5 Things to Miss About Being a Classic Gamer
This is not a lament for the old days, Okay? We're very grateful for the endlessly forward march of video game progress, and if anyone tries to tell you that the classic era was superior, then beat them in the face with a Jaguar controller until it breaks. The modern world has full-motion capture controls, 3D, top-notch voice acting, photorealistic graphics, the ability to play live with people all across the Earth, and GLaDOS. In short, the future is awesome.
Our only explanation for this controller involves monkeys.
Still, there are aspects of the days when you had to rent your games from Blockbuster that we feel an odd fondness for, and a slight pang of regret at their absence. We don't want to turn back the clock or anything, but we did think it would be nice to pay them tribute here.
Once upon a time, you had to figure everything in a game out for yourself or pay for the information... we're lazy, so we paid. We had subscriptions to Nintendo Power, EGM and GamePro just for their code breaker and FAQ sections, but there's only so much room in a magazine, and when all else failed you called the Nintendo Hotline.
We are as gods!
The concept of paying someone for anything over the phone that doesn't involve pornography now seems so alien, but when we were ten years old it was the most natural thing in the world. Stuck in Crystalis? Just drop $3 while a friendly and helpful Nintendo employee walked you through the process. Amazingly, the hotline was only discontinued in 2005.
You might remember the profession being glorified in the movie The Wizard when a counselor named Rick helps guide Jimmy Woods through his preparations for the big video game tournament. We tried to track down the actor who played Rick, Thomas Stanczyk, in order to ask him what kind of research he did to bring to life a profession that was like a second father to us in our youth, but all we found was a New Jersey investment banker who apparently drives off bears with firecrackers. If you read this, Tom, drop a line 'cause we'd still like to know.
Keeping in time with the theme of not being able to play a game on our own, we really miss strategy guides. Now of course there are still strategy guides out there, and some of them are real works of art. For years the nicest book we owned was actually the official hardcover, gold-embossed edition of the guide for Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. The thing is more impressive than a medieval Bible.
Ironically, if you combine all three strategy guides, nothing happens.
However, strategy guides more or less died with the Internet, and you can point to one specific guide that killed the whole thing forever. Brady Games had been putting out stellar guides for the Final Fantasy series, until Final Fantasy IX came out. The guide had only half of the information. The other half was locked in an interactive section on the Brady Web site...or it would've been if the site wasn't a mishmash of poor code that never loaded.
As long as we were already on the Internet, hey look, other people are trying to figure this out, and thus we watched the strategy guide industry pretty much sign its own death warrant.