Saturday, March 19, 2011

Nostalgia is Blinding (IGES Part 3)

Was it just me, or was Diddy Kong Racing impossible?

Let's define nostalgia. Nostalgia, from Google definitions, is defined as "longing for something past." It is the feeling you get when you think about the first sweet moment you had with the opposite sex, or a time you and your buddies won a trophy for a competition. These moments of grandeur present us with memories of "good ole' times." Nostalgia, from my perspective, only applies to positive events.

The problem with nostalgia is that it skews our perceptions of past games. You will favor older games than newer ones primarily because they are older. You will enjoy songs from your childhood regardless of how crappy they were (Ricky Martin anyone...just kidding, he's amazing).

To find out how nostalgia skews our perception of games, one needs to look no further than the game awarded the largest amount of "best game" awards -- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

Legend of Zelda: OoT was a fantastic game. It chronicled Links first polygonal adventure through the lands of Hyrule. It gave us Epona, Links fearless horse companion who had a fetish for carrots. It gave us Ganondorf, the human-esque form of Links arch rival. Ganondorf's malevolence is more palpable, even more fearsome than his beast-like true nature, something I attribute to his human form -- it is more realistic and relatable to us as players.

So yea, this game rocks.

What about Twilight Princess, Links exploits on the Wii. The game has a more mature story, darker tones and atmosphere, and deals with arguably more human issues. The game play is improved (let's assume Gamecube controller) and dungeons are difficult, but not frustrating (hello water temple).

I argue, from an objective standpoint, that Twilight Princess is just as good if not better than Ocarina of Time. So why does Ocarina of Time get all the love?


One could argue timing (as it was the first 3D Zelda), but I file that under Nostalgia regardless.

What if Twilight Princess was released as the first 3D Zelda title for the N64, with Ocarina of Time coming out on the Wii years later? In my opinion, our consent would be flipped. Twilight Princess would be topping lists.

I think a further reason we, gamers, vote up Ocarina of Time is because we've settled on it as a standard of gaming excellence. To differ from that statement is to deny being a gamer in some context (like social pressure), but that idea is for a different post.

Is it a bad thing that we view older games in a positive, nostalgic light? I don't think so. The point of this post is to become conscious that you, as a gamer, do this. You do it for the food you eat, the places you travel to, and the people you meet.

Nostalgia places a holy light on things past, and you must be sure not to let it blind you.

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