Video games today sure have come a long way since the 80’s. But, have they really progressed forward, or have they taken a step back? I think it’s a bit of both. I started thinking about this while I was playing Skyrim (A game I will review in the near future), and it really made me wonder if video games had really progressed, or if it’s really taken a step backwards.
Going back to the Snes era (Super Nintendo) we had some really amazing games. Take a look at the likes of Final fantasy three (or six), Chrono Trigger, Super Mario world, A Link to the Past, and many more. When we played those games, the world came to life, each character seemed to have personality behind only one or two lines of dialog, the music fit the setting (most of the time), and the world was immersive back in the day. Now fast forward to today. We have Skyrim, Halo, Super Mario Galaxy, Fallout, Skyward Sword, and many others. Many critics and reviewers give high praise to these games, but why? They say the games are immersive, and to an extent, yes they are, but in my opinion, not to the extent that the games from the 80’s and 90’s had.
Let’s take Skyrim and Final Fantasy 6 (or 3) and compare them. Skyrim you have this big, open world. You explore the world and are tasked with saving the world from the threat of dragons…at your leisure. In final fantasy 6, you explore this big open world and tasked with saving the world from the empire and making sure the world stays in perfect balance. Okay, so the games sound kind of similar at their basic form, however there is one difference between the two. In final fantasy 6, the people of the world are directly affected by the events that occur as you progress through the game. You feel that the characters in the game are affected by what’s going on, you see an actual effect based on your actions. In Skyrim, you don’t. As you play through the story, people just go about their daily lives as if there was no threat. You complete a side quest in Skyrim and no one really notices, but in Final Fantasy 6, people do notice and comment on your actions.
Maybe comparing these two games is not really a fair comparison, but it paints quite clearly the picture I am conveying. In the transition to 3D, we lost some of our immersion. No longer did we have to imagine the voices people had, or their mouths moving. No longer could we imagine the world in a 3D way or the world beyond it. Instead we were limited to a playing area. See a mountain in the distance in Skyrim, Climb it in 10 minutes; Final Fantasy, takes 30 minutes.
In today’s video game world, games feel similar to each other because they lack the focus of imagination that was in older games. Older games had a charm. They had a sense of wonder to them that can’t be match in today’s games. The only thing that’s come close for me personally is Xenoblade Chronicles and that’s because the characters, world, everything was developed perfectly.