In case you’re one of the two people who hasn’t heard of Kingdom Hearts yet, in which case, say hi for me to that other fellow living under a rock with you, it’s a joint effort by Disney and Square Enix, of Final Fantasy fame.  And don’t think that either of those go unused in this series.  Yep.  Only in this series can you see favorites like Cid Highwind (with his language considerably more kid-friendly) palling around with the likes of Geppetto.

Like Disney, Square Enix has perfected the art of self-reference.  Squeenix seems to pimp out Final Fantasy characters just about everywhere these days.  From the aforementioned Kingdom Hearts, to Dissidia.  From Theatrhythm to the seemingly endless Final Fantasy VII remakes and spinoffs.  Oh, and then rereleasing Final Fantasy IV for the umpteenmillionth time (today).  But why does this strategy work?  Nostalgia.  Hell, I know I’m guilty of buying every single one of those FFIV remakes.  Every.  Single.  One.  Ok, I may have missed one or two somewhere, but I literally do own five different releases of that game.  And I’m not even upset about it.

Why do I suddenly have a nostalgic urge to drive my jeep around and rescue POWs?  Is this another sneaky self-reference on Konami’s part?

But we’re not ready for a Disney dearth just yet!  There’s a little series called Kingdom Hearts.  Maybe you’ve heard of it?  Yep!  It’s almost like there was a reason for all that Disney discussion!  As you’re adventuring in Agrabah or using your Keyblade to serve up fresh sushi under the sea, you’re actually wrapping yourself up in that cozy, warm blanket of nostalgia.  Kingdom Hearts II doesn’t even attempt to hide this when you travel to Timeless River.  That place is as timeless as the wait for Kingdom Hearts III!

I wonder if anybody out there is nostalgic for New Coke.

Good games don’t suddenly go bad just because they age.  Although that does kinda sound like a terribad reality tv show…  When Good Games Go Bad!  Is it any wonder that TruTV runs Impractical Jokers seemingly 23.5 hours a day now?  It’s seriously the only thing on that channel worth watching!  But if the age of a game doesn’t really affect its playability, what video can I possibly run alongside this article?

No, I’m not quite that brave yet…

Okay, okay.  Point taken.  Let’s (finally) move on to gaming…

Mass Effect:  Andromeda – the Uncanny Valley’s Uncanny Valley!

Have you ever heard someone say that a game aged poorly?  Actually, if you’ve read and watched all of my stuff, you’ve heard me say it, so I’ll just assume your answer to that question is yes.  When people say that, they’re almost universally referring to the graphics.  Many games from the PS1, Saturn, and N64 fall into this category.  Take Final Fantasy VII or Metal Gear Solid.  Low polygon counts, few textures, and jaggies everywhere.  But do they play any differently in 2017 than they did in ’97 and ’98 (God, I feel old now…)?  Nope.  They’re admittedly harder to look at, but just as much fun to play today as they were then.  That’s not nostalgia talking.  Good games are simply timeless.  Want proof?  As of the writing of this article, the NES Classic (MSRP $59.99) is averaging about $150 apiece.

I bet I hit a nerve with that one…  As of this article, we’ve been waiting 11 years and counting!  It’s the new Duke Nukem Forever, which, as it turns out, is apparently how long we’ll have to wait for Kingdom Hearts III!

I bet that hit a nerve, too…

Disney seems to be top tier at managing nostalgia.  Yes, yes, I know what I just said about keeping this video game related.  Shut up.  Besides, there are plenty of Disney games out there.  Anyway, Disney is something eternally equated with childhood.  What kid hasn’t seen a million and a half Disney movies?  Which Disney song popped into your head at the mere mention of the company?  Really?!  That’s the one I’m thinking of, too!  Protip:  that’s nostalgia done right!

Go ahead and pop in a timeless game like Chrono Trigger (you see what I did there?) or Super Mario Bros. 3.  Have graphics improved since these games came out?  Of course they have, but that doesn’t take away from these games in the least.  The simple design choice to stylize these games helps futureproof them.  You could say that Akira Toriyama's style level is over 9000!  All these years later, Chrono Trigger is still a beautiful game to behold and twice as much fun to play!  Nostalgia has nothing to do with it.  Seriously, how many current games can you name that are in Chrono Trigger’s league?  Not very many, I assure you.

But enough waxing nostalgia for me.  Ok, not really.  That’s what this entire article is about (hint, hint).  I promise I’ll try to keep it as video game related as possible, though, for reasons I’ll be getting into shortly, that’s going to prove a bit difficult, given my larger point.  That’s what we call building hype (or what the cool kids call foreshadowing)!

Just think.  Around 2032 or so, people will be nostalgic for this.

Nostalgia is a funny thing.  All too often these days, the word gets thrown around as an insult.  “Take off you nostalgia goggles, you loser!  Shiny, new stuff is always better!”  To these people, I present New Coke (also known as Coke II).  For those of you too young to remember, it was an abysmal failure.  And if you’re curious why, you can travel to World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta, Georga and try some for yourself.

Another series that (usually) nails this self-referential aspect is Metal Gear.  Early entries in the series began by referencing other media, such as Terminator or James Bond.  But over time, it evolved to refer back to itself.  For example, Solid Snake is a clone of Big Boss, right down to (usually) having the same voice actor and everything.  This is the story reinforcing that these characters constantly refer back to one another.  And much of the plot of the series does this.  In The Phantom Pain, Kojima wasn’t trying to be edgy with his inclusion of child soldiers.  That was simply the gameplay and story referencing Metal Gear 2:  Solid Snake.  Though it should be noted that some games in this series (MGS4:  Guns of the Patriots *cough cough*) take this notion a bit too far and end up making a jumbled mess by creating connections that simply should not be…

The real secret lies in Disney’samazing ability of self-reference.  Let’s say you really like The Jungle Book.  The animated one, not that crappy, new live-action one (wait.  Was that nostalgia talking just now?).  What’s the deal with this "live-action versions of animated classics" fad anyway…?  *Goes on old man rant for the next 652 minutes*  So, back to The Jungle Book.  If that’s your favorite Disney movie, you’re certain to make your way to TaleSpin before too long because of the overlapping characters.  From there, you’ll find DuckTales (Woo-oo!  You’re welcome for that song, too), which aired around the same time as TaleSpinDuckTales stars Scrooge McDuck (rest in peace, Alan Young), who debuted in Mickey’s Christmas Carol, starring the titular Mickey Mouse.  It’s like six degrees of (over)saturation!  Yep, all roads lead to the mouse.

Of course, just because something is old doesn’t necessarily make it good either.  There are plenty of bad ideas rooted in the past that we’ve left in the dustbin of history.  Leaded gasoline, thalidomide, the Kinetoscope (admittedly, this is kinda cool, but very, very outdated),  Jersey Shore, the Clintons…

The difficulty in managing nostalgia is to find the balance.  As stated above, this can be difficult, since our consumerist society requires you to buy things and if you prefer to stick with what you have, you won’t be doing as much of that.  It is, perhaps, why Square Enix seems to re(rererererereeeeeee)release Final Fantasy IV every other month or so.  That way, you’re buying a “new” product, but it’s really the same as it ever was.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way!  Disney has the uncanny ability to turn a grown man into a kid!  Forget about your job, jerks in real life (especially in traffic), responsibilities, and how much this trip to Mouse Mecca is costing you!  Forget about your worries and your strife.  And I bet you thought that Jungle Book mention last paragraph was mere happenstance…  Similarly, Disney has the eerie ability to turn children into “adults.”

Nothing exemplifies this point better than South Park’s most recent season.  Just go ahead and admit it, South Park apologists.  It sucked.  Frankly, a 20 year old show that benefits greatly because of nostalgia has no place building a season long premise attacking that very concept.  What’s that you say?  Karlene already tore into South Park Season 20?  Ok then.  I’ll just leave that one to her.  I just want to state, unequivocally, that it sucked.  Bigly.  Like, cleaning up the public bathrooms at Grand Central Station right after a competitive eating event where gurgitators have to eat the most skunk assholes possible in 12 minutes.

‘Member when South Park was funny?  Oh!  I ‘member!  And if you think this lazily written joke is too low hanging fruit even for me, then I present to you South Park Season 20…

The thing about video games and nostalgia is that good games will always be good games.  Why do you think with each new Zelda game, old timers like me always compare it to A Link to the Past (and [likely] kids like you compare it to Ocarina of Time)?  Naturally, as technology improves, we gain the ability to do more with said games and make them look better with each passing year, Mass Effect:  Andromeda notwithstanding.  Seriously, there are PS2 games that look better than that crap (See?  I don’t only play old games)!  This is why it’s only fair to judge games against those of the same time period they came out in.  And why Mass Effect:  Andromeda deserves every bit of the hate it gets and then some.  Bioware?  More like Bloware…

Not that I know any Disneyphiles…