Fact: Children are stupid. They read books about pooping. They wear hand-me-down socks. They watch movies starring computer-generated chipmunks and listen to music sung by pedophilic purple dinosaurs. Their opinions cannot be trusted.
So why should we trust ourselves as kids? Why would we believe that any of the stuff we liked when we were younger is still worth liking? Especially something as dependent on current technology and taste as videogames? We shouldn't. And in this article, we won't.
Here are seven games, picked by seven GR editors, that pathetically fail the test of time and adulthood. Share yours in the comments below.
Why I once loved it: Wolfenstein was more than my first shooter… it was my first truly immersive gaming experience. Before 1992, everything was side-scrolling, top-down or some other useless two-dimensional perspective.
Suddenly, with Wolfenstein, I wasn't just watching and controlling the hero from afar. I was the hero. I was inside the game, surrounded on all sides, able to look and move and shoot evil Nazis in any direction (except up or down, of course). To a kid raised on 8-bit Nintendo and PC point-and-click adventures, Wolfenstein might as well have been virtual reality.
And the first ten levels were free!
Above: SO MANY GODDAMN GUNS
Why I now hate it: Wolfenstein was too damn good. Too damn influential. The game wasn't merely the first step in shooters becoming a popular genre, or in 3D becoming a viable format… it was the first step in shooters becoming the only genre, and in 3D becoming the only format. My beloved PC adventures and 2D side-scrollers were the first to die off, of course, but eventually every type of game – and every type of gamer – was affected.
Today, virtually all games are in 3D. Virtually all games value action over story. Halo and Call of Duty are the biggest sellers, while even RPGs like Fallout and Mass Effect are basically hybrid shooters. If I knew back then what kind of trigger-happy, bloodthirsty monster I was helping to create, I never would have downloaded Wolfenstein in the first place.
Why I once loved it: I cannot understate how influential Zelda was in my formative years. The sense of adventure, of exploring the unknown was so strong that it pushed me out into the untouched wilderness of my Midwestern backyard in search of anything remotely resembling treasure. Soon, I realized science fiction, with its lasers, spaceships and horrific monsters, was more my speed and thus Metroid became the new obsession.
The massive planet Zebes was calling, unwilling to give up its secrets but I knew, eventually, I'd find all the weapons, all the power-ups and ultimately save the whole damn galaxy. Each area was visually distinct and occasionally creepy as hell (the music for Kraid's Lair still gives me goosebumps), with all the same adventuresome spirit found in the comparatively welcoming land of Hyrule. So many games of the day were left-to-right jumpfests. Metroid was a true solitary quest.
Why I now hate it: Not because Super Metroid did it infinitely better a few years later. Not because of the 2004 remake, Zero Mission, that updated the original with better graphics and tighter controls. No, I hate the original because it's practically unplayable, fighting you every step of the way with its tortuously long hallways that repeat over and over again, with its 24-digit passwords that take ages to copy down and then type in again, and with its utter lack of hints or guidance of any kind. It was designed to stump you, but not in a fun tease kind of way - no, Nintendo wanted to sell guides, magazines and get people calling the fart-ass expensive game counselors to figure out what the hell to do next.
I'm a massive fan of the series, and have beaten every single game in the franchise (yes, even Prime Pinball), and I'm a huge NES/SNES fanboy. I can deal with classic games and their age-old quirks. But Metroid, the original, is a flawed, artificially lengthened dick I'm tired of sucking. That said, you should check out Zero Mission, because the game buried underneath all this extensive bullshit is still solid. You just had to wait 18 years to get it.
Above: Some of my happiest memories, circa 1989-2000
Why I once loved them: When I was still a teenager and free time was ample, Japanese RPGs were a perfect confluence of all the things I was into at the time. I was a huge D&D nerd, so their sword-and-sorcery aspect immediately hooked me, and the perception that they were “smart” games was irresistible to any kid arrogant enough to think of him or herself as a genius (which I did). And as the technology progressed, their anime influences became more and more pronounced, something that dovetailed neatly with my discovery of 1990s Japanese pop culture.
By the time the PlayStation era was in full swing, JRPGs all but consumed my life; they always had the best stories, the best characters, the best graphics, the most fleshed-out worlds and the most diverse action. I played and beat as many as I could get my hands on, and always wanted more.
Above: Man, eff these guys
Why I now hate them: Growing up and getting a job didn’t leave a lot of free time for gaming, and even once I’d lucked out and landed a newspaper game-review column, the weekly review cycle made it impossible to devote the kind of time to JRPGs that I used to. So I started to ignore them in favor of shorter, more immediately rewarding types of games.
By the time I was ready to give them another try, gaming had taken great strides forward – but JRPGs hadn’t. The immersive, story-driven experiences I want have since been taken up by other genres, while JRPGs still fixate on monotonous grinding, overlong cutscenes and the same rigid, restrictive structure they’ve had since the underpowered old days.
Worse, their plots and characters are almost always committee-written rehashes of the same tired, anime-inspired formulas. Is there a demure healer who secretly harbors feelings for the hero? Check. A token cool guy who’s the most grizzled, world-weary 28-year-old you’ve ever seen? Check. A protagonist who’s either brashly selfish, naïvely idealistic or who has no discernible personality whatsoever? Check, check and check. Factor in plenty of inane dialogue and too many nauseatingly cutesy heroines, and I’ll stick to games where I can make something blow up in the first five minutes, thanks.