“King’s Quest and Space Quest! Holy crap, I figured you guys had died with the rest of the adventure games in the mid-90s! I see that you’re staying alive through VGA remakes of your earlier stuff, KQ, but other than that, I haven’t seen much of you. What’s that? Telltale Games is remaking you? That’s awesome, man! How about you, SQ? Oh, that’s right, you never got past the sixth game. You deserved much better, especially after the fond memories of you getting me through the Ice Storm of ‘96.”
Silly reunion shtick aside, there’s only one reason we replay old games, and it’s not because they “don’t make ‘em like they used to” or “you gotta get back to your roots”. We don’t even play them because we seriously think that all of their mechanics are better than most of the much-improved systems of today. The number one reason we play old games is simple: we’re trying to recapture that feeling.
You know, the feeling of starting off on an adventure again. The feeling of becoming completely and utter enthralled in a universe of someone else’s creation. That, for lack of a better word, joy. We dedicate online shrines to preserving these classics, somehow hoping to encase that rush for us to enjoy again and again.
I’m sorry, but I’m going to give you a terribly bitter pill:
You will never, ever feel that exact same way again.
You will never, ever recapture that glory.
You will never, ever recreate that experience.
Nostalgia has its place in the world, and that’s seated directly in the past. Any attempt to dredge up those exact memories is only going to end in serious disappointment. At some point, we have to leave those memories behind and enjoy them as just that, memories.
By the way, in retrospect, that band I was in was absolutely terrible. But you know what? It was a blast at the time, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Just don’t expect us to ever play your bar mitzvah any time soon.
Aaron Waite would like to point out that Chrono Trigger is completely exempt from this rule of nostalgia.