Games About Which You Have Changed Your Mind

The years do funny things to the human brain, and sometimes a game that was once the love of your life can later become the hate of your death.

Probably, it is more interesting to talk about games you played for the first time _after_ the age in which you discovered the concept of "personal taste," whenever that was. Finding out that a game you liked as a kid is a pile of trash is certainly a relatable experience, but I think it's probably more interesting to talk about games about which you've changed your mind as a grown-up, however you choose to define the term.

I will start by talking about a game that I first played when I was sixteen years old, and just finished re-playing yesterday: Persona 4!

When I was in high school, this game changed my whole life. I learned Japanese, went to Japan and met some of my best friends, and now get paid _real money_ to translate Japanese _as a job_, all because I thought Rise Kujikawa was _super hot_. When I first played the game, I cared little for the combat and dungeon exploration, and just wanted to hang out with the characters, experience the weird story, and imagine being over _there_, in that mythical land across the Pacific Ocean. I had never seen an anime before, and I didn't realize that there were people writing stories about high school, which is the place where I went almost every day.

Replaying it this year, about ten years later, I was less impressed. More than half of the characters annoy me, the "hijinks" are mostly either stereotypical anime tropes and/or mean-spirited jokes at the expense of certain types of people. Some of the goofiness I still like, particularly the teacher who wears the Egyptian costume, and the teacher with a sock puppet of himself, both of which I still find funny, for some reason. The story plops around at an odd pace, and the fact that most of the character development happens in the social link side content means that the characters tend to act like paper cut-outs of themselves during the main cut-scenes. (I still like Kanji a lot, though.)

However, in some non-Euclidean god-like feat of human flexibility, I also somehow did a 180 degree turn in the opposite direction when it comes to the combat. I found myself totally engrossed in the persona management aspect of the game, spending long moments contemplating the repercussions of my fusion experiments. Man, I guess I gotta play some of those Shin Megami Tensei games one day! I'd probably like them!

Anyway, there you go! That's me. Share your experiences coming back to a game after several years and finding yourself in complete (or semi-complete) disagreement with your past self. (Also sorry about the thread title - I couldn't figure out a way to make that phrase not sound totally awkward.)

Ocarina of Time for me. A lot of games are in this category but it was such a tutorial on how to play a 3d action game that it‘s incredibly boring for long stretches now. The enitre game feels like an extended SMB 1-1, which was wonderful and needed in 1998 but it’s just feels like a shareware sample for Majora now.

I have talked to a bunch of people who talked about Ocarina this way and thought they were all wrong, the game rules! But after replaying a lot of them recently, my opinion of Zelda 1 has skyrocketed and LttP and OoT have plummeted.

yes earthbound v mother 3. For quite a while thought more highly of mother 3 and felt it was a clearer and more articulate game and I suppose assumed it was more sophisticated so = better. I still like mother 3 a lot, but now think I prefer the haziness of earthbound. I don’t know if I would call mother 3 didactic, but I think it gestures in that direction whereas earthbound is less theme-insistenting. Also think M3 has a little bit of a middle-aged overcompensation quality, thinking specifically of the maygypsies and some of the on-the-nose ness of the tech-scepticism.

@MichaelDMcGrath#12977 pretty much exact same experience for me re OOT and the original zelda, i didn't play the original as a child so have no nostalgia for it, but had an awesome time figuring it out for myself as an adult, drawing dungeon maps, burning bushes etc.

the combat in OOT in particular is bad and the use of 3D there is almost entirely superficial. you're typically just rotating around the enemy while you wait for the game to show you the animation indicating that it's safe to attack. the moment to moment gameplay is largely just the game showing you signs to remind you that you're supposed to hookshot here, play zelda's lullaby here, etc.

i think where it's reasonable to net out on the game is that it's OK, maybe pretty good, like if it wasn't Zelda we might be saying wow, what a hugely scoped game, it's cool to have to look up in the deku tree and see queen ghoma's eye before she actually appears, so some of the use of 3D was pretty cool, the forest temple music rocks. but the only reason the devs had the opportunity to make such a huge game was because it was zelda. so OK maybe yeah, it's bad

i still like LttP but it's too long

I would say most of the classic Mega Man games. Mega Man 2 is just this incredibly punishing nightmare of a video game that I always pretended I liked because I thought I was supposed to, lol. I feel like Castlevania has more of a reputation for difficulty because the movement is so stiff, but there is absolutely nothing in those games quite as bad as those one-hit kill lasers in Quick Man‘s stage, or those fucking wall cannons in Wily’s Fortress that are impossible to beat without full Crash Bombs.

Mega Man X is where the party is at

@GigaSlime#13059 I love Mega Man 2, but Wily 4 has to be on a very short list of worst levels in any game.

@MichaelDMcGrath#12977 Yeah, I also have to echo the Ocarina of Time sentiment. It was my first introduction to 3D puzzles, which seemed incredibly exciting and mind blowing to me as a kid – but having played the 3DS remake a few years ago, all of those puzzles feel so straightforward and tedious now.

What a great topic this is. Also, “the hate of your death” is brilliant. As a former game localizer myself, I must say, I want to read your work now, @wickedcestus (Maybe I already have, and don't know it!)

I have at least two answers:

1) BUBSY. As a Genesis-owning kid, I was given this game as a gift at some point (I guess my parents hate me, is the joke, "lol"). I think it's common enough for kids to assume that every video game is, on some level, good and worth trying to get good at, especially when you've only got a limited video game library and access to new games. You make the best of what you've been given. At least, that was the case for me. So for a long time, I tried to convince myself that _I_ was the problem. That Bubsy was just as valid a form of entertainment as Mario or Sonic, and my difficulties in navigating its yarnball-strewn world were down to my being unable to crack its code.

Needless to say, I later found out that I was on the receiving end of a laughable parent-pulled prank, albeit hopefully an unintentional one. I felt like I'd been let off the hook when I learned that everyone hated Bubsy (or at least pretended to), but I also felt some need to defend the game, as if it's not bad, but merely misunderstood.

I have since learned to let go.

2) JRPGs, just in general (with some exceptions). It's taken me a long time to admit this to myself, but random, frequent, braindead-easy battles are not a fun way to spend time! There are still aspects of JRPGs that I greatly enjoy, particularly the fabled sense of _nakama_ that is hard to find in any other form of media, but I find myself in a strange space: Most of my all-time favourite game experiences in the past came in some flavour of JRPG, but now, revisiting almost all of them is a desperate struggle to overlook a pretty crippling set of flaws.

The industry itself seems to recognize this problem. Many modern JRPGs, and certainly remastered versions, allow the player to fast-forward through battles, or skip them entirely.

Well, I think that if you have to skip a sizable chunk of a video game in order for it to be fun, it's time to rethink the genre conventions entirely.

I can no longer look past the way Panzer Dragoon Saga struggles technically or is very meandering. But conversely I have come to realize how truly incredible it‘s soundtrack is. I don’t think I ever noticed it back in the day.

@robinhoodie#13089 Yes! Having played it for the first time just a few months ago, I can confirm both of these points wholeheartedly. Wish I'd played it when it was new, though, because it would have blown my dang mind back then.

@whatsarobot#13096 I am halfway through currently and I really need to just sit down and finish it for the the fourth and probably final time. I will likely still listen to the soundtrack at least once a year though.


@whatsarobot#13080 2) JRPGs, just in general (with some exceptions). It’s taken me a long time to admit this to myself, but random, frequent, braindead-easy battles are not a fun way to spend time! There are still aspects of JRPGs that I greatly enjoy, particularly the fabled sense of nakama that is hard to find in any other form of media, but I find myself in a strange space: Most of my all-time favourite game experiences in the past came in some flavour of JRPG, but now, revisiting almost all of them is a desperate struggle to overlook a pretty crippling set of flaws.

They're not an _exciting_ way to spend time, and I've certainly wound up on a parallel train of thought recently, but I think the root of my continued enjoyment with the genre is that it can be kind of relaxing, sort of meditative. Love just zonking out in front of the tv with Dragon Quest, killing metal slimes and watching the numbers go up. That said, I wish more JRPGs would crib a little from the Mario RPGs and spice their battles up with some timed button presses to make things more active. Something I love about the Mario RPGs is that it's so satisfying to successfully land a timed hit to increase damage, I often find myself doing it even if I'm fighting low-level enemies where I could just not bother and still one-shot them. I'm also kind of surprised nobody's tried ripping off the Gambit system from Final Fantasy XII. That made so much sense, letting you just have fun programming your characters so you can skip the formality of entering the same commands over and over, but still get the satisfaction of successfully automating complicated procedures and contingencies.

@GigaSlime#13101 Totally agree. They‘re not exciting, but they can be relaxing, to the point of almost being therapeutic. And there’s definitely a place for that! Recently, I enjoyed playing through Dragon Quest XI, for example. And Pokemon can be fun if you just want to chill and look at some nice pastel colours for a while.

I also agree with your suggestion that more games should borrow from the Mario RPG series. That little bit of interactivity goes a long way. As does, I find, keeping the numbers low, as that series does. I find doing 3 damage to an enemy more palatable and digestible than doing 99,999. But that's window dressing.

To me, the biggest issue is the frequency of the battles, and because of that, how consequence-free each individual battle ends up being. Fire Emblem Three Houses and Divinity Original Sin II are two recent examples that space battles out enough so that each one feels monumental, and the combat systems allow enough complexity to stay engaging and even challenging. So it can be done. If that sense of stakes was applied to more JRPGs, the genre would still be kicking all the butts that it once did.


@whatsarobot#13080 As a former game localizer myself, I must say, I want to read your work now, @wickedcestus (Maybe I already have, and don’t know it!)

I don't translate video games! It sounds fun, but I wouldn't even know where to begin. I just translate random, kinda boring stuff right now.

@wickedcestus#13113 Oh wow, I totally misread what you wrote. Apologies.


I just translate random, kinda boring stuff right now.

Same. though. So at least we have this in common.

I'm also wondering whether anyone has a game that they thought was the hate of their death, but turned out to be pretty good, or just misunderstood, when revisited later in time.

@whatsarobot#13122 I‘ve been refraining from replying to this topic because I’ve been trying to recall exactly that scenario. I have many “I thought this trash game was good when I was a kid” examples, like you mention we all do. I have a few “I never realised this was good, or I've changed my mind about this game” examples, and am trying to think of one to talk about.

The interesting mental exercise for me, however, is trying to recall examples of "I hated this, but now realise it is ok! (or good!)". I _know_ I must have some of these, and it is fun trying to think it through. I can think of several of this exact scenario happening, but for music. There are albums I thoroughly _despised_ on first listen that now I rate quite highly.

I'll try to keep exploring my gaming memories.

I have thought of a semi-example… it doesn't quite fit but nevertheless:

Upon release, I _really_ did not like Quake 3. I (of course) loved Doom. I had a ton of fun playing Quake 1, the single player as well as deathmatch - both on lan as well as with the QuakeWorld client once that was a thing! I ... didn't like Quake 2, and I haven't really changed my mind there.

Quake 3 came out, and I thought it was 100% _bonkers_ that there was no real single player campaign. I learned to get past that, but I still didn't really like the gameplay for whatever reason. I would play it with some friends if they wanted, but it was never my choice. At the time I much preferred Unreal Tournament!

It wasn't until probably two years later I gave it another serious look, and realised there was _something_ here and it was a well made competitive first person shooter type game. At that point I started playing it a lot, and would follow the tournament scene and download demos/replays of big matches to watch them back.

When I think of Q3 now, I just think it is a very good game. I had to dig deep to recall there was a 1-2 year window right after release where I did not like it.


@rejj#13124 I can think of several of this exact scenario happening, but for music. There are albums I thoroughly despised on first listen that now I rate quite highly.

This happens to me with music all the time! In fact, I've basically just accepted that my first listen to an album/artist "doesn't count," because I can almost never appreciate it the first time, unless it's _really_ good and I'm _really_ paying attention.


Haha same here. What's up with that?? Sometimes I'll listen to an album and it just doesn't click at all so I'll forget about it... A few months later I'm like oh hey this album let's try again and it's suddenly the best thing I've ever listened to.