Boss Rush Banter: What Makes an Old Game Age Well?

Nostalgia can be quite the mystical thing. It’s easy to bask in the fondness of your gaming memories, and reminisce on how those games from your childhood are still the best things ever. But how many times have you booted up those old games only to have those memories tarnished? As video games have progressed, either through their graphics or their mechanics, even the most standard of modern games can feel leaps and bounds ahead of yesteryear’s classics.

Some games age better than others: Grand Theft Auto 3 (Left) and Resident Evil 4 (Right).

I have revisited 8 and 16-bit RPGs only to find the grind to higher levels a complete chore. I have returned to the streets of Liberty City on the PS2 just to die in seconds because the aiming and the driving is completely archaic. And don’t get me started on graphics. Poor draw distance makes the first Medal of Honor nearly impossible to play, the polygons in Final Fantasy VII are sharp enough to cut your retinas, and the fuzzy mesh of pixels in Need for Speed Underground makes it a feat just to distinguish the road from the side of a building.

Some legends never die, however. While the original Super Mario Bros. indeed shows its age with its basic premise and graphics, the game play remains solid and has only seen slight revisions in the 35 years since. The jagged edges of Resident Evil 4 may be much more noticeable to today’s eyes thanks to modern TVs, but it still provides impressive immersion thanks to its stellar art direction.

As a gamer in my thirties, it’s far easier for me to embrace games that have aged because I lived it. I’m curious as to how younger gamers view the “dinosaurs” of gaming’s past.

What best makes a game stand up to the test of time, in your opinion? Do graphics really make the game, or are you able to look past that to uncover the gem underneath? If the graphics are indeed superb, how much of that makes up for outdated controls or stale gaming mechanics? Is there a game in particular that you feel is truly never aging? Or maybe one that has gotten even better with age? I’d love to know what you have to say!

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