Bitpicking: Retrolook, Retrolost
Video games make jumps into new generations. This is an undeniable fact. However, what changes when video games move from one generation to the next? What remains the same? It’s obvious that, with new leaps, games evolve and become much more accessible. With in-game tutorials and help systems, games have never been easier to pick up and have a blast with. While the hardcore may weep about how this can ruin games, it’s undeniable that people are more willing to play than ever before. The barrier to entry is now lower, and, as we get ready to make the leap into the next generation, we have to be reminded that games will be reaching an even more widespread audience.
Before we anticipate the arrival of the next generation, we should have a fond look at the past. Specifically, we should look at the parts of games past that I find to be annoying.
Video games nowadays do a good job of guiding players where to go. Usually explicit invisible walls or a pop-up showing a player where to go helps players. For many of the games that came out in the PlayStation One era, this wasn’t the case. Part of why it was so hard to tell where you were going or where you were supposed to go was due to the low-quality graphics. While you can make out where the exits and entrances are, not all the paths clearly indicate that they're able to be tread upon. Often times, it’s hard to know where all the extra and special goodies are or where your next destination lies.
That said, let’s delve into one of the most beloved franchises of the gaming industry: Final Fantasy.
Final Fantasy had its RPG legacy made early with the first release on the NES and later on transitioned into the more vibrant SNES. The games on the NES and SNES weren’t particularly different from each other visually. It was clear where you can go and what rooms you can explore because of the top-down, bird’s-eye view. Of course, the flat, 2D visuals also helped to indicate how things looked, making it easy to notice where a door was and such.
When Final Fantasy made the jump into the polygon gen, everything became different. Areas weren’t confined to simple top-down views but rather took all sorts of angles, like from the side or from underneath the player. Not only that, but the movement of the characters changed as they were no longer bound by up and down movements but could combine the two to move diagonally. It was a brand new way of playing and seeing. However, not all was good.