Nostalgia, you bastard of bastards. You’re always out there, hermit-crabbing about in the smell of old perfume or the jingle of that ad that used to play just before MacGyver got creative with pudding spoons and twine.
And this is a good year for nostalgia, which for me bites hardest in game form. For one, Wasteland is making a comeback, which is such stupendous news I may actually start to consider religion. But it’s not just Wasteland. It’s also Shadowrun. And Space Quest. And Leisure Suit Larry. And…
A good year for nostalgia is a terrible, terrible year for my bank account. I blame Kickstarter, and I do so with the tragic tears of happiness corroding my cheap sunglasses (which I’m wearing inside to hide the tragic tears of happiness). Because it’s about time somebody saved me from the heartache of trying to regain the joy I found in these games all those years ago.
As it happens, I’m occasionally overtaken by a desperate desire to experience these games anew – and, thanks to my innate ability to forget the fuck out of anything I last did more than a week back, I can actually do this with something approaching a fresh eye.
But it’s almost always a disappointment. When I first played Might and Magic I felt I was uncovering a living, breathing world. I thought there was some kind of magic happening back there, behind the scenes, in the damn wings. I sometimes get an uncontrollable urge to boot that old game up again, and so it happens that I lose two or three perfectly serviceable hours to the misery of the unattainable expectation.
Another game I’m prone to revisiting in this way is Leisure Suit Larry. Back when I was that most very horrific of things, a child, Leisure Suit Larry wasn’t so much a game as a symbol of the naughty fun to which only adults, those lucky dogs, were privy.
I’d spend hours trying to break the damn thing’s adult lock, only to wander back and forth getting slaughtered owing to my inability to type faster than a pigeon with whiplash. And that forbidden alleyway; I really believed it’d one day be open to me, in all its piss-stained glory.
But none of that mattered. I was doing adult things. There, just behind that door, was something mysterious and calamitously cool. I could feel it. Stupid kid.
Now I play that old tease of a game and I can hardly make it past the opening screen. The harder I try to regain that sense of getting lost, the further away it is. It’s not the game, it’s me. I’ve changed. I still harbour the escapist tendencies of felon serving a life sentence, but I’m harder to fool. Maybe I need a lobotomy.
This is why I’m so thrilled by these reboots and long-lost sequels. I throw my money and blessings upon them! They’re bringing back a few slices of the only thing that made all those kid years a bearable proposal. I ask only one thing: give me more of the same, yes. More of the same, but better.
Better times a bloody billion.