Gaming nostalgia has its side effects

This post has been edited by the GamesBeat staff. Opinions by GamesBeat community writers do not necessarily reflect those of the staff.

Recently, Zero Punctuation reviewer Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw covered The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D. He argued that OOT doesn't deserve the prestige that it receives because its value has diminished over the years due to advances in game design. Without nostalgia, he explained, Link's first polygonal foray wouldn't be a viable title to repackage and sell.

So how heavily does nostalgia affect gaming, and is it a bad thing?


Obviously, it plays a huge role. Ocarina of Time 3D was the second-best-selling game in June, and it probably convinced many to purchase a 3DS handheld. The Sonic the Hedgehog series continues to enjoy a perplexing amount of exposure, despite many recent titles' mediocrity. New Super Mario Bros. Wii sold extremely well, even though it was basically a re-imagined Super Mario Bros. 3.

The vivid memories of defeating Bowser, plunging the Master Sword down Ganon's throat, and dashing heedlessly through checkered loops captivated our young and impressionable minds. Revisiting these worlds lets us tap into that nostalgia.

And there's nothing wrong with that. Delving into the past can be a worthwhile experience. But how much does looking into gaming's yesteryear with rose-colored glasses impact what we see on the shelves today? Judging by the constant rehashing of games like Call of Duty, people like to play what they've played before — just with better graphics and a fresh story.

This isn't a big problem, unless the trend becomes the dominating business model in the interactive-entertainment industry. Rendering enemy units and programming AI takes time and money. It's not financially sound for a developer to walk the tightrope with an experimental title that might not sell when Gritty Realism War Shooter 14: The Re-Nazi-ing will generate a small fortune. Unfortunately, this attitude can negatively affect progress and creativity.

Having said that, we shouldn't discount nostalgia. I admit that Ocarina of Time hasn't aged as gracefully as other games, but when I'm galloping across Hyrule Field with the sun trekking across the sky and orchestral music filling my ears, I don't care. OOT is still as fun for me now as it was a decade ago.

We need to strike a balance. Developers should take risks and create original games worth playing, and consumers need to show more support instead of just backing the latest grizzled-space-marine sequel.

What do you think?

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