really strong game play and an interesting resolution of the story line from the previous games: your character from all previous installments is now in charge of the ship (and played by Mark Hamill) and the new player character is the son of one of the prominent characters from the first game.

        And in games rediscovered: there’s now a port of Star Control 2 for Android. So while I’m sitting on the bus I can have middle school gaming flashbacks…

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