It’s amazing what you miss when you play old games.

Here are a few features that every game has now that it’s whatever year this is, which didn’t exist back when Parasite Eve was brand new:

  • Autorun. Back then games had a run button you had to hold down. Nowadays it’s just the opposite: your dude runs by default, and walks when you hold the button. (This is in those rare games where speed isn’t regulated by pressure on the control stick, of course.)
  • Helper icons. I was stuck for nearly twenty minutes in a room in Central Park because I couldn’t find the key I needed. Turns out it was in a drawer that was just lost in the muddle of the pre-rendered background. I eventually found it just by rubbing against all the walls hammering the button until something fell apart. Nowadays, walking within a few steps of that drawer would have made a button icon appear over Aya’s head.
  • Skippable cutscenes. There was a time back when this game was new where I very literally played through it every weekend for several months. I don’t know if I’d have the stamina for that anymore though; much of your time with this game is just spent waiting for the talky-talky to go away. (To be fair, though, there are still a few modern holdouts that refuse to implement this feature — but all the really good ones do.)
  • Gunfire mapped to trigger buttons. Parasite Eve is ostensibly an RPG, which means you’re not really “firing a gun” so much as “entering the command to fire a gun”. Still, it feels wrong popping off shots with the X button after so many years of doing it with the right trigger.
  • “Down” means “down”. Back in the days of eight-directional d-pads, characters didn’t have the range of movement they do now. In games with pre-rendered backgrounds like Parasite Eve, sometimes the locales are drawn at strange angles in order to achieve some cinematic effect. A side-effect of this is that the d-pad doesn’t necessarily map evenly to the compass directions in the screen. If the main lines the hero can walk on the map don’t line up parallel to the sides of the screen, the d-pad is skewed a bit in one direction or another. This means pressing “left” sometimes moves you “down-left” or “up-left” depending on what map you’re on. This sensation took a lot of getting used to back in the 90s, and now it’s taking a lot of getting used to again.
  • If I were playing Parasite Eve 2, that previous bullet would have instead been a rant about tank-style controls. But I’m not, so I won’t. (Unless I kind of just did.)

I’m sure I could reminisce like this all day, but I think you get the point. Just like it’s important for film and literature buffs to revisit the old movies and books from time to time, I think it’s very important to revisit the old games. Good golly, I’ve equated “old games” with the NES for so long that I’m still sort of coming to terms with the fact that the PlayStation definitely qualifies.

The PS2 is getting there, too. Chew on this: Final Fantasy X is as old now as Final Fantasy IV was when Final Fantasy X was brand new. Remember — this was the game that practically defined my entire gaming career. Are there people out there for whom FF10 carries a similar attachment? I don’t know of any, but I really hope the answer is “yes”.

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4 comments to It’s amazing what you miss when you play old games.

  • Craze

    FFX-2 was the very first RPG I played, and my first game for my first console.

    That said, I was a late bloomer in terms of getting into videogames; I’m only a 3-4 years younger than Brick I believe. I just didn’t play games as a kid.

  • Kadj

    So… six entries from that span of time down to four. Now that I think about it, that’s not so bad for SE’s release frequencies!

    “Are there people out there for whom FF10 carries a similar attachment? I don’t know of any, but I really hope the answer is “yes”.”

    Would you be able to live knowing that people’s gaming careers are defined by HA HA HA HA HA?

    Come to think of it, that would be pretty strange – your career is defined by the game that introduced ATB. The FFXer’s career would be defined by the game that went back to turn-based combat.

  • Issun

    10 and 4 are my two favorite FFs. 4 because I was even younger than you when I first played it, and it’s been the epitome of what an RPG should be for me.

    I love 10 even more because it showed me that games could establish real characters. Never mind that you didn’t like them (or that I did). Whether we liked them or not, this was the first game where characters had complex motivations and well drawn personalities (Xenogears was close, but sadly ends up as some in-between for FF4 and 10).

    That’s why 12 disappointed me so much. While it’s probably a better game, and has a more interesting villain, it’s protagonists were, for better or worse, not as well drawn as 10’s.

    However, while I enjoy 10 a bit more, I value 4 more viscerally, because I was a troubled thirteen-year-old when I first played it in March of 1992. So while I’ve enjoyed Tidus and friends more on a storytelling level, Cecil and friends are closer to my heart.

  • Wow, thanks for making me feel old dude…

    I’ve been spoiled to the point that random encounters is a huge deal breaker for me. I simply can’t stand it anymore.

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