The Burning Question: What game broke your Nostalgia Goggles?

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Nostalgia goggles can allow us to return to these games from a bygone era and allow of to overlook an outdated product.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.

Childlike wonder

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!

  • AndriyP

    I tried to play the old Witcher games…could not stand them honestly. Game-play mechanics and graphics were just terrible.

    Oh an who can remember Gothica 1 and 2? Those games were epic when they came out…revisited them a few years later and man…things were looking very sad lol.

    • Marko Thabo Swanepoel

      That makes me afraid because I want to play the first Witcher when I get a decent PC. I’ve heard people say the first one was pretty shoddy and wouldn’t have been a cult hit if the writing wasn’t so good.

    • LazyDemoni

      I prefer The Witcher 1 to The Witcher 2. I think TW3 is the best overall but playing the entire series in order will be beneficial to those wanting to understand the world and characters better.

  • I play many older games, often, and I see this happen all the time. Prime examples for me are the GTA games in the PS2 era, the PS1 Tomb Raider games and just about any PS1/Saturn/N64 title. Another example is Heavenly Sword. Remember the beautiful hair locks of Nariko? After playing Horizon Zero Dawn it looks absolutely terrible. Most of you should just keep those memories where they should be – in your nostalgia goggles mind.

    • VampyreSquirrel

      GTA3, Vice City and San Andreas look HORRIBLE now.

      • GTA V, which I personally think is a great game but visually can’t touch some other titles, is miles ahead of those older games. Only when you play it does it hit you hard. Not only does it look dated, but it plays like a dated game too.

        • VampyreSquirrel

          Yeah, I know, and I put hundreds of hours into the earlier games.

          However, GTAV looks much better on PC than the Xbox360… I’d go as far as saying it looks like two different games. The detail on PC and the newer gen consoles makes that game a joy to play (even for a 3rd time).

  • Purple_Dragon

    I love the Sierra games, replayed one of the King’s Quests. It was then I decided to leave these games in the past and enjoy the memories.

    One thing I find strange is when we think of these games we remember them like they were HD.

    • Delano

      We forget that our tastes change over time. For music, movies, and yes, games.

    • aww.

      but sierra games are great! 😉

      [when they’re not killing you for their stupidity and not signalling that you should LOOK AT the tiny pixel in the lower left hand of the screen that you thought was just a part of the scenery.]

  • Richard Scott

    Ducktales. Man I loved the game when it was out first time. Trying to play the latest remaster (god I hope I’m using the correct term here) had me in tears..

    • NO! It’s still amazing. You were wearing the wrong glasses! 😛

      • Richard Scott

        NO!!! YOU HAVE!!

        • Marko Thabo Swanepoel


          I’m not protesting anything, just want to be part of something.

          • Delano

            no u

      • Richard Scott

        To Add it was the frustrating controls. Same with Mario Bro’s.

        • WRONG! If it was THPS HD I’d completely agree. They royally cocked that up.

    • Delano

      The Remaster is good, yeah, though I do still consider it inferior to the original 8-bit. Especially the dialogue and cutscenes.

  • Dian Fourie

    I think for me it was probably GTA Vice City. Geez I imagined that game so beautifully.

  • Small Charlie

    I very seldom go back to old games that I used to love. I’d rather keep the good memories of that game and move on. I learned that mentality the hard way with Return to Castle Wolfenstein. Absolutely loved the game, but when I wanted to play it again 5 or 6 years later, it just didn’t live up to the memories I had for it.

  • Valshen

    Last old game I booted up was FF6. I did not get very far, there was just too much disconnect between the serious bits and the levity.

  • Delano

    Dark Forces 2. At the time, it was such an amazing FPS adaptation of Star Wars, and a great-looking sequel to an already superb shooter. Best of all, players finally got to wield a light saber.

    A few years back I decided to revisit it, and after some technical issues on PC, I quickly found it just wasn’t worth it. Lordy, did that game age badly. The environments are bare, the layouts are confusing and don’t flow, and everything is blurry and low-polygon with horrid animations. The Force wasn’t with that one, for sure.

  • Marko Thabo Swanepoel

    Fallout 3 is probably the big one. When I initially played the game, it was the best thing ever. It was mighty impressive and I couldn’t stop playing it. I even thought the visuals were admirable. Then I watched someone on YouTube start up a playthrough of it and it looks so bad. The visuals are so grey and brown that it just feels like a canvas thrown with rust and Milo powder.

    The gameplay is also very sub-par, the writing is shoddy in places and there were some wild quality of life problems. I used to adore this game, but this was in my lonely teenage years when I had nothing better to do than immerse myself into this nuclear world.

  • Driver 2 on the PSX. Damn you are hard to look at xD

  • DemonGamer

    Cant really say there is any game I feel this way about. I know most will say I’m lying , but I just play them for what they are/were . I don’t compare them to anything today cause that would be unfair.

    I still play the classics and my favorite games I buy , right now I’m gonna get PoP warrior within(the best one btw). Instead of me going from arkam knight to City and saying “man this look city” I look more at AK and see how far we came.

    Not saying that all old games are great , they were bad then and still bad now. Guess I just put on my “living in the period” glasses when I play. “Dont listen to the bad people Ace Combat: Squadron leader, you’re beautiful”

  • Wesley

    I played the original Gran Turismo the other day on PSX… The game was still good (my friend plays GT1 and 2 religiously) But man those graphics have suffered.
    Its hard to see corners when distance is just mangled pixels.

    • That’s a great example. I once did a short clip jumping between GT1,2,3,4,5,6 with the same car and High Speed Ring. Absolutely baffling how it’s changed.

  • Raidz19

    I bought the Tomb Raider collection on Steam. Was so keen to play it…and then I literally got nauseous from all the pixels.

    • LazyDemoni

      I can imagine the original TR games being hard to get back into. Graphics aside, the clunky controls are best left in the past.

  • eVolVee

    Half-Life, all of them…

    • Small Charlie

      Third one as well?

  • old games are my favourite thing about gaming.

    i’ve come to accept [and expect] that when i play an old game, i’m absolutely going to lose a /lot/ of quality of life when i go back. so, my nostalgia goggles are thoroughly broken.

    my favourite sort of old game to play is old adventure games and those have all, as a genre, aged HORRIFICIALLY. i know a lot of you have come down on a game for it’s graphics, but that’s not as problematic to me as some of the design decisions. for example:

    in larry 2, when starting up the game, it’s totally possible to miss items that you need later on in the game. it’s a game that’s carved up into three distinct sections. get to section 2 from section 1 and you don’t have everything you need? good luck, because you can’t go back and there’s no failsafe of including that item somewhere in section 2. you LITERALLY have to reload to earlier in the game [if you made a save game at all] and hunt around until you find the object you’re after.

    the other big problem with most of those games are their parsers. now, this design strand is a product of it’s time, so there were serious constraints about how many synonyms [for items and commands and so on] could go on a disk and still make it out the door, but sometimes, hunt the word isn’t a fun game to play.

    to be fair to those games, though, i think they’ve aged the least just looking at other genres. in rpg’s, there were no in-game maps and most games early forced you to eat and drink. [not to mention picking up cursed items when you couldn’t identify the items in question. old rpg’s has a weird obsession with permadeath, too.

    so, by contrast, i feel that adventure games got off pretty lightly.

  • Trebzz

    GTA San Andreas. I remember getting excited when I heard news of this game coming on Ps4 and getting a chance to earn trophies and I was bloody disappointed with it :/ even though I spent R106 it was the worse decision I ever made.

  • Dave

    I think nowadays with the plethora of indie titles and studios out there, you get used to graphics that are a bit more ‘low-fi’, simply because a 5 man studio can only really make a game with graphics comparable to what was ‘cutting-edge’ ten years ago or more. So graphically you can just roll with it, especially if the game takes a more exaggerated style rather than aiming for hyper realism.
    Having said that, there are some games where the mechanics are broken or really outdated and it’s not so fun to play them for that reason. I think games like the first tomb raider, or the original hitman fit that bill pretty well, so many things they lack that you take for granted nowadays.

  • SupaPsychoJ

    I made a personal rule (after trying Mega-Man). Nostalgia should remain in your memories. Nothing destroys a game you loved so much, more than booting it up in this day and age.
    I rather attempt to fondly remember that game 🙂

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