Good old games and the Nostalgia Filter

Yesterday, I was playing Super Mario RPG on my computer, and the kids wanted to see it. So I started the game over, gave them their own save file (it’s a habit) and sat back for the opening cinematic (such as it is).

For those who haven’t seen it, that opening is basically Princess Toadstool/Peach sitting around with butterflies before being kidnapped by Bowser, whom Mario subsequently pursues.

Thing 1, upon seeing Princess Toadstool, pointed and announced quite proudly, “It’s Justin Bieber!”

I have never even said that name around these kids, let alone made any statements that would help to form opinions on the subject. But I definitely laughed.

Anyway, this is a game I played a lot as a kid. We rented it a lot, until we finally went out and bought it (we may have two copies, but then, we also have a SNES each), and then I bought a virtual copy for the Wii a couple of years ago.

It’s funny how playing it at that point was so different. I remembered all of the ins and outs, tricks that I had picked up, and my hand-eye coordination and attention to detail, as well as spatial understanding and ability to create context had all improved.

Simply put, it suddenly became easy.

When my siblings and I played this game, we had a Nintendo Power magazine with monster hitpoints. And we didn’t even have that until we were more than halfway through the game.

Now there’s the internet and everything is sort of handed to you as long as you know how to use a search engine. (I’m trying to stop using “google” as a verb. It’s a number, and I usually use GoodSearch anyway.)

Which made me think of another old game I loved on the SNES, which I’ve talked about before. Illusion of Gaia, while the first game I ever played on SNES, was also the first game to completely stump me.

Of course, forever after figuring out what had gotten us all so stuck–the game’s controls were not explained well, particularly in-game–that particular problem has seemed ridiculous and even stupid. The rest of the game has a reasonable difficulty, and puzzles don’t really require King’s Quest logic.

My thing was always the story anyway. Even back when we would get stuck about an hour in (seriously, we couldn’t figure out how to use Psycho Dash–too young, I guess), I loved the story.

Replaying it now, I still do, but I do recognise that it’s not all grand sweeps, deep characterisation, philosophical presentation, and logically consistent.

Overall, it’s great writing. But there are weird switches between first person and third person regarding the main character, some things are told instead of leaving the showing (that is already there), and some stuff that happens is just plain weird.

They don’t bother me, which is probably because I liked it before. Once a story has a pass, it can’t be kicked out, so to speak. I forgot how quickly things happen, but that’s probably because I read even faster than I used to, and the monsters no longer give me any trouble. The dungeons also don’t seem as big.

Everything is impressive when you’re a kid. Everything is harder, and more important.

Maybe this is a call-out for some perspective on my part. I have some books to finish and reviews to write.

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