It’s easy to look back on the gaming classics and wonder where the golden days have gone; I’ve found the answer: they are right fucking now! Games have never been better than they are today, and I challenge anyone to look back and legitimately find a game better than the shit coming out today. Well, because I’m a self-loathing cluster of neuroses, I looked back at a few of my favorite games from the NES era to see how they stack up. And I’ll give you a bit of a spoiler: not fucking well, bro. Shadowgate/Deja Vu
I have some really fond memories of these games, and also some truly terrifying ones. In my youth, I had no experience with death. In fact, to this day, I have never had a loved one pass away (save my dog, which was awful). Playing Déjà vu was the single most horrifying event of my life. I had no idea that people killed other people; Jesus, this embarrassing, but I used to have nightmares from this game. Waking up in a cold sweat and checking a nearby notebook to make sure I wasn’t kidnapped or whatever. To this day, I still have a recurring dream about waking up in a bathtub and having no idea about who I am. But I’m digressing a bit.
Shadowgate was the first game I remember playing that was truly epic. You are the last of the hero-kings, and you enter castle Shadowgate in order to stop the most badass guy in the realm, Warlock. Yeah, that’s right, Warlock. His fucking name was a job. When I was a kid, this game was a right of passage; making it past the first five rooms was an endurance challenge of the highest order. People may say that the game allows for a certain element of sequence breaking, that shit is false. Playing this game is like having coffee with a known brutal rapist: things look fine at the moment, but as soon as no one is around, your asshole is now a playground for his dark intentions. If you didn’t know exactly what combination of items to use in each room, or even which sequence of rooms to enter, you will die. And the game gave very little clues as to what in the hell was going on. You get a shield at a certain part, which is used to enter a dragon’s room to collect items. If you use the shield to grab the wrong items though, you are fucked. That shield gets burned to bits and the only recourse is suicide. Shadowgate was my first adventure/point-and-click game, and for that, it will always have a sacred spot in my heart. But objectively speaking, I would rather be water-boarded with hot diarrhea than play this game again.
The Legend of Zelda
It’s sacrilege to not like a Zelda game. Each one is different, has a pretty excellent story (if you use your imagination and don’t care about canon or consistency), and the game play is fucking choice. But Zelda I is kind of a shitbag. When I played this game as a kid, I felt entirely overwhelmed. You name your guy (mine was either Adam or Shits, depending on how old I was), and bam: you are in the game. A few characters will offer cryptic clues as to what to do and where to go, but for the most part, you are on your own. And back then, in a world that huge, it was terrifying. You could find the first dungeon, but after that, it was some crazy, use-the-blue-candle-on-a-random-fucking-bush-with-no-heads-up-whatsoever shit. Are you kidding me? Seriously? I was like nine years old when I first played this! I have spent my entire academic career in some sort of honors class, but no game has me feel like such a retard. Recently, I re-purchased this on the Virtual Console (after playing through Ocarina of Time and half-heartedly starting Majora’s Mask) and I still play five minutes, pass out, and wake up covered in vomit. I don’t even know what that means. This series has spawned some of the best games ever made, but they came from such an inauspicious piece of shit that it drives me crazy.
Maybe I’m a little bitter by being dominated by Mega Man 9 (a game which, to this day, I have yet to beat without getting mind-numbingly pissed and/or drunk), but the Mega Man games have not aged well. Viewing them retrospectively, how do you play something like Mega Man X and then go back to the originals without wanting to eat the barrel of a gun? If you didn’t know the correct boss order, you might as well be attempting sex with a brick wall: you could do it, but it wouldn’t be very much fun. To be perfectly honest though, these games have held up amazingly well and it’s fucking impossible to be really pissed by them. I mean, the soundtracks alone! I wish I could go back and relive the loss of my virginity. Not only would I totally give it Sam-Beth McElroy with extra gusto, I’d do it the Mega Man soundtrack on repeat.