By Harry Rabinowitz
The holidays make me nostalgic. They also make me a bit furious because I’m in Los Angeles and don’t have a car and miss New York and have jury duty…but mostly, they make me nostalgic. My room looks the same as it did when I was 15, the only difference being that there’s a bunch of miscellaneous stuff everywhere. It’s become a storage space for things that matter a bit too much to throw out but not enough to take to New York. Old school supplies, old work, boxes, bins, there’s definitely some LEGOs somewhere…
In all honestly, I should throw it all out. But I can’t bring myself to move, let alone get rid of, my box of Playstation games.
The Playstation was the first home console my brother and I owned. I had a Gameboy Color briefly, but the Playstation’s 3D graphics, dual-stick controllers, and disk-based games blew everything else out of the water. Best of all, the Playstation was 2-player, meaning my brother and I could graduate from taking turns to playing with and against each other. At least, that’s what I think when I look back on my childhood.
The reality is that a 6 or 7 year old me spent a lot of time on the sidelines, watching my older brother play. This is the problem with nostalgia, it twists your memories into fragments of what actually happened. Looking at this box of Playstation games, I can’t help but wonder if any of them were actually good or if nostalgia is shielding them from proper critique.
Luckily, I am not the only one examining nostalgia these days.
Chris Plante recently re-watched Gremlins, Ben Reeves’ Game of the Year is actually a game from 1995, and Double Fine began their “Devs Play” series, looking back at older titles with their developers in tow. Everyone is caught up in the holiday-nostalgia frenzy. And many are now seeing that their memories are often completely inaccurate. What Plante remembers about Gremlins is his friend’s house, snacks, and cute animatronics. He doesn’t actually remember the bulk of the movie. Similarly, I don’t remember the bulk of these Playstation games, just fleeting scenes of a couch and a boxy CRT television.
I think it’s time for a refresher, a blast from the past.
In this new series, I will be revisiting the many games of my childhood in an attempt to break through the “nostalgic haze” surrounding them. Video, commentary, and guest writers are all welcome.