6 things we definitely don’t miss from the good old days

Retro Gaming is definitely on the rise, with more and more people starting to invest in older consoles, or devices, in order to relive and experience the greatness of yesteryear. It’s a great trend and something that helps some awareness to the games that we older folks grew up with to the kids of today.

Playing older games though is not for me as I’m definitely a “modern” gamer, for lack of a better word. I rarely go back and play old games on old devices, and much rather bank the file the good memories I have in the archives of my mind and move on. I tend to look at the new games coming out and play them as they come, rarely going back further than a couple of years.

But I did think about how lucky we are in modern times. There are so many standard things in gaming that we have come to expect, like wireless controllers for instance. It’s something that, not too long ago, was seen as a “feature” to newly releasing hardware. So with that in mind, I decided to compile a list of things we definitely don’t miss, from the good ol’ days!

Wired Controllers

Starting off with what I’ve already mentioned. It’s something console gamers almost take for granted, but not so long ago, you had a long cable stretching across the living room to connect your input device to your console. It was a bit of an annoyance. I’ve heard horror stories of consoles being tugged off the TV stand as somebody tripped over the cable on their way past. In some instances, the cable was too short, so a console had to be placed on the ground, in order for it to reach you while you play, or do as we did as kids, sit on the ground and play. There’s also the messiness of tangled and twisted cables, which is the absolute bane of my existence. Now, the only thing to worry about is the controller dying because you forgot to charge it, better plug in that cable in order to keep on play….. dammit!

Lack of Analog Sticks

Remember the days where we had to control everything with four directional buttons? Yeah, me too. While it was great for the classic games of the area, which was mostly side-scrolling platformers, it started becoming a chore to control characters that moved around in a 3D space. The original PlayStation released with analog free controllers, which when you look at it today, just looks silly. It’s been more than 20 years since the first analog thumbstick was tacked onto a controller, and we can all thank Nintendo for doing so with the Nintendo 64.

Inability to save a game

A lot of us here in South Africa grew up playing knock-off Golden China consoles. One thing that came with it, was the inability to save your progress. It wasn’t necessarily an issue that just us Saffers experienced, but later versions of Nintendo’s consoles did allow for some kind of saving for its bigger games. Some games also had some kind of password system built in, that you had to write down, in order to remember what level you were at.

This did, however, become a bit of a bigger nuisance when consoles like the PlayStation launched at a premium, and then sell a memory card at another premium in order for you to be able to save your progress. Good luck in explaining to your parents why you need that memory card so you can continue your progress of Final Fantasy VII.

Battling to make the damn game actually work (PC)

This is something I personally experienced a bit of. The gap between PC and console gaming back then was way bigger than it is today. You essentially played completely different games entirely. The problem was, that PCs were a lot less Plug-n-Play than it is today, and getting the hardware to work, never mind the actual game was sometimes a gruelling and tiring experience. Installations often involved altering config files and entering DOS commands in order to play it. Games and software often didn’t work within Windows, so you had to close the OS, which was just a fancy interface anyway, in order to start doing your thing.

Today, playing on PC is almost as easy as on console. Especially with game clients like Steam, or Origin (yes I know) that help you play the game as easily and quickly as possible. Yes, there’s sometimes as issues with getting a game to work, that console players generally don’t experience, but it is nowhere near as close as the issues we had in the early to mid-90s.

Malfunctions

Say what you will, but most of the gaming things from yesteryear wasn’t as robust as it is today. From simple things of CDs getting scratched, or cartridges refusing to work no matter how hard you blow it, to floppy 7 of 9 deciding it’s as corrupt as a government official, everything was just a lot more sensitive back in the days. It was easy to pull a cord out of a controller (once again cheap knock off consoles) or have gaming media getting scratched, simply because it worked so much harder than today. It also doesn’t help that CDs didn’t have the same kind of scratch resistance as the DVDs and Blu-Ray discs of today.

Everything is also more digital today, so we really don’t even need to have a cartridge or disc in order to play the game, which was mandatory back then.

The lack of a backlight

Today, we walk around with telephones in our pocket that has the ability to display its information to us no matter how dark the surroundings are. It’s something we take for granted, as the first mobile devices we walked around was our handheld Gameboys or Game & Watch devices. Those consoles were amazing, and we could play any time anywhere, provided we had enough light. Those devices had nothing more than a monotone LCD screen, that showed dots at specific locations depending on what you are doing. There was no light coming from behind that screen in order to make it look better, or help you see in lower light conditions.

Today, we have brightly coloured displays with light shining through with the power of the sun. Not quite, but compared to back in the early 90’s, it’s pretty much what it feels like. Hell, we’ve become so accustomed to the screens of today, that we start complaining about the resolution of a new handheld, and how it’s not good because of that. Come to think of it, maybe this one wasn’t that bad after all.

Know of anything else you don’t miss from the good old day? Let us know in the comments if there’s some stuff you’re really glad went the way of the dodo.

  • while i /prefer/ this [in a way] [because it wasn’t “crippling drm” in the sense we have crippling drm, today] it was also just unpleasant:

    when the game required you to use the manual to look up a code word so that you could beat the copy protection.

    • Stu

      Space Quest and the Sierra games, am I right?

      • oh. LOTS of games had them, but those were among them. yeah.

  • Richard Hedges

    Memory cards are another one!

  • Getting the most RAM possible on your old DOS PC was part of the fun. 640KB was more than enough according to Bill Gates.

  • DemonGamer

    One thing I know is the lack of shops. When I stayed in cpt I knew of one shop and cash crusaders . Than we moved to the Northern Cape and would go to the city once every 3/4 months . I’m so glad that we had booklets back then cause that was all the entertainment/hype I needed for the ride home.

    Now I can spend a day just walking around/go online looking for a certain game or price.

    • i actually kind of miss those: you’d open the box and the publisher/developer would have a glossy [if they could afford it] booklet telling you what games they were going to be shipping soon.

      [or the other thing i used to like a great deal: magazines.]

  • AndriyP

    Playing Final Fantasy 7 with no memory card available? You are going to have a bad time!

  • Wesley

    I actually miss memory cards….
    Not because of the frustration, but the fact that companies actually tried to keep saves small.
    It was also more manageable than today, and with PS+, long time grew tired of the “failed upload” due to saves being anything from 10-20Mb each.

    I realize that in this day and age, memory cards would simply not be feasible, so im not saying i want them back…. i just miss it.

  • Buffel

    I’ve been trying to find the original source of that Gameboy gif for ages. The earliest mention I can find is this reddit thread from 2015: https://www.reddit.com/r/gifs/comments/32t8t0/kids_today_will_never_know_the_struggle_oc/

    If anyone knows what the original source is, please let me know.

  • I know this is the ‘things we don’t miss’ list, but I really miss big fat game manuals 🙁

  • Drake

    firstly, the premium ps4 controllers have wires.

    secondly, i have an attachment for my gba that protects the screen and provides a decent light. on top of that, the gba screen becomes clearer and clearer as you add light, so outdoor play is easy. modern mobile devices are nearly useless outdoors, as even with the backlight maxed out, you can’t see a thing. and indoors at midnight they are too bright even on the darkest setting.

    i agree with your other comments. and cannot think of more things i don’t miss (e.g. no internet is a good thing. i dont care about online play, patches and dlc weren’t necessary since the games weren’t released broken or incomplete, microtransactions didn’t exist and strait-up cheats and hacks were available instead)

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