Nostalgia: Am I Doing it Wrong?

One of the bigger pieces of video game related news that came out over the past few weeks was the announcement of the Super NES Classic Edition. As a follow-up to Nintendo’s NES Classic Edition, the re-release of the SNES was met with quite a bit of excitement from a lot of people in my peer group. While the NES Classic was largely a draw to those slightly older than me, the Super Nintendo was the primary game console for a lot of people around my age (along with the Nintendo 64 for those slightly younger than me).

The first time I had a Super Nintendo in my home was the fall of 1999. My cousins had a Nintendo 64 and a PlayStation. With the news of the PlayStation 2 that year, my aunt gave their old Super Nintendo to me and my brother, while my younger cousins got the old NES. Not only was the Super Nintendo my first introduction to video games in general, it was also my first real in to the world of gaming — video or board.

The first game I played on the SNES — and still my favorite to this day — was Madden 96. According to original reviews of the game, it was one of the more difficult football games of its time, yet I always found the game incredibly fun to play[1]. I played a handful of other games on the console, including 6 of the 21 announced release games for the console, yet none of the games I actively cared about are part of the SNES’s re-release. The closest thing to a game I loved that’s coming out on the Super NES Classic is Street Fighter II Turbo, but I could get emulated versions of Street Fighter for the WiiU if I wanted it badly enough.

For most of my life, I’ve been a sports video gamer. Yes, I’ve been a fan of strategy games like Pokemon, Fire Emblem, Brave Frontier, and Civilization, but a good football, baseball[2], or hockey video game would keep me engaged much longer than any other game type. It’s why I’m still playing my Xbox 360 copy of NCAA Football 12 nearly six years after its initial release[3]. The problem with sports video games is that even if their gameplay is still good years later, the nostalgia they bring doesn’t exactly stand the test of time.

The aforementioned Madden 96 was the eighth installment of what is now a 29-edition series of video game series. When you’re releasing a new version of the same game every year with nothing more than minimal tweaks and updated rosters, it’s hard to build up nostalgia for that title’s gameplay and/or cast of characters. It’s part of the appeal to games like Half-Life series, where there hasn’t been a release in over ten years. Even when a series has sequels (think the Mario and Zelda franchises), you’re still drawn into them because the story is different enough with each passing game.

I never got nostalgia for that reason. The games I cared about at a young age are still out there, just with newer graphics and updated rosters. Even the non-sports titles are still long enough series that I don’t feel the need to go back and play original titles — unless of course there’s a reason in a newer game I’m playing to do so[4].

As a result, I feel like part of me is missing out on the nostalgia others my age are feeling for the Super NES Classic. The games I played on the original console aren’t being re-released, while the game I like the best of those being re-released is just…meh.

Am I the only one feeling this way? Can you develop nostalgia for yearly series-based video games? Am I just crazy? Sound off in the comments.

  1. Our parents wouldn’t let us get any of the Nintendo systems, but we did have a Sega Genesis. My brother’s friend who lived with us for a while also brought his N64 when we were in high school. I love the classic games. While we would have loved to get the original systems hooked up, none of our TVs have the right plug in.

    We did just invest in a Retron 5 and have been playing around with it. Pretty impressed with it so far, and a nice way to play all the original classics without having to have all the different systems. Tonight, we’re having an N64 party at our friends’ place.

    I love all our new games and systems, but man, nothing will beat the nostalgia of the older systems.

    1. A lot of people do love the older games. I get that there’s an appeal to them for sure, as I see it come out in my brother-in-law, and (to a lesser extent) my wife. There’s older games I’ll play too, but it’s just not as common. Perhaps my nostalgia gene just wasn’t properly conditioned.

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