When a modern gamer tries out an ancient game

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Have you ever tried diving into an old game you've never tried before?

In the past, I've given games like Deus Ex and Operation Flashpoint a go more than 10 years after they first came out, and by being able to ignore the graphics of the time I've found some of the most enjoyable gaming memories because of these old classics.

Now it's time for me to me to try the flight sim genre, which since Crimson Skies I haven't really dabbled in much aside from War Thunder. So I'm trying out a certified classic from back in the day- Red Baron.

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What everyone seemed to rave about this game when it came out back in 1990 was it's inclusion of a dynamic career. This was the first flight sim to randomly generate missions for you to fly and earn a name for yourself in a campaign.

And no two campaigns were the same.

So with that in mind, I'm going to post my first ever mission, from my first ever campaign, given that I only got this game for Christmas, 2018. I don't know a great deal about the game, but I know a fair bit about WW1, so we'll see how well it stays true to the conflict.

Walking through the gate at Bertincourt aerodrome, I was surprised at how rustic everything looked. A simple field with a few hangars at the back, and an administration building with workshops off to the side. In the corner of the field, the English Union Jack flag waved dejectedly in the slight breeze. We were so close to the front lines of the Western Front I could hear the constant deep booming of the artillery not far away. Did that shelling continue day and night? A shiver ran up my spine at the thought.

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It is October, 1916. France has been torn in two by the Great War. Germany and the nations under her treaties have made an all-out effort to capture Paris and bend Europe to their will. France has checked them, with the help of the British and Belgians, along a line of trenches that stretches from the mountains of Switzerland all the way to the North Sea. Every day soldiers endure the mud, disease and misery of the trenches looking for a way to push the enemy back, and finding none.

Not me though. They can keep their trenches and squalor. From the moment I saw my first flying machine I knew that was my calling- soaring above the Lines, drifting among the heavens with the chaos left far below. If I had to come and fight this war, then this was the war for me.

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I'd been posted as a pilot to the Western Front with No. 3 squadron. Being assigned to a British squadron, I had high hopes of being given a Sopwith Pup to fly, as it was a joy to control and more than a match for Germany's latest scouts and antiquated Eindeckers. Imagine my surprise to find the whole squadron outfitted with Nieuports instead- a diminutive but nevertheless gutsy French biplane scout.

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Someone notices me staring dumfounded at the aircraft and saunters over to say hello. 'I'm Mulberry,' he offers a hand. 'Leader of B flight. You must be the new chap. Come and meet the C.O. and we'll get you a bunk sorted.' He leads me to the office of the Commanding Officer, filling me in on the particulars of the squadron. Apparently they've gained something of a reputation for 'balloon busting,' a tricky task to accomplish, Mulberry assures me. I tell him I'm looking forward to getting my hands dirty, and his brow darkens. 'It's good to be keen, but no heroics, understand? We lose more pilots to heroics than you can imagine.'

My meeting with the C.O. went quickly enough, and after a quick circuit of the field in a Nieuport I was lying on my bunk contemplating how different this was to what I expected. British airmen in French planes, a base right at the Front made out of a repurposed farm, and that shelling! It would get on my nerves before too long, I thought. Then I remembered there were soldiers sitting in dugouts underneath that shelling, day in, day out. Suddenly my troubles didn't seem so bad.

Mulberry pops his head in the doorway and asks how I'm getting on. When he learns I'm properly settled in, he tells me he's got a show to run over the lines shortly, and wonders if I'd like to come along. 'A good opportunity to get your bearings and see a few landmarks' he says. I accept.

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With me included, there's four of us on this mission. Mulberry insists I fly in no. 2 position as his wingman, with the other experienced pilots, Scott and O'Leary, on the outside. 'Don't fret Laddie, we'll keep you nice and warm in the middle' jokes O'Leary as we walk out to our scouts. With our engines running, I'm gripped with sudden fear. Not of death, but that I'll do something wrong and earn their disapproval. It's my first mission- and I fear I don't know what I'm doing.

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And yet, when my little Nieuport lifts off the ground, all my anxiety falls away behind me. We are climbing, soaring upwards into the blue. Bertincourt shrinks to the size of a postage stamp below, and in the distance, rivers and roads criss-cross the landscape. I'll have to get to know all of them, I think, as Mulberry gets us up to about 7000 feet before turning towards the Lines. I stay right in my place on his left shoulder- determined not to lose my position.

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Our task is simple enough- we're to circle above a pair of our observation balloons and guard them against any Germans that come prowling around hoping to shoot them down. From these balloons, our observers can see for miles into enemy territory, noting down troop movements, supply trains, and ammo dumps. It can't be overstated how important this information is. If we spot a concentration of troops and supplies, we can anticipate an assault from the enemy. Because of this, observation balloons are prime targets, and heavily defended with a ring of Anti-Air guns below, and usually scouts above. We must keep our balloons aloft at all cost, and destroy the enemy's as soon as we can.

We get into position above the balloons and begin a wide circle. The novelty of my first real war flight soon wears off as I find myself consumed with keeping position near Mulberry, who stalks the sky in a never ending slow bank to the left. No sooner do I find myself wishing something would happen when Mulberry waggles his wings- the warning signal! Abruptly he banks across my nose and disappears to the left. I scan the sky ahead and see nothing unusual. But when I look to my left, I see our Nieuports diving into a wild aerial melee with as many Germans. I've been caught napping! I rush towards the tangle of machines, hoping to do my part.

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All three of my wingmen were making a bee-line for the nearest enemy scout- it looked like an Albatros D.II. This was Germany's latest single seater, a shark-like biplane with twin Spandau machine guns- twice the firepower on one of our Nieuports. But three Nieuports firing at once was a different story. The Albatros crumpled under their combined fire and fell like a stone out of the sky. One second there, the next utterly destroyed. I was shocked at the speed with which it was shot down, but had no time to dwell as my wingmen all turned to chase the next enemy.

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I turned after them, but by this stage the echelon formation we'd flown thus far had been abandoned in the fray. The next German was more alert, and banked hard to avoid the attack. My wingmen all jostled for position, flying across my nose. Being at the back of the pack, I saw little sense in risking collision with the rest of my flight so I pulled away, looking for other enemies. Presently I found an Albie not too far away, banking around to the left. I pulled up towards it and fired a burst, but it went wide. Still, this caused the enemy to pull up in a loop, and as he reached the zenith, a stream of lead from my right poured into the machine and sent it blazing down after the first. Two of my wingmen zoomed past me -it was impossible to tell which was which- before the three of us headed for a distant enemy, me once again at the rear.

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Puffs of smoke were bursting in mid-air around the enemy scout- these were shells fired from our Anti-Aircraft gunners below- brazenly firing into the sky amongst friend and foe alike. As the three of us drew near, the German dodged to the right, my wingmen not getting a clear shot. Having more time to react, I swung my machine around to get on his tail, but he reversed direction and rolled above my guns, and my shot was denied as well.

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Glancing over my tail to see if my wingmen were still in pursuit, I caught a glimpse of another Nieuport dogfighting two Germans behind and below me- just how many of the enemy were there!?

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I left the dodger in the hands of the two wingmen close-by, and swung myself around to help out the lone Nieuport behind me. When my nose lined up with him, there was only one Albatros in sight, and as I drew near I could see he was badly damaged, peppered with bullet holes from the lone Nieuport. Before I closed to firing range, his final burst sent the Albatros falling away to oblivion.

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Checking the skies all around, I could see no sign of the others. The sky above me was clear, so I banked my scout on its side to get a look at the ground underneath. Far below me, a Nieuport and Albatross circled each other near a big white circular object. Was that one of the balloons? Their fight had lost a lot of height. I didn't want to stray too far from my wingmen but I didn't want to lose too much height either, in case more enemies appeared above us. So I circled, keeping an eye on the fight below so that the German couldn't escape. Periodically one or the other aeroplane would disappear behind one of my wings, only to reappear as I circled around. First one, then two wingmen appeared down at the low-level scrap.

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When the third appeared down there as well I became suddenly alarmed that I was up high completely alone. I used my blip switch to disengage the engine periodically, and spiraled down to rejoin them. Before I got there the last German was driven down, and Mulberry evidently thought we had served our dues, because he turned for our aerodrome and started climbing.

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Rejoining the flight in my proper position, I noticed that Scott's Nieuport was badly shot up. There were so many holes around the engine I was surprised it was still running. But there he was, keeping in his place at the far end of the echelon.

As we flew back to base, my heart-rate steadied again for the first time since the fight had begun. How long had it lasted? 20 seconds? 30? It all seemed to whizz by so fast. As I sat there watching Scott flying alongside us, torn fabric flapping in the slipstream around his engine cowling, I felt suddenly ashamed of myself. I hadn't shot down a single enemy. Hadn't even hit one! How the others managed such accurate bursts through the rattle and flash of their guns was a mystery to me. I had been useless on this sortie, nothing but a dead-weight getting in their way as they jockeyed around the sky. How did they fly so close together in combat without hitting each other? I had so much to learn, I mused, thinking of the gentle turns and fair weather flying we had trained in back in England. This was the real training right here, in the war itself. I prayed I would live long enough to learn the ropes out here.

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We touched down back at Bertincourt, and I taxied up to the hangars. Mechanics excitedly swarmed around Scott's machine as he explained to them how he got it in such a state. O'Leary and Mulberry walked over to me, catching up just as I got my feet back onto the ground. Their beaming faces were full of the thrill of battle, with none of the scorn or disappointment in me that I had expected. 'How did you find it?' asked Mulberry, as O'Leary wiped engine oil from around his own face. 'Grand, just grand' I replied, searching for the words to describe the ride of my life. 'I'm afraid I lost track of how many there were, Sir. Did you shoot any of them down?' Mulberry gave O'Leary a playful punch in the shoulder. 'I got two of them. I would have had a third if this cheeky blighter here hadn't stolen it off me!' O'Leary feigned insult. 'I let you chase the bastard for half the afternoon. I just popped a few shots into his engine to end his misery... and yours!'

Wanting to join in on their laughter, Scott approached. 'Did you see that acrobat trying a loop near the start? That's the first flamer I've got while the turkey was upside down!' I started: 'I saw that! I wasn't sure who got him though... everyone was firing at once.' With this O'Leary piped up. 'You hear that Scott? Probably wasn't even your kill, you dozy beggar!' 'Oi, I got that Hun fair and square O'Leary- and got shot to pieces for my troubles, I'll have you know!' Scott retorted, trying not to laugh. 'It was a good kill, Scott...' Mulberry offered. '...But you need to be more aware of your surroundings. The leader of that second bunch nearly had you for dinner.' 'Second bunch!?' I was confused. Mulberry started counting on his gloved fingers. 'Let's see now, we had three Albatroses in the first bust-up, and before we were finished with them a second pair joined the fray. The leader of that pair was the last one to fall. He was the one who shot up Scott and flamed both of the balloons.

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'By Jove' I said. 'I'd forgotten all about the balloons. I'm afraid I wasn't much of a guard today.' Mulberry threw his arm around my shoulders to cheer me up. 'You didn't get shot down on your first show, and stayed with the flight without getting lost. That's good enough for me. They may have got our balloons, but they paid the ultimate price for it, all thanks to us.' As we all started walking over to the Mess Hall for some tea, my spirits already started lifting. Maybe I was going to like it here after all...

Squilookle:
Have you ever tried diving into an old game you've never tried before?

Depends how we're defining "old."

In the past, I've given games like Deus Ex and Operation Flashpoint a go more than 10 years after they first came out, and by being able to ignore the graphics of the time I've found some of the most enjoyable gaming memories because of these old classics.

So if we're defining "old" as in "released over ten years ago at the point of me playing it for the first time," then I guess I can nominate:

-Diablo
-Doom II
-Doom 3
-Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade
-Final Fantasy X
-The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
-The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening
-Marathon
-Marathon: Durandal
-Metal Gear
-Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake
-Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
-Quake
-StarCraft: Stellar Forces
-World of Warcraft

How many of these I'd call "classics" are another matter however.

One of my favorite childhood games was F22 Lightning II. It's a very old fighter jet game from NovaLogic. There's also a third game, which is basically just an upgraded version of the second game and it should work on modern hardware if you're interested in the genre (although F22 is not really a sim as much as an action game). It's on Steam, actually: https://store.steampowered.com/app/32730/F22_Lightning_3/

Hmm, Having been birthed into the late NES/early SNES era (And gotten raised on hand-me-down consoles up til the 64, so I got the full NES experience). Not too many I overall missed coming up, other then some of the PS1/PS2 era.

That I can recall though

Beyond Good & Evil - Seemed a little confused. I guess its an oddly early contender in the TPSSPP melting pot genre. ITs got its charms, and a fairly unique (and oddly dystopic for the visual style) setting. Its the sort of thing where I can imagine the designer/writer having ideas floating around, but didn't really crystallize them entirely.

Daggerfall - Possibly the earliest contender for why proc-genning terrain to make your world big doesn't work so well. If I wasn't the big fan of Ultima and Might'n'Magic growing up I might've dug this more, but it just seemed like copied homework (which somewhat jives with the fact that Elder Scrolls didn't take off until both those series went kaput).

Earthbound - It was alright. Soundtracks certainly interesting. Never was much of a fan of the child hero JRPG trope (yes I know this isn't technically a JRPG) and its pretty blatant in this one.

Final Fantasy 5 - Killing main characters off before it was cool (Well, 4 did it every six seconds or so, but they randomly retcon them all near the end). In the context of when most people got to play it (after 6, 7, and possibly 8). 5 certainly seems like a juvenile simple plot. In its proper order its a decent piece of work, and the shrinking down of the cast allows for a bit more internal character development (although much like Edge in FF4, Krile's last act arrival just leaves her kind of as filler). Complemented by one of the more in-depth mechanical backdrops in the series (albeit *intensively* grindy to use in any real depth)

Final Fantasy IX - While still fairly high ranking in my own listings of the series, and certainly a breath of fresh air with characters returning to some sort of sympathetic human state in the series (and being mechanically distinct). The stylized art actually helps it hold up somewhat well for PS1 title. A lot of awkwardness in the difficulty curves though, particularly if you don't spoil yourself and get caught off guard by one of the forced part combos (the Four Fiends section in particular).

Goldeneye - I had played multiplayer when it was originally out. But coming back significantly later to actually do the campaign. I have no clue how anyone thinks this is the superior project between it and Perfect Dark. Neither of them have particularly aged well, but Perfect Dark at least had its ludicrous stable of sci-fi concept guns to keep it sort of unique.

Ogre Battle - Mostly just confused. I get complexity and all. But yeah, if I have to start trawling GameFAQs to figure out the basic principles of the game somethings gone awry. Maybe if I'd picked it up with a manual it'd have worked out better.

Okami - The game literally gives me headaches after a few minutes. And I was playing the remastered one.

Pokemon - Yeah, coming into baby's first tactical JRPG game at 20+ with a background in playing much more in depth strategy games and JRPGs doesn't do much good for it. That culture wave has well and truly missed me (the perks of not having a Game Boy or more then basic cable when I was of age to get into it, I suppose).

System Shock (both of them) - Neither of these has aged particularly well, and I'd wager even in their heyday were a little experimentally janky at best. System Shock the first has the benefit of being a pioneer in its time of course. System Shock 2 was post-Half Life/Thief/Unreal/etc so there's no real excuses for it.

Wind Waker - Bless their heart for ambitiously trying? The actual first properly open world Zelda has a distinct air of having bumped its head on technical constraints. Though it has a charm to it, and a unique flavour with its nautical themes. When it does offer some content in its mostly empty world, it certainly offers a more in-depth experience then the latter day "first properly open world Zelda" single player MMO mess that is Breath of the Wild.

I apparently recently acquired Fallout 2 by happenstance, so thats probably next on the checkout list.

I played Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for the first time this last year, not having played any other Zelda games since Link to the Past for the SNES back in the 1990's. I found it good but not the Best Game of All Time that seems to get bandied about a lot. Wierdly, since Link to the Past was my last Zelda game, it felt like I was playing a 3D version of that game, except Early 3D games haven't aged as well as SNES Isometric games have(IMHO). Instead of being revolutionary, it felt like a natural evolution, which isn't a bad thing but doesn't quite justify the massive hype it gets.

On a related note, replaying Metal Gear Solid for the first time in like 15 years reminded me how poorly that game has aged in some respects. Not able able to use the thumbstick to move, not being able to aim first person most of the time(in a game where the overhead screen is tightly focused on the PC) and the creepy faceless characters from the PS1 era. Playing it after MG2 really doesn't help because then it becomes obvious how similar the two games are, to the point MGS feels like a remake of MG2 for the PlayStation(which nobody at the time realized because MG2 didn't get a wide release due to the MSX2 being big only in certain parts of the world).

I remember Red Baron really well, one of my favorites growing up. I'm glad it seems like you enjoyed it - technology has come a long way, but for some reason a lot of flight simulators have surprising longevity in terms of emulation of reality. Maybe its because biplanes really are that straightforward to fly, or maybe its because the elements of programming and game design that programmers are struggling with and improving on don't apply nearly so much to those old flying games. Unfortunately those AI allies and enemies never change much, except in as much as the more advanced enemies you face the more advantages they have on you (no sight line issues, faster, more durable), but the weird fighting for a spot in formation is just a thing that happens and the computer doesn't really understand ROW. They will bang right into you trying to get to where they need to be and it can get frustrating as the game ramps up difficulty and variety of objective. Jump to nail a balloon, you better remember where you were standing because nobody else will give up their spot.

Going back to try old RTS was torture for me at times. We didn't have a pile of money growing up, so just because a new game in a series came out didn't mean I got to try it. Recently I started going back and playing entries of the Red Alert series that I had to miss, and honestly I forgot how far they have come. Not even programming (although the AI was painfully stupid), just quality of life. Queuing up build orders, setting an upgrade path only for it to hang up and be restarted because I assumed my resources would be debited when I made the dang purchase and not twenty minutes later, having to spend ore to buy a tank to store ore in so I don't lose ore when my mining carts don't stop mining even though I have no more room for ore like some sort of Scrooge McDuck working with a labour union that refuses to take a day off... And THEN the map just runs out of ore because I was taking my time to try stuff out and see the various units, so not only am I screwed but so is everyone else (even the openly cheating AI) so nobody can win.

I also went back some months back to play HL1 for the first time (similar reasons). I went into it expecting a lot, because I played HL2 and the various parts well after their first release (bought the orange box on sale way after) and while I felt some sections were painful and dumb, it was a pretty good series. Even though I know how CS rolled, going back to HL1 just SUCKED. I totally forgot about jumping puzzels in FPS. Like, I blocked them out entirely. Going back to that was hell. And then dealing with the weird spiderweb paths to just achieve this or that, and the "okay, we have to take all your stuff and add ninjas to make the game interesting again" sections were far less fun that I had hoped for. Xen can suck a fat one as well. I dunno, similar to HL2 I can see how at the time it was a big deal. It had a story, it had guns that hit the ground instead of glowing and spinning, it had intrigue and puzzles, it had environments that varied and well constructed traps and layouts gave the impression of AI smarter than it was. But wow I've been spoiled by FPS since then.

Seth Carter:

Final Fantasy IX - While still fairly high ranking in my own listings of the series, and certainly a breath of fresh air with characters returning to some sort of sympathetic human state in the series (and being mechanically distinct). The stylized art actually helps it hold up somewhat well for PS1 title. A lot of awkwardness in the difficulty curves though, particularly if you don't spoil yourself and get caught off guard by one of the forced part combos (the Four Fiends section in particular).

I loved that game, but every time I go back all I can think about are the sections where you have to split up your party, so I have no choice to use characters I hate all game just to keep their levels up. The first time I played I made the game almost unwinnable because I made an A team and a F team, and wow it was hard to get frog weirdo and annoying girl through that. Ending was weird, but its an FF game after all.

EvilRoy:

Seth Carter:

Final Fantasy IX - While still fairly high ranking in my own listings of the series, and certainly a breath of fresh air with characters returning to some sort of sympathetic human state in the series (and being mechanically distinct). The stylized art actually helps it hold up somewhat well for PS1 title. A lot of awkwardness in the difficulty curves though, particularly if you don't spoil yourself and get caught off guard by one of the forced part combos (the Four Fiends section in particular).

I loved that game, but every time I go back all I can think about are the sections where you have to split up your party, so I have no choice to use characters I hate all game just to keep their levels up. The first time I played I made the game almost unwinnable because I made an A team and a F team, and wow it was hard to get frog weirdo and annoying girl through that. Ending was weird, but its an FF game after all.

Yeah, the blue mage is generally the most hilariously broken OP character in every FF. But also basically requires having some form of strategy guide and going insane meta-playstyle to actually get to that point, or they're objectively the worst otherwise.

Ah, memories.

I really liked the Red Baron.

It is impressive how much they could do at the time.

I play lots of old games. I came to love The Elder Scrolls because of Morrowind, but I have also gone back and played Arena, Daggerfall, and Battlespire. I started Redguard, but the controls are...weird. Daggerfall is pretty fun, but man, Skyrim is kind of a rip off of that game. They made such a big deal of repeatable and 'random' (radiant) quests, when that was a feature of Daggerfall already.

Not too long ago I finally beat the first Episode of Heretic, a DOOM clone with a fantasy twist. It has a surprisingly deep lore to it and setting.

I like playing games that are notable or otherwise part of 'gaming history' if for nothing else than to say I did.

I have very fond memories of an old Cold War era flight sim, F-19 Stealth Fighter. It differed from 'normal' war flight sims I had played, mainly due to the the Cold War setting. In most flight sims I had played, open war had been declared and once you took off anything that appeared on the horizon was fair game. Not so in F19. Depending on the misson, target, country and international tensions the ROE could be very strict, some missions resulting in severe penalties for even being detected by an enemy radar station. On higher difficulties patrolling aircraft and enemy installations could be engaged only on specific mission directives, and given the stakes for failure (injury, capture, death) finishing a full tour of duty was a task in and of itself.

A quick search has shown this game to still be available on Steam (after 30 years!), so here it is for any interested parties: https://store.steampowered.com/app/347250/F19_Stealth_Fighter/

That title instantly reminded me of these weird YouTube recommends used to get up until a few weeks back that were always "Watch lawyer react to [insert film or series title that probably deals with law maybe]" and "Watch old people play (new?) videogames" or whatever that toss was. They've not appeared at all recently though, so I guess all that hard effort put into not clicking on them actually paid off in the end. Anyways, that was just to say I was expecting some sort of cringy YouTube video going in here, but am relieved to be disappointed there is not.

Due to currently owned hardware, choice (and desire) to go back to oldies is fairly limited. The only reoccurring past series' that keeps cropping up are the 2D Sonic titles, mainly cos it's generally people around me that love them so damn much and i invariably gravitate towards trying things multiple times when there's literally no other choice available that doesn't involve being ruder than the average bear and running out screaming I don't know who they are anymore. Sonic is on everything including pregancy test kits anyway, so you can't hide from the bugger if you wanted to.

Having tried to like those games and failing each time, it's a little bit confusing because logically all the factors are in place to at least extract some nostalgic inebriation from them, with owning a mega drive at a point in youth where there weren't other options, so sonic was one of the few escapisms from horrid reality there but even then it never clicked and the fabled experience of "fun" never materialised. I honestly don't think the 3D games were worse, just a different dimension of troubles to comprehend, so always hearing an almost hivemind-like consensus on "the games were only good in 2D...3D is what made them shit!" is like looking through a crystal prison at a world inhabiting an alien dimension. At least the adventure games had little chao creatures you could raise and beat love as your own to substitute the failures and growing pile of corpses in your life.

The oldest has been MULE for Atari (but I haven't had the time to properly dive in).

The latest one has been Persona 3 (the hip-hop makes it feel more dated than it should).

When it comes to playing ancient games, I usually replay games I have tried before in my youth (Forbidden Forest, Dark Castle, Boulder Dash, It Came from the Desert, The Secret of Monkey Island™, DOOM, etc...)

Xsjadoblayde:

Having tried to like those games and failing each time, it's a little bit confusing because logically all the factors are in place to at least extract some nostalgic inebriation from them, with owning a mega drive at a point in youth where there weren't other options, so sonic was one of the few escapisms from horrid reality there but even then it never clicked and the fabled experience of "fun" never materialised. I honestly don't think the 3D games were worse, just a different dimension of troubles to comprehend, so always hearing an almost hivemind-like consensus on "the games were only good in 2D...3D is what made them shit!" is like looking through a crystal prison at a world inhabiting an alien dimension. At least the adventure games had little chao creatures you could raise and beat love as your own to substitute the failures and growing pile of corpses in your life.

Sonic 2d stuff was always kind of in the 'Runner' genre, which is a bit more of a niche then general platformers. And walks a very very fine line against the wall of "Game that plays itself".

Comparatively it generally ends up being something more akin to a rhythm game. Sure there's speedruns and going fast is an option in most platformers, but Sonic sort of makes that its central gimmick, which doesn't leave much room for a lot of variance in the platforming challenges. You're distinctly meant to be going one speed and occasionally pressing a button.

I think a friend of mine had that...I could never really get to grips with the controls on flight sims, although I was about 12 when that came out.

Daggerfall. I died horribly to the rat in the first cave because I couldn't work out how to strike down. Just ran around in circles for five minutes while it slowly chewed my ankles off. Would have been hilarious to watch.
If I could work out how to play I might have given it another go.

I never got on with the old 80's/90's RPGs like Eye of the beholder etc but I do occasionally get the nostalgic urge to give one a go.

Drug wars. hehehe. Paraquat. Classic.

Theatre Europe, an old TBS from 1985. I managed to fight the soviets to a stand still without them reaching France and avoided global thermonuclear war, just a limited nuclear exchange and the odd chemical attack. I think I did quite well.

EvilRoy:
I remember Red Baron really well, one of my favorites growing up. I'm glad it seems like you enjoyed it - technology has come a long way, but for some reason a lot of flight simulators have surprising longevity in terms of emulation of reality. Maybe its because biplanes really are that straightforward to fly, or maybe its because the elements of programming and game design that programmers are struggling with and improving on don't apply nearly so much to those old flying games.

I'm still enjoying it a lot- it's a dynamic campaign in the best possible sense: keeps you on your toes about what's coming next, but never gets entirely impossible either. We soon got the chance to get revenge by taking out some of Fritz's balloons, but I got hit by Archie and my oil tank got ruptured. I then had to make the agonising decision of whether to glide immediately over the lines to safety and forfeit killing the last balloon, or dive on it to complete the mission but find myself perhaps too low to make it back to my lines...

I'm seriously considering making this GIF story into a series...

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Seth Carter:
Sonic 2d stuff was always kind of in the 'Runner' genre, which is a bit more of a niche then general platformers. And walks a very very fine line against the wall of "Game that plays itself".

Comparatively it generally ends up being something more akin to a rhythm game. Sure there's speedruns and going fast is an option in most platformers, but Sonic sort of makes that its central gimmick, which doesn't leave much room for a lot of variance in the platforming challenges. You're distinctly meant to be going one speed and occasionally pressing a button.

That is a good point. I tend to play things in a more patient, explorative manner (apart from racing games of course), so if a game is adamant in the player moving forwards at high speeds for the proper experience, then it could be a case of not playing the right way, which some may disagree is an element that exists at all but evidently there are plenty games out there where if you don't play the way it was designed, then you're going to have a bad time. Though there is definitely something about the way sonic feels to move and jump - probably at lower speeds, not entirely sure - that, for reasons I can't quite pin down yet, feels noticably less enjoyable than other mascot-based platformers around at the time. The Trials games could probably merge Sonic into their design pretty well, they already have a playable unicorn for crying out loud...throw in a playable Sonic with a few inspired levels too, maybe the odd enemy if necessary which Trials of the Blood Dragon already proved is possible, and the intended experience could be achieved in a slightly variable way. I'd be happy to see it even as a prototype spin-off dlc if fan backlash is the main concern.

Zykon TheLich:

Daggerfall. I died horribly to the rat in the first cave because I couldn't work out how to strike down. Just ran around in circles for five minutes while it slowly chewed my ankles off. Would have been hilarious to watch.
If I could work out how to play I might have given it another go.

Trying Daggerfall led me to realize that anything before they figured out the good old WSAD+Mouse look is probably too old for me. After spending a few hours waving around my mouse like an absolute tool in order to swing my sword, I gave up.

When someone describes a game from the 90s as ancient, and the first game you played was on a mono-colour screen...

DarthCoercis:
When someone describes a game from the 90s as ancient, and the first game you played was on a mono-colour screen...

Cheer up, We're all like that, or if we're not, we will one day wake up shocked to find ourselves in that boat.

If it makes you feel better, the first game I got my hands on to actually control was the original Mario, on a NES. Later on in After School Care we'd take turns at the resident BBC Micro, playing such games as Repton and Hunchback. Good times.

Seth Carter:

System Shock (both of them) - Neither of these has aged particularly well, and I'd wager even in their heyday were a little experimentally janky at best. System Shock the first has the benefit of being a pioneer in its time of course. System Shock 2 was post-Half Life/Thief/Unreal/etc so there's no real excuses for it.

Thief and System Shock 2 were in development at the same time. And yes, even at the time System Shock 2 was experimentally janky, in part because they were building it on the Dark engine but the Thief team was doing all the core engine development -- they were basically bolting the RPG elements onto the Dark engine, and needing to keep those up with updates to Dark which they had nothing to do with all through development.

If you go hunting, there's an interview with one of the devs from years ago talking about it.

Also, you lot are making me want to go back to one of my first games, Adventure.

Schadrach:

Seth Carter:

System Shock (both of them) - Neither of these has aged particularly well, and I'd wager even in their heyday were a little experimentally janky at best. System Shock the first has the benefit of being a pioneer in its time of course. System Shock 2 was post-Half Life/Thief/Unreal/etc so there's no real excuses for it.

Thief and System Shock 2 were in development at the same time. And yes, even at the time System Shock 2 was experimentally janky, in part because they were building it on the Dark engine but the Thief team was doing all the core engine development -- they were basically bolting the RPG elements onto the Dark engine, and needing to keep those up with updates to Dark which they had nothing to do with all through development.

If you go hunting, there's an interview with one of the devs from years ago talking about it.

Also, you lot are making me want to go back to one of my first games, Adventure.

Putting out a game that has been passed by the evolution of the industry isn't really forgiving being behind the curve just because you started before things hurtled past.

Like, I'm not degrading the effort or intent that went into System Shock 2. Just they took too long on the ball and were miles behind their contemporaries by the time it actually came out. Its not even a rare phenomena. Tech was moving fast as hell in the late 90s/early 2000s, and a lot of studios were struggling with all the transitions going on. The most infamous case of course was Duke Nukem Forever which kept trying to pivot to new standards, and evnetually just kind of landed as the flat thing it was a decade later (they probably should just kept in the vault another 4 years to try and do the nostalgia reboot on that one).

Its the same sort of thing we're starting to see with Bethesda (and Square, and Rockstar). They put out a game that was an influential blueprint, but they take ages upon ages to push out the next one, and in the meantime dozens of others have copied and built farther upon their blueprints. Then they finish and put out something thats drastically passed by.

I'd place pretty good money that thats exactly whats going to happen with Borderlands 3 too, if it ever does arrive. B2 was pre-Warframe, Destiny, Shadow Warrior, or even Overwatch (different genre, but it does have a lot of gimmicky guns/abilities and something of a class system, even if you don't choose the builds). Its pretty easy to get PUBG'd or DayZ'd where you drag your heels a little too long and your pioneering thunder is stolen.

MandaloreGaming made me want to try out Gothic, so I did. Of course I had to use the systemkit and another pack to help bring it up into the 21st century. Honestly, this was the most stressful part. I don't know if the original guide I used wasn't correct or what, but I tried this about five times previously and it wouldn't work. Game would boot up to to a black screen, if I alt-tabbed out the game would show in a small window, but I had no control. I recently upgraded to Windows 10 and tried it again with a new guide, worked first time.

So finally playing the game, wow is it dated. Mandalore said in his review you could play this game with one hand... you actually can very easily. It's weird, but not awful. Pretty much every action is handled with holding ctrl and forward, which just means you have to be careful not to have a weapon out when you want to talk to somebody, or you'll hit them.'

The story is pretty cool honestly. The start of the setup is really generic fantasy, but the second bit is really cool and unique for a fantasy setting. I'm looking forward to playing more.

I don't have the patience for a lot of older games because I don't have the time for gaming I used to. Carpal Tunnel syndrome means I just can't play some of the old favourites anymore.

I still go back and play old games, but I find myself more inclined to play new games with short levels and autosaves and other QOL elements that fit my adult life.

Last old game I played was Super Mario World. Not exactly a hard game to play, but it reminds me of my teen years and my first contemporary gaming system (always had second-hand consoles and computers before). Before that, it was Mega Man, and my thumb died on me.

Probably the only two games that apply for me are Paper Mario and Super Metroid. Never had a SNES (hand-me-down NES jumped to hand-me-down N64), never had Paper Mario for the N64. Finally got a chance to experience both on the Wii U Virtual Console (bring it back for Switch pls).

Played Super Metroid for the first time in about, 2015/2016? That makes it 21/22 years old when I finally played it.

As for Paper Mario, finally gave it a shot in early 2017, making it about 16 years old when I jumped into it. I'd say those qualify as "old", at least from my perception (I'm almost 26, so).

Seth Carter:

Schadrach:

Seth Carter:

System Shock (both of them) - Neither of these has aged particularly well, and I'd wager even in their heyday were a little experimentally janky at best. System Shock the first has the benefit of being a pioneer in its time of course. System Shock 2 was post-Half Life/Thief/Unreal/etc so there's no real excuses for it.

Thief and System Shock 2 were in development at the same time. And yes, even at the time System Shock 2 was experimentally janky, in part because they were building it on the Dark engine but the Thief team was doing all the core engine development -- they were basically bolting the RPG elements onto the Dark engine, and needing to keep those up with updates to Dark which they had nothing to do with all through development.

If you go hunting, there's an interview with one of the devs from years ago talking about it.

Also, you lot are making me want to go back to one of my first games, Adventure.

Putting out a game that has been passed by the evolution of the industry isn't really forgiving being behind the curve just because you started before things hurtled past.

Like, I'm not degrading the effort or intent that went into System Shock 2. Just they took too long on the ball and were miles behind their contemporaries by the time it actually came out. Its not even a rare phenomena. Tech was moving fast as hell in the late 90s/early 2000s, and a lot of studios were struggling with all the transitions going on. The most infamous case of course was Duke Nukem Forever which kept trying to pivot to new standards, and evnetually just kind of landed as the flat thing it was a decade later (they probably should just kept in the vault another 4 years to try and do the nostalgia reboot on that one).

Its the same sort of thing we're starting to see with Bethesda (and Square, and Rockstar). They put out a game that was an influential blueprint, but they take ages upon ages to push out the next one, and in the meantime dozens of others have copied and built farther upon their blueprints. Then they finish and put out something thats drastically passed by.

I'd place pretty good money that thats exactly whats going to happen with Borderlands 3 too, if it ever does arrive. B2 was pre-Warframe, Destiny, Shadow Warrior, or even Overwatch (different genre, but it does have a lot of gimmicky guns/abilities and something of a class system, even if you don't choose the builds). Its pretty easy to get PUBG'd or DayZ'd where you drag your heels a little too long and your pioneering thunder is stolen.

Could it not also be argued, though, that it is equally bad if not worse to change a game's core concept after production has begun just to incorporate gaming trends, which themselves may turn out to be just passing fads?

Think of all those utterly forgettable cover based shooters that came out in the wake of Operation Winback and Gears of War. How many games took a massive dive in quality just because they decided to shoehorn Quicktime Events in back when that was all the rage among developers? How about when everyone was fighting to have the most gameplay breaking DRM in their titles? And how many games do you think we're about to see emerge that think that somehow Ray-Tracing is a good substitute for any depth in gameplay?

On the other side of the coin, are we to say that Super Meat Boy is a dud game, because it's a 2D platformer that released after Super Mario 64 in 1996? Is XCOM: Enemy Unknown an utter failure just because strategy games are all real-time now? Is Minecraft or Dwarf Fortress crap because of their graphics? And is No Man's Sky supposed to be good just because it's the absolute biggest game-environment around?

Personally I think 'the evolution of the gaming industry' is a complete myth. There are trends, and advances, but no game should feel under any obligation to follow them. Indeed the best games are usually the ones that ignore trends entirely, and do something completely different. This is in fact the only way that new trends can begin in the first place.

Squilookle:

Could it not also be argued, though, that it is equally bad if not worse to change a game's core concept after production has begun just to incorporate gaming trends, which themselves may turn out to be just passing fads?

Think of all those utterly forgettable cover based shooters that came out in the wake of Operation Winback and Gears of War. How many games took a massive dive in quality just because they decided to shoehorn Quicktime Events in back when that was all the rage among developers? How about when everyone was fighting to have the most gameplay breaking DRM in their titles? And how many games do you think we're about to see emerge that think that somehow Ray-Tracing is a good substitute for any depth in gameplay?

On the other side of the coin, are we to say that Super Meat Boy is a dud game, because it's a 2D platformer that released after Super Mario 64 in 1996? Is XCOM: Enemy Unknown an utter failure just because strategy games are all real-time now? Is Minecraft or Dwarf Fortress crap because of their graphics? And is No Man's Sky supposed to be good just because it's the absolute biggest game-environment around?

Personally I think 'the evolution of the gaming industry' is a complete myth. There are trends, and advances, but no game should feel under any obligation to follow them. Indeed the best games are usually the ones that ignore trends entirely, and do something completely different. This is in fact the only way that new trends can begin in the first place.

I believe you're altering my point to make some unrelated one. I didn't say System Shock 2 should suddenly become (whatever was popular in 1999), or ever touch on graphics. The game struggles mightily on the basic mechanics level of an FPS. The core gameplay isn't smooth at all, and struggles to keep up with stuff from years before. It's exceptionally padded between its bits of incredibly one-note story. Most of the added mechanics barely or don't work. The environments just seem like static NES levels where the enemies respawn everytime you change hallways.

Is Super Meat Boy a dud because of a 3d Platformer? Obviously not. Would it be a dud if it had incredibly basic level design or even worse the hitboxes were way off, or with questionable controls. Would it be worse if it had a bunch of added mechanics that didn't quite work, or were less well done versions of platformers before it?

The scale of the game, and the shiny pixels aren't whats at fault. Its the core game being a padded up pile of filler with mostly jank to distinction it from some rando's MapEdit campaign you downloaded for Doom 2.

I'd also put forth that there are some objective forward pushes in games. You'd certainly look askance at an FPS on PC that didn't have mouse look. Or a game still doing the framerate tied to physics. Rebind-able controls.

Genres or design concepts can evolve too. If Minecraft came out today, it wouldn't be the graphics getting savaged, but a lot of the UI would be a lot less tolerated, and the very shallow (unmodded) nature of it, and level of utter RNG of the actual story progression. The "Hunger/Thirst" metre that was sort of the pioneering survival mechanic is nowadays regarded as an utter nuisance (though thats often a failure of scaling itself).

DarthCoercis:
When someone describes a game from the 90s as ancient, and the first game you played was on a mono-colour screen...

meh, dont feel bad, this is the first flight sim i ever played

https://youtu.be/zFQuYko1RO4

Seth Carter:

Daggerfall - Possibly the earliest contender for why proc-genning terrain to make your world big doesn't work so well. If I wasn't the big fan of Ultima and Might'n'Magic growing up I might've dug this more, but it just seemed like copied homework (which somewhat jives with the fact that Elder Scrolls didn't take off until both those series went kaput).

Daggerfall is amazing. You have to think of it in terms of 'fantasy life simulator' ... Having played it roughly the time it came out, I was blown away by just the idea of point at a location on a map riddled with things and just going there. It was an amazing thing to experience, and while Morrowind is and will always be the best TES game, Daggerfall is just a sandbox in the most ojective definition.

As a kid I played a lot of 2E... Ravenloft, Planescape, Dark Sun, etc... Daggerfall was the first game that channelled an idea of the supposed, non-railroady GM that could improv everything. Limited solely by technology, that is. It advertized why campaign structure is nice, but gave you the closest argument why it was so and yet still amazingly enjoyable, and provides hours more content than random place looting of Oblivion and Skyrim.

Plus that CC... Oblivion and Skyrim effectively removed clunky, 'outdated' mechanics, axing unique spell creation, non-positive feedback mechanical systems (like hitting was separate to just actually swinging a sword at something) without realizing once you get rid of those things to 'streamline' the experience, you make them inherently stupid and inherently less fun to play aroud with those mechanics.

Daggerfall lets you dig through the guts of a game's mechanics, build literally anyone you want and just actively test it in a way that Morrowind would hone and trim, and OBlivion and Skyrim just actively cut away to appeal to--let's say, people with a lower appreciation and capacity for active character creation...

Seth Carter:

Squilookle:

Could it not also be argued, though, that it is equally bad if not worse to change a game's core concept after production has begun just to incorporate gaming trends, which themselves may turn out to be just passing fads?

Think of all those utterly forgettable cover based shooters that came out in the wake of Operation Winback and Gears of War. How many games took a massive dive in quality just because they decided to shoehorn Quicktime Events in back when that was all the rage among developers? How about when everyone was fighting to have the most gameplay breaking DRM in their titles? And how many games do you think we're about to see emerge that think that somehow Ray-Tracing is a good substitute for any depth in gameplay?

On the other side of the coin, are we to say that Super Meat Boy is a dud game, because it's a 2D platformer that released after Super Mario 64 in 1996? Is XCOM: Enemy Unknown an utter failure just because strategy games are all real-time now? Is Minecraft or Dwarf Fortress crap because of their graphics? And is No Man's Sky supposed to be good just because it's the absolute biggest game-environment around?

Personally I think 'the evolution of the gaming industry' is a complete myth. There are trends, and advances, but no game should feel under any obligation to follow them. Indeed the best games are usually the ones that ignore trends entirely, and do something completely different. This is in fact the only way that new trends can begin in the first place.

I believe you're altering my point to make some unrelated one. I didn't say System Shock 2 should suddenly become (whatever was popular in 1999), or ever touch on graphics. The game struggles mightily on the basic mechanics level of an FPS. The core gameplay isn't smooth at all, and struggles to keep up with stuff from years before. It's exceptionally padded between its bits of incredibly one-note story. Most of the added mechanics barely or don't work. The environments just seem like static NES levels where the enemies respawn everytime you change hallways.

Is Super Meat Boy a dud because of a 3d Platformer? Obviously not. Would it be a dud if it had incredibly basic level design or even worse the hitboxes were way off, or with questionable controls. Would it be worse if it had a bunch of added mechanics that didn't quite work, or were less well done versions of platformers before it?

The scale of the game, and the shiny pixels aren't whats at fault. Its the core game being a padded up pile of filler with mostly jank to distinction it from some rando's MapEdit campaign you downloaded for Doom 2.

I'd also put forth that there are some objective forward pushes in games. You'd certainly look askance at an FPS on PC that didn't have mouse look. Or a game still doing the framerate tied to physics. Rebind-able controls.

Genres or design concepts can evolve too. If Minecraft came out today, it wouldn't be the graphics getting savaged, but a lot of the UI would be a lot less tolerated, and the very shallow (unmodded) nature of it, and level of utter RNG of the actual story progression. The "Hunger/Thirst" metre that was sort of the pioneering survival mechanic is nowadays regarded as an utter nuisance (though thats often a failure of scaling itself).

My bad; I thought you were speaking generally about the phenomenon, not about System Shock 2 in particular. I missed SS2 at the time so I can't really comment on it beyond what I've heard others say about it over the years.

So would you say we agree that (generally speaking) changing a game in mid-development to reflect an industry trend can (but doesn't always) backfire on the end product itself?

I'd also agree that there are objective forward pushes in games, though what decides them as objective is very tricky. For instance I can't think of there ever being a downside to re-bindable controls, but I'd hesitate to call mouselook a standard all FPSes should abide by. Console shooters manage alright without it, and I'm sure someone out there could put together a compelling keyboard only FPS somehow (buggered if I'd know how to do it but I'm sure someone could).

Squilookle:

So would you say we agree that (generally speaking) changing a game in mid-development to reflect an industry trend can (but doesn't always) backfire on the end product itself?

I'd also agree that there are objective forward pushes in games, though what decides them as objective is very tricky. For instance I can't think of there ever being a downside to re-bindable controls, but I'd hesitate to call mouselook a standard all FPSes should abide by. Console shooters manage alright without it, and I'm sure someone out there could put together a compelling keyboard only FPS somehow (buggered if I'd know how to do it but I'm sure someone could).

Oh yeah, I'd agree with that. Ultima (my favorite series) kind of lost the plot as the main gameplay went when it started trying to do real time combat (nevermind adding in Tomb Raider esque platforming stuff in 8 and 9). The stories still generally held up, and the worlds were impressive (until the actual mess of 9 which had a very rocky development and seemed to forget the rest of the series lore wise), but the generally deep party based semi-tactical RPG, and especially the complex magic system got lost or horribly unusable by the attempts to pivot to real time action combat.

Breath of the Wild, as a big Zelda fan. Going full open-world didn't bring much to the table. All it seemingly did was annihilate most of the narrative, remove most of the mechanics, and leave us with no dungeons. All to be replaced by a lot of shallow repeating puzzles (if that) for a generally unchallenging collecthon game.

Survival games in general also tend to suck at being Survival games, because they're all in the Minecraft trend. Big free for all build-your-castle is by and large antithetical to a constant survival challenge. Prettymuch every survival game within a few hours tops gives you some way to completely surpass the survival challenge, which is why the hunger meters just become a background annoyance rather then a driving motivation.

cathou:

DarthCoercis:
When someone describes a game from the 90s as ancient, and the first game you played was on a mono-colour screen...

meh, dont feel bad, this is the first flight sim i ever played

https://youtu.be/zFQuYko1RO4

Oh, I remember that!

I played this version tho...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCehXfpJVUA

DarthCoercis:
When someone describes a game from the 90s as ancient, and the first game you played was on a mono-colour screen...

Tell me about it. Now that I'm thinking about it I was exposed to a lot of different systems when I was a kid. I've played an Intellivision, ZX Spectrum, BBC Micro and MSDOS games through various family members and friends. Probably explains why I was so into video games.

That's always been a problem for survival games- how to let the player get proficient but still maintain a level of danger. Subnautica had a good system of tackling it, with getting the player to want to explore ever further and deeper, where the more dangerous creatures live. Overall though, I'd love to see a desert island survival game that manages to pull it off successfully, damned if I know how it can be done though...

I started on 'ancient' games.

Though playing the first Star Wars game was an eye bleeding blast.

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