I decided that I would try and look for my DVD copy of The Time Machine. I’d read the book not so long ago and I thought I’d like to watch the film again, compare the two. And I mean the decent film from the sixties and not the rubbish modern one with Guy Pierce and Samantha Mumba (Remember her? She certainly dropped off the radar didn’t she!). I am convinced there is a black hole somewhere in this room as things tend to vanish- I still haven’t found those Narnia books that were definitely under the bed before I went to university but luckily, this time, I found what I was looking for in a box under my desk. And with it, a few old favourite video games of mine- Theme Hospital, Master of Olympus and Pharaoh. They were all ‘best seller’ copies and I had a vague recollection of why they were in the box… They wouldn’t install on my laptop. But I didn’t let that stop me from taking them out and trying to run them once more.
I first figured the reason why they wouldn’t install… Their initial pre-load screens weren’t actually part of the game proper, they were part of the ‘best-seller’ package and when I clicked the ‘install’ button, nothing. So I tried to bypass that and install manually, using the files on the disk. And hey presto, I got through! First up, Theme Hospital- which wasn’t as fun as I recall it being. It required me to act too quickly for my tastes, even on slow speeds. A problem would come up and it would demand to be solved quickly or the consequences for the hospital would be dire. And then the rooms would need to be big to fit everything in and the layout of the hospital buildings just made arranging things into a workable layout practically impossible. It was fun and I did enjoy playing it for a while but it got very difficult very quickly, and very annoying too. It was nice to look back on, a nice piece of nostalgia, but nothing more in my opinion.
So onto Master of Olympus… Now this is more like it and all the fun of the Grecian fair came back to me, all the frustrations and the heartaches and the triumphs of ancient city building. There came Talos and Perseus and Jason of Iolchus, here to help in any way he can. The gods wandered my streets once more, blessing and destroying in equal measure- Ares calling me a festering bungler before getting his arse whooped by Athena. I built empires and I became the next best thing to those aforementioned gods. Playing through the game has reminded me of how much joy you can find for yourself by simply pulling out an old game or a console. And I started to realize that I am doing this more and more.
Not so long ago I pulled out the original Sims and whilst I could only find the Hot Date/House Party expansion packs for it I still had a couple of weeks of fun, building houses and playing in a way that I previously hadn’t, without cheating. I built up my creations (all Victorian literary characters because I wanted to be weird) from nothing- Their houses started as small shacks and grew as they earned more money. I looked for the other expansions (which I know I had at one stage) but they appear to have been swallowed by that awful black hole thing. The only issue I had with the original Sims was children… Because they don’t grow up they’re effectively useless- All they can do is go to school and at best will earn you a hundred Simoleons a day. You can’t even have a bit a fun and use them as slaves because they can’t learn any skills. So after a while, if a couple had a child, I would let it grow from a baby and then kill it with fire. They got better in The Sims 2 but all I have for that game are the expansion packs and not the original disk.
Thing is… I find that a lot of modern console/pc games are just so samey. The majority seem to be alien shoot-em ups or World War 2 shoot-em ups or else involve gratuitous violence and guns. Don’t get me wrong, some of them can be fun to play but where is the variety? Where are the more fun, less serious games? Where are the zippy little platformers like Crash Bandicoot? I remember for the PS1/Nintendo era there was all sorts of different types of games… Puzzlers, hand to hand combatters like Tekken, the aforementioned platformers… Even the ones that involved killing weren’t all that violent… The most violent it ever got was Grand Theft Auto. But the last few times I’ve been in GAME or any other shop selling video games the majority of the ones I’ve seen have involved a glut of murder, killing and death.
I’m not against violence in video games but going around killing and shooting isn’t all I want to do when I play a game. I want something that challenges me in the way Crash Bandicoot used to, something I can get my teeth into and have some fun with. There have been very few modern games that have done that for me and maybe that explains why I like turning to old games. It isn’t just a case of nostalgia, though that might be some of it. I find that more often than not old games are simply just better than their modern counterparts. They always seem to be more involving, more challenging and they don’t always involve shooting or stabbing hundreds of people. Some of the best games were the ones that didn’t involve any violence at all.
Those sorts of games are out there, available as apps, but most of them are not for PC or Console, which is how I like to play. I don’t like a lot of the app games, the Candy Crushes and the Angry Birds. I hate the ‘pay to play’ features those sorts of game throw in… You get so far and then the game asks for more money just so you can continue playing. Quite often these games, I find, are nothing more than mindless distractions. They suck you in but you can’t really get involved with them to any great length. They aren’t as well rounded as the likes of Crash Bandicoot or Master of Olympus.
So if you don’t mind… I’ll just live in the land of Video Games gone by- It seems better over there.
Liked this? I don’t just talk about Video Games here… I write short stories too. Why not check one out, see what you think?