How Retro Can You Go: A Discussion of Spooniness

There are some gamers who openly admit that they have no desire to play older games because they prefer the more advanced, better looking games of today.  There are others who say that gameplay is the only thing that matters, so if a game is good, no matter how old it is, they will play it.  I am usually in the latter category, but over the past year, I have realized that I, too, have a limit for how far back into the past I can go and still enjoy gaming.  I think every gamer has this limit.  Mine is the SNES, with a few exceptions.

You see, I once believed that I could play any game, despite its age, and enjoy it as long as it was a good game.  I had plenty of SNES games I loved, and one day, I thought I’d travel just a little farther back in time and download a few Virtual Console games for the NES.  These games were the original Legend of Zelda and Metroid games.  Being classic games that marked the beginning of two amazing franchises, surely I couldn’t go wrong.  Right?


I love both of these respective franchises, but as I began the original Zelda, I recall losing interest very quickly.  I know the game is old, but I didn’t enjoy the bland scenery, and some of my dismay also came from having to trek for so long through this scenery searching for any hint of what I was supposed to do.  The game just gives you no directions whatsoever.  You just start playing and…you’re probably supposed to look for dungeons, and I finally found one, and I defeated a dragon, and…then I gave up because I didn’t want to hunt for dungeons anymore.  My time with Metroid was even more short-lived.  The graphics were too simple for me, and even though I don’t recall having a lot of trouble with the game, I just…started randomly exploring, I never found a save point (are there any…?), I died a few times, had to start over, then gave up.  I can play The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Super Metroid for the SNES, but when it comes to venturing further back in time, I just can’t do it.

As I mentioned before, I can pretty much play as far back as the SNES, though there are certainly exceptions to this rule.  I found that I also have a limit as far as Final Fantasy games are concerned.  I’ve been slowly working my way back through the Final Fantasy series, and the last two games I owned that needed playing were FF4 and 5.  (I don’t own anything before that, and frankly, I’m a bit confused about the numbering of the older Final Fantasy games.)  I recently beat FF4, and as of writing this, I have been playing FF5 for about a week now.  Both are SNES games, but for some reason, I couldn’t get into FF4, even though I’m having a lot of fun with FF5.  And it’s not the game itself because a little bit of research online told me that FF4 was a very popular game.  People loved it.  So why didn’t I?

While I didn’t hate playing FF4 or anything, I didn’t have tons of fun with it, either.  I think the problem is that, like the original Zelda and Metroid games, it’s just a bit too old and too simple for me to get into, and as a result, I just never really connected with any of them.  But, in case you’re not familiar with this game, why don’t I provide a quick overview, and you can decide for yourself if you want to give it a try.  Final Fantasy 4 is about Cecil, a dark knight who served a kingdom that was forcibly stealing the crystals (they’re very important, but I forgot why) from other kingdoms to use for their own evil purposes.  Cecil leaves his kingdom and goes on a quest not only to put a stop to this, but to redeem himself from his own wrongdoings.

Another aspect worth mentioning is that this game doesn’t let you choose your party members like later games in the series, but I thought it was rather interesting having an ever-changing party to work with as new people joined Cecil on his quest and old comrades left.  Some characters leave and return to your group later on, while your time with others is very short-lived.  For example, Edward.  (Remember the infamous line, “you spoony bard”?  Well, that’s him.  Can’t say he was spoonier than anyone else, though….)  This, well, rather spoony guy was in your party for a pretty short time, and once he’s gone, he never rejoins you.  Yes, he wasn’t a very good character and everyone pretty much says he is useless, but his temporary inclusion in your group just felt kind of pointless to me.  I, for one, have never met someone spoony before, and I would have liked to get to know him better.  The spoony aspect of his personality, anyway.  …Okay, I’ll stop now.

The game has some interesting plot twists, and there are some unexpected locations…or, to be more precise, some unexpected worlds that you visit which makes things more entertaining.  The battle system is pretty simple, and every character has their own role.  Sometimes you have multiple characters with similar abilities, but on the most part, everyone has their own move set and their own uses.  By the end of the game, you have a ninja, a summoner, and a white mage, for example, among others.  Of course, as I discussed in another post I wrote for UWG, I still failed to make proper use of my characters because I am generally not very good at venturing beyond the basics of RPGs.  Nevertheless, I still did pretty well, and in addition to obtaining optional summons like Leviathan, Asura, Odin, and Bahamut, I also defeated every optional boss in the final location of the game, including the dreaded Wyvern.  So maybe I’m not as cruddy as I thought.

Final Fantasy 4 is a good game.  I just didn’t get very attached to the main characters.  Honestly, I didn’t care that much about Cecil, even if his desire to redeem himself is an honorable one.  I also didn’t find myself particularly enthralled by the game’s story and our heroes’ efforts to prevent the crystals from being stolen by the game’s villains.  It was probably a great story at the time, but I guess nowadays, I’ve played RPGs with more complex, exciting stories that this one didn’t really interest me.  I think, for me, this game is just a bit too old.  That doesn’t make it bad.  The original Zelda game is certainly not bad.  They’ve just aged a bit too much, and they don’t appeal to me.  Ah, well.

What is your limit?  How far back can you venture into the gaming past before you lose interest?  Also, who here is spoony or knows someone who is spoony?  Please let me know in the comments!

A Spoony Duck

This article was originally published on United We Game on October 11, 2016.

15 thoughts on “How Retro Can You Go: A Discussion of Spooniness

    1. It’s certainly gotten rather difficult to play old games nowadays. I’m lucky that many retro video games can be downloaded on current consoles for pretty cheap, but some games are nearly impossible to get. Illusion of Gaia is an awesome game I really enjoyed from 1993 that I’d love to play again, but my Super Nintendo is acting up (no wonder, that poor machine is over 20 years old), and it’s not available to download because it wasn’t popular ebough. ‘Tis a shame when we lose access to some of our favorite games.


  1. I hear you. I have to say, though, I have a newfound respect for older games, because big bad Athena and her fancy new(ish) console games thought she’d be able to breeze through some of those old NES games… and I promptly had my little gaming behind handed to me faster than in any new game I’ve played recently (glares at Demon Soul’s still mocking me from the to-play pile). While some of what you said I think relates to the fact that gaming was still new and developers were trying to discover what worked, I think the games were also designed to be “more challenging” than some of today’s games are. For instance, Legend of Zelda – while enormous and at time confusing to traverse – was trying to capture the feeling of spending hours outside exploring by making the players wander around in-game, exploring.

    I wonder if we as gamers have gotten used to a certain amount of hand-holding in games as devs try to make their games accessible to less-experienced players?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I definitely enjoy a lot of older games. Many times lately, I’ve been returning to retro games because there aren’t a lot of current games that interest me. Nevertheless, I have been finding that certain older games don’t appeal to me, either, partly because they are indeed far more difficult than today’s games. I definitely think that today’s games are easier and tell the player too much (do we really need a tutorial on even the most basic of controls?), but there are many retro games that are too tough and tell us too little about what’s going on. I think the retro games I enjoy most are the ones with the right balance.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Absolutely! A good balance of accessibility and difficulty is what’s most important, and some of those early games were just difficult and confusing. Likewise, some new games can be incredibly easy, almost insultingly so at times; balance is key 🙂

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  2. For the most part, I’m only able to go back to the SNES era too. Any further and I start getting bored quickly. I think it’s due to how games were back then. They don’t explain much, and many rely on the trial-and-error style of difficulty, which I find annoying. It’s understandable that they’re like that, it was the best way to extend a game’s life after all. A lot of them were still taking heavy inspiration from arcade gaming too; games which were built around the idea of overwhelming the player eventually.

    There are games I just won’t play because of the graphical quality though. I don’t think I could play anything from the Sega Master system, or indeed anything from the Atari/Intellivision era.


    1. Yeah, games were different back then in more ways than just the graphics, and they were just set up in a way I didn’t find fun. Oftentimes, they also didn’t have save points, which took a lot of the fun out of it for me. I never played arcade games, and I don’t think it’s something I would have enjoyed had that been my only option growing up.

      I usually can play most decent games even if the graphics aren’t good, but I’ve noticed that the better graphics get with current consoles, and the more I get used to these graphics, the more trouble I have accepting older graphics. It’s like how for me, the Ratchet and Clank games looked great on the PS2 until I played the PS3 games. And then, I thought the PS3 games looked amazing until I played the remake on the PS4. Now any games that came before don’t look so perfect anymore.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m definitely a fan of old games, but I take your point about how some of the obscurity of older games can be off-putting. I am currently playing back through The Legend of Zelda for NES again, and because I played it so much growing up and know where to go, I enjoy it. I was too young then to actually remember how difficult and miserable finding out how to traverse these games was pre-internet. I might try out Metroid for NES and see if I agree with you. I’ve never tried that one.

    FFIV is one of my personal favourites, but I can understand why you don’t like Cecil very much. He was probably one of my least favourite characters in the game, and I found myself loving Rydia and Rosa, as well as Tellah. It’s a pretty generic storyline, but it’s certainly not for everyone. I hope you can find some semblance of joy in games that formed the foundation of these large franchises if you’re planning to continue your quest in playing some of them!


    1. I’ve since tried playing the original Zelda again, and after a couple hours of wandering (I did find some dungeons, but two were way above my skill level), I was reminded why I quit the game a year ago. Those dungeons are hidden surprisingly well. Right now, I refuse to look up help online, though I may end up giving in eventually.

      I think Rydia and Tellah were my favorite characters in FFIV. The game was perfectly fine, but I never formed a connection with it. I’m having a lot of fun with FFV, though. I really like experimenting with the job system. ‘Tis good times. With the Lance ability and some White or Black magic, I’m nearly unstoppable!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. If you wouldn’t consider it cheating, the game did come with a map. You could always consult that online because it’s pretty helpful! It won’t tell you any more than what it told people who bought it when it was brand new! I have my map and it’s full of reminders from things I stumbled upon in my youth.

        FFV is on my list to tackle soon, so I’m glad to hear that it’s good! If it makes you feel any better, I don’t feel like I connected much with Chrono Trigger when I played it a few years ago either. People raved on about how good it was, and I just thought it was meh.


      2. Ah, that’s a good point. Perhaps I should indeed look up a map sometime and give the game another go. I’m sure that would help a lot. It would be nice to say I completed the original Zelda game.

        That’s quite interesting. I played Chrono Trigger a few years ago, too, and despite what everyone said about it, I didn’t really care tons about the game. It was a fine game, but not one I’d really want to play again. I actually bought a bunch of old Squaresoft games on the PS1 (or SNES remakes on the PS1) a few years ago, FF4-6, FF8 and 9 (I already had FF7) and Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross. My top favorites out of that bunch were probably FF6, FF9, and FF5, in that order.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I personally go back as far as the NES and won’t touch anythig before then apart from Arcade versions of games.

    I can’t stand the noise the Atari and Colecovisions made.

    With regards to Final Fantasy, i played 1, 2 and then 6. Went back to 4 and found it totally unplayable, the controls and lack of features annoyed me too much. I gave up around the time Cecil switches class. So I know 4 will be better than 1 and 2 I just couldn’t stand losing some core features from 6.


    1. While I did manage to get through Final Fantasy 4 and 5, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to play them again. I think FF6 is as far back as I can go. I just remember it being more fun, and the story and characters were more interesting. I originally wanted to try FF1-3, but I think I’ll pass at this point. I’ve reached my limits in terms of how far back I can go in the series.

      Liked by 1 person

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