The Game You Wish You'd Played Back Then: A Personal Question

Matt Barton's picture

Blade of Blackpoole: Awesome for '83. But now?Blade of Blackpoole: Awesome for '83. But now?Here's a question I've been pondering today: : If you could alter your history so that you could have played any game that you missed when it was new--what would you choose? For instance, maybe you missed out on a game because of your chosen platform or inability to upgrade--such as the early Amiga or Atari ST hits. Or maybe you took too long to move to DOS and missed out on the DOOM era. Then again, maybe it was CD-ROM games that slipped past you, and you didn't play MYST until long after the excitement died down.

The reason I ask is that we all know it's just not the same to play these games for the first time today. If you didn't play Ultima back in the 80s, you're very unlikely to appreciate it now. The same goes for just about any early classic; even Pac-Man and Tetris were probably much more impressive and mind-blowing back when they were released. No matter how we try to immerse ourselves and overlook the "limitations" of the era, it's still difficult to really appreciate them.

So what game would you choose? If you're having a hard time deciding, make it a top five or ten list.

I can't wait to read your responses!

HYUCGDMPHUAA

Comments

Bill Loguidice
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Well, I don't think quick

Well, I don't think quick action games like Pac-Man or Tetris are good examples, because those don't rely on technology to deliver their fun. So I think many classic arcade and action games do easily hold up, though there are clearly obvious exceptions, like say Pong, which is about as pure of a videogame you can have but really would need a bit more depth to engage well today. I do think the point is MUCH more telling for text adventures, RPGs and adventure games, which can have significant bias from us having experienced newer interfaces, graphics and just overall different expectations.

So, what would *I* have liked to personally experience back in the day? Probably Ultima IV, though I'd take ANY of the Ultimas (save for 8), because I've never given one any depth of play. With that said, I still plan on playing them and I *do* think I would enjoy them regardless. So then what would my pick be? Ironically, it would be "Super Mario Bros." on its day 1 release. I never gave the game the proper time of day until WELL after its original release. I would have loved to experience that 100% fresh.

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Matt Barton
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Not Technology
Bill Loguidice wrote:

Well, I don't think quick action games like Pac-Man or Tetris are good examples, because those don't rely on technology to deliver their fun. So I think many classic arcade and action games do easily hold up, though there are clearly obvious exceptions, like say Pong, which is about as pure of a videogame you can have but really would need a bit more depth to engage well today. I do think the point is MUCH more telling for text adventures, RPGs and adventure games, which can have significant bias from us having experienced newer interfaces, graphics and just overall different expectations.

I see what you're saying, but I still think it's obvious that playing Pac-Man back in 1980 was a vastly different experience than playing it today. Even if you have an arcade-perfect setup, you're totally missing out on the social and cultural phenomenon. You're not going to be running around telling your friends, "Hey, man, have you seen this Pac-Man game? It's insane!" etc.

Now it's very much a done deal. Same with Tetris. Everybody has been there, done that. Totally different when they were first out.

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Bill Loguidice
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Timeliness
Matt Barton wrote:

I see what you're saying, but I still think it's obvious that playing Pac-Man back in 1980 was a vastly different experience than playing it today. Even if you have an arcade-perfect setup, you're totally missing out on the social and cultural phenomenon. You're not going to be running around telling your friends, "Hey, man, have you seen this Pac-Man game? It's insane!" etc.

Now it's very much a done deal. Same with Tetris. Everybody has been there, done that. Totally different when they were first out.

I agree of course, but I was looking at it more from a stand-point of what would still be just as much fun to play from a general public standpoint rather than sharing in the excitement for it in the day.

It's funny, I remember my first experience with Pac-Man. It was at a local store in a strip mall and I really didn't get what was going on. I actually later enjoyed another game that a store in that same strip mall had much more, Hunchback, because that concept was a bit easier for me to grasp around that age (though certainly I played Hunchback much later than I did Pac-Man). I also remember going into some random diner that my parents went to and they had a Pac-Man clone (or was it a pirated conversion?). I wish I could remember the name of it, but I believe I did see it again listed in some database or another. I was well aware of Pac-Man Fever as a kid, naturally, and even excitedly got a loose Pac-Man cartridge (and was rather disappointed overall, naturally), but I was nevertheless still a bit young to have the full blown experience.

Tetris was a different story, though. That was more of a slow burn. Naturally the computer versions were out for a while - I remember even playing it on a Tandy 1000 in one of my programming labs early on in high school - but it REALLY took off the with the GameBoy, which is another phenomena I didn't get in on on the ground floor (I favored the Lynx and later, the Game Gear).

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davyK
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The first time I played

The first time I played Circus Atari on an emulator I thought about how great it would have been had I got it back in the day. I avoided back then because I had Super Breakout and saw it as just another variation on that game. I see now that I would have really enjoyed it.

But really - the piece de resistance has to be the fighting vs series on the Sega Saturn complete with the 4MB expansion cartridge. Those two games blow anything else out of the water available at the time for sheer in-your-face arcade greatness. They would have knocked my socks off - the combo of the Saturn and Capcom together was unbeatable.

Of course the NeoGeo cart based system would have been awesome too - imagine getting to play something like Viewpoint or Metal Slug at home back then....incredible. But then you would have had to be so rich your life would be quite different to most!!!!!

Troy Wilkins
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Altered Beast on the Mega Drive (sorry, Genesis to some)

Because I know that game has a lot of fans, but when I got to play it, it just seemed like a boring button masher with no depth, not fantastic (or even particularly good) graphics, and audio that didn't impress me either. And I'm talking back in 1992, so it wasn't THAT old then. I tried it again recently thanks to the SEGA game collection on PS2 (name of the disc escapes me atm), and sure enough, I didn't even bother playing it through - I got bored with it very quickly.

I wonder if my opinion would be any different if I'd played it on the day it was released?

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Bill Loguidice
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Altered Beast = meh
Troy Wilkins wrote:

Because I know that game has a lot of fans, but when I got to play it, it just seemed like a boring button masher with no depth, not fantastic (or even particularly good) graphics, and audio that didn't impress me either. And I'm talking back in 1992, so it wasn't THAT old then. I tried it again recently thanks to the SEGA game collection on PS2 (name of the disc escapes me atm), and sure enough, I didn't even bother playing it through - I got bored with it very quickly.

I wonder if my opinion would be any different if I'd played it on the day it was released?

I was actually impressed with Altered Beast technically (fan of the large sprites and speech, even though the sound was not the best), but I agree that as a game it sucked. Definitely a good choice for an initial pack-in because it at least showed how the Genesis was generationally ahead of the NES.

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Matt Barton
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My List

I'm with Bill on the Ultima series. I totally missed all of them, and of course they're some of the most famous Western CRPGs ever. Here's my top twenty, in no particular order.

1. Ultima (1-7 especially)
2. Doom
3. Dungeon Master
4. Wasteland
5. Ultima Underworld
6. Might and Magic (World of Xeen especially)
7. Secret of Monkey Island
8. King's Quest
9. Ultima Online
10. Myst
11. Zork
12. Eye of the Beholder
13. Lands of Lore
14. Black Cauldron
15. Civilization
16. Dune 2
17. Descent
18. X-com
19. Bane of the Cosmic Forge
20. Alone in the Dark

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Bill Loguidice
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Quote explosion
Matt Barton wrote:

I'm with Bill on the Ultima series. I totally missed all of them, and of course they're some of the most famous Western CRPGs ever. Here's my top twenty, in no particular order.

1. Ultima (1-7 especially)

Crazy that we both missed out. I've told this story before, but seeing Ultima II and then III played on my friend Brian's Apple IIe was a magical experience (though it was only in very short bursts). I don't know why I never bothered getting in on the C-64 outside of a pirated copy of Ultima IV, and I was just not able to get into it (for obvious reasons). I had other RPGs like the Phantasie series and even AutoDuel that seemed to get my spending dollars over Ultima.

Actually, interestingly, the only early Infocom games I had were the atrocious cut-rate Commodore packaged versions for the C-64. My first true Infocom game if I remember correctly was Infidel for the Amiga! Now, like the Ultima games, I made a point of getting a nearly complete boxed collection just waiting to be played one day...

Matt Barton wrote:

2. Doom

I'm happy to say I got in early on this. Like I related in our book, Vintage Games, it wasn't until I upgraded from a 386 SX-20 with 5MB of RAM to a Pentium 90 16MB system with a kick-ass Sony Trinitron monitor that the true magic of the game became apparent to me. I still played it with a gamepad, though. ;-)

Matt Barton wrote:

3. Dungeon Master

We were on a trip to Texas to visit my cousins (I was 15 or 16) and I was allowed to pick out an Amiga game. I chose Dungeon Master. Even though we were driving home for goodness knows how long, before I collapsed in bed I made sure to fire it up right away after we got home to check it out. Definitely a cool experience, particularly from a sound standpoint.

Matt Barton wrote:

4. Wasteland
5. Ultima Underworld
6. Might and Magic (World of Xeen especially)

Regret these too, though the first person nature of Ultima Underworld never appealed to me too much (very few first person RPGs have).

Matt Barton wrote:

7. Secret of Monkey Island

I actually played it for the first time (and beat it) on the Sega CD, so I was a bit late to the party!

Matt Barton wrote:

8. King's Quest

I didn't start buying Sierra games until roughly King's Quest II was out. I never really got into them for obvious reasons, though I'd try again and again. I think the one that I played the most was King's Quest V. Brutal games of course in comparison to the friendlier LucasArts games.

Matt Barton wrote:

10. Myst

This was another one I got into early on (though on the PC, not the Mac original), but never liked it. I could never understand the fuss. I've since acquired umpteen versions (Atari Jaguar, etc.) and tried again and again to get into it and just wasn't able to.

Matt Barton wrote:

12. Eye of the Beholder

Never got around to playing this until the GBA version, which actually made it a bit like the Gold Box games combat-wise.

Matt Barton wrote:

15. Civilization

I remember all the fuss about this back when I worked at Electronics Boutique, but I never jumped on board until a little after when I couldn't resist any longer. After figuring it out (it's not an easy game to first get into it), it was a life changing (videogame-wise) experience!

Matt Barton wrote:

17. Descent

This was another one I got into early on and I remember thinking it was cool, but I was not a big fan of the controls or how easy it was to get disoriented.

Matt Barton wrote:

18. X-com

I actually got the PS1 version when it first game because it was mismarked at a Wiz store. I got it for the mismarked price even though they realized it. It actually was one of the few games that used the PS1's mouse, which I had. I never did get into the game, though.

Matt Barton wrote:

19. Bane of the Cosmic Forge

This was one I bought back in the day (though not in its prime) and I just never got into. I recently did get my hands on the Amiga version boxed, and I do have the Wizardry compilation (several) for the PC. I definitely want to give it a go. Actually, that's another one I should add to the list. It would have been AWESOME to be there for the first Wizardry game. That must have been rather special considering all the fuss made about it. I remember wanting there to be a C-64 version for the longest time, but by the time they converted the Wizardry games to the C-64, I was into other RPGs.

Matt Barton wrote:

20. Alone in the Dark

Happy to say I got into this from the start on my modest 386 SX-20, which it ran well on. Definitely state-of-the-art for the time and definitely scary.

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clok1966
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lists!
Matt Barton wrote:

I'm with Bill on the Ultima series. I totally missed all of them, and of course they're some of the most famous Western CRPGs ever. Here's my top twenty, in no particular order.

1. Ultima (1-7 especially)
2. Doom
3. Dungeon Master
4. Wasteland
5. Ultima Underworld
6. Might and Magic (World of Xeen especially)
7. Secret of Monkey Island
8. King's Quest
9. Ultima Online
10. Myst
11. Zork
12. Eye of the Beholder
13. Lands of Lore
14. Black Cauldron
15. Civilization
16. Dune 2
17. Descent
18. X-com
19. Bane of the Cosmic Forge
20. Alone in the Dark

I was lucky i guess, i played all of them when released (though some of the early ones where released on other platforms before I got to play them (dungeon Master and the early Ultimas)) all except Civ and Black Cauldron.. I never was the fan most are, I liked it but not that much I guess.In fact all but hte early Ultimas came out when I owned my own Computer. the early Ultimas I, II, III where all played on my friends fathers XT (as well as loadrunner! hours of that too). I would swap Bane to Dark Savant (wizardry) but I have a soft spot for Dark Savant and recently installed it again and stated the frustrations of keeping alive to build a bit to get the game in full swing.

I may have mentioned this before ALONE IN THE DARK i had a "sample" copy ( it was release in eroupe before US by a few months i beleive?) months befoer it came out. The local PC game store in the mall had a few freinds who worked there. We installed it on the demo machine and had people asking what game it was "comming soon" was our reply. We sorta forgot it installed and left i demo'ing till next day.. Store owner was none to happy... not becuase we had pirate software, but because we where demoing stuff they couldnt sell. My how times have changed.. store would be close and everybody canned nowdays.

I think i would swap a few games.. Dungeon Master was awsome, wont take anything from it, but I thought Black Crypt on the amiga was a better game (its a clone of it done by RAVEN software ( i believe it was there first game).. the guys who did Hexen, the Star Wars Jedi Knight games, and a ton of console games.) Cool note, you can download a PC demo of it on Ravens website!
Wasteland is awsome too, but I might put Fallout above it as its the 'same" game but better representation.. unless fallout is to new.

Decent was never my cup of tea.. Iloved the true 3D of it.. but as bill mentions it was touhg to keep eyes in all directions.. (and far to easy to hole up in a corner to put hte game on a flat plane again to make it easy.. ) when the egein was moved to space it was a better game (freespace).

Speaking of space, I would remove Myst, Kings Quest, or somthing else to add Wing Commmander (at least in my list) and An early wizardry would be on mine too :)

great list.. love to see DUNE II on it.. that game is all but forgotten after Warcraft copied it..

Chris Kennedy
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First...Matt's list

This topic is awesome, and I am late to the party as usual

Matt Barton wrote:

1. Ultima (1-7 especially)

Have yet to play an Ultima game aside from loading it up on something (like an emulator). It is really quick shocking. There are so many games out there that you think you *have* to play otherwise you will get your gamer card revoked. This would be a series that I missed.

Quote:

2. Doom

I started with Wolfenstein 3-D on the fps front. I thought it was amazing. I remember playing the beta of DOOM in a computer store here in Houston. That blew me out of the water. It was like Wolfenstein with added spook factor - the fact you could have some areas that were darker than others really helped. Add that to wavetable sound for the background music, and...my goodness.

I...must admit that I acquired the full game in a shameful way. I downloaded it - the whole thing - from a BBS over a 2400 baud modem. I'm not kidding.

I played through DOOM recently - Played through the original DOOM with the added 4th episode. It was fun to go through it again, but it didn't feel at all like it did in 1993.

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7. Secret of Monkey Island

Ahh! My sleeper favorite game of all time. Picked it up in an Creative Labs "Edutainment" CD kit that came with the brand new Sound Blaster 16, a caddy-loading 1X CD-ROM drive, and a set of education and entertainment-based software. This was ...1992? 1993?

It wasn't right when The Secret of Monkey Island came out, but it was significant because it had red book audio for the soundtrack. That *really* added a lot to the feel of the game. That music really made it.

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8. King's Quest

Ahh man. I'll admit that I wasn't there at the start. I think Perils of Rosella (KQ4) had just come out when I first played the original King's Quest. You've seen some of my recent blogging on playing through the game again. It's still fun, but not like it was seeing a graphical adventure game for the first time (I want to say it was probably 1987 for me)

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10. Myst

Didn't get it. Friend got it. I saw it...and thought it sucked. I will probably play through it someday now that I am older, but I figured that I didn't need FMV Adventure when I had Sierra and Lucasarts for adventure games at the time.

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11. Zork

Agreed. I have Zork I, II, and III for the C64. Need to play through them someday, but it won't be the same as playing them when they first came out.

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12. Eye of the Beholder

Picked it up on Sega CD of all things about 10 years ago. Still haven't played it.

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15. Civilization

I was always a Simcity guy. Friend of mine played Civ to death...but I never tried it.

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17. Descent

I played the shareware at the time (1996?) and thought it was overrated. Play control really important for that one.

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20. Alone in the Dark

Saw it in a computer store around its release - Wanted it badly at the time. Never played it. Now own it on 3DO and probably have a PC version somewhere. Ahh man. Not going to be the same as playing it at the beginning.

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Didn't write a list of my own just yet. Felt compelled to just respond to your list Matt. Thanks for the topic.

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