Nostalgia is a hell of a thing. Video games are not played in a bubble and our experiences and life will always impact the way we feel. Sometimes, those emotions might cloud our judgement in a way we tend not to recognise. Sometimes we reminisce over the games we dedicated time towards with great glee. We remember the joy they brought, we look at them with nostalgia and euphoria.
Yet nostalgia can only go so far. Sometimes the urge arises to go back to those game that stood out. Gamers may try to get that feeling back only to discover something terrible: That what we once loved is actually hot trash. Nostalgia goggles is an phrase that refers to clouded judgement due to a kind of sentimentality. Despite a game having obvious faults, we only remember the good times. We defend it because we loved it when we were younger. Despite not playing it after all this time, nostalgia fills the gaps.
The goggles have their limits and there are times that they will snap from the strain. No game is perfect but memory might generate positives that were not actually there. Then there is a hard zap that all those fond memories of this great game were just sentimentality gone amok. There is no shame in it, it has happened to all of us and it will happen again. So now to the issue – what was the game where nostalgia was replaced with cold truth?
Aging is never fun
Games are very much products of their time. Possibly more than any entertainment medium, games tend to face the biggest hurdles as time goes on. The tech world moves at a rapid rate and games can only stay on the top of the heap for so long. What looks gorgeous today may not have the same flair tomorrow. Nothing is quite absolved of the harsh mistress that is Lady Time. Writing, gameplay and especially graphics each face their own set of issues as time goes on. Looking at generations, the fifth generation of consoles (PS1, Saturn and Nintendo 64) have faced the biggest hardship.
Nostalgia goggles can allow us to return to these games from a bygone era and allow of to overlook an outdated product. Despite being a polygonal mess these days, many can still enjoy Final Fantasy VII in all its blocky glory. While judging a game on contemporary standards might seem unfair, it is worth acknowledging that things age badly. With Nostalgia Goggles, they can feel as fresh as the day they came out. Separated from all the invitations that have come along.
Nostalgia is often associated with childhood. It refers to a period in the past and youth is ripe for the minds historical contortion. While kids aren’t necessarily stupid, sometimes they don’t fully grasp what they are playing. We were all kids once, and there is likely a game we loved then doesn’t hold up as an adult.
Similar to the issue of aging, games of childhood tend to get a stronger glimmer when discussed. They stand out as nice memories before everything turned to rubble and obligations arose. Returning to anything from childhood is always a gamble regardless of medium. As we age, so do our tastes, reasoning abilities and rationality (although if you spend any time online, that this is debatable). As a kid, it was simple things that could get our endorphins running wild but as an adult, the basics are not going to cut it. Nostalgia makes it hard to separate the joy of being a kid from the game we loved at the time. We defend the game because we loved it as a kid and not what it is now.
My personal shattering of the glasses
Enough with the preamble, so what was the game that made me question my memory? Well this is an easy one for me: Mortal Kombat: Deception on the PlayStation 2. I loved the hell out of Deception. I put in dozens of hours in mastering combos and rampaging through the arcade. The story mode kept me looking for every hidden secret. I was never big on fighting games as a kid, but Deception changed that. My friends and I would hold scrub leagues where I would often hit finals with my Baraka. With one of the greatest mini-games in Puzzle Kombat, it was my Saturday night jam!
Then, two years ago, I decided to return to the story of Shujinko and play a game I adored. As we can tell from this topic, it was not fun strolling down memory lane. It was a clumsy fighter that was tough to control. The story mode was a barren world filled to the brim with some awful voice acting. Shujinko (as the man who would usurp Liu Kang and the icon of MK), might be one of the worst of fighting game main characters. It was brutal to have a game I held in such high regard smash around me.
I never thought of Mortal Kombat: Deception as anything else but brilliance but it is a tough one to recommend now. It has aged as poorly as any fighting game could. I remembered this wonderful and breathtaking game, only to have it ripped. No goggles could protect me from it all crashing down. I have put up with a lot of nostalgic smear over the years and could still enjoy my games despite aging poorly. Deception was too great a task for me to overlook. We should point out that Puzzle Kombat is still great so that one slides.
So what was the game that tore out your heart because you realised it was all a lie? Comment below and tell us about that heartbreak!