Is Entertainment Quality Today Superior To The Past?

I’ve gone back now and then to either re-experience video games & movies that I’ve grown up with or try out things in the entertainment world that have released in the past, myself never had played or watched until now. It brings up an interesting topic, considering all the remakes, ports, remasters, re-releases and micro-minis that have come out or are in the works at the time of this write-up.

While that’s cool to see older games be brought back, old movies to re-release on the big screen or old TV be streamed live on Twitch, there’s a great majority who won’t bother anyway because “entertainment is so much better than it was before, in every conceivable way”.

The idea of “games are becoming bigger and better” or “the production value with film has greatly improved” and that “anything you loved back in the day won’t hold up now” are key phrases to say what was created 10+ years ago only comes off as terrible today. I see articles and interviews all the time saying that “Yeah, GoldenEye 007 & Final Fantasy 7 may have been great games back in the day, but if you play them now, they’ll look, play and sound like hot trash”.

There are 10+ year-old games I’m playing right now, such as the original TimeSplitters Trilogy (which is gracefully coming back under a new publisher), is leagues better than so many first-person shooters of today, allowing you to play with time-travel, fight tough enemies with crazy weapons/gadgets as you go through a fun satire on old movie clichés, then create & play challenges or over-the-top multiplayer matches.

Meanwhile, Destiny can promise you how big, immersive or “MMO-like” their game will be, only to release as an “okay” space shooter with a weak narrative, generic gameplay and content that was stripped out of the game at the last-minute to be sold as several $20 DLC packs.

While I never played the sequel, all I heard is that it was pretty much the same game and how they’re updating it to strip out content so you can pay first, on top of $60, not to forget the loot boxes, which give in-game goodies you can either grind for or pay up-front with real cash.

Day-one patch updates are something I can live with, but when you’re focused more on printing money than making a game, acting like it’s impossible to do without even though there are big-budget games that don’t have these practices, you are not exactly making a great point on why games have “improved”. If any of this were to be true, why doesn’t Splatoon or Insomniac’s Spider-Man have loot-boxes?

How come Monster Hunter World’s advertised content is in the game with free post-launch expansions? Gaming today litters itself with unanswered greed that makes a $60 purchase feel uneasy, especially with many of these studios charging you additionally after paying that $60.

I must remind that this discussion extends to film and TV, like in High School, where one student approached my class screening of “To Kill a Mockingbird” to feel sorry for me. “Man, our class is getting to watch Terminator Salvation and you have to see that rusty garbage? I’d feel jealous too if I was in your spot” said the student I so very much disagree with as To Kill a Mockingbird was and is still an insightful commentary on equality while Terminator Salvation was…rusty garbage.

I’m saying this as someone who never loved a Terminator movie, and I saw almost all of them, so perhaps I just don’t get it and another property. Yes, I’m going to pick on DC, for the big fans out there, but that was something I grew up with, only to grow inferior decades later, first hiring a visual effects artist named Zack Snyder, and thinking he’s a Shakespearean story-teller, who is the next Christopher Nolan from The Dark Knight, only to find out the hard reality during Justice League.

I’m sorry, this is emotional, complex story-telling? These dudes are acting like bad anime characters, than feeling like “flawed humans”, hating each other right as they meet since one murdered several people before the other and suddenly becoming friends because both characters share the same mother’s first name, no character-building needed.

Zack completely missed the point of why these heroes were so special and now it’s at the point where we could see DC getting better, except there’s still that catalog of crap to pull the excitement back. It’s so strange that something I loved dearly is now a prime example of what not to do in creating strong, relatable stories for movies.

Then there’s the idea of bringing back old in new form, games, film and TV. Well, since it’s a new version, it has to be better than the old, right? Tell that to Death Wish, on my “worst of” list for being incompetent on what it wants to be, having cast members who aren’t putting effort into their performances and action that’s sold on gore more than great choreography. Remakes like these are just insulting to watch, seeing how they screw-up on what made the original work.

How about TV? Having to pay for different streaming services to watch a show you have no idea is going to be good or not, where just having them all on cable or Netflix is so much better. All saying, there are certainly cases where today’s entertainment is superior.

Buying or renting entertainment is super convenient compared to the past. I am someone who is mentally incapable of driving, and amazon makes things easier, plus finding a better option to buy used copies of something. I would say that watching a movie at home can be better than the theaters, considering most contain noisy people the theater would not budge on kicking out. With the internet, movies, gaming and TV are instantaneous.

Now, to the belief of entertainment gets worse over age can be true. There are movies, TV and gaming, considered to be amazing or a cult-hit back in the day. I certainly don’t see the 80s as a perfection of cinema, gaming and TV. Movies like Top Gun, Labyrinth and Big Trouble in Little China are ones I don’t find to be great, rather narratively bad, jarring and a little racist.

One of my favorite bad movies, The Most Dangerous Game, was originally hailed as revolutionary classic when it came out, now an insanely stupid thriller with bad acting, a confusing plot and sound effects, not exactly coming off as intense anymore, only silly. Video games too have had moments in time where they were once great, but not anymore.

 

80s Retro folks geek out over the NES or Sega Gensis being the best generation for gaming, but I see that as a blueprint for a better future. Ice Climbers was a lovable Super Smash Bros. character that back in the day, starred in a game, featured environments that changed the higher you climbed.

Today, like most of the games in that era, Ice Climbers more frustrating than fun to play. 3D worlds have opened up more possibilities, allowed games to expand from being irritating to play by system’s limitations. Now, games practically look like interactive movies, with indie games filling in for more imaginative ideas.

Those AAA studios that aren’t compromised by self or publisher greed usually end up making some of the best games in recent memory, and they’ll keep on impressing by every new tool that becomes available to them. Talent by team is the most important factor, but with growing tech, there are incredible advancements that can be made for both visuals and gameplay design, thanks to newer hardware.

There are amazing achievements done by hardware, software and everything that speaks gaming, such as the Nintendo Switch, which is a console you can play on the go. While a mini-micro console might not contain the games you’d want, they’re an easier option than fishing for a physical copy of said old game on amazon or trying to run old software on newer hardware by yourself.

As the CG in video games got better over time, so did it evolve with movies. Yes, there is the case of “too much CG” and relying so much on that to sell your film, more than the rest of what makes a film decent can place this next to predatory business practices since they both place their focus on one thing while leaving out the rest.

Now an example of CG working effectively is the Planet of The Apes prequel trilogy, where you really couldn’t tell that the apes were CG, breaking the uncanny valley. Some films would mix practical with CG, which when done well, can create fantasized worlds that feel alive, stunt doubles that you’d wouldn’t recognize or authentic period pieces, easily re-created by layout props and a great green-screen.

TV might not be there with computer effects like movies (unless you are Game of Thrones), so we will just have to see how they evolve overtime as meanwhile, they end up having to creatively use their tight budgets more since they don’t have the funds for that nice Autodesk eye candy, at least creating real scenery.

Point is, whether that be TV, movies, video games, there is something about old & new to love or in some ways feel thankful for not being. No one should judge you for being a retro or modern type of audience, but you should open up to the other, at least a little bit.

Who knows, if you do, maybe that piece of creative entertainment that existed in the past can be brough back to life once more folks of today know about it and maybe a continuation of said series might come back.

If not, then at least you’ll get to see how far we’ve improved and fell from the past. Preserving the history of art is always important, because it’s why we’re here today, but acknowledging what the present has brought us is maybe equally important.

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Next time you come across something you feel is before or after your time, don’t be afraid to give it a chance!…Assuming you will anyway.

 

 

 

 

 

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