Neil’s last  post reminded me of something:  How fantastic the older-generation video games were. (Original Mario, Zelda, etc.)  It also reminded me of how difficult they were.  You know what I’m talking about when I mean difficult, right?  I’m talking about getting only 27 coins TOTAL through World-1 in the original Mario Bros. game.  I’m talking about playing through a game hundreds upon hundreds of times just so you can figure out how to make it to the last stage, only to be killed in one hit by the final boss, starting you all the way back to the beginning of the game.  Games back then were nothing but trial and error, but the thing was is that we didn’t have a problem with that.  We just kept going at it like a bunch of spider monkeys jacked-up on Mountain Dew.  (Take a look at the recent release New Super Mario Bros. 2.  It is IMPOSSIBLE to make it through the first level with less than 30 coins.  You will have full 99 lives half-way through the game.  Where is the challenge?  In fact, if you die enough times the game gives you an invincibility suit so you can move on to the next level!)

When was the last time you played a game on your shiny Xbox 360 or PS3 that you just absolutely could not beat.  Not because you got bored with it, but because of the high level of difficulty.  They’re few and far between, correct?  It’s because video games now are more like playable movies than they are actual video games.  I’m not saying they’re bad, I’m just saying they are less like video games than those that released through the late 80’s and early 90’s.  When you die in a video game today, you don’t have to start all the way back at the very beginning.  In fact, if they made a game that actually did that no one would buy it.  Why?  Because we are spoiled.

Hey look! He only has one coin! Why? Because there might be a total of ten in this entire level.

Now I’m not saying that games today aren’t challenging.  I mean take a look at freakin’ Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls.  There is a special place in hell for developers that make such insanely challenging games.  Challenging they are, but they are NOT unbeatable.  There is a way to play through every single one of these games without having to start over.

There is no punishment nowadays.  Our character dies, and then at the absolute worst and red screen will pop-up that reads “Game Over”  or “You Have Died” and two seconds after that you have the option to either “Restart Mission”  or “Restart Last Checkpoint”.  Well gee-whiz I wonder what I’m going to do?

Games “back then” kept a high-score for you in one of the four corners of the screen.  This gave you a reason to pick the controller back up to see if you can beat that number into the ground.  When you died “back then” you threw your controller to the ground in frustration (notice how they didn’t break then like they do now?  Man what sturdy systems they were!) and thought to yourself: “I know I can get it this time.  Just one more time.  I know I can do this.”  And so on, and so on…Where is the “Hi-Score” meter nowadays?

This is what made games addicting.  The re-playability.  “Whoa!” You may be saying to yourself.  “What in the heck is re-playability?”  That’s a good question.  You see, good games had this.  As soon as you’re done with your Call of Duty Modern AssPoop you will go trade it in at your nearest video-game retailer, correct?  Yeah…that’s what I thought.

Now do you understand what I mean when I say video games are like playable movies now?  All video games now have and end-game, or and end cutscene to provide closure, much like a movie.  You may call yourself a “collector” and keep your copy in case you ever felt like playing through it one more time, but let’s face it: You probably won’t.  It’s just like buying a DVD.  You will watch it maybe 2-3 times within the first week that you own it, but it will never see the light of day again after that.

The reason I’m talking about all this is because, if you were listening to our NerdTakeout Podcast you would know this already, I pulled out my original Nintendo Entertainment System.  And guess what.  The thing is still in perfect working condition.  Just give the game cartridges a quick blast of air to clean out the dust and you are good to go.  Bingo.  Have fun.

If you still have a video game system that came out in the late 80’s/early 90’s I encourage to pull it out of your attic and stop treating it like a worthless piece of trash.  I promise you you will get so much joy out of doing this.  In fact, if you have an NES still sitting around, and a copy of the original Mario Bros. or Galaga, go play them and post your high-score from either game and how many coins you collected in World-1.  But, most importantly, quit acting so spoiled and enjoy yourself.