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Gaming Death Match! 90’s vs. Today


What's better? 90's or now?

But... Was It Better?

Well now that's the question isn't it? For those of us that gamed through the 90's I fondly remember some of the best pick up and play gaming experiences I've ever had. Sensible soccer was infinitely more playable than whatever the latest FIFA EA has pumped out is. New experiences were genuinely new as opposed to these days simply being refinements of already proven genres, styles, IP's and technologies.

For me, getting scared and jumping playing Alone in the Dark or Quake may mean I'm now desensitized so that Alien: Isolation isn't that big a deal to me. Perhaps to a kid today, they get the same tingly feeling I got when I was young when they play A:I. I hope so, it'd be a shame for them to miss out on that kind of experience. Maybe their experience is better than mine was, ultimately we'll never know.

Of course, it's possible that I'm looking back on the period with rose tinted glasses. Games were a pain to get running. Drivers had to be loaded carefully given 640k of base memory. Boot disks were needed for different games to change system settings. Sometimes games didn't play nicely with certain IRQ and DMA combos, extended vs. expanded memory or vice versa meant that emm386 became your best friend. Gah! Gaming in the 90's could be a pain. That much said, when you finally got it running, it was rewarding! Still, if you wanted ease of use, there were consoles and arcades for that...

That's right! Streetfighter 2 on the SNES, NBA Jam 2 player arcade! Oh the countless hours and coins I put into those 2 games respectively. This was an era of extremes, from gaming brilliance, to gaming  atrocities.

Was it better? No, not really. Was it worse? Also no. It was.... different. Perhaps that's a cop out answer, but it's the honest truth. I loved the gaming experiences I had in the 90's and wouldn't trade them for the world, but at the same time, I love a lot of the gaming experiences I've had since then and can say the same. Mass Effect trilogy? Epic. X-Com the reboot? The original but massively more engaging. Open worlders like Assassin's Creed? Love them (despite the atrocity that was Unity at launch, I used to pre-order the most expensive collector edition AC games up to and including Unity. No more). Of course let us not forget Star Citizen, what is shaping up to be one of the greatest games of all time!

We have great games in this day and age, we had great games in the 90's. But much like the music from the 90's that has now succumbed to a greater degree of commercialisation (hi from X factor, Pop Idol, American Idol, Autotune and all of the other non-music of today), evolution rather than revolution has become the norm in the gaming industry these days too.

Still, for every manufactured pop band/singer like One Direction or Taylor Swift, every so often, a chart oddity like the Kings of Leon, Killers or Gorillaz come along and make it big too. Perhaps not with the frequency of the indies of the 90's but it's a similar thing in the gaming space. As much as we may bemoan the standard, iterative, chuck out a new version every year or two of the formulaic approach, the money made from these games allows them the freedom to experiment with new IP and styles of game. The industry has matured and moved from the machine gun to the sniper rifle. Both are required, but they are different.

Still miss proper demos though. Future Crew and 2nd Reality forever. 3dMark doesn't count, you kids don't know what you missed XD