Grand Theft Auto Vice City

By Shamus Posted Friday Jul 20, 2018

Filed under: Retrospectives 101 comments

It takes about 20 years for childhood nostalgia to mature into a product for adults. The 1950s-based programs Happy Days and Sha Na Na both came out in the the 1970s. That 70’s Show came out in the 1990s. 1980s-based films Boogie Nights and The Wedding Singer seemed to jump the gun and arrive a few years early, while Wet Hot American Summer, Hot Tub Time Machine, Adventureland, and American Psycho arrived right on time in the first decade of the new millenium.

The Cultural Echo

Nothing says 1980s like neon colors, pastel suits, and cocaine.
Nothing says 1980s like neon colors, pastel suits, and cocaine.

It’s easy to see why this is. You grow up in a particular decade. Twenty years later you’re well into adulthood. You’ve got disposable income and strong memories (good or bad) that can be leveraged / exploited for emotional appeal in a story. The 20-year echo isn’t some strange cultural phenomena. It’s just basic economics.

Technically this means we should be hip-deep in 90s nostalgia right now, and that’s not really happening. Sure, some of the really major elements of the 90s like Ninja Turtles are being revisited, but that sort of thing isn’t anywhere near saturation and 90s callbacks don’t seem to be a safe bet the way 80s callbacks were a decade ago. If anything, we seem to be lingering in the 80s. Maybe because the 90s sucked? What happens in the next decade? Will 90s nostalgia show up late, or will we skip the 90s and jump right to new-millennium nostalgia? I have no idea.

The point is, the 20-year retro echo is just the result of an entertainment industry chasing the dollars of the under-30 market. Which means that 2001 was just the right time for GTA to revisit the 1980s.

Even more than before, the game wears its pop-culture influences on its sleeve. The main character is voiced by Ray Liotta, who also played the main character in Goodfellas. There are numerous nods to Scarface, including an overt reference to the infamous chainsaw scene. The main character’s best friend has an outfit and car that deliberately evoke the character of Sonny Crockett from Miami Vice. Love Fist is a spot-on send-up of the hair metal bands of the day.

Death and Prison

Ken (right) always insists that Tommy didn't do anything wrong. Tommy (left) always did something wrong.
Ken (right) always insists that Tommy didn't do anything wrong. Tommy (left) always did something wrong.

GTA has an interesting way of handling player failure. The game doesn’t have a proper “Game Over” screen. Indeed, there is no ending to the game whatsoever. Whether you die in an explosion or complete the final mission, the game always fades back in a few seconds later and returns you to the action.

If you die, you simply reappear at the hospital. It doesn’t matter how implausible your survival might be. You can jump out of a helicopter and plunge 20 stories to smack into the pavement head-first. It doesn’t matter. You’ll still pop out of the hospital a few seconds later, cured of all injuries. Getting arrested is the same idea. Even if you kill fifty people in a city-spanning rampage, you’ll stroll out of the police station a few seconds later, ready to resume the chaos. (Once you rearm yourself, anyway.)

This isn’t like resetting to a checkpoint where a game pulls you back to a previous point in time with everything reset to your pre-failure state. This death / arrest “happened” within the gameworld, in the sense that you lost some money, you were sent to the hospital / police station, and and several hours pass within the gameworld. On the other hand it obviously didn’t happen in the sense that a hospital can’t cure you of being exploded and the police don’t casually release people with triple-digit body counts. Nobody in the gameworld ever references your miraculous recoveries / escapes.

It’s an unusual approach for handling fail states, but I think it really suits the open-world design.

Vice City is the only game to specifically lampshade this system. Early in the game you meet the lawyer Ken Rosenberg, a high-strung cokehead weasel. If you get pinched, during the fade-out you’ll get an indignant voiceover from Rosenberg to the authorities, OUTRAGED that the police would dare charge his obviously innocent client with such outlandish crimes.

You’re the Boss

The post-release widescreen feature seems to have inadvertently messed with the camera framing, leaving us shots like this where the top of our lead's head is out of view.
The post-release widescreen feature seems to have inadvertently messed with the camera framing, leaving us shots like this where the top of our lead's head is out of view.

Vice City differs from its contemporaries in that it occasionally breaks from the “boss of the week” format. Tommy is building a criminal empire for himself, and so a handful of his missions are self-imposed. Yes, he still works for various bosses around town, but a lot of the missions are framed as Tommy being given information by someone and then deciding to act on it. This is, in a narrative sense, fundamentally different from when Claude would silently nod his head and do what he was told in GTA III. Tommy is a fully voiced character with a fleshed-out personality, and so he needs to be a more active participant in the story.

The story starts off with Tommy Vercetti getting out of jail. Sonny Forelli is the boss of the Forelli crime family in Liberty City, and everyone is a little nervous that a wildcard like Tommy is back on the streets. So Sonny’s plan is to extend their empire southward to Vice CityMiami, basically..

Sonny gives Tommy a bunch of money to get the venture started. Tommy is supposed to buy some coke, sell it, and establish a foothold in the city on behalf of the Forelli family. But then the deal goes bad and Tommy loses both the money and the drugs. Thus Tommy is now deeply indebted to the dangerous and ruthless Sonny Forelli.

Sonny (right) is not a nice man.
Sonny (right) is not a nice man.

For whatever reason, I was suffering from a hilarious case of genre blindness in 2002 and I actually thought my goal was just to get Sonny his money. It was very late in the game before I finally realized that Tommy had no plans to ever pay Sonny back and was just starting his own empire down here.

While dumb on my part (quietly paying back a debt is the kind of thing I would do, but would be totally out of character for Tommy) this actually helped the missions make more sense. In the previous game you might ask yourself, “Why am I working for this corrupt cop? I don’t need his stupid money and he’s not getting me any closer to my real goal.” But here in Vice City the answer is built into the premise: You’re doing the job for the money, and you need the money because the wrath of an entire crime family is hanging over your head.

Tommy needs to pay Sonny back or build an empire capable of withstanding Sonny’s eventual rage. Either way, he needs the money in a way that Claude never did.


Vice City is the first game to feature motorcycles. (At least, since the move the 3D.)
Vice City is the first game to feature motorcycles. (At least, since the move the 3D.)

I try to avoid turning these retrospectives into a rehash of the Wikipedia page, but sometimes Wikipedia has factoids that are just too interesting to pass up. Vice City had a nine-month development cycle, which sounds incredibly tight for this sort of game. Vice City might not be quite as big as GTA III if you measure it in square miles, but there’s a lot of visual diversity on the map. The fact that they were able to design the game, write the script, hire the actors, capture the performances, script the cutscenes, code the missions, and add this content to the game in just nine months is pretty impressive.

Also impressive? The budget. Just $5 million. Compare this to the over quarter of a billion they spent making GTA V. For the budget of GTA V, you could make Vice City fifty times over.

Graphical fidelity is expensive!

While the Vice City map is actually a little smaller than the one in the previous game, it’s a more polished experience all around. But rather than praise Rockstar for their dedication to quality (because everyone already did that back in 2002) let me use this opportunity to whine about the infamous mission…

The Driver

I hate this guy. Yes, you're SUPPOSED to hate him, so I hate him extra to compensate for this.
I hate this guy. Yes, you're SUPPOSED to hate him, so I hate him extra to compensate for this.

We need to hire a getaway driver for a heist. Okay. That’s a fine thing to do in a game like this. The thing is, in order to hire this guy, you have to… beat him in a race? Just to make sure things are unreasonable, the other guy’s car can easily out-accelerate yours. Oh, and the police get wind of the street race and so they chase YOU. (And not him.) And they’re scripted to jump out in front of you. (And of course, being an AI, he knows the way and you don’t.)

If I can beat this guy in a race with these handicaps in place, then I think I’ve conclusively proven he’s completely unqualified. I mean, it’s bad enough this is a fairly hard mission with a lot of “gotcha” moments, but why did the writer feel the need to make the entire premise of the race offensive to anyone capable of thought?

On top of this, the player is probably thinking, “Why am I going to all of this trouble to hire a driver. I wouldn’t WANT to do a mission where I sit in the car while someone else drives!”

And then you win the race, recruit the guy, do the heist, and he dies stupidly before he ever gets the chance to drive. The player’s hard-fought victory is rendered moot, and they have to do the driving anyway.

Yes, this is entirely intentional. This isn’t a case where an incompetent writer tries to empower the player and does the opposite. This mission sets out to be annoying and absurd and then succeeds. I’ll let you decide if the designer should be praised or reviled for it.



[1] Miami, basically.

From The Archives:

101 thoughts on “Grand Theft Auto Vice City

  1. Infinitron says:

    I think the 90s aren’t as stylistically distinct as previous decades were, so it’s harder to derive an appealing art direction for a 90s throwback.

    Certainly GTA: San Andreas was a callback to a certain facet of the early 1990s, though.

    Other 90s fads that are being revisited or could be revisited:

    UFOlogy and government conspiracy theories (The X-Files)
    Dinosaurs (Jurassic Park)
    Clueless-style high school culture?

    Also, check this out:

    1. Will says:

      Mostly this. The decade by decade cultural rollover was interrupted by the arrival of the World Wide Web for the masses in the late 90s. What we think of as the 80s bled over until about 92/93. The 90s only had a small ~5 year window in which to develop some kind of zeitgeist before the internet and an explosion of cable channels fractured any semblance of monolithic culture.

      Basically the 90s got cut short by the 80s lingering and the early arrival of the 21st century.

      1. DanMan says:

        I also think the problem is that it was so much a transition decade. Cell phones were getting better. Texting was becoming a thing. But the cell phones of the 90’s aren’t as memorable as the giant monstrosities of the 80’s and don’t resemble the smart phones of today, so they get overlooked. But today’s smart phones wouldn’t exist without the phones of the 90’s.

        That’s just one example of the accelerating change in technology. TVs got bigger, but the explosion of flat screens happened in the early 2000’s. Cars from the 80’s were boxy, and they started becoming more smooth and rounded in the 90’s, but the post 9/11 fuel price explosion caused aerodynamic fuel-efficient designs to become the norm.

        I feel like when people point out that there’s nothing memorable about the 90’s forget about Friends, Seinfeld, Y2k. The shows were about people hanging out not doing anything. The big crisis was a thing that, for the most part, turned out to be nothing (due to a lot of hard work and scrambling by people).

        1. Nessus says:

          When I try to think of something that the 90s had as their own culture, the strongest thing that comes to mind is music. Specifically the rise of grunge, industrial, and “college” rock, as well as skate/surf punk, and a very brief but huge ska/swing revival near the end.

          Will’s pretty spot on in that the early 90s was really just the latter half of what people now picture as “the 80s” (similarly, the early 80’s looked a lot more like what people imagine as “the 70s” than what they imagine as “the 80s”), and the latter 90’s pretty much looked like a prototype of the aughts.

          In the middle there was a little under half a decade that had its own culture, but unfortunately most of the mainstream parts weren’t very interesting. If you ask me to recall “90s style” from my high school days, my memory is all open flannel shirts and distressed jeans on one end of the subculture spectrum, bland beige preppy “casual” on the other, and skater clothes in the middle. Oh, and goth become A LOT more widespread than it was in the 80s, and transitioned from it’s 80s look (which was more like what people later came to call “emo”) into the more punk-flavored Victoriana people remember most these days (blame/thank Anne Rice, IIRC).

          In terms of movies and TV, the nineties were pretty bland visually (mid to late 90’s visual media is a wasteland of flat lighting and boring color pallets), but filled with breakout examples of the writing formats that would rise to prominence in the aughts. Seinfeld and Friends redefined sitcoms. Babylon 5 gave us an early taste of the long-form continuity-driven style that’s now kinda the norm (and a huge proof-of-concept for the scalability of formerly blockbuster-budget-only CG effects- almost as ground breaking as Jurassic Park’s dinos at the time).

          1. Jabberwok says:

            In the world of video games, there is definitely a lot of nostalgia for the 90s.

            But in terms of larger trends in aesthetics, I think things that are harder to commodify tend to see less of a resurgence. Grunge, in particular, was decidedly anti-consumerist, and came with a fashion sense that revelled in plainness. The 80s, on the other hand, was full of garish exaggerations of punk style.

            Also, maybe consumers aren’t growing up as fast. Or it could be a demographic thing. At least in the US, the mid-century population boom has probably raised the average age of Americans.

            1. Nessus says:

              Very true.

              Funny thing is, there actually HAS been some resurgence, but it tends to go unnoticed because it’s stuff that was niche or otherwise not something general pop culture remembers when it pictures “the 90s”.

              For example: Warfame’s ENTIRE visual style is a VERY spot-on revival of a style that was popular among Japanese concept artists in the 90’s, but you wouldn’t spot that unless you were reading garage kit magazines or watching weird import films back in the 90s. If you were never into that stuff, or grew up afterward, you’d never even know that style existed before you encountered Warframe for the first time. But as someone who was, I guarantee you the lead designers for Warframe have got some old Fewture figure kits, Keita Amemiya DVDs, and/or old issues of Model Graphics or Replicant at home, if not in their offices.

              I’m not usually a very nostalgia driven person at all, but damn, Warframe hit me right in the mental time machine hard when it first went up on Steam a few years back. I even picked Loki as my starter frame and painted him up like Zeram, because how the fuck could I possibly not, I mean LOOK at him.

              1. Jabberwok says:

                Wow, I never made this connection. But now that you mention it, I had a couple Japanese toys as a kid that could have been warframes.

            2. Taellosse says:

              I wonder if economics plays a role there as well – the generation that were children in the 90s are today’s Millennials. The same cohort that reached adulthood in and around the Great Recession – saddled with more student debt than any prior generation, right alongside years of a shriveled job market that remains anemic in terms of wage growth to this day.

              Their average economic situation has had an impact on a lot of other parts of their lives – they’re putting off buying homes, having kids, etc. It stands to reason that if they are often less able to afford the big changes in life, they also have less disposable income, making them a less accessible target for nostalgia marketing.

          2. LCF says:

            Oh, Black and Death Metal emerged early 90’s from the ashes of radio Heavy Metal.
            And Metal as a whole started to get popular again from the late 90’s on.
            (The first Nightwish album was from 1997.)
            It’s not distinctive of the 90’s as Hair Metal would be of the 80’s, though. I think the sense of continuity is too strong, as there has been innovation all along, yet it’s recognised as similar enough to be “the same” regardless of the decade.

      2. Joshua says:

        Great point! As a kid of the 70/80s and teen of the 90s, I loved the time I grew up in, but it was a more contemplative era than one focused on doing its own thing.

      3. Joe Informatico says:

        But even when people talk about “the 80s”, they’re mashing up the two halves of the decade: the first half, that was actually innovative and creative, and the second half, which was mostly a superficial rehashing of the first half. There are notable exceptions, but by and large most of the huge genre defining (or redefining) music and films that film, pop, and geek culture still worship came out in the first half of the 80s, while the second half is mostly glossy, less innovative retreads of the first half, with the fashion trends amped up to ridiculous levels. So “80s culture” often translates to the good music and mass media of the early 80s coupled with the bad fashion of the late 80s. Even with video games–when people bring up 80s video games, they usually mean Pac-Man and Missile Command and Tron, not Super Mario Brothers and Metroid. There is obviously strong NES-era nostalgia out there, it’s just not a strong part of the package of 80s nostalgia the way Atari/early arcade gaming is.

        1. ccesarano says:

          I’m wondering if personal age has anything to do with it. I was born in 1985, so I have very, very vivid memories of the late 80’s (barely recall pre-school) with most of my childhood being early 90’s and watching my brother enter teen-hood in that time. He is six-and-a-half years older than me, so by 1993 he was a freshman in high school at the swell of grunge rock, which in a lot of ways killed the colorful nature of 80’s fashion and pop. Heavy metal would also see a new transition with Metallica’s “The Black Album”, and late 80’s rap groups like N.W.A. would shift the tone and look of rap. So yes, a lot of this stuff was late-80’s bleeding into the early 90’s, just as late 70’s bled into early 80’s. But this is really when the “look” of the 90’s was defined.

          But as others have observed, it was a very short window. Even if late 80’s pop culture was hijacked by corporate interests as you note, the same thing happened in the 90’s. The difference is the early 90’s was a lot …well, grungier, and when you clean it up you have the evolution of what is now pop rock and radio. My middle and early high-school days of the late nineties and early-aughts saw a major popularity in “punk rock” that was so clean, poppy, and basic compared to what you saw in punk rock’s origins. The same goes for what happened with metal.

          If the late 90’s carry an identity, it’s in that awkward phase where the Internet existed, but there were still gatekeepers (except for webcomics, where Penny Arcade, PvP Online, and others started out). I think what is strange about pop culture now is that so much of it is tied to the Internet, meaning that so much and so little is shared.

          From my perspective so much of modern pop culture began its transition from the 90’s (Independence Day kind of set a new standard for blockbuster cinema), but then again, is it only because I’ve lived through it and thus have conscious memory of it (wouldn’t Star Wars have set the standard? And wasn’t that in turn inspired by pulpy templates?). So… I guess what I’m saying is trying to define distinctions of a decade can be weird when you’ve lived through it.

          I dunno if I’m even convincing myself of anything here. At least in regards to the late 90’s. The early half, however, I feel has a very distinct look and atmosphere. The problem is replicating it earnestly. Everything Sucks on Netflix tries to, but nothing about it feels distinctly 90’s to me. I mean, just look at the poster for Clerks and tell me that doesn’t scream 90’s. Same goes for a film like Singles. These films have a distinct fashion and look that seem uniquely 90’s, but then you move on a few years and that look is lost.

          Whatever happened, the 90’s had a distinct look for a very brief period, and then it sort of… became bland.

      4. Erik says:

        “What we think of as the 80s bled over until about 92/93. The 90s only had a small ~5 year window”…

        Yeah, but this is true for ALL “decades”. The 50s? You’re really thinking of 55-63, the rock’n’roll part of the 50s. The early part belongs with the post-war 40s, the jazz age. And the 60s that most folk think of is really the Beatles/Vietnam era, Civil Rights & anti-war, 64-73. The 70s? I don’t watch That 70s Show personally, but I’ll bet dollars to donuts that it covers mostly post-Vietnam. Depending whether you call the 70s ending with the rise of punk or the fall of disco, there’s a 4-5 year swing in defining that decade. Either 73-78 (short), or 73-81 (long, though still under 10 years (my preference)). The 80s that people think of has the same swing in starting date: either 78-92 or 82-92.

        You say the 90s really started with the transition from glam to grunge around 92, or one could argue that it started with the explosion of rap in 90; I disagree on the ending, however. I believe the end should be tied to 9-11, which was a HUGE cultural transition point. So I call 92-01 for the 90s. Its still a bit too close to make a clear call on what the end of the 00s was (or the Noughties, as I prefer to call them), because we’re still in the 10s and we’re too close to tell what’s seminal and what’s just cultural flotsam.

        All this just goes to show that popular decades (or centuries; arguably the 20th century ended with the 2016 election) don’t align very well with the actual calendar. If you’re doing cultural binning, don’t pay close attention to non-cultural details like exact calendar digits.

    2. Guest says:

      Music wise, 90s revivalism is in full swing. We’ve got grunge wannabes, industrial and nu-metal themes making comebacks.

      Fashion wise, flannel already made it’s comeback years ago and is on the way out.

      Like, I feel like the worst of 90s fashion is dead for anyone not being ironic, and the rest just didn’t go out of style. The flannel shirts, the baggy woolen jumpers, they’ve all had their time in the sun this decade. Same with the movies and TV, a lot of it still holds up in a way that doesn’t really date it in the same way. We all have a good laugh at “Tubular” and “EXTREME” but we live in a world with MOTHER and MONSTER and ROCKSTAR energy drinks, so from this seat, it looks like we didn’t really leave that behind. Would we recognise 90s revitalism if it happened, if it wasn’t some sort of exaggerated parody?

      But apparently we’re getting a Bill and Ted sequel, so it looks like all is not lost, some of that cheese will live on.

  2. John says:

    A proper 90s nostalgia-based GTA needs to have all of the following:

    (1) A grunge- and post-grunge-based soundtrack.
    (2) A main character who wears a flannel shirt tied around his waist at all times.
    (3) “X-treme” sports mini-games.

  3. unit3000-21 says:

    I suppose you could say it about any decade, but it bugs me that how The Eighties are shown in pop culture is not how they were for almost half the time. ’80 to early ’82 was more like late ’70s, and late ’87 to ’89 was kinda the alpha version of the early ’90s. That neons+cocaine vibe happened mostly in the middle. I mean I know it’s obvious, but somehow it bugs me.

    1. Joshua says:

      Just like there was a big difference between when Nirvana appeared and ST:TNG started getting good and when Korn (ugh) was popular and the Matrix was released.

    2. Joe Informatico says:

      You can even say it about centuries–most of the time, “the 20th century” really means 1914-1991, i.e. the World Wars and the Cold War. Because 1900-1914 often feels like an extension of the late 19th century, and the 90s are the misfit decade that doesn’t really feel like the rest of the 20th century, but doesn’t feel like part of the 21st century either. Ultimately, years, decades, and centuries are mostly arbitrary measures pinned to an event we can’t even reliably pin down.

      1. King Marth says:

        The arbitrary nature of decades struck a chord here. Why do we expect precisely one cultural shift every ten years? I’m curious if Japan, which still commonly refers to the year as the Xth year of the current Emperor’s term, classifies its cultural phenomena by 10s as well for a different start point, or if Heisei vs Showa is so much more of a differentiator (helped by how each reign had more than 10 years to establish themes) that decades are drowned out. I’ve seen Wikipedia articles on long-running series split seasons by Emperor.

        1. Mephane says:

          Furthermore, the very use of concepts like decade, century etc. is arbitrary, because we happen to count in base 10. That could very well have turned out differently, in some ancient cultures base 12 was the norm, and there are still some remains of that today, e.g. the 12 hours of the clock, the 360 degress of a circle (which are a multiple of 12). The so very important-looking year 2000 becomes a not at all remarkable 11A8 in base 12 (borrowing A and B from from hexadecimal as the figures for 10 and 11).

          1. Philadelphus says:

            Technically the 360 degrees in a circle come from the Babylonian base-60 system (which I think also gives us 60 seconds/minute and minutes/hour, and the degrees-minutes-seconds of measure angle). But you’re spot-on about base-10 being arbitrary, if fairly common throughout history. (The ancient Mayans though, for instance, used a base-20 system.)

  4. Cubic says:

    Vice City was a fun game, lots of good missions. My least favorite one that took forever was probably where you had to bomb those boats with your trusty RC plane, which was impossible to maneuver. The whole end game where you do missions to collect properties was a pretty good idea too (the infamous driving mission is part of that). Driving was kind of ironic — Ferraris all over the place, as is natural, but the streets were terrible to drive, narrow and lots of traffic. Part of the GTA charm.

    It improved a number of tech things on GTAIII, like adding motorcycles, helicopters, planes, etc and not needing FPS mode to look around. The radio was mostly worse though.

    I recently replayed Vice City and took the time to collect those statues to get a lot of wacky weapons. This turned out to help considerably.

    I’m astounded that they made this game on a $5m budget.

  5. Asdasd says:

    What I remember most about this game is the great soundtrack, and the (often genuinely funny) radio hosts whose personalities, while caricatures, came into sharper focus the longer you listened to them.

    Lance Vance was a cool side character with a not entirely convincing arc. Even though there was plenty of foreshadowing, the way they set up the ending confrontation just felt slightly contrived. Also possibly a closeted gay character, but one who wasn’t solely defined by their sexuality, which seems like a progressive step in game narrative.

    If I remember right, the story was basically a retread of Scarface only Tony Montana fights off the baddies at the end.

    1. JBC31187 says:

      Your mansion even has that “The World is Yours” statue.

  6. Darren says:

    The thing with 90’s properties is that there’s not that much that’s getting evoked so much as remade. We’re not getting films that evoke Jurassic Park, we’re getting new Jurassic Park films. We’re not getting TV shows that evoke Roseanne, we’re getting new Roseanne. And I picked those examples because the other side of this trend is that the new stuff sucks.

    90’s nostalgia is mostly a tire fire. Hell, some 90’s culture never left: The Simpsons has trundled on and has sucked for longer than it was great. Who wants to revisit the decade that never left? It’s like hanging out with one of those guys who graduates college but still spends all his time on campus.

    Things are a little better in the video game world, where retro aesthetics get applied to games that don’t have the same flaws as the originals, producing gorgeous JRPGs like Octopath Traveler and the first decent Sonic game in God knows how long. But that’s the 90’s nostalgia exception, not the 90’s nostalgia rule.

    1. Joe Informatico says:

      You pretty much nailed it. So many 90s properties never actually went away (Pokemon, Power Rangers), and the stuff that did is just getting latter-day direct sequels: X-Files, Twin Peaks, Independence Day–even Beverly Hills 90210 got a direct sequel TV series!

    2. INH5 says:

      Not only this, but technology meant that even the stuff that ended, at least temporarily, still stuck around in a way that only the most spectacularly successful properties of the past decades did.

      Let’s concentrate on TV shows, where the changes have been especially strong. As a teenager in the mid 2000s watching basic cable channels, I saw plenty of reruns of 90s shows like The X Files, Boy Meets World, and Seinfeld that I had completely missed the original runs of. And while I didn’t do this all that much myself back then, DVDs, online shopping, and the original mail-you-a-disc Netflix meant that if you found a show that you particularly liked, you could buy a whole season or rent the whole run of the show one disc at a time to watch at your leisure. And of course nowadays streaming offers both the “stumble on a show you had completely missed the original run of” and “watch a show at your leisure” services.

      Contrast this to earlier decades, where my impression is that maybe a dozen or so “classic” shows per decade stuck in the pop culture memory while everything else got forgotten by later generations except by classic TV enthusiasts and historians, presumably due to the limited slots available for reruns.

    3. shoeboxjeddy says:

      Yeah, if you want some 90’s nostalgia, take note that on TV there is (or will soon be) new episodes, specials, or full series from:
      -A TMNT show
      -Power Rangers
      -Roseanne (now without Roseanne)
      -Will and Grace
      -Double Dare
      -Legends of the Hidden Temple
      -Twin Peaks
      -Rocko’s Modern Life
      -The Tick

      And in movies we’re seeing new or continued versions of:
      -Power Rangers
      -Jurassic Park
      -Mission: Impossible

      1. djw says:

        Does Mission: Impossible really count as retro 90’s though? The TV series was late 60’s early 70’s, after all.

        1. Joshua says:

          There was a reboot in 1988 that ended in 1990.

      2. Syal says:

        Went to Walmart today and found Super Troopers 2 in the new release section. Remember Super Troopers? Well, there’s two of them now.

      3. MarcoSnow says:

        We’re also getting reboots of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003) and The Matrix (1999). For better or worse, nineties properties are gaining traction in today’s modern, reboot-obsessed entertainment industry.

        1. Galad says:

          A Matrix reboot? This better be the best goddamn reboot to have ever booted, or else! *shakes millenial fist, with a spot of guacamole*

          1. BlueHorus says:

            …or else it’ll get the boot?

            Though I wouldn’t hold your breath; This’ll probably be just another sole-less remake that will run roughshod over our dreams.

            Mind you, if the shoe fits…

    4. Antwon says:

      Darren et al. raised the same points I was going to: we’re awash in ’90s properties that are being revisited. New TV episodes of Roseanne, and Double Dare, and Will and Grace, and Murphy Brown. (Among myriad others I am skating past.)

      I mean, I guess I’m as responsible as anyone else. I’m a boring adult now, with discretionary income. None of those titles especially tickle my fancy… but crank out a Sliders or Quantum Leap reboot and yeah, I’m gonna be there with figurative bells on.

    5. Guest says:

      That’s exactly it, I just left a reply to that effect!

      Although, I’m not so on board with the tire fire thing, a lot of 90s fashion is still worn today, even if it’s toned down, it’s not as visually distinct to us as say, 50s or 70s fashion, which is very different. We’re still wearing hoodies and flannels and jeans and whatnot (No, the 90s didn’t invent them, they’re just a hallmark).

      TV of the time has continued on to the present, it’s just “TV” to most of us, not even really “90s TV”, because it’s continuous. We’ve kept a hold of a lot of those visual aesthetics.

      If anything, music is the only area I notice real revivalism, because the big sounds of the 90s, alternative, grunge, industrial, nu-metal, didn’t stay on top, and the decade and change since have sounded very different. Now I’m hearing plenty of bands doing the rap-metal schtick again, and even putting on some of the worst of 90s fashion as a send up.

      It’s nothing like that tired Moviebob episode, he’s just not nostalgiac for something that wasn’t in his childhood, that’s not a real analysis.

  7. Bloodsquirrel says:

    I think the reason that we don’t see a lot of 90’s nostalgia is because it was the point where a lot of stuff just kind of reached a point of “maturity” where it doesn’t stand out in the way that stuff from the 80s does.

    Take movies, for example: Jurassic Park came out in 1993 and ushered in the age of CGI. And… it still holds up. It doesn’t look hokey like something from ten years earlier would have. Terminator 2 came out in 1991. Modern sensibilities haven’t moved on enough from those two movies that you could make the kind of “wink wink, nudge nudge” knockoff that plays on people’s nostalgia. Instead, they’re making actual sequels.

    You could go to the mall wearing a lot of 90’s fashion and not stick out in the way that you would if you were wearing 80’s fashion.

    Seinfeld, the major 90s hit TV show, laid the foundation of the modern sitcom so well that it still doesn’t look or feel antiquated. Friends followed in the same trend. Save for a few changes, you could have Friends airing as a new show today ad it would’t feel out of place. The X-Files did the same thing for dramatic TV, bringing in a cinematic look.

    I think there just isn’t the value in “updating” 90’s stuff the way there was for 60s, 70s, or 80s stuff. There isn’t the room for obvious improvements, looking back and laughing at stuff we find silly now, caricature, or any of the other stuff that nostalgia is usually built on. It’s still too modern, even if its almost 30 years old now.

    1. Joe Informatico says:

      The codicil to this is, even the goofiest, corniest 80s properties tend to come from a place of sincerity, which makes them ready targets for mockery from a modern perspective. But almost anything from the 90s and onward that wasn’t specifically aimed a young children or made in Japan has at least a level of irony, detachment, or self-awareness that makes satire or parody difficult, even from a place of love. Who wants to crack jokes when the punchline is already spoiled?

    2. Gethsemani says:

      I think you are mostly right. One thing we should not forget, however, is that the 90’s is the decade when a lot of media focused on the negative aspects of (predominantly) American middle class life. You have movies like American Beauty and Office Space, to name two prominent examples, that mostly exist as critique of the “stable but boring” lifestyle that the middle class lived. The same is true for Grunge as a music style, with Greenday and Nirvana singing a lot about how the younger generation should not become drones like their parents and should rebel and follow their dreams.

      Fast forward twenty years from Office Space and American Beauty and the work security and stable income that the 90’s rebelled against is suddenly an unreachable dream for many people and millions of people have lost their status as middle class (and the stability that went along with it), having been downsized, laid off or seen their job vanish as the rust belts spread.

      There’s simply nothing nostalgic about the 90’s, especially not for those of us who were older kids and teens at the time, because the 90’s is a reminder about how much was taken for granted that has been lost in the intervening 20 years. The current social climate just isn’t conducive to waxing nostalgic about revolution against cozy middle class life. A lot of people that thought that was their future when they listened to Greenday or watched American Beauty in the late 90’s, are now struggling to get anywhere near the small everyday luxuries of middle class life that their parents enjoyed. Which means the 90’s carry less nostalgia and much more resentment, as it is a reminder of innocence lost.

    3. Joshua says:

      I definitely think there’s a much weaker stereotypical “90’s look/90’s hair” than you had with the 80s. Unless you go with something like a mullet or the teased bangs that was late 80s/early 90s, you won’t stand out as much as you would with an 80s do. To the average person, you would look “off”, but not evoke the same feeling of “x decade”. Difference between “The Rachel” and “The Motley Crue”.

      My $.02, anyway.

      However, one difference between the television shows ran back then and redoing them today is the advent of the internet and ubiquity of cell phones. I think someone from Seinfeld once said half of the episodes wouldn’t work anymore in a modern setting because cell phones would easily resolve the conflicts.

    4. Liessa says:

      You could go to the mall wearing a lot of 90’s fashion and not stick out in the way that you would if you were wearing 80’s fashion.
      I was never exactly a fashionista anyway, but I’m pretty sure I do still have at least some of the clothes I wore in the 90s, and occasionally wear them. They don’t look all that different from the stuff I’ve bought recently. Over the last few weeks I’ve been watching some LPs of video games made and set in the 90s, and the main things that stand out are not the fashions but the technology (early computers, mobile phones etc., and the way people talk about the Internet like it’s something new and strange).

  8. 4th Dimension says:

    Oh THAT MISSION. Yeah, that one was a wall banger.

    Although your car DOES have one advantage over your opponent’s. You have an edge in top speed if not acceleration. Which means that you CAN beat the guy, if you make no or little to no mistakes. Because if you are able to accelerate to top speed and keep it that way you will leave him in the dust.

    But the cops aren’t helping here. And Vice City probably had the strongest and most aggressive cops in all of GTA and it’s nearly all to those tire shredders that seemingly every cop has. So nearly any cop can run to the road and instantly pop tire shredders which will quickly end whatever chase you are involved in.

    No wonder I preffered to get all secret packages and unlock my float helicopter with a GUN and run nearly EVERY mission in it.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      What the Driver mission needed was a way to make the player think they were being forced to do something, then changing it mid-way.
      I.e when you lose the mission, have a cutscene of Tommy saying ‘Great! You’re hired’ and the game moves on as normal.
      Or his car blows up a metre away from the finish line, so you always win and can’t hire him. And then the mission turn into ‘escape the people who are hunting you with rocket launchers’.

      Or something. There’s a big difference between ‘satirizing something annoying’ and simply ‘doing the thing that’s annoying and calling it satire’.
      And killing the driver before the mission after forcing you to beat him in a counterproductive race? That’s Hideo Kojima levels of bullshit piss-taking right there.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Not just killing him,but killing him because he was such a moron that he got out of the car and went towards you.He had ONE job.

      2. Guest says:

        I don’t think they were satirising something annoying, they were just being intentionally annoying. It pads the missions, they obviously don’t want anyone but the player doing the getaway, so they throw in a driver and kill him off to explain that, and use that excuse to add in recruitment for him.

        There’s no satire, even if it did send it up, it’d still be a garbage satire because it’d be first and foremost an example of the problem.

        Just GTA things

    2. Drathnoxis says:

      Your car has another advantage over his. It’s much better positioned to avoid the bus that someone carelessly parked across the road at a tight corner that sends his car spinning into a tree and getting stuck long enough for you to gain a decent lead.

  9. nirutha says:

    Have you ever watched Carlito’s Way? The other De Palma / Pacino gangster movie?
    Vice City doesn’t just give numerous nods to Scarface, it’s almost a mash-up of those two movies.

    1. Jabberwok says:

      Yeah, the lawyer in the game is lifted directly from Sean Penn’s character.

    2. Volvagia says:

      I can kind of see that Carlito’s Way is a minor influence, but it’s far from even. Somewhere around 80%/20%-85%/15%, favouring Scarface. I’d love to see what the Housers could do with a game that constricts themselves to Carlito’s Way as the PRIMARY riff fodder.

  10. Nixorbo says:

    Best thing to do in GTA3/VC – go to the top of the biggest hill, use a cheat to spawn in a tank, point the turret behind you and propel yourself to unbelievable speeds by moving forward and firing behind. I vaguely remember this working better in 3, where there was a giant hill with a ramp at the bottom. If you could hit it right, you would clear at least one row of buildings.

    1. Pax says:

      Or even better, do that and also use the low gravity cheat to fly the tank around the map.

  11. Joe Informatico says:

    My friend married a woman 5 years younger than him, and so our friends often hung out with her friends. One of them had a 90s themed birthday where we were encouraged to dress up in 90s fashion. I wore the same flannel shirt I’ve owned since 1993 and the Doc Martins I used to wear to goth-industrial club nights, and most of my friends were dressed similar. Meanwhile, she and her friends were all dressed like the Spice Girls. I thought “our respective memories of ‘the 90s’ are very different, aren’t they?”

  12. Zackoid says:

    It’s probably hard to mention in the middle of a retrospective, but Vice City still has the best storyline of all the GTA games, right? Or at least the least dissonance with the gameplay.

    Tommy, unlike every voiced protagonist save Trevor, is a psycho. Which is exactly what a GTA player must be.

    1. Jabberwok says:

      That’s the way I remember it. Niko Bellic in GTA 4 turned me off instantly. They tried to give him a sad backstory without making him likeable first. Little bits about how his past ‘ruined him’ while he’s running down hundreds of pedestrians. Tommy was entertaining, Niko I just wanted to stop talking. I feel like Rockstar keeps trying and failing to humanize their mass-murdering psychopaths, when they should be owning it and just admitting that GTA is a silly game. That’s what made Saints Row so good.

  13. Vextra says:

    All of the above answers about why the 90s havent taken off as a big thing are all fascinating, but one thing I think being overlooked is the cold hard economics of the situation.

    Broadly speaking, the 90s/late 90s nostalgic generation are the much maligned and misunderstood “Millenials”. I won’t retread or go into too much depth, but I think there is some truth to the fact that this generation has less disposable income than its parent generation, and may have a world-view that, coupled with the above factors, makes them less likely to be a source of revenue for nostalgia merchants.

    The fracturing of any sense of a unified, period-specific culture also probably contributes, as mentioned above. I would struggle to think of a single thing that could be said to define the aughts that wasn’t explicitly political, and as the ‘tens draw to a close, I am even more at a loss.

    1. Mephane says:

      I am of that very generation. I grew up in the late 80s and through the 90s, and because of that I feel equally connected to the 80s as well as the 90s.

      For example, I still remember the first music record I ever owned, it was an audio cassette by Michael Jackson (I can’t remember the name of the album though). As a child I had a walkman, saw CD players becoming mainstream only to be mostly replaced by MP3 players mere moments later. I remember the feeling of static electricity on the glass of a CRT TV when I was a child as well as buying a 15” flat screen for my PC as a teenager.

      And since that rapid pace of technological shifts has not slowed down to this day, it doesn’t feel to me like the 90s really ever ended, but they rather dissolved into a 21st century that cares little any further of these classifications by decades and just exists in a perpetual state of it’s the future.

      1. Jabberwok says:

        I know what you mean, but I have to wonder if part of this is the psychology of growing up. It makes sense that people would classify things that came from their childhood as being in a separate era, but then lump everything in their adult years together. Just in general, I think it’s difficult for people to separate their own perceptions of cultural change from the changes in themselves. Two people of roughly the same age might have an easy time agreeing with each other, but someone more than ten years apart may have a very different view of where the cultural cutoff between two decades goes.

        It’s very easy for me to see the 90s and the 00s as vastly different because I graduated high school and entered college right at the turn of the millennium. Then my brain lumps everything post-college into one category, even though it’s been over a decade. And it doesn’t help that adults are usually more disconnected from the trends that may define younger generations. I could watch VH1’s Remember the 90s and get why they spend so much time talking about pogs, but if there’s ever an equivalent show for the 2010s (probably not, since traditional TV is dying) it will all be gibberish to me.

  14. MelfinatheBlue says:

    We have seen some fashion callbacks in recent years, I’ve seen those weird brown stretchy chokers that are supposed to look like henna?, at least one purse I swear I owned in ’97, and several other things (there might be more, but I spent my later teenage years ignoring and being ignored by fashion due to my size). Oh, and Izzy made a bit of a comeback, god knows why, but that might just be an Atlanta/my crowd thing. (Izzy (originally Whatisit?) was the mascot of the ’96 summer games, held in Atlanta. He was not well-liked and I’ve seen at least one “Whatwasit” shirt lately)

    1. Mephane says:

      We have seen some fashion callbacks in recent years, I’ve seen those weird brown stretchy chokers that are supposed to look like henna?

      A surprise, to be sure, but a welcome one. It’s one of the few fashion pieces from the time that truly evokes some nostalgia for me.

      P.S.: Shamus, I think the site’s cookies are broken. The form fields for the comments (name, email, website) aren’t prefilled any more with the previous input the way they used to.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        There was a wordpress update some time ago,and thats what broke the fields.Shamus mentioned in some previous post that its bugging even him,not just us.

  15. It’s really funny you say that there’s been no explosion of 90s nostalgia, because I get what you’re driving at but personally I’m celebrating about five years of being sick to death of Only 90s Kids Will Remember This! There hasn’t been an explosion in throwback 90s TV shows or movies, but if Shrek memes are anything to go by there’s a huge untapped audience out there.

    I think part of the phenomenon here is that there was a shift in who has the most disposable income. Used to be that people in their mid-twenties and early thirties were a lucrative market to chase, but perhaps that’s not the case anymore.

    You could argue that the case is economic, with that demographic actually having less disposable income, but I doubt the numbers would bear that out quite to the extent that people might assume at first blush.

    I think the cause is more cultural – that demographic is no longer the easy mark for marketing it once was. You could chalk that up to the cynical 90s ‘tude, but then you’d think that hippie idealism would have made the Baby Boomers harder to sell to, and that certainly didn’t happen.

    And on that note, it could be that the other demographic groups changed as well. Maybe parents are more likely to toss disposable income to their kids than themselves, marking the explosion in the tween demo. Or maybe the aging boomers have remained a profitable demographic into old age in a way that previous generations didn’t; I remember my grandparents being skinflints who lived in a house they had built themselves, but my father at the same age has very different fiduciary habits.

    TL;DR: Nostalgia is just as much about targeted marketing as it is cultural memory.

  16. Pax says:

    We don’t have a big wave of 90s nostalgia coming (as many have said, it really never went away), but Captain Marvel is set in the 90s (no, not the one with Chuck and a muscle suit and Djimon Hounsou, but the one with Carol and Sam Jackson and Djimon Hounsou).

  17. Mark says:

    I dealt with that racing mission by shooting out the other driver’s tires at the starting line, and then rolled up to the finish at my leisure while he fishtailed helplessly into an alley. Easy-peasy.

    The earlier GTA games were a lot more willing to let you get away with that kind of behavior.

    1. Droid says:

      I also tried that, and a lot of other stuff to cheese this mission, but for me, shooting his tires just resulted in him getting thrown or driving all on his lonesome into the river/sea/whatever or getting himself killed stupidly some other way every damn time.

  18. Christopher says:

    Rather than fashion or music, I was born 1990 and didn’t really care about any of that stuff. Instead, I cared about videogames, and I see a lot of that stuff resurfacing. Nintendo’s properties kinda don’t count – they never went away. But even then, you get massive buzz for games like Mario Odyssey, Breath of the Wild and Pokemon Go/Sun/Moon, spiritual sequels to games that all came out in the 90s. You have remasters like Crash and Spyro for the Playstation kids, and tons of kickstarters trying to ape a specific game from the decade. I’m still, honestly, not really informed enough to talk about fashion and music and that kinda thing. But I can sure tell there’ve been a lot of 16-bit-like spritebased games and early 3d model nostalgia this decade.

  19. Aevylmar says:

    I was born in ’93, and Arkham Asylum is *totally* 90s flashback nostalgia. HEY! LOOK! IT’S THE BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES CAST AND CREATORS! IN A GAME INSTEAD OF A SHOW! WITH MORE ADULT ELEMENTS!

    Yes, they still have the license, but most people still have the license. And it was only 14 years after the original series ended, but the other example I can think of is 15 years – Starcraft I was a Beloved Childhood Memory and 15 years later they brought out Starcraft II.

    On the other hand, I’m trying to remember other games and TV series I loved from back then, and having difficulties. (I didn’t watch very many 90s movies, and books tend not to get decade-y homages.) So I’m having some difficulties there. There’s no enthusiastic remakes of, say, Gargoyles or Heroes of Might and Magic or Warlords for me to enjoy.

    Ah well. Maybe in another five years.

    1. LCF says:

      Compulsory remark: HoMM3 was gorgeous and worthy of the best the 90’s video games had to offer. HoMM5 and followers aped the worst of Warcraft 3 / WoW and Final Fantasy at eyeblight level as it was a “take what selled millions and copy it mindlessly” approach. Seriously, look at that peasant, and dare to tell me it’s not a gorilla in a human suit. They toned it down a bit after 5 and had some otherwise interesting High Fantasy concept and Art direction, but the bulk of it was rotten to the core.

      Semi-unrelated remark: in the mid-90’s, France was awash in “boys band” (en anglais dans le texte), fully artificial group of marketing-engeneered bio-plastic human-looking ‘musical’ entities, to be bought and consumed by pubescent and pre-pubescent children. I, for one, welcome our new marketing overlo am relieved they haven’t revived that trend (yet).

      Path of Exhile is a no-shame full-on Diablo 2 nostalgia fortress, but it may have less to do with 20 years of nostalgia and more with reviving D2, especially in the face of D3 and its heterodox approache to Hack’n’Slash.
      Heroes and Generals sometimes feel like an involuntary hommage to Return to Castle Wolfenstein. The occidental church and occidental cathedral as well as occidental houses most certainly do.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Personally,I always preferred the art in homm2 than 3.Though 3 is the most polished of them all.And 4,a mess that it was,still had some good things to it.Most notably,the stories.5….was ok after the second expansion.It has some,albeit few,good tings in it.6 is utter trash,and its mostly ubisofts fault,for replacing developers more often than their underwear.7 is just lazy to the extreme.

        In fact,I commented on this on the forums already,with links to the intros that tell you everything.

        Oh yeah,also the kings bounty remakes are great.Far superior to anything ubisoft shat out.

  20. Jason says:

    Vice City was my first GTA game, so obviously I didn’t get any of the Easter eggs and references to III, until I played III later. I loved the game.
    I don’t remember many of the specific missions, but I think I was stuck on the driver one. I do remember that one of the first things I did was the pizza delivery mission. Totally by accident – I hopped on the scooter and pressed whatever button to start the mission. It helped me find my way around town, and I ended up with 200% health after completing it.
    I especially liked the soundtrack. My brother was a huge Miami Vice fan, so I recognized a lot of the music and the art style.
    Instant death by water was frustrating, glad the added swimming to the later games.

  21. Gaius Maximus says:

    I’m a naturally nostalgic person who turned 18 in 2000, so I have enormous nostalgia for the ’90s. What I’m mostly nostalgic for is the peace, prosperity, and sense of hope for the future, which seems like it would be hard to market.

    I thought the fashions were ridiculous even at the time. What I mostly remember from high school is guys wearing ludicrously oversized pants and girls wearing sandals which six-inch think soles. At the time I was listening almost exclusively to music from the ’60s. Ironically, I listen to a lot more ’90s music now than I did during the ’90s. I would love to see a return of ’90s style Star Trek, but all we’re getting these days is generic action crap with the Star Trek name stuck on, so I don’t have much hope for that. For me, the best TV show of the ’90s, or ever, for that matter, was Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and I absolutely do not want to see and would not watch a reboot or remake. I’d watch a show set in the same universe if Joss Whedon was running it, but that’s as close as I’d get.

    I played through Vice City three or four times, so I played The Driver mission many times, and it was just awful. My one specific memory, though, is one playthrough where I was behind the other guy at exactly the right distance so that on the last turn of the race, two cop cars spawned on either side of him and T-boned him from both sides simultaneously. It was incredibly satisfying.

    1. Matt Downie says:

      Weirdly, they just announced a new Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV show. Nostalgia is back!

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Oh great,buffy fighting vampires that sparkle.Just what we need.

        1. Are you kidding? That sounds awesome!

      2. Gaius Maximus says:

        Dammit, I jinxed it!

    2. BlueHorus says:

      For me, the best TV show of the ’90s, or ever, for that matter, was Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and I absolutely do not want to see and would not watch a reboot or remake.

      Absolutely. That show was great while it lasted, innovative for its time and various aspects have been adapted by other, more modern shows. But redoing that now would be-

      Matt Downie:
      Weirdly, they just announced a new Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV show. Nostalgia is back!

      Wait, what?

      …ah, shit. I’d probably check that out. But not with very high expectations…

      1. Guest says:

        Apparently Joss Whedon is back on board as well, which is a good sign.

    3. PeteTimesSix says:

      I would love to see a return of ’90s style Star Trek, but all we’re getting these days is generic action crap with the Star Trek name stuck on

      You might be interested in the Orville then, aka the show that does Star Trek better than modern Star Trek.

  22. Syal says:

    Was that an infamous mission? I barely even remember it. (I probably just parked a bus in front of him or something.)

    The one I remember was flying that stupid terrible plane through, like, rings or something. Could never finish that one. At least the business it was attached to was optional.

    1. Droid says:

      That and the FUNCTIONALLY SAME mission in San Andreas. You’d think they could learn to make missions not be terrible, but alas not.

  23. camycamera says:

    How could you not mention the mission where Tommy says in a cutscene that he’s going to “establish dominance” or something (he needs to yell a bunch and smash all the windows in the mall) and that he’ll be back “in five minutes”, and then the game puts up a god damn 5-minute timer for this mission that actually isn’t that time sensitive, and then you have to drive all the way to the mall and smash all the windows within those 5 minutes.

    Why? There’s only a timer because Tommy said he’d be back “in 5 minutes”, I thought as a figure of speech, but nope apparently he meant it literally? Regardless, even if he had valid reason for that to be done in 5 minutes, having a timer for such a mission is dumb as hell. And if you run out of time (either by crashing, or not smashing all the windows in time because you have no clue what window you’re missing), you have to do the entire god damn thing again. Horrible!

    I didn’t remember that driver mission much, but this one, I did. Oh and that remote-controlled helicopter where you have to deliver bombs to blow up a building was pretty horrible, too.

    Yet more examples of horrible GTA mission design, egh. I don’t blame you for not ranting on about every bad mission in every GTA game though, there’s too many of them.

  24. For me the “80s” stretch from Late 1970s through 1980s to the early 1990s. Or in other words the “80s” are the entire 80s +/- 5 years.

  25. Jeremy says:


    I always thought Sonny was the one who arranged for the deal to go bad in the first place. Considering right after the deal goes wrong there’s a cutscene where Tommy calls Sonny, and there’s a large amount of cocaine and cash prominently featured on Sonny’s desk.

    1. Droid says:

      No, Lance says in the main mission “Supply and Demand” (the one with the boat chase to the drug vendor and back to Diaz’ villa):

      Lance Vance: We got some competition! So Tommy, we know it was Diaz who busted our deal. So why the hell are we running errands for him?

      Tommy Vercetti: The more we learn now, the less we have to learn when we take this town over!

      Lance Vance: I like your style, man. Real fresh. It’s time for the Lance Vance Dance.

  26. Redrock says:

    That goddamn RC helicopter. How much I hated that thing. That said, this is probably my favorite GTA game. It’s one of the two GTA games I actually completed, the other being GTA V.

    1. Droid says:

      Only topped by the terrible RC plane, the large helicopters (because you had a higher chance of running into things) and the DAMN FILM STUDIO missions! All of them were horrible! The one where you had to jump across the rooftops of all of downtown with a motorbike, the one where you had to chase a limo with a helicopter, make photos of some politician and get back with 5 stars and the FBI on your ass and the one where you had to spread the damn posters with a terrible, terrible plane by flying through hoops. ARGH!!!

      1. Redrock says:

        Wasn’t the plane in San Andreas? I forget.

        1. Droid says:

          San Andreas had the flying school with lots of fly-through-hoops missions, and subsequent missions where you actually have to competently fly a plane. And they were a pain in the ass as well. But Vice City had this one mission (TV Tropes, huzzah!) where you have to spread flyers for the (extremely obvious/on-the-nose porn) movie that the film studio you acquired was in the process of filming.

          You start in front of the film studio, go onto a pier out back where an amphibious (water-to-air? how do you call those`?) plane sits in the water and as soon as you enter, a dozen or so rings appear throughout the city, loosely laid out on a circuit. And every ring you enter temporarily makes you drop flyers like crazy, removes all other rings and spawns a new ring that you have to fly through to “finish” this area.

          It’s a pretty easy mission if you know how to handle the plane and VC’s flying mechanics. Otherwise, it’s a long grind of trying to hit all those rings, and then their respective “end rings”, without crashing into any obstacle along the way. Like buildings. Or containers. Or that crane that’s right behind one ring. Etc.

          1. JBC31187 says:

            The San Andreas flight school was annoying, but not half as bad as the driving school (although if you had the basic XBox controller, it was horrid due to button layout). The driving school was awful- timed missions and completely unforgiving, as in- “if you swerve a bit, or tap reverse instead of the e-brake, you fail.” It was “Do it again, stupid” gameplay, except you can’t see the script.

          2. Boobah says:

            an amphibious (water-to-air? how do you call those`?) plane

            A plane that is designed to land on the water is a sea plane; if the fuselage floats in the water, then it’s also a flying boat, although there are, of course, some who argue that the two categories don’t overlap.

            Flying boats typically have a standard retractable landing gear as well; other sea planes not so much.

      2. Cubic says:

        Heh, I thought most of them were fun. I like playing missions that turn out to be insane and epic, perhaps with a bit of trolling too. Vice City provided plenty of those.

        (I’m perhaps unusual because I can replay missions over and over without complaining too hard, and getting a finicky mission ruined by random traffic or by touching some passing police car or something can be frustrating but is still … kind of great, in the larger scheme of things.)

        1. Droid says:

          Don’t get me wrong, those missions were great to keep me engaged back then, they’re not even strictly speaking bad for the game as a whole.
          But they need you to have a good understanding of a mechanic you hardly use otherwise, meaning it can feel like grinding through 10 minutes of pure RNG. I will admit that they fit thematically and tonally (in whatever sense VC missions can fit thematically or tonally), and screwing one up is not the end of the world even if it can become a time sink.
          My complaint was simply that they’re multiple roadblocks I encountered as a kid one after another, and none of them seemed really worth the effort. It’s not really a rewarding use of your time when compared to the mechanically easier printing press or the easily breakable taxi missions.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            The secret to flying properly in those gtas was to rebind the flying controls to use only the keyboard and not the mouse.Even then,they were controller oriented.

  27. Thomas says:

    Millennials (which encompass the 90’s generation confusingly) are the first generation in a while to potentially earn less than their predecessors, so maybe there’s not so much incentive to stop serving the 80’s generation. Ready Player One was written by someone in the nostalgia time frame from the 80’s.

    Plus, if you look at something, like Buzzfeed, it’s dominated by 90’s nostalgia. There’s
    200,000 hits for ‘ “Saved by the Bell”‘,
    500,000 hits for ‘ “Fresh Prince of Bel Air”,
    7.9 million for ‘ “friends” “TV show”‘
    and only
    200,000 for ‘ “Cheers” “TV show”‘
    100,000 for ‘ “Family ties”

  28. Robert Marney says:

    Comic books are firmly in the grip of ’90s nostalgia these days. Shoulder pauldrons, straps and buckles, unnecessary headgear, and characters with names like Shatterstar are coming back. Even Venom is getting his own movie. Of course, “the 90s” at Marvel Comics started in 1988.

  29. AzzyGaiden says:

    We are indeed “hip-deep in 90s nostalgia right now” if you know where to look. 90s-kid memes are huge on social media. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is getting rebooted. I am a graduate student living in a college town, and mid-90s fashion (scrunchies, high-waisted faded jeans, platforms, perms, combat boots with dresses, spaghetti strap dresses with t-shirts underneath) is all the rage among the undergrads on campus.

    If you have the courage, step into your local Urban Outfitters: Tommy Hilfiger! Fila! Tube tops! Disposable cameras for sale! Hell, you can even buy Tamagotchis on their website.

    Keeping in mind that these nostalgia booms tend to market to the generation that came of age in that decade, it perhaps makes sense that Shamus (a 70’s baby) isn’t noticing it. It wouldn’t make sense to target him.

  30. Jabrwock says:

    90’s was all about rebellion and grunge and emo. *Shock value* Toning down the colour explosion of the 80’s, wearing black or somber tones instead of neon. Ditching the padded shoulders. Sudden fascination with Victorian-era fatalism. The Gulf War and Yugoslav wars which brought real-time death and destruction into the mainstream, but in a detached way, because it wasn’t a huge influx of wounded veterans like Vietnam. Ripple effects of Reaganomics so there wasn’t a huge amount of money to throw around on excess. So I think it’s less remembered because it just wasn’t as flashy.

  31. CJK says:

    I think the “90’s never left” people have it right, especially if you give it some slack and assume the “90’s” really extended from about 93-2002

    Shrek was released in 2001, and somehow it still generates memes.

    The Lord of the Rings film trilogy was 2001, we got direct prequels in 2012-2014, and it’s widely rumoured that Amazon’s upcoming series will also exist in the same continuity.

    X-Men was 2000, and we’re still getting films tenuously related to that continuity – Hugh Jackman was Wolverine for 17 years. Similarly, Tom Cruise has been Ethan Hunt since 1996. Mark Hamill has voiced The Joker since 1992.

    It’s really hard to get nostalgic for properties that never went away.

  32. Daemian Lucifer says:

    On the subject of 90s nostalgia,Tom Scott talks about video tape filters .

    1. LCF says:

      Tom Scott’s most often interesting.

  33. DerJungerLudendorff says:

    I think the Twentysided server is bugging out again. It’s been redirecting me to what looks like a backup site, having database connection issues, and I’m pretty sure it gave me some kind of admin page one time (I just backed out again).

    That, or somebody is actively messing around with the live server, in which case I hope it’s just Shamus.

  34. Warclam says:

    I think there’s plenty of indirect 90s nostalgia, in what MrBTongue refers to as “the cult of the badass.” Very 90s action schlock, comic book, blood-and-guts-and-murder sort of stuff.

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