The contemporary video game does not fear nostalgia | Editorial

“There are no more good video games than they used to be”? But thank goodness! Mind you, I am someone who studies a lot, which is fundamental for a thirty-year-old editor who, inevitably, has lost a large slice of golden age due to age issues and had to start this passion on the run. Right now, simultaneously with new works, I’m just playing Galaga ’88 and Neo Turf Masters, to say, amazing stuff.

It’s just that I realize more and more of how much on certain games there is no possibility of being objectivebecause if on the one hand the techno-ludic progress has irreparably corroded pioneering titles of the 80s / 90s and early 2000s, on the other the rogue and reactionary nostalgia of many does not want to hear reasons, “repairing” like a miraculous glue the damage of time e remaining clinging to an increasingly feeble “today everything sucks”, totally disconnected from the real quality of what the market today offers. Basking in this comfort zone demonstrates a comfortable attachment to the video game, a passion no longer driven by curiosity and experimentation but by the memories of better, simpler, colorful times, with the risk of losing sensational pearls that with a lot of dedication and passion they managed to bring on another evolutionary level, those refuge games that seem untouchable. The video game of yesteryear still exists, independent development based its success on doing almost exclusively that in the early years of the phenomenon, only in an incredibly better version than 20-30 years ago. I am an iconoclast, I hate matters of principle: today one of the most influential titles of all time, Super Metroid, is a work that is technically and playfully outdated, while remaining a piece of game design that will blow your mind and dissect with relentless thirst of knowledge.


Warning, by saying this I am not downsizing the Nintendo masterpiece, that remains a milestone and a monument in the timeline of the videogame sectorbut on the contrary I am exalting those who started from the formula and gave a future to that way of doing gameplay, thinking of the direct sequels that have exploited the potential of post-SNES machines (among all Prime and the very recent Dread), but above all to people like Thomas Happ, who with the two Axiom Verge has brought that DNA, intact, that gameplay setting and that graphic style to the present to make it relive according to its own vision, as if it were a natural evolution, without limiting itself to empty emulation.

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An even more striking example is the “regardless” exaltation of the arcade, which analyzed today does not fall too far from mechanisms considered toxic and money-eating such as gacha-games, loot boxes or pay-to-win. It is clearly not a direct comparison, it would be silly (and even a bit of an insult), but what were in effect almost perfect works, exhilarating virtual toys born by squeezing the best technologies on the square, blessed with crazy control systems and directions. amazing art (and my head goes straight to Metal Slug, but there is also other stuff that yeah, in this case it doesn’t really look a day old), they were artificially calibrated to extract as much money as possible from users, with game designers in the dual role of creatives and tax collectors.


An approach to the medium born of those times, of a business that still did not dare to imagine devouring cinema and music in the space of 20 years, accepted and protected because it was limited to an environment that was both sacred and profane as were the arcades, places where they were created. memories, well-founded cults, celebrated rituals and where the love for the video game was cemented 100 lire at a time, alone or with friends. Today, however, such a fake difficulty is not conceivableand it is not a question of backbone and machismo, but of creating balanced experiences (on the other hand just think of the titles designed for home consoles, certainly hard but definitely more balanced) and free from stakes and dogmas that have melted over the years , without the need to trap the player for financial reasons, such as robbery in an alley in Final Fight.

Surely the movement that comes closest to bringing that philosophy into the present is the roguelite, which reverses the mechanics of the token, no longer removed from the pockets but given to the player (indeed, to his avatar) to sweeten yet another retry, in the form of a more or less permanent enhancement to face a new game, reaching deeper and deeper , ever stronger and more skilled, adding a playful and tangible layer to what, standing in front of a coin-op, was only the experience gained game after game; a concept that I personally adore and that remains the foundation (also) of many roguelites, however finally disconnected from an anachronistic way of living the videogame and simply not necessary to replicate for a modern developerat least in its primordial form.


This is history, culture, and as such it must be celebrated, remembered, touched by hand, since fortunately there is the possibility of doing so, but the video game exploded like a grenade sending splinters in every direction, really leaving the possibility for everyone to choose their own experiences, those most suited to their lifestyle, almost remembering the clothing industry more than that of the cinema. I sincerely think that we should complain less and play more to understand that nothing has been destroyed, much less certain indelible memories, but everything has evolved, merged, turned on itself to become something else, closing cycles and opening others, passing from Symphony of the Night to Hollow Knight, from Ninja Gaiden to The Messenger, from A Link to the Past to Breath of the Wild, because nostalgia should be something intimate, to be jealously guarded, never an impediment to the enjoyment of new experiences. Do we prefer to experience the creation of new imaginaries or another decade of commodified memories in an infinite revival of our decades of the heart?

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