I started gaming in the early 90’s. That may seem like ancient history to some of you, might be nostalgic for others, and for the rest of you, that might make me just a rookie yet. Back in the day, we didn’t have all the flash and dazzle that are in games today, we didn’t have 1000 prestige classes, and we didn’t have scores of books of to use for player options. When I got into D&D 2nd Edition, there were handbooks for classes and races, but nothing unbalancing or broken were in their pages (except for the Elves Handbook). The biggest advantage was in kits, what was the predecessor of modern prestige classes.
I think games back then required more imagination than the mainstream games of today. You had to decide what you wanted your character to do and how your character reacts and the tactics to use. The role playing itself was much more involved, the game wasn’t as broken. There are still systems today that emulate this level of play; but most seem to gravitate toward being as broken in one direction as possible and hoping that the rest of the party balances that out.