Are there games that stand the test of time? By that, I mean really old ones, that are still playable today.

My own feeling is, not many of the “old classics” would be considered playable by today’s gamers. Over at brainygamer, Michael Abbott had his students play (ahem) Ultima IV and Super Mario Brothers 3.

U4 was not well-received. The students considered the game incredibly ugly, and hard to play as well. Mario Brothers, on the other hand, was much more popular.

I can understand the “ugly” part. Graphics have advanced enormously over the years, and anyone who wasn’t around for the 8-bit/early 16-bit eras, is likely to consider such games as visually atrocious.

Hard to play…well, the earlier Ultimas were known for their “alphabet soup” command list, although most Rogue-likes today have even longer ones (49+ in ZAngbandTK, for instance). Or maybe the game had a learning curve they found difficult.

Super Mario I’m not familiar with, but I gather it’s a platformer, given the name and the fact that a controller was used to play it. Since the students seemed to have little trouble here, I’d guess that games of this type haven’t changed much over the years.

Of course, as Abbott points out, comparing a complex RPG with a simple action game is hardly fair. However, U4 is considered a classic (perhaps SMB 3 is also; I wouldn’t know), one of the greats in the genre.

Even so, it appears the game doesn’t have staying power; modern players find it both visually unappealing and hard to play. Mario, on the other hand, is apparently as much fun for today’s gamers as it was for an earlier generation.

After giving this some thought, I concluded that the simpler the game’s mechanics, the more likely it is to be playable years in the future. Simple, not necessarily easy. Consider, for instance, Arkanoid. That’s just knocking out bricks with a ball and paddle, and all you need do is move the mouse back and forth. But the game becomes tougher with each level.

We could say the same for Doom. Graphically, it may be “old hat”, but the visceral thrills of the first-person shooter are still there. And it takes only a couple of minutes to learn the controls.

So in regard to “modern gamers”, the more action-oriented products are likeliest to “stand the test of time”. But what about us (we?) veteran gamers?

Are there oldies we still enjoy playing, even after all these years? Or have we become spoiled by more recent games?

Evergreen Games