You were left moving from location to location and sweeping every pixel to look for new items. You were visiting a fantastical virtual world and then pretending to dust it. Nowadays, the first hint of any kind of frustration sends me to the Internet for quick and easy satisfaction.
The worst thing they did to us was cheat to beat us themselves. We didn't expect an 8-bit processor to be able to render a human-level intelligence because we knew we weren't in a science-fiction movie, but the processor didn't and created an evil program to murder us anyway. "Rubber band AI" did this by simply boosting the computer's speed/strength/interception ability to superhuman levels if you won too much.
Start winning in Tecmo Bowl and it becomes more realistic, with the enemy team discovering drugs.
This effect was most pronounced in racing games, and it was pronounced "THOSE FUCKING CHEATING BASTARDS." If you got too far ahead, the other cars were possessed by Agent Smith, and you weren't the One, just Player 1. And you got played hard. Mario Kart would (and still does) build entire endangered turtle memorials on your crashed kart with the most murderously cheating AI outside of the Terminator franchise. The R.C. Pro-AM yellow car would soar past at what wasn't so much high speed as low warp.
I invented five new curse words for this cantaloupe wheelmolester, and I used a different first vowel in "cantaloupe."
There was nothing more frustrating than being killed by the computer inside the computer. We were already doing nothing with our lives but pretending to move around in little circles, then the computer makes it even more pointless by revealing that you only ever win because it lets you, and now it won't. That's GLaDOS levels of psychological bullshit.
In modern games, the problem of idiotic computer opponents hasn't been solved, it's just been offloaded onto idiotic human opponents. That's why so many games feature advanced multiplayer modes, reducing the single player to an extended tutorial of whack-a-mole. It doesn't matter how realistic your lighting effects are when all it's animating is the machine gun equivalent of a cuckoo clock.
"Tick, tick, POP OUT AND GET SHOT IN THE FACE O'CLOCK!"
The way we prefer killing stupid humans over working out how to defeat intelligent machines is not going to help our species in the long term. That's why we need intelligent, fun, sexy, brilliant video gamers to make up the difference, and did I mention that loads of those are working for the new RETRO magazine Kickstarter?
This one! This incredibly subtle one right here!
Luke also has a website, tumbles, and responds to every single tweet.
This week is all about Arkham Origins, so see how lucky we are with The Worst Batman Video Games Ever Made, or endure more nostalgiagony with The Retro Gaming Drinking Experiment. Sinistar lives!
If you aren't convinced games can suck, read 5 Groundbreaking Ways Video Games Are Screwing Players. Or celebrate how much sucking can rule with The 7 Biggest Dick Moves in the History of Online Gaming.