In short; a generation where the host hardware couldn't quite keep up with the imagination of the games' creators. Don't get me wrong; the early-80s of the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64 is my era - it's when I fell in love with games. Nonetheless, when I go back to play many of those games now, it's like trying to squash a duvet into a walnut.
I actually find the likes of Pong, and many earlier Atari 2600 games, far more playable than the vast majority of Speccy games - and I say that as somebody whose fondest gaming memories are all of that era.
When the NES and Master System took off, and the Atari ST and Amiga were released, it was the start of a golden era when games revelled in their 2D-ness, improving all the time across the 16-bit console era. Then CD-ROM happened, and it all went a bit wrong again. Developers experimented with interactive movies, and struggled to understand the best way to make 3D polygons work.
Go back and play something like Night Trap and it's horrible. Worse still, the original Tomb Raider simply doesn't hold up outside of the context of its era. Likewise Nintendo's Starfox.
It's why so many indie games default to that 16-bit golden age, with the flat pixels; the games of that time still hold up today, when so many either side do not.
And that is why it's so brave of Back In 1995 to evoke the spirit of the first PlayStation, a system which - for all its importance in the history of gaming - played host to some incredibly ugly games.
The most obvious touchstones to namecheck when talking about Back In 1995 are Resident Evil and Silent Hill. Both were groundbreaking, but play them today and they've aged about as well as a septuagenarian chainsmoking coalminer.
The control systems are a battle in and of themselves, the graphics are remarkably unattractive, and both games are so full of weird quirks that they soon become tiresome.
And yet... for some reason... Back In 1995 pays homage to all of that.
Even the way it tells its story - kind of starting it mid-flow, on the roof of a hospital overlooking a monster-infested city - is the same. The tank controls and fixed camera will be familiar to anybody who played those early survival horror games, as will the way the polygons warp and distort as you move around. If nothing else, you can't fault them for their attention to detail.
Unfortunately, what Resident Evil and Silent Hill both had in their favour were memorable monsters, an atmosphere of pure tension, and a plot that gave you a reason to plough on.
They were challenging games, with death never far away. By contrast, Back In 1995 populates its bland world with monsters that start out looking like hovering potatoes, and later become Resident Evil cosplayers. It removes any real degree of challenge, and has about as much of a creepy atmosphere as your typical branch of Sports Direct.
Back In 1995 succeeds only in evoking an era, but fails when it comes to replicating the elements which made its inspirations genuine classics at the time.
Admittedly, I rarely want to go back and play those early survival horror games - where it feels like I'm fighting the limitations of the hardware and the as-yet-to-be-perfected controls - but I'd take the first Resident Evil over Back In 1995 any day.
It does feel a little unfair to criticise a indie game, put together with a small team, for not living up to some of the greats, but Back In 1995 is so shamelessly paying homage to those games that it's impossible not to.
When modern indie games evoke a Mega Drive or SNES platform game, they often do so in the context of where we are now - providing an experience which feels like those old games, never betraying the sense of nostalgia, but without being so rigidly enslaved to their tropes that they don't try to improve on them.
Back In 1995 doesn't do that, and it might be because there's a limit to how much you can realistically improve on an era of gaming that improved itself. To do so would, perhaps, miss the point. That doesn't stop it being rubbish.
SCORE: 1995 out of 4000