Gaming as comfort food

We’re stuck inside; let’s have a good time

Look, let’s not beat around the bush; everything’s a bit crap at the moment. There’s only one consolation to being stuck indoors – that’s where all the video games are.

We all play old video games. That’s kind of the point of Retronauts. That’s what the “Retro” bit means. Don’t ask me about the “‘Nauts”, Jeremy won’t return my calls. Anyway, we play those games for myriad reasons. Historical interest, for one. The fact that they’re genuinely good is a compelling motivation, too. But we can’t ignore that simple cliché that it’s just nice to revisit the games of our youth and have a good old nostalgia binge.

Now, normally, I can’t stand the “nostalgia” tag. It’s a lazy way to dismiss old video games as nothing more than an excuse to indulge one’s inner child, and something I feel is inherently dismissive of the craft that went into these titles. It’s a perspective that delegitimises them as viable modern entertainment and – in my admittedly sensational opinion – severely damages gaming discourse. That said, there’s a time for arguing the toss over my increasingly narrow views and this certainly isn’t it. Now’s the time to go “yes, you’re right, raspberrypi66, nostalgia is the main reason anyone likes old games. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am diving head-first into them because it makes me happy”.

Yes, in the shadow of these truly terrible times, you can be absolutely forgiven for playing Super Mario Bros. 3 again. Sure, you may have beaten it six thousand times, but hey, if it puts a smile on your face and distracts you from the carnage for even a couple of hours, what’s the harm? I myself have plugged in my Mega Drive Mini and blitzed through the joyous puzzle-platforming pachyderm-’em-up Rolo to the Rescue. Fact: I’ve played Rolo to the Rescue since I was about seven years old. Additional fact: It doesn’t matter. Maybe next I’ll play Castle of Illusion on Master System again, a title I could almost certainly beat while blindfolded. It’s all good. Possibly even in the hood.

Sure, you may have a massive backlog that you’re entirely ignoring. But why slog through Doom Eternal, Resident Evil 3 and Final Fantasy VII Remake when you could be taking another crack at Link to the Past, hmm? If there was ever a perfect moment to embrace video gaming as nostalgic escapism, this really is it. Or maybe you don’t want to. Maybe Square Enix’s new take on Cloud and his wacky pals is exactly what you need right now. Don’t forget to do every single side-quest. After all, you can’t go outdoors in real life, so you should make as much of Midgar as you possibly can. Mmm, you can just smell that thick Mako smog.

Just soak it up, pals. Plug in your Super NES, stick some batteries in that original Game Boy. A few more in your Lynx, if you’ve got one. Borrow a forklift and get the original Xbox out of mothballs. If you want to revisit those glory days of Crash Bandicoot 2, nobody will judge you. Want to grind out the Crissaegrim again? Hell, why not? Some of us have been self-isolating for years already. We’re well practiced.

Stay inside, pick up your Mad Catz turbo controller, and try to learn Sub-Zero’s second fatality (Back, Back, Down, Back, Run, FYI). We’re not going anywhere, so stay safe and have fun. I… I love you all, very much. (Sniff)

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