Reviews of modern games from a thoroughly retro gamer
Hello to all gamers. Those who enjoy retro games, modern games, indie games and yes, even mobile games, are welcome here at the Retro Gaming Archive.
With Contempo, I, Dylan, an avowed retro/Nintendo-centric gamer, will be playing and discussing modern games. Why should this matter? Because since 2013, I have been content to play retro games, the occasional indie game, and the Wii U/Switch, that’s it. No PS4, no Xbox, no PC.
I’ll get into why later, but first! A little gaming background about myself: I’ve owned just about every popular console ever released, starting with the NES when I was five. Let’s define “popular,” not by what it is, but what it isn’t. Not one of Sega’s misguided add-ons (sorry 32X). Not those freaky overpriced mid-90s consoles, like Jaguar, CD-i, and 3DO. Not the Virtual Boy. Not the Neo Geo. Not the TurboGrafx-16. The latter three have some stellar titles, and the Neo-Geo and TurboGrafx-16 in particular are fascinating systems, but they have always been niche.
My first love.
When I say popular, I’m talking big guns. The NES, SNES, Genesis, PS1, PS2, N64, Gamecube, PS3, DS, Wii, you get the point. If the system has sold upwards of 10 million units and beyond – regardless of whether it was considered a failure by the company that released it (hello Dreamcast and Wii U) – I consider it popular, and I’ve probably owned it at one point or another. Those consoles I listed in the previous paragraph? Most of them didn’t even sell a million units in their lifetime.
When the PS4 and Xbox One released in 2013, something changed. Not only did I not buy the consoles, but I had no interest in purchasing them in the future. I had my reasons. I was deep into my NES blog. Indie games were beginning to dominate the landscape, despite the fact that many of them weren’t that great. Mostly, though, modern AAA gaming was beginning to wear on me. All the first-person shooters, the Assassins Creeds, Grand Theft Auto V: none of it was for me. I purchased a Wii U around Christmas of 2013, decided I would ride or die with Nintendo for the rest of my days, and never looked back…
…Until December 2018 when I received a PS4 as a Christmas gift. Five years is a long time to come around to a console, and I had definitely come around to the idea of owning a PS4. The first game I purchased? Horizon: Zero Dawn. I’d heard great things about the game, the mechanical dinosaur thingies looked rad, and the world it presented looked absolutely gorgeous. Plus, it was $20 for the Ultimate Omega Edition with all the DLC. Cha-ching!
Welcome… to the PS4.
I played a few hours of Horizon, liked the story, liked the main character, liked the gameplay… then promptly stopped when I purchased Sonic Mania. Horizon: Zero Dawn is definitely an epic modern experience, but Sonic Mania – despite being a “new” Sonic game – rests solely within my nostalgic wheelhouse.
I currently own 11 games for the PS4. 2 are indie titles (Stardew Valley and Undertale), 1 is a remaster (Skyrim: Special Edition), 2 have been released by major studios in the past three years (Drgaon Quest Builders and Spiderman), and the rest are retro game collections and Sonic Mania. Over half of my PS4 library consists of older games. Damn good old games, but old games nonetheless.
You haven’t lived until you’ve played Rescue Rangers 2
Here is a small list of the games I haven’t played for the PS4: almost all of them. No God of War. No Witcher 3. No Sekiro. No Death Stranding. No Final Fantasy XV. I could go on. You name a popular or even semi-popular big-budget modern PS4 game, and I haven’t played it. Except for Spiderman, which was an absolutely amazing experience. Highly recommend it.
To clarify: the fact that I haven’t played these games isn’t bad. The older you get, the more responsibilities you have (in theory), the less time you have for huge games. But I’m curious. For the first time in my life, I essentially missed out on an entire console generation. I’ve caught up a little in my brief time with Horizon: Zero Dawn and Spiderman, but I wonder… what else is out there? What else is coming? There’s some games I’d love to catch up on – games like Horizon and The Witcher 3 – and some pretty huge 2020 releases like Final Fantasy VII Remake, The Last of Us Part 2, and Ghost of Tsushima that I’d like to play.
“We’re a long way from Sly Cooper…”
Based on my current PS4 library, you’re right to presume that I prefer older titles. I do want to preface something, though: this will not be a curmudgeonly series. I am not a caveman gamer, clinging tightly to a CRT TV and a Model 1 Genesis, yelling at kids about how the 16-bit Console Wars are not over and that cartridge will always be king. I acknowledge that many retro games are borderline unplayable now, including games we thought were amazing as kids.
I prefer older titles now more for their feel than their content. Retro games have an endearing (and enduring) innocence in them that’s lacking in modern AAA titles. And it’s not just nostalgia. Nintendo is still able to hit those notes of childlike wonder and joy in their modern Mario and Zelda titles. Still, my judgment of modern gaming has very much come from the outside looking in. For the last seven years, I’ve been content to critique the modern gaming industry without really taking part in its product. That’s not fair. If I play a bunch of modern games and decide that modern gaming isn’t for me, then I’ll at least have made that decision based on experience, not prejudice.
We’ll see about this one…
I presume this will be a year-long article series, although it could continue past that if I’m having fun and you’re enjoying yourself, and we’re all just having a big happy party here. I’m not sure how many games I’m going to play at this point, but I know I’d like to play some of the heavy hitters on PS4; particularly those that are coming out in 2020.
What about Xbox One, you ask? Well… I don’t have one! If I did, I’d definitely give the Forza Horizon games a shot. That would probably be it, though. I’ve played more than my fair share of Halo games already, and Gears of War does not appeal to me in the slightest. Sorry, Microsoft!
I’ll be forgoing Switch reviews as well. Y’all know I think Nintendo is Great. No need to double down there.
First up, The Last of Us. I never played the original, and I’d like to play the sequel. Look for a post on that soon…