Retro Games, and Old Ways That Died For a Reason

Nostalgia can be a hell of a drug.

I grew up playing old DOS games, and the occasional console game at a friend's house. I was primarily a PC gamer during my formative years (still am), and while I was growing up, games were growing up as well. There were some very awkward years for video games, with developers and players both trying to work out what was a good idea, and what wasn't.

Now, we live in a golden age of retro-inspired games, often crowd-funded by gamers who remember games from their youth fondly. The best of these take inspiration from the original, but design with modern gamers in mind. Some of them, however, take bad or awkward decisions that were made either due to technical limitations, or when we didn't know any better, and make them again.

Here are some of those bad ideas.

Wasteland 2

I never played the original Wasteland, but I love the XCOM style of game, and I love post-apocalyptic aesthetics, so this was an easy sell for me. Unfortunately, while the meat of the game, the turn-based combat, is fine, some of the surrounding systems are hot garbage.

The skill system is obtuse, containing at least six different skills that are essentially content-gates. If you have lockpick high enough, you can get though this door, otherwise, nope, or the long way around. If you have safe cracking (a different skill than lockpick) high enough, you can see what's in the box, if not, nope, forever wonder what might have been. Ditto for Alarm, Computer Science, Demolitions, and Toaster Repair (???). So, finding out you didn't invest in the thing that will allow you to access content feels pretty bad.

Additionally, you are rewarded for specializing your character, and punished for going with a more generalist approach, and the game doesn't tell you this. You have your main character, but also up to three additional party members who may also have these skills. You gain no benefit from having multiple characters with the skill; only the highest skill matters. This can lead to you resenting the way you built your character.

A modern game that does this well is Fallout 3. Flawed as it is, after the tutorial section, once you've gotten a handle on the game's mechanics and skills, you can reallocate ANYTHING. This is good, player friendly, and any game where you spend points while learning the game's systems should do this.

Oh, and to keep the problem train rolling, save scumming. There's no reason NOT to savescum in Wasteland 2. You see you have a 13% chance to pick a lock? Quicksave, then try again and again until you get a good roll. There's no reason not to, in order to make sure you see all possible content. That's uh, not compelling gameplay.

JRPG's in General, and FFIII in Particular

I got a hankerin' for something simple and grindy for some reason, so I grabbed FFIII for the DS. Aside from having the exact same "you are the chosen ones go save the world" plot that most of them have, it has a bunch of stuff that we mostly don't do anymore in anything but JRPG's.

Part 1, the save system. Far as I can tell, you can only save on the overworld map. So if I'm in a town, I have to leave it to save. This sucks. I understand not being able to chain-save in dungeons, that's not the worst, but inconveniencing me by not allowing me to save in town is dumb.

Part 2, random encounters. Look, random encounters are fine I guess. The problem comes when you can randomly encounter stuff far above your level, with no indication that this is going to be the case. Welcome to this town, care to explore the attached dungeon? Cool, here's monsters to one-shot you, reload your save, which is a ways back, because you can't save in town. It just feels bad when you're wrecked by something you couldn't have anticipated.

At least some games allow you to see the enemies, so you can attempt to choose whether to fight or not.

I'm Sure There's More

What are some of these that you've played? Let me know, I'm curious.

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