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“Well, it was good when I was a kid…” How nostalgia affects our opinions of games

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

I plug in my NES Toploader, caving to the craving to play one of my childhood favorites. Once the game starts up, usually after blowing in the cartridge a few times, I freak out when I see the start screen and hear the brilliant 8-bit music. Then, I start to play. I’m flooded with memories from my childhood. But, after a few minutes, I realize something: this game is terrible.

This happens to me quite often. I think of a game that I played as a child and become really anxious to play it, only to be disappointed by the fact that the game actually really sucks.

Let’s take Rocket Power: Beach Bandits for example. This was the first GameCube game that I actually played all the way through. I was absolutely in love with it and I played it nearly every day. I recently played it and I couldn’t believe how bad it was. I mean, who would have thought that a game based on a Nickelodeon cartoon would be bad? The voice acting was horrible, the story was god awful, and the graphics were mediocre at best. How did I ever enjoy a game as bad as this?

I guess it goes to show that life is much simpler when you’re a child. When you’re a kid, ratings don’t matter. Games that received a Metacritic score of 15 might be some of the most fun games you have ever played. I miss those days. Today, if a game gets under a 7, I usually don’t even think about playing it, mostly because games are expensive and I’m broke.

Here’s a prime example of how nostalgia can have a huge effect on how we remember games:

*Two friends walk into their local GameStop*

“Dude, that game is amazing. Get it.”

“Ehh, I’ve never played it; I probably won’t like it.”

”DUDE it’s great! Just try it. I used to play the crap out of that game when I was a kid!”

“Oh, alright.”

*30 minutes later*

“Uh, this game is terrible.”

“Well, it was good when I was a kid…”

Sound familiar? The first friend only remembered the game as being great because he played it as a young child, when things were simple. After the first couple of minutes of playing it as an adult, though, he realized that nostalgia couldn’t save an awful game.

If a game is truly good, it will be enjoyable as a child, but also as an adult. Some of my most precious childhood memories are of my dad’s friend teaching me how to get to the warp zone in Super Mario Bros. World 1-2 and my brother, Chris, showing me where some of the hidden 1-UP blocks are. No one can ever take those memories away from me, and, thankfully, Super Mario Bros. is a game that I enjoyed playing using tiny hands, and still enjoy playing using grown-up hands.

What are your feelings on how nostalgia affects our opinions of games? Comment below!


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