So there I was, playing the newly downloadable Jet Set Radio — the classic cell-shaded skatepunk adventure — on my PlayStation 3 and absolutely hating it. That's quite an unfamiliar sensation to me. When the original disc-bound version released on the Dreamcast back in 2000, I loved every last morsel of it. The design, the popping colors, the sound, the challenges … all awesomeness defined.
Now? The controls respond like I've submerged in extra-chunky mud. The camera feels deliberately designed to make me hate all life on Earth. A lot of the avatars look like somebody recycled code from an 8-bit version of Boom Blox. And I really want to destroy the guy who thought this thing was ready for prime time, because I've played pre-alpha indie games with zero budgets that handled better than this trash.
But here's the thing: Minus some anti-aliasing, it's the exact same game I played 12 years ago.
My new experience with Jet Set Radio makes me question my original experience back in 2000. I'm even a bit wary about pulling out other cherished favorites like 2005's surreal and superlative platformer Psychonauts for fear a new reality might crush my fond memories. I have to wonder … do all those classic video games truly deserve such reverence? Were we wearing rose-tinted glasses for the last few decades? Or have we just grown too much as gamers?