Remembering games fondly... Why some more than others?

If you compared Civilization with Civilization 4, which game would you say was the best?

In terms of features Civilization 4 wins hands on, but I still think of Civilization 1 as the better game.

Half Life was a very good game, so were Doom, Quake and many others, but I still think of Duke3D as the best in the fps genre…

Of course it goes with Personal Taste, but should I not like a game that built on a predecessor and improved in almost every area MORE than I liked the ‘original’?

I’m trying to find out why I get less “enjoyment” out of most recent games than I did from the older versions / types.

Is it because you now have so much more choice as well as more attractions all fighting for your attention, combined with you working so you have less time to enjoy games than you did in the past… or are the games now just … not that good as the earlier ones?

Perhaps it is because the old games introduced something new, and were the ‘first’ experience of that “new-ness” so you remember them more fondly than the later versions of the game/type?

But why then do I like a game such as Galactic Civilizations 2 more than Galactic Civilizations 1… ? Star Control 2 before Star Control / SC3. Dune 2 Before Dune:Emperor and Dune 2000… C&C > all the later ones.
Morrowind more than Oblivion…Ultima Online more than any other MMORPG released since, except for WISH (which they cancelled, those bastards!)…

I want to like those ‘new’ games, but it seems like they always fall up short to my expectations - “It should be as fun, or more, than the “older” game. And prettier and more feature packed”…

Railroad Tyccoon 1 > Tyccoon 2 and 3…

I want to like the new games more, damn it! :-]

Or perhaps it is that you played a game in the past, but these days you just “consume” most of them…

Some games I do not even know why I play, I just want to complete them to ‘win’…

Maybe try jumping into a different genre than you would usually get into or just plain take a break for a few months. My free time has really been cut since Xmas to the point where I haven’t really played games at all the last few months. As a result I’m practically foaming at the mouth to get some solid play time in with any game. Absence works wonders.

It’s because new games are sitting in front of you staring you in the face. From here you can see all their flaws clearly.

Old games are sitting far back in the past through the rose-colored hallways of your mind. From this distance you can only make out a general impression of what they were like, and you tend to forget or overlook the flaws that you would be obsessed about were those games here now.

Don’t worry, in 10 years you’ll be fondly remembering Civ4 and HL2, while also complaining about how current games don’t live up to the classics.

A lot of gaming nostalgia for me is in association with the places and experiences of youth.

A good test is to play the old games on an emulator. Sometimes, they’re just the same as you remember them, but taken out from the original context, it’s not quite the same.

Maybe you’ve just grown older, gained perspective on “gaming” as an activity, which comes with all kinds of pleasures and penalties.

For me, it’s because so many games are built on the backs of previous titles. Back in the day, every really good game felt like it was pushing the envelope in gameplay, graphics, the whole package. Nowadays most games are built on the structures of games you’ve played before, and the experience is one of refinement rather than rough-hewn exploration.

Obviously there are still games with crazy new ideas coming out, but overall the feeling of “shiny newness” just isn’t there for me.

Yes; I have had some bad experiences with replaying games I remembered fondly. Remember playing COBRA on a C64 after owning an AMiGA for many years… and man, that game sucked… and I remembered it as a great game before I saw it in action.

But I think there is more to it than just my memory. I played Civilization 1 a LOT, first at a friends house, then on my own PC, then on the Amiga, then on the Amiga 1200 in AGA… But I have only briefly played Civilization 2, 3 and 4… So I doubt I will ever look back on those games (Civ 2-4, HL2 etc) in 10 years and remember them fondly because they never ‘hooked’ me for so much time as did Civilization 1… It is most likely just because I had more time back then to enjoy games and play them a lot… and had less stuff to think about. Perhaps this is why many games that are released now are fairly ‘short’ (8-12 hours)… so people with so many choices and busy schedules and unorderly lives can play and ‘win’ the game with their limited time… Max Payne 2 was great, so was MP1… both very short games.

Perhaps if I am able to spend more time with the game, and able to WIN the game, I will think of it as a better game…

But, I hope you’re right that I will remember them more fondly in the future… at least that way I will think of the time spent “with them” as more… uhm… meaningfull. :-)

Edit: I still enjoy COVERT ACTION on Emulator :-)

There’s also the issue that some older games have just never been topped. Some games just did things so right, that taken as a whole, they have yet to be matched.


I would gladly replay any of those games even if they were the exact same game with a graphical makeover (or even without). I felt the same way about Pirates!, and Firaxis delivered on that pretty damn nicely. I’d love to see M.U.L.E. or Autoduel get the Pirates! treatment.

A big part of it is that the novelty factor has worn off: there’s a “been there, done that” feeling which sets in. Civilization was a pretty groundbreaking game when it first came out fifteen(!) years ago; Civilization 4 is a huge improvement, but it’s still “just” a refinement on an existing game. You’re not going to feel the same sense of excitement playing Civ 4 as you did when you first played Civ 1, particularly if you’ve been following the franchise all along. Same thing with other game franchises and genres.

Some of it is that your critical faculties develop with age: the more games you play, the better able you are to dissect them and compare them to one another. The first time you play a FPS, you’re probably blown away, because of the “OMFG I’ve never seen anything like this before!” factor. After you play a dozen or so, though, you have some broader perspective on the genre, so maybe you realize that first game wasn’t so great after all.

And sometimes it may simply be a matter of personal taste. Maybe the first game in a franchise is flawed or not to your liking, but its sequel is a vast improvement or takes the game in a new direction you like better than the original (e.g., GalCiv 2 > GalCiv 1, Star Control 2 > SC1 + SC3). Maybe a game has a setting or a sense of humor or whatever that particularly appeals to you: e.g., Blood is one of my favorite FPSs because I loved the setting, the weapons, the tongue-in-cheek tributes to horror movies, the antihero protagonist, etc. The actual gameplay was nothing we hadn’t seen before, but the execution was unique.

I would add Ultima 7, Deus Ex, Final Fantasy 6, and Secret of Mana to that list. I know that people will argue with me on the last item, but that game is my favorite action/adventure of all times, and I replay it regularly because nothing else has topped it as far as I’m concerned.

Space H.O.R.S.E. was MULE remade. And it was sorta simplistic, and not that satisfying.

I totally agree.
As a side question: any current games (within the last t years or so) fit this bill in your opinion?
I haven’t played that many new ones because I see the press hype and am usually all “Meh” and am just wondering if I’ve missed any.

Well, it’s hard to say that a game hasn’t been topped if it’s in a very short period of time. But I’ll probably stick Divine Divinity in to the list at some point.

Never played it. And, in fairness, I haven’t played M.U.L.E. in a very long time, but it’s always seemed like a game that would hold up. It’s mechanics have sort of a timeless, board gamey feel. Sort of like Archon (which I’d also add to the list).

Or X-Com.

I think the real test of whether or not a game has never been topped, is if you can go back to it and play through it and still love it like you did the first time. All the games I list I can do that with.

I think I’ve played more of Civ II than any other game: it was a real watershed for me. I moved to Alpha Centauri, and Civ III and Civ IV, and, each time, there’s been a period of cursing while I struggled to learn the new kinks. Each time, the urge to go back to the previous game was strong, because I’d developed my strategies and knew what I wanted to do, and the new title was forcing me to re-think and re-learn. (This was compounded with Alpha Centauri because of the impenetrable tech tree, and I actually put it down and slunk back to Civ II. And then, one day, about six months later, I decided ‘Sod it! It’s Sid. There’s got to be a really good game in there’ and I sat down to learn it.)

I doubt I’ll play as much of Civ IV as I did of Civ II. But that doesn’t mean I think Civ II was a better game. It’s a consequence of what my life looks like now: I just don’t have the stamina to stay up all night playing.

In fact, when I do try and go back to something else, I find myself missing the changes that the later games bought to the table. When I boot up SMAC I miss culture and the fight for strategic resources. When I boot up Civ III, I miss…well, a lot, but most critically, the change in the maintenence system.

I don’t seem to really fall in love with games like I used to. I mean, I really love Myth and the Thief Series and Dungeon Keeper, and these days it feels like my ardor is cooler. Are the games not as good? Or does my life look so different now that I only have so much leisure energy to spend? I think, partly, it has to do with saturation: we are so spoiled for choice now. When Civ II came out there wasn’t really much else around like it, or even many games of that quality from other genres. Nowadays, you can throw a dart into a mall and hit RTS X and FPS XV and Online Game IIIX.

You can’t go home again, Oatman. But apparently, you can shop there.
-Martin Blank

X-Com is a game I missed out on the first time…and I have tried to play it since, but the graphics just kill it for me. I do a couple of missions and then stop, so I never get to the fun part (apparently). I’d LOVE a simple graphical facelift to that game. Why doesn’t someone port it to XP and upgrade the graphics…I mean a fan project type thing?

Other than the Thomas Wolfe quote the only thing I come up with is “The Old Apartment” by Bare Naked Ladies.

Don’t let it stop you. Fools were bitching about X-Com’s graphics the day it was released. Ten years later and they look like bigger fools than ever.

Now the lack of autosave and quicksave, that’s an issue.