Nostalgia: Does It Belong In the Past?

The term Nostalgia describes the yearning for something from the past, often in idolized form, and this description is perfect for those games you used to play as a child and became to idolize. The type of game where the sheer mention of the game title can bring a lengthy conversation about the games you played back in the day.

But, the question I find myself asking is Nostalgia always a good thing, or should it belong in the past itself?

The reason I find myself asking this question is because me and my friends were discussing about games we played in our childhood, with the typical titles like Sonic, Mario, Zelda, Streets of Rage, and Street Fighter making the grade. Bringing up the notion that they don’t make games like they used to, but this brought up the thought of times change, and games moved on with the times. By this statement I do not mean in regards to technology, but in the sense of consumers needs. As, in my childhood the idea of playing games was seen by many as a child’s activity, but as the gaming industry has grown, so has the main age group of the gaming generation.

With this in mind, do you personally think the game you played in your childhood, would keep your interest at the level it did when you played it originally?

Personally I find that games that kept my attention in the past would no longer keep me wanting to play more, even my personal favourites. Some of which I have had the chance to revisit using the likes of the Xbox Live Arcade, ROM’s, and released of collection of classic games across the past generations of both consoles and handheld systems.

The best example I could give on a personal level is Sonic the Hedgehog. Now this game is the ultimate example of the description I gave you of Nostalgia at the beginning of this piece. Just the mention of Sonic has memories of my childhood gaming years flooding back, and the hours sat trying to complete it at a time due to the lack of the save feature, so widely used today. Although the cheat remembered off by heart by many gamers to this day (up, down, left, right, A + start together) could always be used in place of the unavailable save feature, as this was used to skip the levels.

With Nostalgia in place Sonic the Hedgehog was this first purchase I made off of the Xbox Live Arcade. With the thought in mind that as soon as I got it the current 360 titles I owned would be put aside until I finished it, as I now had a classic to take their place. How wrong I was, I still have not completed Sonic the Hedgehog on my 360 to this date, even with the save feature now being available. But, that’s not where the Sonic Nostalgia ends unfortunately, I still even find myself buying the new Sonic games, just for the fact it includes Sonic the Hedgehog in the title, and that makes the Nostalgia set in. Even though I got the first Sonic title for the Xbox 360, and found it didn’t even live up to what I expected. I still found myself going out when Sonic Unleashed was released, my heart opened up to the Nostalgia, and I ended buying another game I found hugely disappointing.

With all this taken into account on how Nostalgia has effected my decision making, and each time leaving me with the a bad taste in my mouth I still find myself thinking it will always be the case with the Sonic the Hedgehog name. Meaning that even with these bad experiences I will still find myself spending money of the recent Sonic episodes recently released as announcements of the Project Needlemouse unveiling.

Don’t get me wrong, Nostalgia isn’t always the cause of bad things though. Some companies do make a good use out of Nostalgia, and make a game worthy of the ones you can remember playing as a child (unfortunately after a number of tries normally). The most recent example of this being Capcom and the ever popular fighting game Street Fighter, with the return of form for this franchise in 2009’s release of Street Fighter IV (after the disappointing Street Fighter 3 and Alpha).

Although I found myself having issues getting into the version I played as child in Street Fighter II’s re-release via the Xbox Live Arcade, the Nostalgia set in when they announced Street Fighter IV. I instantly had to have a copy of the game. So day of release I went into the game shop and left with a copy of [blippr]Street Fighter IV[/blippr], and got home from work and straight away booted up my 360. From the minute I started playing, until hours later when I turned it off I enjoyed every single second of it. Even to this day I still find myself being drawn to it, and playing it for hours when I do put it on.

So going back to my original question of ‘is Nostalgia always a good thing, or should it belong in the past itself?’, I find myself thinking although in some case it can be a good thing, that in most cases it most likely will screw you  over.

But, even with this thought on it, I believe I would still be drawn into buying something due to Nostalgia never mind how much I try not let it. Unfortunately Nostalgia is something that will always be around, even if we don’t like the decisions it can make us take, it’s not going away.


I too have very fond memories of playing the classic Sonic games on the Genesis. In fact, I still have a Genesis, along with Sonic the Hedgehog 1, 2, 3, and even Sonic Spinball. I've always wanted Sonic & Knuckles, because of the add-on feature that just blew my mind back in the day... actually it still does. My Genesis is somewhere in storage I believe, but if I had it out, I could easily and enjoyably play each one of those masterpieces... Maybe not Spinball- that game is hard as hell!