Atelier Clockwork

Nostalgia VS Time

What Makes Improvements Disappointing?

I find it interesting how the ability to sand the edges off of old memories shapes our perception of new iterations on old experiences. Video games are one of the places where this is most obvious to me so that’s the domain I’ll be talking about here, but the same trends apply broadly to pretty much everything, though more complexity tends to lead to more points for nostalgia to act in.

Part of what made me start thinking about this subject is how much gaming is cycling back to old properties and concepts, sometimes in interesting new ways like Shovel Knight and sometimes with remakes of older games like the recently announced Final Fantasy 7 Remake.

The Final Fantasy 7 remake is of particular interest because while I remember the game very fondly, saying the original game lacked polish is a bit of an understatement. There were set-pieces in the game which were absolutely amazing at the time, and a lot of things that were great in the game. There also were a lot of things which were not great at the time, and elements of the game which have not have aged well. This creates something of a no-win scenario, if you fix the problems it’s “not the same” and if you leave the problems it’s “dated.”

I brought up Shovel Knight because it’s a much more interesting use of nostalgia. It emulates, incredibly well, a lot of the fondly remembered aspects of 8-Bit games, but because it’s a new franchise there’s none of the problems with not feeling like the older entries in the series, or original version.