//Game Expression: Nostalgia

Game Expression: Nostalgia

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Matthew Maravilla

A game designer/developer who's only trying to make sense of all of the things he's doing through writing about those things or just plain doing them.

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If any of you guys never knew, I’m a huge fan of rhythm and music games. In fact, my first ever Indie Game Thing was on a little schmup called “Symphony”, a game that takes your music and turns it against you, throwing waves of enemies at you based on the songs that are playing.

If we were to go way back to 2002, I received my first game console, the Playstation 2. With it came a little game called Dance Dance Revolution. Granted, before getting said Playstation 2, I did play a lot of Playstation ranging from classics like Spyro: Ripto’s Rage to Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater at the time, but I never really owned a game console. That changed when my parents saw friends of mine playing Dance Dance Revolution on the Playstation 2 in the fall of 2002. Yeah, they saw it as a way of losing weight as do a lot of people.

Stepmania is basically Dance Dance Revolution, except it’s free and for your computer. However, you’re going to have to find songs to play yourself. I can’t play Dance Dance Revolution anymore, because I destroyed my mats last semester due to heavy use, so I’ve switched to Stepmania!

The question remains, however: why do I still keep playing Stepmania? The same question can be answered by looking at 30-year-old Nintendo fans. Because games you played first will always feel like the best games you will ever play. Dance Dance Revolution Max will always be my quintessential rhythm game in the same way that anyone who started their gaming careers with the Nintendo Entertainment System will say that Super Mario will always have the best controls and that any game like it will always be inferior.

Stepmania brings me back to happy times. I was still in elementary school. I had a new video game console. Dance Dance Revolution also served as an excuse to play video games instead of doing homework because it also acted as a workout machine.

If you look at a lot of the games coming out today, a lot of them follow a trend of trying to take that game feel from the best games that came out before them. Great examples of this are the Modern Warfare series and indie greats like Super Meat Boy. It’s a common video game publishing practice. Why change what isn’t broken?

Think back to the first time you played any game. You had fun, right? Playing said game didn’t make you feel bad. Sure, the game you were playing could have been difficult or frustrating but you couldn’t stop yourself from trying to beat the damned thing. For a lot of game developers, we’re inspired by our favorite games. When I started out, I wanted to make the next Final Fantasy game when I was in middle school, specifically Final Fantasy 15 (of course, that isn’t going to happen).

Maybe that’s why I still play Stepmania all the time. Dance Dance Revolution has such a history on me as a gamer that even though I’ve moved on to other games, I can’t stop myself from thinking about that one rhythm game that got me started on music as a whole. From that feeling you get when you hear a song you like to that emotion you get when you’re told how amazing you are at pressing arrows at the beat of a song, it feels amazing. I don’t remember any other game before Dance Dance Revolution Max that made me feel good about dancing or anything at all, for that matter.

I’m sure we all have that special game we can’t ever forget playing. Sure, a lot of us have probably moved on to other greater games but to us, nothing beats our first games.

Game Expressions is a feature where I try to make sense of why we play games the way we do. Of course, this is my opinion and my opinion only, so if you have your own theories, feel free to contact me! I’d love to hear what you guys have to say.

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A game designer/developer who's only trying to make sense of all of the things he's doing through writing about those things or just plain doing them.