The 10 Worst Things About Retro Gaming

8. Movie games

These days, you rarely see games based on movies. The fundamental differences between movies, a passive medium, and games, an active medium, mean that their respective narratives don’t easily translate. But a good 20 years or so go, any remotely high profile movie ended up receiving a video game version.

The prime offenders were a company called Ocean, who would awkwardly shoehorn their purchased properties into a platform game. Batman? Platform game. Hudson Hawke? Platform game. The Untouchables? Platform game. Sophie’s Choice? Platform game.

Okay, I may have made that last one up, but I honestly believe that if Ocean had got their hands on the license, 90’s gamers would have been leaping around, flattening Nazis with their buttocks. These titles were mediocre at best and, while they did sell, they failed to live up to the licences’ respective potential. These days, developers at least consider which genre would best suit their properties.

9. Text adventures

No matter how much money filmmakers spend on special effects, they can never match the power of the imagination. The scenes that you’re mentally conjouring up as you read a book will never quite match up with those that are portrayed on screen. In a similar manner, text adventures used descriptive language that allowed your mind to fill in the gaps, creating a mental picture of the location you were exploring.

So why, then, do text adventures deserve a place in this list? Because while they may have catered to your imagination, their limited interpreters meant they were excruciatingly painful to play. Text adventures required you to input commands in order to proceed, typically two words at most. Yet they were often incapable of understanding synonyms, accepting only the commands the creator had specified. Leading to situations like this…

>KILL MONSTER WITH SWORD
What do you want me to do with the sword?

>KILL THE MONSTER
I do not understand monster.

>USE SWORD
Use the sword on what?

>THE MONSTER
I do not understand monster.

The monster swipes his claws across your throat. You crumple to the floor in a pool of blood.
You are dead.  Restart (Y/N)

>SHOVE THIS GAME RIGHT UP YOUR ARSE.
You are dead.  Restart (Y/N)

10. Quest essential objects

It’s commonplace for games, especially RPGs, to feature objects that are quest essential. Yet most games make sure these objects remain in your inventory and cannot be discarded during the course of a quest.  Attempt to hurl one into a lake and you’ll find it stuck to your hand like superglue, the game reminding you that you won’t be able to solve the Theft of the Mysterious McGuffin without it.

Not so old school games. It was entirely possible to drop, sell or even ignore items that would later become essential to your progress. The gruesome Elvira: Mistress of the Dark was a prime example of this. The game let you use objects to create spells which you in turn could use to combat enemies. However, many of the objects you could drop into your virtual cauldron were required to solve later puzzles. It was entirely possible to spend ten hours on the game, only to have to restart your game from scratch because you incinerated a quest-essential item. A shoddy, hateful piece of game design.


So there you have it. Whether you’re a long-term gamer extolling the virtues of previous gaming generations, or a newer gamer looking to experience the ‘joys’ of retro-gaming, I urge you to do your research first. Otherwise, insanity, smashed gamepads and other frustration-related injuries surely await.