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Something I want to address that's been bugging me for many years.  We've seen it all the time.  "Don't be so hard on X, it was good for its time!"

This particular defense for a doesn't work, nor does it help the game's case at all.  As pre-emptive information, this is talking about defending a game as a whole, rather than certain aspects of it (i.e. graphics, sound and music), though those can also be under heavy scrutiny if there are better examples within their era.  

Why doesn't it work?  There's one counter example here that completely invalidates this defense:  Pong.

Yes.  The most basic thing you can even call a game, Pong.  It is considered a timeless masterpiece, and it's the bare minimum of everything that makes a game.  You only have two controls:  Up and Down.  There is no music.  The only two sounds are a beep for the ball hitting a paddle, and a blip for the ball hitting the edges of the screen or walls in other versions.  The only gameplay here is hitting that same ball back and forth for all of eternity.  Yet, this game is still considered one of the best games made, and is still used today in tournaments, mini games, and more.  

So with that information out there, what we have is a game that barely has any assets and the simplest of gameplay standing the test of time.  The test of time; if a game truly is good or a so called masterpiece, this is the most important test it needs to pass.  If it fails this test, then it devolves into what we'd call a fad, since those are only "good for their time."  There's no excuse for games that have much more resources available to them to have that problem, when Pong did not have that problem and barely had any resources.

What one could defend about a game is that some portions of it haven't stood the test of time, while others have, and that may be true.  But then it can't be a masterpiece, because a masterpiece wouldn't need any further polish.  Something like Zelda:  A Link to the past is considered a timeless masterpiece; it was great 20 years ago, and it will still be great 20 years from now; there are no design oddities that stand out as awkward and only fit for the 90s or anything like that.

What are your thoughts?  Contributions, additions, negations?  I'm sure I'm not the only one who is annoyed by people trying to use this as a defense when it just doesn't work given that Pong was and still is a thing.
I think that most of the time people use this defence when a game is outright insulted without any consideration as to when it was made, e.g. "wow what a piece of crap why does this even exist", in which a fit argument would be "well hey give it some credit this is pretty good for its time".

It's not exactly clear what you're really trying to say though... what's wrong with saying that a game was "good for its time"? What do you claim people use it as a defence for?
Often to justify that a game is still good, or doesn't have any flaws, or that the flaws that exist need to be ignored just because it happened to be a thing at some point in time. As I've said on another set of forums I've made this thread on, I can understand the idea of using it as a historical stance. Like for example, saying the early 3D control scheme of tank controls were good for the time, as something like that would be a milestone in the genre, forever changing it from that point on. But wouldn't that be better phrased as "acceptable" or "innovative" for its time, rather than "good?" After all, something can't be good one day and bad the next, because the content is fixed (i.e. not changing, constant).
but saying that something is good for its time is conceding that it has flaws. This seems like an issue of semantics.
Yeah, exactly. When you're saying something was good for its time you're saying "back then it was good, but now it is flawed due to hindsight and/or comparison to modern games".

I don't know where you're getting this idea from but I don't often see people using the phrase to argue that it's still good today. Or at least not in the sense where "good" means the same thing. It's fine to appreciate the quality a game for being good in its time (one of the reasons I still like Puggsy), but I'd be surprised to see someone state that a NES game's graphics being top-notch back then means it's top-notch now, that... literally doesn't make sense.
I think the only time "It's Good for Its Time" is actually problematic is when two people (or a reviewer) are discussing whether a game holds up to current or personal (or current-personal) standards of "Good". Not "Historic", "Important", or "Groundbreaking", but when the conversation is "Would I Have a Good Time If This Game Was Picked Out of a Hat?" the "For Its Time" argument is irrelevant, because that isn't the topic.
I think it's perfectly fine to say a game was good back when it was released. Sometimes I like to imagine the mindset of someone playing an old game when it first came out...I like to think of the "historical" value of the game, why (x) shortcut may have been used due to technical limitations, what it must have felt to see or experience Thumbs Up for the first time, etc...It doesn't hold up in an argument for why the game is good nowadays, but I think it's a fun exercise and helps me appreciate the game more. I probably wouldn't call games like that "masterpieces," no, because they've aged badly. But I think they have different merits if they're historically significant, yes.

A thing that comes to mind is all the "stealth" sections that were in RPG or adventure games in the late 90s/early 00s...they were really added just to show off that their AI could detect the player character when they came into view. An advancement of technology at the time, but an annoying sudden genre shift nowadays.
games should be critiqued on what they set out to do and how well they did it within the confines of technology at the time, not by the standards set by our current generation that obviously has had more time to fine-tune the mechanics. you can't really compare pong to ocarina of time and say pong is objectively better because OCARINA OF TIME WAS TRYING TO BE SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT FROM PONG. for all intents and purposes it's the closest thing to the first 3D "open world" game, being the first 3D game i can really point at and say "they really were focused on making a world."

it's not perfect, no, but it's definitely one of the most important games of all time. almost every 3D action game since owes something to it from a gameplay perspective (z-targeting is probably the second most important 3D gameplay concept ever conceived, just behind controllable cameras). it was limited by the N64 hardware, and it did have a few missteps, but it deserves a little slack as almost every game control concept brought about by it was never seen before (or if it was, was vastly improved), and the fact that they did it well enough that even today people can play it and have minimal problems is something that should be commended.

pong's good as a game that wants to be the bare minimum of what can be considered a game, but ocarina of time was trying to be something more. it was trying to be an EXPERIENCE. whether it was successful or not, that's up to you to decide, but the fact that it TRIED is what makes it important.
(11-25-2015, 10:48 PM)MoneyMan Wrote: [ -> ]games should be critiqued on what they set out to do and how well they did it within the confines of technology at the time

Unless you're speaking exclusively within these parameters, I disagree. The fact that we have games which have prevailed for decades and continue to be highly regarded (The NES Super Mario Bros. games, as an example) proves that "Good"--subjective as it is--is not limited by technology. A game that holds up will always hold up. A game that doesn't will fade into obscurity, with the exception of historically significant titles.

I'm going to steal half of your weird example (you're not just crossing technological lines with Pong vs OoT, but genre and audience as well? What? This is like comparing The Avengers with Titanic. They aren't made for the same demographic). Ocarina of Time vs. The Legend of Zelda. The Legend of Zelda is undeniably an important game--it defined genres, sparked imaginations, and birthed a very loyal core group of followers. But, it isn't as good as Ocarina of Time. Actually, it's not a very good game at all. It's overly cryptic, has some weird design choices (like enemies moving on a completely different grid from Link, making them very difficult to hit at times), and suffers from false difficulty to an excessive degree. It simply isn't that good of a game, while Ocarina of Time actually is (although it does also have its downsides... a barren open world, clunky movement, etc.).

If we're only allowed to consider the technical prowess of designers at the time of a game's creation in reviewing and critique, our opinions essentially become worthless. TLOZ is a great game for it's time. But that isn't a valuable response when somebody asks "Hey, which Zelda game should I play next? I really liked Skyward Sword and want to get into the franchise."
I just wanna say...that actually, despite popular belief, Hydlide did it all first, a couple years before even! Zelda just became more recognized.

Just like how Dragon Quest did the whole jRPG thing first, but Final Fantasy just kinda came in and stole the credit.
(11-26-2015, 10:10 AM)Koh Wrote: [ -> ]I just wanna say...that actually, despite popular belief, Hydlide did it all first, a couple years before even!  Zelda just became more recognized.

And that's why Zelda is the one that people say was "good for its time" and why nobody cares about Hydlide even if it did come first. (Which is fairly common knowledge and doesn't really matter in the context of the discussion since it's about "good for its time" not "who did it first"? Besides it doesn't really matter which one did it first, it's "which one did it right" that matters, honestly.)

That's what "good for its time" means, I believe. "It's a game that set or held up to a standard when it was made, and although it is outdated it should nonetheless be recognized for what it was and can still be enjoyable to many people because they know it's flawed they just don't care because they grew up with it and they're having fun dammit stop raining on their parade."

"Good for its time" is just easier to type than all that.

Quote:But wouldn't that be better phrased as "acceptable" or "innovative" for its time, rather than "good?" After all, something can't be good one day and bad the next, because the content is fixed (i.e. not changing, constant).

I don't really understand how "acceptable" is any more... well, "acceptable" than "good" since in this context they mean pretty much the same thing. I think at this point you're just being persnickety about semantics.

EDIT: I suppose I should clarify - I do agree that "good for its time" is a bit of a defeatist argument and is generally an admission that the game has not aged perfectly. I don't think it's an entirely invalid defense when talking about how much you like a particular game, however, or when talking about the impact that game has had on the medium at large.

Using Pong as a counter-example, I think, is rather absurd. How can you really improve a game that's so simple? It's timeless because nothing much can be done to make it better as a game. The thing about video games for the longest time, however, was that they could only be improved upon in later installments - this was before patches, after all. Think about why you never hear how "chess was a good game for its time" since chess as we know it now wasn't chess 1500 years ago, but chess is a game that can be modified on the fly. We don't have "Chess 15: The Reckoning" after all. The Legend of Zelda on NES, however, in its purest form, is immovable and concrete and therefore can't be "improved" except by making another game later on - hence why it was "good for its time." Sometimes you won't know something's bad until something better comes along. (This is disregarding game mods that "fix it" which shouldn't count when arguing whether the game itself is good or not.)
(11-26-2015, 11:34 PM)Zero Kirby Wrote: [ -> ]Sometimes you won't know something's bad until something better comes along. 

Exactly.  I actually talked about this on the other set of forums I made this thread on.  But ignorance of something better doesn't change the content of the game either.  Just because that's all we were aware of at the time, and we just accepted it because that's the way things were, doesn't mean it was good.

Let's say you've never owned an N64 and Super Mario 64, right?  Your first game happens to be Tomb Raider on Playstation.  So you have no idea that better 3D controls exist; as far as you know, Tomb Raider is your first 3D game.  Even under those circumstances, you'll still get frustrated with the clunky and cumbersome tank controls.  This doesn't have to mean you won't enjoy the game as a whole, but it will immediately affect your experience.  However, since you're oblivious to the existence of SM64, and this is your first game, you just deal with it because that's all you have.  You overcome that learning curve, get used to the tank controls, finish the game, and have fond memories of all the FMV cutscenes of Lara doing things and such.  Does this mean the game as a whole is bad?  Not necessarily, but once you go play SM64, you'll clearly figure out what was wrong with Tomb Raider, in terms of control.  You just never knew exactly what the problem was until you had something to compare it to.   But just because SM64 didn't exist or you hadn't played it at the time, doesn't suddenly make those tank controls good, lol. Just a milestone or stepping stone towards something greater.
That analogy doesn't work because in most countries (except Europe), Super Mario 64 pre-dated Tomb Raider. Regardless, both games are contemporaries of each other, because they were released within the same year. Therefore, Tomb Raider is NOT good for it's time, because Super Mario 64 already existed, which is entirely subjective anyway because the analogy you wrote is based on the tank-like controls.

When I hear the phrase "it was good for it's time", it is usually regarding looking back on something that really WAS good for it's time, among the best that could be done. Super Mario 64, Ocarina of Time, Final Fantasy VI, these are games that I played as a child and I was dumbfounded to think that games could get any better, because when I was an even younger child, I had played Super Mario Bros, Zelda II and Final Fantasy. Flash forward to modern day where Super Mario games now include the Galaxy, New SMB, and 3D Land/World series, 64 is no longer AS good as these games in a graphical aspect and gameplay aspect (though both are entirely subjective, moreso than the gameplay than the graphics), but for it's time, when Super Mario 64 was the best that could be done, it sure as hell was good for it's time. That's what the phrase means.

This entire thread was created because you don't understand the phrase "it was good for it's time." Your main analogy is more of a situation of "it was good while I was ignorant."

Seriously though, 'which came first' is not an accolade at all. It's akin to going around the internet, posting "first" on many threads for 15 minutes of fame.

The best way to put it is asking 'which became popular first', and that's what matters in the long end. And to try "countering" Zelda by presenting Hydlide makes me feel like you're underestimating logistics and advertising (which is a talk for another time). All in all, being popular IS also a good thing, especially if it's a product we're talking about. Things don't get popular for nothing.

'Good for its time' is not an excuse nor should be used as such - it's rather a reminder that at the time, the game could meet people's expectations and be highly influential despite newer games being objectively more well thought due to N reasons.

To be upset about this is kinda.... I don't know. It's rather absurd.
(11-27-2015, 09:21 AM)Gors Wrote: [ -> ]Things don't get popular for nothing.

This part is actually false.  Anything can get popular, regardless of the overall quality of the thing.  We should all know this by now, from all the stupid things that have been going viral and getting ridiculous amounts of attention, lol. "There is no such thing as bad publicity" at its finest ;3;.
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