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Game Fight!: Nostalgic for Nostalgia

by Seth Macy

Turn up the Nelly, because it's getting Hot in Herre with the iOS release of 2002's 1980s crime simulator Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. It's two kinds of nostalgia, wrapped into one package that's just begging you to Catch Me if You Can! So put on your parachute pants or perhaps don your pastel suit jacket as you stand in line to see Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Or go see Usher ft. Kajagoogoo... wait, that isn't right. This time-space continuum rift is really difficult to keep track of.

Playing the biggest game of 2002 at the tail end of 2012, a game set in the 80s, on a device from a company that started making computers in the 70s, is the stuff aneurysms are made of. I imagine it would be pretty easy to sort-of watch as time folded in on itself over you, like the curl of a slow rolling wave as it crashes against the shore. Don't be afraid! GTA: Vice City is arguably one of the best entries in the franchise, especially if you spent any time alive and aware of your surroundings in the 1980s. But if you played it on the Playstation 2 when it was initially released, you'll probably be whisked away to a simpler time when Nickelback was on the radio and, uh... the biggest song of 2002 was Nickelback's "How You Remind Me?" Or is that the biggest song of today? Because I'm pretty sure I still hear a lot about Nickelback in the media. Time no longer has any meaning! I've become unstuck in time! This fourth dimension is frightening and incomprehensible to a three dimensional being such as a myself, but I'll do my best to describe it.

OK, there are a lot of clocks floating by: analog clocks, and some unblinking eyes, and the entire backdrop is a slow, off-balanced spiral. So I can't exactly tell you where I am, but even more mind-boggling is that I can't tell you WHEN I am. Whoa. Since I've left behind the third dimensional shackles of time stickiness, I'm going to head down to the local Blockbuster and rent a copy of GTA: Vice City on the PS2 and compare it to the one on my futuristic iPod. Ah, dammit, there I go again, throwing around terms like "futuristic" when here in the 4th dimension there is no future, nor past; only always.

So which version is better? Well here I am in my dorm room, a cloud of stale cigarette smoke hanging in the air. Filth has burrowed its way into every corner. Each ashtray is overflowing, and beer cans litter the area in front of my television. Piles of clothes and magazines jut from the landscape like African termite mounds and sitting on the couch is... whoa, is that me? I'm so young and not fat! But here I am, or rather, there I am, playing Vice City and truly enjoying myself. I can see that I'm at the point in the game where I stopped playing the story mission and am instead driving around in stolen cars until "Sister Christian" plays on the in-game radio. Ray Liotta's voice is coming from the speakers on the 27" color television, because he's voicing the main character, Tommy Vercetti.

And here, in my older, fatter hands, is the tiny computer I use to listen to music, play games, check my email, and countless other things. On the tiny computer, which only ten years ago was impossible, is the same game young me is playing right now. But while young me is smoking away and looking quite handsome while he plays, now-me is starting to have a little bit of trouble playing the game effectively.

You see, my sausage fingers are blocking out a significant portion of the screen and the touch-controls are a less-than-ideal solution. I haven't tried it on an iPad, but I have to imagine sausage-finger screen blockage (SFSB) is less of an issue. But the touch control issues remains the same across all iOS devices, in that touch controls kind of suck. Young me is enjoying the tactile nature of his primitive wired controller, but there is never a time when his hands are actually blocking the action on screen. Young me is wasting his youth and energy sitting around playing games in the tomb-like confines of his own filth cocoon while now-me is growing increasingly frustrated. Especially since there are numerous reports of Vice City running poorly on 4th generation iPod Touches.

But I do love this game. Having it in my pocket as I hurtle freely through time is kind of nice. I can pick it up and play it for just a bit as a way to pass the time if not for the fact that passing time is a meaningless notion here in the 4th dimension. Playing the PS2 version is arguably the better way to play it (or on any of the other controller-based platforms for which it was released), but having it on the go is the stuff dreams are made of. I'm going to award the iOS version the title of this week's Game Fight! Champion, but be advised, 4th gen iPod Touches may have difficulties running it.


Seth Macy is a funny guy who makes a funny blog you should check out. Are you nostalgic for GTA? Or are you one of those "vidya games are the devil" types?  Let us know in the comments!