There have been a few instances where a game has made a poor first impression on me, but I’ll revisit it a few years later and have a complete change of heart. Sometimes seeing a game in a new light is all it takes to appreciate it for what it is. So, here are a few cases where I didn’t really care much for a game after my first encounter with it, but really grew to enjoy it several years down the line.
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (NES)
I think the first time I played Zelda II was either as a rental or when I borrowed it from a friend in 1990 or so. I had read about the game in the Official Nintendo Player’s Guide (the big black book), so I knew that it was a lot different from the original game. That wasn’t what kept it from clicking with me, though. I think, more than anything, I was put off by the high difficulty. Unlike the original Zelda, the action was extremely skill-based. Enemies were hard, platforming was tricky, and the RPG-style level system unbalanced things bit. I didn’t dislike the game, but I wasn’t compelled to keep playing it.
Sometime in the later ’90s, I picked up a used copy, probably out of a combination of completion and nostalgia. It was then that I really spent serious time with the game. Additionally, I had grown a lot as a gamer, and I came to appreciate classic difficulty. While the game’s archaic experimentation does result in some questionable design elements, it actually ended up being the combat that won me over. It required quick reflexes with both the sword and shield, and the game really forces you to pay attention to high and low attack patterns.
Zelda II is still highly divisive among series fans today, and by today’s standards is admittedly unrefined, but for me, it ultimately provided a satisfying “old school” experience that I really enjoyed.
Yoshi’s Story (N64)
For many years, I actually considered this one of the weakest games in my collection. I still remember standing in Toys ‘R Us with the intent of buying Yoshi’s Story and briefly considering getting either Mischief Makers or Fighter’s History instead. Those other two games I had rented and enjoyed, so I knew they were really good, but Yoshi’s Story was a Nintendo game, so it had to be even better, right? Never mind that reviews for it in gaming magazines were mixed. Also, I was a big fan of Yoshi’s Island on the SNES. So, I put my fanboy goggles on and jumped in.
What I got was a short, tedious game with the most obnoxious voice for Yoshi that Nintendo ever could’ve given him. It lacked all of the charm and things I loved about Yoshi’s Island, and amounted to what I considered 70 dollars thrown away. I tried to let it grow on me, but the disappointment was just too strong.
Oddly, I never got rid of my copy for some reason. I guess I kept it around as a reminder of the dangers of fanboyism.
It was in 2010 when something made me go back to give it another chance. My disappointment had long since evaporated, and I had much different expectations. This time, I saw the game for what it really was: not as an epic platform adventure game, but as a score-based arcade-style game. It was a game that was meant to be replayed, and it actually has a pretty good risk-versus-reward balance to it. Once I realized this, I genuinely enjoyed it. It’s still no Yoshi’s Island, but it’s certainly not a bad game, and no one is more surprised than I am at how much I’ve warmed up to.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles (GCN)
This game was the victim of very unfortunate timing. I rented it when it was first released, but it was right after I had rented the Resident Evil remake. That happened to be my first experience with the Resident Evil series, and I loved it! However, coming off such an intense, absorbing game like Resident Evil really affected how I felt about the slow, leisurely pace of Crystal Chronicles. It’s not that I was directly comparing them. In fact, I thought FFCC was a decent enough game on its own, but every time I went to play it, I wished I was playing RE instead. That, combined with the fact that I was drifting away from RPGs in general at the time, caused me to write off the series for the next four years.
I don’t remember if anything in particular brought me back to it. I guess it was always in my peripheral vision to some extent, and I always loved the art and character designs. I remember getting the downloadable game My Life as a King in the later half of 2008, and loving it. I followed up by buying a used copy of the GameCube original. Having the chance to dig into it properly really allowed me to appreciate what a deep and charming experience it really is. In fact, of all the games I’ve had a change of heart on, I’ve grown to love this one the most. I would consider it among my favorite GameCube games, as well as favorite RPGs.