It’s so easy to look back at games with rose-tinted glasses, I think. I wouldn’t change my childhood gaming experiences for the world; my jaw hit the floor when I first saw Crash Bandicoot’s N. Sanity Beach on the PS1, and I engaged in a six month adventure with The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time on the Nintendo 64 – five of which were spent trying to escape the aqua-blue hue hells of the Water Temple. But if I’m honest with you, I wish I was growing up with games now.
When I was a young’un, the biggest obstacle between me and the games I wanted to play was money. I was lucky to be able to play at all, of course, but I’d have to wait months to be able to afford a title I wanted – potentially even longer if there wasn’t a birthday or Christmas nearby. This meant I had to pick very wisely: I wanted replayable releases that either lent themselves to multiple playthroughs or took an age to beat.
Even considering these stipulations, I’d find myself deleting save files and starting over with alarming frequency. I know the first moments of Sonic Adventure, for example, like the back of my hand – it was the only SEGA Dreamcast title I could afford in those early days. Similarly, I could recant the makeup of multiple stages from Super Mario World, such is the frequency that I started the Super Nintendo exclusive over.
Money is less of an object for me these days, but time almost certainly is. I’ve been playing MLB The Show 20 for a few weeks now, and it’s staggering to me how much of a time sink this title can be. Sony San Diego is constantly refreshing the release with new card packs, events, challenges, bonuses, and unlocks. And it’s obviously not the only game to be designed this way: Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled has spent the best part of a year grabbing new content, for instance – it’s not just sports games.
I know microtransactions are controversial, but these bite-sized mini-payments would have benefited me in my youth. I simply didn’t have the cash to go out and buy a full-length game for the PS1 and PS2, but if I could have put some pocket money towards a Tamagotchi for my Call of Duty: Modern Warfare multiplayer character? I mean, honestly, I probably would have got tens of hours of additional entertainment out of that. Where’s the harm?
The journey for most major games doesn’t end when it hits stores these days – it begins. I still enjoy traditional campaigns, of course – story-based titles will always be my favourites after all. But I wished I could have had a FIFA 20 or Fortnite or For Honor or Steep or Rainbow Six: Siege or Apex Legends when I was a kid. These titles would have kept me occupied for months at a time, with new content and new things to do. We often complain about the direction of games these days, but you also can't argue with the embarrassment of riches that youngsters have access to today.
Do you think there are elements of gaming that are better today, or are you still looking through rose-tinted glasses? Purge your memory card in the comments section below.