The Second Look I just posted about Mario 64 had me thinking about something that's been on my mind for awhile now. I strongly believe that newer games just do not stand the test of time. With 3D graphics and polygons being introduced into gaming we've become jaded by what makes a game fun. One of the first things anyone notices about a game is the way it looks and this can skew people's opinions of a game. If it isn't all nice and shiny people will ignore it in favor of the new hotness with all the graphical bells and whistles. I'm guilty of this as well one of the first thing that hit me when I played Halo 3 for the first time was it didn't look that great and I thought that the big flagship title for the 360 should of been the best looking game on the system but it was still a fun game to play even though it looked like a first Xbox game. It's rare lately to play a game that just seems like a classic something you'll remember 20 years from now fondly and could still pick up and play all the way through.
With that being said I think gaming peaked in the 16-bit era. The Super Nintendo was dominating with the Genesis in a very close second and you had the underdog Turbo Graphx 16 trying to keep up and the PC leading it's own followers down a different path that would lead most of the innovation we see in console games today. All the different systems had different games with exclusives that stayed exclusives and actually gave you a reason to own all the gaming machines that were out then. While a lot of these games had good graphics for the time they had to have interesting art styles to separate them from the other. You can look at a Mario game and tell it's not Sonic. Final Fantasy did not look like Dragon Quest and so on. Today the endless streams of military shooters all look the same or you're in space shooting the same guys with the same laser and while these games can be fun they just don't stand apart except in name.
I strongly believe that when you discuss truly "classic" games you need to stick to the 16 bit or earlier era. Mention Gears of War 2 me and yeah I loved playing that game it was a ton of fun but is it a classic? No it's not something will come along and do Gears of War better then the Gears franchise will be forgotten not just by me but everyone. Even my beloved God of War I don't think is a classic. Another game by the same group of people that does the fighting and camera better with some slight tweaks to the game play can make God of War seem unplayable and broken. But a game like Super Mario World? It's just classic almost platforming perfection. The controls are responsive the game is beautiful even by today's standards it still holds up. The first two Sonic games do too, they're just fun to play with very very interesting zones, remember the first time you played the Casino Zone? Yeah I do and I'll never forget it but ask me about a part in Halo 3 and I may not be sure and need to go look online to refresh my memory.
Another thing from the past that I miss is that games were just different. Even though Mario and Sonic were both platformers they were completely different games. Today with the saturation of FPS games they all look the same shooting miscellaneous middle eastern guys with you're m-16 with a holographic site on it. With not a whole lot if anything at all different with them in a brown and grey world why use these advanced graphics engines to make bright bold colors when they do brown so well? I know these wars are in the desert but even the games that are in space are all grey and metal looking. Even as fantastic as Killzone 2 looked it was all brown and grey. DOOM took place in space and then Hell but it had some color to it bright colors we need to bring this back.
Most modern games you play them and forget I do have a few that have stood out to me and could very well be considered a classic, Demon's Souls is one and you can read why a few articles back. Another one that came out that I really really and I mean really enjoyed was Borderlands it did something different with the current FPS model and even though it took place in a desert waste land it was still colorful and looked amazing. Lately I've been more into the indie 2D games that are around, Cave Story, La-Mulana and all that kind of stuff. I remember more about Cave Story than I do most of the games I played last year.
I'm not saying I don't like new games because I do. A lot of them are fantastic but the overall "me too" system of copying is getting old and I don't see it going away anytime soon. Games need to be like the old school and not try to imitate but innovate and really do we need so many sequels so fast? Make us wait from a bit before we get the next game, but that's for another time.