Retro Goggles – The illusion of remembering things from earlier in life in a favorable manner, despite how awful or crappy it really was. Often times, it is the lack of appreciation for quality as a young child to cause this. We grow better taste and judgment as adults, changing our perception of things once liked.
As yes, most people will have fond memories of their childhood, the shows that used to play on television, the video/computer games that were so awesome or the toys they used to play with. A lot of people, generally older gamers, ranging in the 22 – 30 year old age group will go to great lengths in explaining how retro games are the shit while modern games fail to make the grade. Likewise with film nowadays, years ago we had such original films coming out but now we are bombarded with sequel after sequel of films low on plot and big on high-budget special effects or it’s a case of, “let’s do a remake”. Is this really a bad thing? Are the retro counterparts of today’s entertainment really better?
The answer is yes and no. Sure back when you were a kid, He-Man, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Biker Mice were awesome but try watching them now. I did and I assure you I should of kept the fond recollections of those shows trapped in my mind rather than seeking them out now to ‘relive the glory days’. He-Man has shitty animation and crappy dialog, TMNT’s animation is so bad that often times, the characters are drawn disproportionate, the turtle’s headbands are suddenly all the same colour or characters will suddenly have the wrong weapons. Biker Mice, although cool at the time is cheesy (pun intended), lame and has poorly constructed story-lines.
So either we get new shows now or remakes of older shows that to be honest, do improve upon the original source material. Much like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series that started in 2003. Not only does it have self-contained episodes, most of the time there are story arcs spanning three – five episodes and the show has strong continuity, bearing in mind that this is a kids show. The animation, while using less colours than the 1987 TMNT series, is also superior.
As far as film is concerned, movies were great in the ’80s, ’90s and in my opinion, they’re great now. Sure there’s a tonne of sequels and remakes but aren’t sequels the ‘new opium for the masses’?
Sometimes sequels are superior to the originals, such is the case with Empire Strikes Back, Dark Knight or Army of Darkness. A mixture of classic and modern films all great and all sequels. However I do not think that ‘The Neverending Story or Robocop’ require an overhaul (remakes are due in a few years time) as by doing so you decrease the likelihood of the younger generation ever seeing them, which is a shame as the original Robocop contains pornographic levels of violence.
Pictured above, a scene from Robocop (1987), what an amazingly well designed suit.
What about games? Do modern kids even know what Rockman or Vectorman is? Those are real video-games, as in my opinion game companies don’t really make games anymore, they’re more like simulations now, incorporating real world lighting effects, complicated physics engines, shaders and antistropic filtering which all combine to create life-like simulations which one can play. That’s partly why I think ‘games’ are so easy to complete today. The designers spend too much time working on the graphics/physics engine that the end product is short and often times too easy to complete and since the characters are based on their real-world counter parts it’s often easy to determine what they will do or how they will react given a particular situation unlike an unpredictable, disappearing platform in a ‘retro game’ that requires one to develop patterns or techniques in order to overcome them.
Pictured below, Rockman battling through Bombman’s stage on the first Rockman game.
I had both FarCry 2 and Crysis installed on my PC quite briefly as I ended up purging them from my hard drive in disgust. Crysis is a glorified tech demo, following a generic storyline incorporating overused plot devices and Far Cry 2 is just more of the same. Being ‘too real’ just takes the fun out of it completely for me, but by no means am I an elitist. I love great looking games (as my friends will criticize me for) and have recently started playing Dead Space, an amazing looking game that, while rather generic in storyline, makes up for it by creating a shit-your-pants, creepy atmosphere that engrosses the player. At the same time I’m also playing through Legend of Zelda – A Link to the Past on Super Nintendo. Both games are of the opposite end of the spectrum and both are fun nonetheless.
As for toys, I believe that the majority of kids nowadays have no interest in action figures, dolls, etc as fashion, boyfriends/girlfriends, cellphones and social networking sites are the new ‘toy’. Not only were there no cellphones during my childhood (I’m a child of the ’80s), I wasn’t even thinking of shit like dating and fashion, I was playing fucking Ninja Turtles and that’s all that mattered. The other trend of modern ‘action figures’ is that the ‘action’ part is removed, a lot of them are poorly articulated and are more like statues than anything else.
Pictured above, Baxter Stockman from the original range of TMNT figures starting in 1988.
For me, the pop culture of the ’80s and ’90s were like a primer. Now as an adult (sort of) I have a respect for cinema, games, etc and I’m an avid collector of many things including, models/statues, comics, games, movies and so on and so forth. I can appreciate both ‘retro‘, Zelda, Brisco County Jr. (that’s another article sometime) and Alien just as much as ‘modern‘ media, like The Matrix and House MD, I just think kids and adults alike should know where all of our beloved media stems from and like all things in life it’s either hit or miss, some are good and some just plain suck and should be left in the past.