When talking about some of the worst decades of the twentieth century in terms of pop culture, many people often look towards the ’90s. On top of the overzealous attitude of the decade, where everything was branded as extreme, the ’90s brought many things that people may look back at as stains in the history of our pop culture. Yet a certain area of ’90s culture gets an especially bad rap compared to the rest: video games. Ask any casual modern gamer about video games from the ’90s and they might just faint from the thought of the heavily-pixelated characters and locations, intense lagging and the utterly horrible techno soundtracks that accompanied these games.
Ask any casual modern gamer about video games from the ’90s and they might just faint from the thought of the heavily-pixelated characters and locations, intense lagging and the utterly horrible techno soundtracks that accompanied these games.
However, the reality is that despite the negative perception that people have of these games, various video games from the ’90s established a standard of high-quality gaming that many developers try to reach and hopefully surpass now. Many of the franchises that we love today were created in the ’90s and only exist now because the first ones were well-made. “Fallout 4” would most likely not even exist were it not for the road paved by the first game, “Fallout” released in 1997. Many may argue that while this may be true, the vast majority of the games from the ’90s, although good by ’90s standards, are practically unplayable today and cannot compare to the games of today. While true for some, there are a multitude of games that by today’s standards are still good and even surpass some of those today.
Across every corner of the internet, anyone can find internet forums filled with praise for games like “DOOM,” released in 1993, or “The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall,” which was made available for purchase in 1996. These reviews, which some may accuse of being written by people who lived through the decade and enjoy reminiscing about the good old days, are devoid of nostalgia, including not only great praise but constructive criticism as well. The point is that these games to this today are still well-received by casual players from around the world. Nostalgia is not clouding anyone’s vision of the quality of these games.
The point is that these games to this today are still well-received by casual players from around the world.
Some point out games like “Tomb Raider,” released in 1996, which was critically acclaimed at the time but now mostly ridiculed for its blocky graphics and terrible mechanics, where even jumping is a challenge. While there are indeed games that have definitely not aged well, a person can’t categorize a whole era of video games as ‘garbage’ by today’s simply because of a few bad experiences they’ve had with a small selection of games. If someone were to really immerse themselves with video games from the ’90s they’d realize that not all of it is bad and can often be better than many products released today.
The ’90s were not the best for American pop culture. However, many of the video games produced back then deserve merit, not only for the giant leap they made in order to improve the industry but also as great games to play today.
Photo courtesy of the Nintendo franchise