Is anyone else ever nostalgic for bad graphics?

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Gleebergloben123
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Re: Is anyone else ever nostalgic for bad graphics?

Postby Gleebergloben123 » November 22nd, 2019, 1:23 pm

ActRaiser wrote:That's one swell looking game. Frankly, it could pass for an early Jaguar or 3DO game. :)


I Robot was cool. And the back story is pretty interesting. Long story short, a revolutionary game that was way way ahead of its time and people didn't know what to make of it. It was created by Dave Theurer from Atari, the same guy who made Missile Command and Tempest. Only like 1000 machines were made, and most of them never made it to the arcade.

In June, I tried I, Robot at Pinball PA (an arcade in western Pennsylvania that I've brought up here a million times, https://www.pinballpa.com/) and its controls take a lot of getting used to. I only tried it a couple times, but I need to give it another go next time I'm in town.

And sorry, getting back to games with bad graphics, great topic. What I find fascinating is games that do have bad graphics but are a blast to play. For the 2600, Adventure and Combat come to mind, along with Snafu for the INTV. Meh graphics but just a lot of fun.

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noah98
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Re: Is anyone else ever nostalgic for bad graphics?

Postby noah98 » November 22nd, 2019, 3:25 pm

VideoGameCritic wrote:It's not really "bad" graphics. It's the bright, vibrant "arcade" graphics I miss. Think Hydro Thunder or even Sonic Adventure.

Today's realistic games seem so dull and boring.


Old Sega seemed to nail that aesthetic. I was blown away when I first saw demo units of the Dreamcast before launch. Hydro Thunder, Sonic Adventure, and Powerstone all looked so vibrant, and not the muddy brown that I was accustomed to with PS1 games. I immediately had to have one on 9/9/99!

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Matchstick
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Re: Is anyone else ever nostalgic for bad graphics?

Postby Matchstick » November 22nd, 2019, 6:54 pm

This has been kind of a tough topic to respond to, and I've been thinking over my reply for a few days now. While I think I get the idea behind TPG's original post, I don't automatically think of older games as having "bad" graphics, even ones that haven't aged all that well. For me, it's pretty easy to put myself in the mindset of someone playing the game when it was new (as, in many cases, I am replaying older games from my youth) and view it as a product of its time, faults and all.

That being said, I can think of a few examples, mostly from the early polygon era on 32-bit consoles. The main thing that threw me off of a lot of early 3D games were the models, themselves, particularly the ones for human characters. Proportions were often out of whack, and many animations were done by hand, giving characters an unnatural movement. Not that this made for bad games, just some strange-looking visuals.

The original Tekken comes to mind first. That OG GunJack model... eeeek!

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Cutscene graphics weren't much better, either.

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It's incredible how much of a better job Namco's modelers did between the first game and the second. The game still plays well today, though, and at the time, I wasn't knocking it. Once Tekken 2 and 3 hit, though, well... different story!

TPG also mentioned the garish color clash of some games. One game came to mind right off the bat - Assault Rigs!

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Again, fun game, but yeesh, they were definitely reaching for that Tron look. Not sure if they got it or not.

Robotron 64 had some trippy, low-poly visuals, and a ravin' soundtrack to match. Fun game!

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I also liked Tetrisphere. Some of those color choices, though...

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And one more for the N64 pile, Paperboy. Hmmm... come to think of it, this was a pretty bad game...

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The visual style from a bygone era I miss the most is, by far, pre-rendered graphics. I was huge on adventure games back in the day, and titles like Myst, D, and Blade Runner blew me away with their fully "3D" worlds. I think the original Resident Evil captures this look well, too, along with its sequels. I'm not the biggest fan of the Donkey Kong Country games, but I think they still look great today, 25+ years on.

I liked the original Alone in the Dark, too. I remember reading a review of it back in the day that praised the game and graphics, but also said it kinda looked like it came straight out of the "Money For Nothing" music video. Hard to argue!

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As others have said, I, too, adore the look of early 90s DOS games. Mixing limited 3D graphics with high-resolution 2D sprites yielded some pretty impressive results back then, especially on a crisp, clean CRT monitor. While it came by a bit later, I always though the original Need for Speed really nailed this idea. The road and other cars were 3D, while the driver's view in the game featured a highly-detailed and well-animated graphic of the dashboard and steering wheel, all in high-res sprite graphics. It was a very convincing look back then, and playing the game again recently, I think it still holds up very, very well, especially given the time of its release. Some of the screenshots Stalvern posted used a similar visual style, with roughly half the screen taken up by a 2D cockpit view / instrument panel. I love it!

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And to echo many of the rest of us, yes, I will always love those big, boxy 3D arcade graphics. Hard / Race Drivin' comes to mind, as does STUN Runner. Atari really had that look figured out in the early 90s, then Sega just took off and ran with it soon after. Virtua Fighter, Virtua Cop, Star Wars Trilogy - I love 'em all!

Love the Dreamcast for the same reason, as many of the games were arcade ports and featured the same high-res colorful graphics of the source machines. When I bought a Dreamcast port of an arcade favorite, I knew what I was getting, and knew I was in for a treat. Was just playing the OG Soul Calibur the other night, and dear lord, I'd take it over 99% the fighting games on the market today, hands down. 20 years later and it still plays like a champ.

Fun topic, TPG. It's bringing back lots of happy memories!

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DrLitch
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Re: Is anyone else ever nostalgic for bad graphics?

Postby DrLitch » November 22nd, 2019, 8:44 pm

Matchstick wrote:I liked the original Alone in the Dark, too.


Thats the game! I was having a chat with one of my collegues a week ago and was stumbling all over my words trying to think of this one. Yeah of course. I played this on the PC but it was also on 3d0 I believe. The original survival horror.

Matchstick wrote:Love the Dreamcast for the same reason, as many of the games were arcade ports and featured the same high-res colorful graphics of the source machines. When I bought a Dreamcast port of an arcade favorite, I knew what I was getting, and knew I was in for a treat. Was just playing the OG Soul Calibur the other night, and dear lord, I'd take it over 99% the fighting games on the market today, hands down. 20 years later and it still plays like a champ.


Soul Calibur 20 years ago is far superior to the Soul Calibur released last year. The graphics to SCVI are actually worse than the old DC graphics. The dreamcast had awesome graphics and they still hold up today. Crazy thing though - I emulated on Mame Soul Calibur and the arcade graphics are far worse than the Dreamcast. Namco did one heckova job.

ThePixelatedGenocide
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Re: Is anyone else ever nostalgic for bad graphics?

Postby ThePixelatedGenocide » November 23rd, 2019, 3:10 am

Matchstick wrote:This has been kind of a tough topic to respond to, and I've been thinking over my reply for a few days now. While I think I get the idea behind TPG's original post, I don't automatically think of older games as having "bad" graphics, even ones that haven't aged all that well. For me, it's pretty easy to put myself in the mindset of someone playing the game when it was new (as, in many cases, I am replaying older games from my youth) and view it as a product of its time, faults and all.

That being said, I can think of a few examples, mostly from the early polygon era on 32-bit consoles. The main thing that threw me off of a lot of early 3D games were the models, themselves, particularly the ones for human characters. Proportions were often out of whack, and many animations were done by hand, giving characters an unnatural movement. Not that this made for bad games, just some strange-looking visuals.

The original Tekken comes to mind first.


Tekken's the perfect example of what I was going for. Apologies, for not making it clear, but it never occurred to me to think of technical limitations alone as creating bad graphics. It was more about the unfortunate developers who were struggling with those limitations.

Like, for example, G-Police features great textures and lighting and an open world city to explore at high speeds. And the only price you pay is the inability to see the skyscrapers you're flying towards before each jumpscare.

That's the kind of "I refuse to compromise my vision!" design that creates an instant time capsule of memorably bad graphics. My favorite example of these time capsules is Defender for the 2600. When the 2600 couldn't draw mountains, they called the giant pixels a cityscape instead. When the 2600 struggled with sprite flicker, someone said "Okay, but what if the laser you fired was so cool that your ship completely disappears?" You just don't see that kind of ambition any more.

Of course, not all of the bad graphics out there were the result of developers trying too hard.

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But how would I even begin to justify my love for something like Castle of Tharoggad? Technically, this is the victim of a very primitive color vector engine, but in every other way it's a cautionary tale about why art majors shouldn't be taken for granted.

Matchstick wrote:Fun topic, TPG. It's bringing back lots of happy memories!


Thank you! That was my goal when creating it.

jon
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Re: Is anyone else ever nostalgic for bad graphics?

Postby jon » November 23rd, 2019, 10:19 am

Seeing these early to mid 90’s dos games makes my knees weak. I can’t believe that’s part of this conversation. Dos games were as much a part of my video games that any console in those days. I think there’s a lot of games that the VGC would like. It’s really hard to find a site on the internet with comprehensive retrospective reviews on these 90’s dos games other than a paragraph here and there

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Stalvern
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Re: Is anyone else ever nostalgic for bad graphics?

Postby Stalvern » November 23rd, 2019, 10:58 am

jon wrote:Seeing these early to mid 90’s dos games makes my knees weak. I can’t believe that’s part of this conversation. Dos games were as much a part of my video games that any console in those days. I think there’s a lot of games that the VGC would like. It’s really hard to find a site on the internet with comprehensive retrospective reviews on these 90’s dos games other than a paragraph here and there

Abandonia.

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Stalvern
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Re: Is anyone else ever nostalgic for bad graphics?

Postby Stalvern » November 23rd, 2019, 2:23 pm

ThePixelatedGenocide wrote:Apologies, for not making it clear, but it never occurred to me to think of technical limitations alone as creating bad graphics.

I don't think of it that way either, but it seemed like your post about texture warping, low poly counts, and system differences was using "bad" as a shorthand for those limitations. I have some other examples a lot more in line with what you were going for.

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I'm a big fan of Paul Norman's Forbidden Forest and Beyond the Forbidden Forest on the C64. Norman was a programmer first and an artist... probably twenty-third. For Forbidden Forest, he came up with a moderately impressive parallax effect, then plastered it with his garbled attempts at graphics until it turned into a game. Beyond the Forbidden Forest refined it by replacing the first game's solid-colored blobs with actual tiles, which look like garbage. But it's because these games are so ugly that they're so effective – they're genuinely spooky in a way that just wouldn't work with clearer, more definite graphics. Everything blends into everything else and is only really distinguishable through the parallax motion; it mimics the limited visibility of night, the uncertainty that can make it frightening, surprisingly well. And the monsters you fight are as butt-ugly as they deserve to be, blocky as a brick wall and animated with the grace of a seizure. Best of all, your attacks are accompanied with gory spouts of monster blood, and if the monsters get you, they show off individual "fatalities" nearly a decade before Mortal Kombat. It's a blast.

I included screenshots for convenience, but these games really have to be seen in motion to be appreciated. Someone put together a nice highlight reel of the monsters' attacks, but the sound is weird and tinny; I recommend watching (and hearing) the other footage first to get a better sense of the atmosphere.

Incidentally, there is a much later game that creates a similar effect in its presentation of a monster-filled forest, although it is far less beloved: Virtual Hydlide.

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I also like the strange visuals of French sci-fi adventure games on the Atari ST. French sci-fi is fascinatingly odd in the first place (Fantastic Planet, Moebius comics), and filtered through the ST's limited palette, it gets even weirder. These games have the opposite issue from the Forbidden Forest duo – the artists knew how to draw, but they couldn't figure out how to put their art on the ST. It's shoehorned into 16 colors without any balance or smoothness, coming out in a grainy, muddy mess:

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It's gross, but being so rough makes it kinda badass. It reminds me of my favorite Voïvod album cover – elaborately rendered, devoid of technical finesse, and more compelling in its own way than slick professionalism:

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goldenband
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Re: Is anyone else ever nostalgic for bad graphics?

Postby goldenband » November 23rd, 2019, 3:19 pm

ThePixelatedGenocide wrote:But how would I even begin to justify my love for something like Castle of Tharoggad? Technically, this is the victim of a very primitive color vector engine, but in every other way it's a cautionary tale about why art majors shouldn't be taken for granted.

That's completely nuts -- I just had a dream about Dungeons of Daggorath last night, had completely forgotten it, and opened this thread not long after waking up and saw your screenshot from Tharoggad. What a freaky coincidence! :shock:

Did you ever beat Tharoggad? I own a cart but have only ever played it a little bit. The CRPG Addict got to what seemed to be the end of the game, but couldn't figure out how to win.

LoganRuckman
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Re: Is anyone else ever nostalgic for bad graphics?

Postby LoganRuckman » November 24th, 2019, 1:06 pm

This is the perfect thread to post the new Tesla Cybertruck. I love the aesthetic of it, and it really does look like '90s 3D graphics.
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