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QOTW: Are computer games better now than they were 20 years ago?

by Parm Mann on 29 March 2013, 15:30

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There's a debate raging here in the HEXUS labs as to whether or not computer games are better today than they were 20 years ago.

As the long Easter weekend approaches and the freezing-cold weather shows no signs of relenting, there's a good chance many of us self-confessed techies will stay indoors and try a new game or two.

There are plenty of new releases to get excited about - BioShock Infinite looks to be the pick of the bunch - but high-profile disappointments are becoming an all-too-common occurrence.

Between always-on DRM frustrations, frequent re-hashing of popular titles and the neverending wait for a bug-fixing patch, there are many reasons to explain why some of today's latest titles demand more work and less play.

But there are valid arguments on both sides of the fence. Today's games offer breathtaking visuals, the ability to interact without controllers, global multiplayer capabilities, over-the-air updates, as well as the ability to pick up and play on devices of all shapes and sizes. And let's face it, even your smartphone has more power than the so-called Super Nintendo.

However, are those perceived improvements really making games any better? The old-school HEXUS team members maintain that 20-year-old games such as Super Mario Kart and Mortal Kombat II hold a benchmark yet to be beaten.

Albeit relatively-simple in nature, these games were fun first and foremost, with the ability of each player measured by skill alone, not the speed of your broadband connection. Sure, you were limited to two local players and you had to do without global leaderboards, but then you never had to wait for a patch and you certainly didn't have to pay to unlock the next level.

We're clearly divided, so it's time to pass the question over to the readers; are computer games better now than they were 20 years ago? And if so, how would you define better? Let us know using the comments below.

HEXUS Forums :: 65 Comments

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In my near 30 years of gaming. I've found the games are getting easier but also look better.

The term ‘game over’ no longer really exists :(
Games nowadays have better visuals than those from twenty years ago but they are not better overall. Multiplayer used be a feature that enhanced and already good game; now it's used to sell mediocre games with almost non-existent single-player campaigns. The use of Steam and Origin as digital distribution and management clients does not help either.

I enjoy some games from the last few years but have come largely nostalgic for the good old days. Not because we had better games back then but because you could enjoy the game you purchased without the greed factor (not being able to resell a game because it's tied to a Steam or Origin account is just damn greedy). In order for games become truly enjoyable again the industry will have to find a medium that doesn't punish people who legitimately buy their games and protecting their products (since that's what games are: products not services).
Pffffft…..Super Nintendo for the young whipper snappers.

You need to be looking at the ZX81 and Commodore Vic 20

Today, I have actually been playing Myth by System 3 on the Commodore 64, not on an emulator though. This was loaded from tape on my trusty 30yr old Commodore 64.

After about 5 minutes or so of loading I was greeted by voice synthesis saying welcome to Myth with a rough picture of a goddess.

Few minutes later I was whisked to Hades battling Skeletons, Imps, Medusa, Hydra and a Chimera. Each bit actually leads to the next, for example to kill the Chimera I needed to first summon a demon, do this by knocking a damned hanging skeletal corpse into the lake of fire, then go to the base of the screen and kill skeletons and knock their heads into same lava, this summons the demon. Then kill it with frost balls / magic you get from the Imps to get the Trident, face to face with the Chimera fire the Trident at it to kill it. Next section sees you on the island of Psirens, here you have to be careful as one summons you, get it wrong and move to close to fast and she turns into a snake and instant death, patience though rewards with another life orb. Then destroy the statue of Achilles by hitting its ankle while fending off the Trojans (Or Greek Soldiers) there, once statue is destroyed you get the shield needed for the next level. Also if the soldiers are running at you hold the shield up and they bow and stop attacking you… Then I went into the temple and equipped the shield, ran over to the right and there was Medusa firing bolts out of her eyes, you can jump them but holding the fire button steadies the shield and deflects the blasts, miss and you get turned to stone instantly killed. So get close to her with shield up and have your sword ready to switch, time it right and switch to the sword and quickly behead her, then grab the head and continue the level. You will come across a Hydra, now anyone that is interested in Greek Mythology will know, chopping off the Hydras head is a big no no, you have to be smart or you will end up with even more heads. So equip Medusas head and fire the eye blast at the Hydras heads to kill it outright… for its age.

After that you end up in Asgard from Norse Mythology and it gets even better, having to save a maiden in a forest and slay a dragon, then into Odins Fortress and take out the Mighty Thor to prove your worth.

Its absolutely awesome stuff, I have enjoyed playing that more than an excellent session with Farcry 3 or Borderlands 2.
Older games feels more worthwhile to replay over and over…and some of them are very hard too, which makes it very challenging. Current games nowadays are way too short and mostly a bit too easy…
A number of the older games can be way overrated IMHO,as people tend to look at them through rose tinted glasses.People tend to forget there were loads of absolutely crap older games,which is what lead to the crash of the computer game market in North America in the early 80s.

They are plenty of modern games which are fantastic examples of story telling and immersion,and many of them more importantly are fun too.

Moreover,when you start looking at the credits of many modern games,you start to realise how many people have had to work on them - it almost looks like the credits for a film at times.

People also need to consider games cost relatively less now than say 20 years ago, and even the hardware needed is not as costly as it used to be I suspect.