What’s in a game?

What makes a game good? It’s a rather subjective question with a rather subjective answer, but I’m not going to attempt to answer it rather discuss it. The often heard phrases of ‘this games rated poorly, might as well not get it’, ‘that game used to be so good back in the day’ or maybe even ‘that console sucks!’. All common enough phrases all discussed in today’s Gaming Detour.

For me. What makes a game good is whether or not I enjoy playing it.. of course right! Believe it or not many make decisions on whether a game is good or not before they play it, or by looking at the box ‘this game sounds s**t’ they might say. But I’m not prepared to make these sorts of judgement until I’ve at least played an hour or so, depending on if it’s a short or long game. I mean I didn’t form a decent judgement of Persona 5 until 10 hours in, in which I decided ‘This games amazing!’. However after 1 minute of Super Mario 3 I made (and still make) a similar judgement. I think giving games a fair go is imperative, because if you make a decision too early, you could miss out on a good game, and I myself find it hard to come back to a game I’ve dismissed already (not that I dismiss many games these days).

Rating’s are a common decider for video games. Potentially one of the biggest decider’s with sites like Metacritic being almost a measuring stick for video games (amongst other things movies etc.). With good ratings, more people tend to pick it up, and furthermore, more people tend to sink more time into it even if they are finding it’s not 100% their thing ‘Everyone’s playing it, I should keep playing it’, or ‘it’s meant to be really good, I gotta keep trying!’ Now obviously I don’t know people thoughts, but I have in the past thought these things and heard people say these things too so I don’t feel like I’m going out on a limb to suggest people are highly influenced by ratings. But ratings too are subjective, and I’ve played poorly rated games that I loved, and I’ve played well rated games I didn’t love, sometimes it has just as much to do with the genre, the types of characters or the game play, maybe your history with the genre etc. What define’s a good game to you can be hugely based on what you have already played.

Which brings me to nostalgia. In my retro collecting I come across games that are nostalgic to me and ones that aren’t. The objective difference is some games I have played and some I haven’t. The subjective difference is, ‘this game is awesome because it reminds me of my childhood and has all the characters I like’. It’s incredibly easy to look at old games and feel like only playing the ones that are nostalgic to you, but nostalgia shouldn’t be the only draw card in retro gaming, nor should ratings, or getting into the older games in a series you like or because you want to seem like a cool retro kinda person. Although these are all fine reasons, because who cares, it’s just a fun thing to do! But there are some amazing older games that are worth playing because they are amazing games worth playing, whether it’s because of ratings, or word of mouth, or nostalgia, the act of ‘trying out’ or ‘getting into’ a game should not just be limited to new games or current gen games, but basically any game. Why not try out what River Raid is like on the Atari 2600, it’s really fun! not ‘was really fun back in the day’, but is really fun.

River Raid – Atari 2600

Why do we even say ‘was really fun’? As if suddenly when a new generation of video games comes out old games magically become more dull and boring. I’m at a point now where I have zero clue objectively speaking as to why people would get rid of older games and consoles if they still enjoy video games and if it’s all still working well. Other than graphics of course, which is a dumb reason imho. Virtual Console and classic re-released games primary market are people who never should’ve sold that ‘NES’ or that Mega Drive. I mean aren’t these shining examples of why you shouldn’t sell your old consoles? If you will fork out more money buying them again in re-releases, remasters, ports and emulations of the game? To this day Tetris gets re-released on every single video game system in existence, the base game play of Tetris remains exactly the same. Unless you like owning Tetris on everything you buy, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be enjoying it still on the Electronika 60 or maybe the Nintendo Gameboy, or just playing the web version. Games remain good, I’ve gotten into the habit of saying ‘this game is good’ instead of ‘this game used to be so good’ and in doing so it gives me a better perspective on gaming and instead of defining modern gaming and retro gaming when it comes to sitting down to play a game. I just decide to play a game regardless of how old or new it is, because they’re all fun.


No matter what console or what game, I think it’s important not to discount titles before you’ve given them a chance. If you’re a 50 year old biker why not try ‘Big Bird’s Egg Catch’ for the Atari 2600. Or if you are really keen on Sonic the Hedgehog but heard Sonic 2006 is trash, who cares, see for yourself. You might enjoy the added challenge of all the glitches! So if you see a game at the Op Shop or Garage sale, or on eBay for 0.50c pick it up and try it, don’t dismiss it because it’s cheap and old and you haven’t heard of it, you may find a game you really love!

Featured Image: The oldest Tetris game I own, and the newest Tetris game I own. Tetris never gets old.. people may say ‘I HATE video games’.. you say ‘do you like tetris?’.. they say ‘Oh But Tetris is great!’.. I think some people just think they don’t like gaming.. when it’s more that they just don’t find the time for it.

Post Images:

First post image: Me playing of river raid on my Atari 2600. Well I’m not good at it. But it’s really fun!

Second post image: My copy of Sonic (2006), no I didn’t enjoy it even though I really wanted to, yes that is a DVD slip cover printed from an inkjet printer from plain A4 paper, cut out poorly and inserted into an Xbox 360 case.

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