Written by: Stoo
Date posted: May 30, 2013
This site is all about PC games from the past. We’re of the opinion that, even if they’re not powered by the latest advanced graphics engines, many of these older games can still be a lot of fun. So we started this site to try and make something constructive out of the large portions of our lives spent gaming. Part of our discussion looks at a game’s place in history – what advances it made, how important it turned out to be, what influences it had on the development of that particular genre. However, this site isn’t purely retrospective. Rather, we also like to discuss how enjoyable we find them, right now in the present day. Thus we can give an assessment see which ones we can still waste hours on, which ones had their strengths but have maybe faded with time, and which ones just weren’t so great in the first place.
Your first question might be, what’s our definition of “old” here? Currently, we’re covering a fairly wide span. At the most recent end are games that are around five or six years old, maybe not that dated in terms of technology, and often easily found via digital distribution or on budget re-release. Meanwhile the oldest games date from around 1990, veterans of the days of MS-DOS, VGA (or earlier) graphics and Adlib sound. We don’t tend to go back much further than that – which, as with pretty much all of our decisions regarding what to review, is purely down to personal preference.
A second question might be, “are you honestly reviewing these in the same way you would new games?” Well, we should make this clear: we’re writing from a certain mindset – we’re a couple of guys who are quite aware of, and enjoy, the latest titles – but we think the older games can have their appeal too. We assume a similar perspective on the part of the reader. Ultimately, you might just plain not see the appeal in the oldies; we’re not going to try and argue that you’re wrong, waving a copy of System Shock at you while ranting about how gaming was better in the good old days.
Finally: is this all just a nostalgia trip? It’s not worth trying to entirely deny that it plays a part – if it wasn’t for fond memories of Saturday afternoons spent hunched in front of a screen playing Monkey Island, we probably wouldn’t be writing anything in the first place. So, yes, it might influence us a little sometimes; we accept this on the assumption that the hypothetical like-minded gamer probably feels the same way anyway. However we try to make sure it’s not the sole driving force behind our commentary.
Instead, we do our best to provide a rational analysis, as gamers in the modern day but within the context outlined here. In our opinion a game can still have an attractive visual style, even if rendered with outdated graphics. An adventure or roleplaying game will still be atmospheric and immersive if work was put into the plot, environments and general ambience. A shooter will still provide entertaining blasting action if the mechanics of play are balanced just right. Some genres tend to age better than others – so you might find we’re more willing to dedicate hours of playing time to an adventure from 1991, than a racing game of the same age.
Still, though, we believe that there are some top-notch oldies that are still very much worth the time of a discerning gamer. Even with newer, shinier games around, these ones still stand out, thanks to imaginative design and expert implementation. Few other games have provided the kind of experience they do, to the same level of competence. They’re the ones you might catch yourself playing until midnight when you really should be in bed for work the next day.
Then there are those that have faded somewhat; and been outclassed by modern counterparts. They may well still be of some interest though, especially to fans interested in the historical angle and looking into the development of that particular genre. Or they might just supply that nostalgia buzz. So we’re not going to tell you, for example, that the original Civilization is better than its latest sequel, but we might claim that it was an important title and that strategy fans might still find the experience worthwhile..
Each review is accompanied by a score out of ten – this is just a general indicator of how much fun we had while reviewing the game, and we don’t devote much time or effort to deciding whether a game is worth this score or that. In fact, we’ve been tempted not to bother with scores at all – and we’d much rather people read and think about the facts and arguments we put forward in our writing, rather than relying on a number – but they do provide a convenient summarising factor, and seem to be an essential part of media reviews.
Many reviews meanwhile have a couple of extra articles and screenshot galleries attached. These are mostly just a brief look at one particular aspect of that game we thought worth a separate mention – memorable characters, a typical sequence of events, an annoying bug, or just something random that happened to amuse us.
A few other details to cover: you might be wondering where to find some of these oldies. Or you might be having trouble running them on a modern PC. If you look in the General Articles section, you should see links to a couple of handy guides we’ve written – these should provide enough info to set you on the way to retro-gaming fun.
In case you’re wondering who “we” refers to, FFG is generally made up of two people. Stoo is the site’s creator and founder, and likes to play roleplaying games, strategy and space sims, and also handles any complicated technical bits behind the scene (so you know who to blame if the site breaks). Rik isn’t the site’s creator and founder, although he was here from the start, and is more a fan of the sport, racing and adventure genres. Anything else we both like, such as first-person shooters, we cover between us, and anything neither of us are fans of, well, that just leaves a bit of a hole in our coverage (sorry, flight sims).
Our ranks are occasionally swelled by a couple of guest contributors. The J Man, during rare periods of Just Games Retro downtime, has donated some of his writings to FFG. Blogger and writer Jo has reviewed a number of adventure games for us, whenever she’s in the mood for retro gaming, and also stopped by to participate in some discussion pieces for the site’s anniversary.
Speaking of which, discussion reviews are a relatively new addition to the site. These are intended to complement, rather than replace, the standard reviews, in that we normally tend to choose a game that we wouldn’t have otherwise covered. Plus, it gives us the opportunity to work together on something once in a while.
The only other thing to mention is that we do have a blog attached to our site (previously known as the FFG journal) – this is just a place for us to post anything that doesn’t really qualify as a review or article of substance. Don’t worry, we won’t give you our unsolicited thoughts on the latest industry developments, but we might mention any newer games that have taken our interest, or a re-release of an old favourite, for example.
And that’s probably all you need to know, really. If you have any thoughts or comments on a particular piece, you can leave them in the comments section and we’ll get back to you. Otherwise, you can find our details on the contact page. Thanks for reading!