Over the past few weeks I've been eagerly awaiting Left 4 Dead 2, and in the meantime I've been digging through my collection of old games, giving in to a sudden and inexplicable wave of nostalgia. There were the old pleasures to be sure, but I was amazed at how many of these games just didn't do anything for me anymore. I remember spending countless hours with these titles, but for some of them it was like looking in the basement for that old toy or comic book you loved so much, only to realize that maybe it wasn't all that great to begin with.

Mega Man X for the SNES was my first foray, and fortunately for my childhood memories it held its ground. While it wasn't quite the ZOMG THIS IS SO FUCKING HARD and HOLY FUCK I BEAT THE GODDAMN SPIDER and of course WATCH YOUR LANGUAGE OR WE'RE NOT GOING TO STEAK N' SHAKE experience that it was fourteen years ago, it was still challenging enough to keep my interest. While my self-imposed challenge of beating all of the initial bosses with just the X-Buster certainly helped (raise your hand if you've ever actually tried to beat Launch Octupus without the Rolling Shield and none of the upgrades or heart tanks), the game still succeeded in conjuring up those memories of old. The two other SNES editions of the X series also held up their respective ends of the bargain.

Despite Goldeneye 007's status as a renowned classic, I always felt that Perfect Dark was a superior game in just about every way. And surprisingly, even after having to re-acquaint myself with the spaceship-like N64 controller, the game still has some kicks left in it. Shooting a guard in the hand enough times to kill him still hasn't gotten old, and I found the gunplay to be fast and engaging even after so many more advanced games have been made. Perfect Dark's weaponry was also still fun to use, mainly the laptop gun and the uber-cheap Farsight.

Final Fight 3 for the SNES was not so fortunate. The slow paced arcade-style beat-em-up type of game just doesn't have any appeal to me now, especially when playing alone. Getting a friend to play along alleviated things somewhat, but it still didn't cover for the monotonous gameplay. I found myself bored after only two levels, so this one probably won't be seeing daylight again anytime soon.

Golden Axe II—see above.

Streets of Rage 2—see above the above see above.

Finally, I loved Metal Gear Solid, and I still maintain that it's one of my favorite games ever. That said, I have a very difficult time playing it now. I'm used to a much more polished set of controls than the ones used in the original MGS, and not being able to shoot in first person view is extremely annoying. It was marvelous for its time, but to me this is like the first Tim Burton Batman film—it was great in its day, but in light of what has been made since then it just hasn't aged very well.

There are others of course. Sonic the Hedgehog 3/Sonic & Kunckles is still as fast and furious as it ever was, the Zerg can still crush anything the puny Protoss try to throw at them, and I still think Final Fantasy VI was the pinnacle of the series thus far. I'm curious as to what others have felt when they replayed some of their old favorites from years ago. Were you as disillusioned as I? Or was everything just as good as it was way back when?

Richard Naik

Richard Naik

Born and raised in St. Louis, MO, Richard received his first console (the NES) at the age of six, and from that point on games have been an integral part of his life, whether it's been frittering summers away with the likes of Mario, Mega Man, and the Zerg or partaking in marathon sessions of Halo, Team Fortress 2 or Left 4 Dead. After being a longtime reader of GameCritics, Richard joined the staff in March of 2009, and over the years Richard grew into the more prominent role of part-time podcast host.

In 2016, he spearheaded a complete rebuild of the GameCritics.com website, earning him the title of Chief Engineer.

His gaming interests are fairly eclectic, ranging from 2D platformers to old-school-style adventure games to RPGs to first-person shooters. So in other words, he’ll play pretty much anything.
Richard Naik

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5 Comments on "The reality of memories"

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Richard Naik

The only FF games I flat-out didn’t like were 8 and 12. I never really got along with 8’s combat system, and I couldn’t deal with how much I had to grind in 12, but the rest of them I’m OK with. The latter 1/4 of 9 was really strange (especially the villian-out-of-nowhere trick at the end) and 10’s charatcers mostly sucked, but they were overall enjoyable.

John in chicago
Have to agree that FFVI was the high point for the series. FFVII, while it had an engaging battle and upgrade system, was basically “lets slop some 3D characters on to pre-rendered backgrounds that have no personality whatsoever”. but thats just my opinion. The series only got worse after that, with a heavy focus on pre-rendered cutscenes (enough, I think we all get that Square can make pretty pre-renders, but I’d really just like to play a game now please…) and a departure from free roaming exploration. Don’t even get me started on the crap that passes for a FF… Read more »
Not gonna lie, old snes games still kick my ass ha. And i do love pre ff7 final fantasies more than the new ones (though I like the new ones too). As for the perfect dark comments you make, I agree completely. I played a few months ago after buying an n64 on the cheap, and PD was still as fun as I remember it. I love going against as many bots as possible with a friend. While I think the new batman movies are better than the old, and that burton was really just using Batman as a platform… Read more »
Richard Naik

The last time I saw it was probably a few years ago. The old movie wasn’t bad, but it just pales in comparison to Batman Begins, Dark Knight, and Phantom Meanace.

I was a little shocked when I first read the comment, since I thought you were referencing a paragraph about Batman Forever that I wound up cutting out 😛

Daniel Weissenberger

When did you last actually see that movie?

I caught the last thirty minutes on Saturday night, and that whole last extended action sequence was better than anything in any subsequent Batman movie.