Retrogaming, old-school gaming, classic gaming, what is retrogaming to you? Do you dabble in retrogaming, do you have bulging shelves with original boxes, do you play on a tablet or PC through emulators?
At what stage does a game or games console become retro? Do you think retro relates to a type of game, or the age of a game? Is Nidhogg more retro than Halo? The former is a modern game yet with ultra-simplistic controls and Atari 2600 graphics. The latter is a ground-breaking FPS, showing its age having debuted on a device now 14 years old. Anyone care to remember their PC’s specs 14 years ago, let alone those of the main consoles in the market of the time?
Your lust for (and definition) of Retrogaming may depend on your age. Not just your actual age, but how much of your life has been invested in gaming. There will be gamers in their teens and twenties that have been gaming for most of their lives, so possibly a decade or two already. Some in their thirties and forties may have similar exponential increases in their gaming age.
However if you add to the equation raising kids and needing to work for money can decrease this and of course some people do drop out of gaming temporarily (and… *gulp* longer…). Some gamers may simply fall into casual gaming as their lifestyles change, playing here and there but not really picking up more than the occasional two or three games a year (typically FIFA, Call of Duty).
A lot of retrogaming is popular with people who have got a reasonable gaming age and may have experienced the original games and devices the first time around. They may want to return an age of simpler controls, and potentially in some cases devastatingly difficult gameplay without the handholding of modern gaming.
Some will set about building on their existing collections of games they may have bought from their local newsagent (£1.99 Mastertronic cassettes, anyone?) or Our Price, Virgin Megastore, Dixons, Woolworths or WH Smith (see video below for a flashback to 1988’s forthcoming releases!). If you bought games in the 80s and 90s, where did you go?
Plenty of gamers may be seasoned pros with current-gen (or last-gen) consoles, and want to have a first attempt at starting up a collection of older games and consoles that they have only read about or seen YouTube videos of. With gaming being so mainstream, with so much knowledge and information about what is a good or bad title can be of vital importance to aid those seeking to build a small but high-class collection of only gold-standard titles. Others will set about building an effective back catalogue for their chosen device(s) and will happily pick up Mary-Kate & Ashley Magical Mystery Mall for their PS1 to file alongside MediEvil.
For the more casual gamer still interested in dabbling in retrogaming, they may choose to use a tablet or phone to download reworked versions of original games. There are plenty of apps available to do so, but touchscreen controls does take away a huge amount of interactivity. Admittedly, physical devices can be purchased, such as joysticks for tablets that sit on the screen can reduce this disconnection. While they add something, they don’t come close to the feel of playing an original arcade or games console.
Some of the more hardcore gamers might look into emulation, either on their PCs or on gaming tablets such as the JXD s7800B, housing huge collections of older games. While impressive, and space-efficient, perhaps having so many games at your fingertips takes away some of the excitement. Fans of these devices, please do comment and tell us what keeps you hooked.
I will happily admit however to purchasing the occasional app for recapturing moments of nostalgia. For example one of my earliest gaming devices was the Galaxy Invader 1000, and while the original handheld itself is long gone from my life, the app brought back plenty of memories and was incredibly good fun.
And so we move on to the arcade. 10p-a-go, remember those days, anyone?! How much is Star Wars Battle Pod to play? Really, I’d happily play for hours with the vector graphic glory that is the original Star Wars (sit-down) cabinet, pictured below. Throw in some tight gameplay and voice recordings from the film and there’s not much else I would run to play at the seaside amusement arcade halls. Perhaps Galaxian or Paperboy, or Robocop as I got old enough!
If you still play on older arcade machines, comment below to tell us where you are going, and what you are playing. Places such as the Heart of Gaming (in London) or the National Videogame Arcade (in Nottingham) are building up good collections of well-maintained machines and make them available to the gaming public.
Whatever retrogaming is to you, either collecting hordes of games or plug-n-play on your TV, just be happy that you’re enjoying a slice of history, and we are all jealous of any car-boot bargain pickups you make, of any collection you might have amassed, or be in the midst of accumulating. Yes, even of your mint condition Superman for the N64. OK, that’s a lie. If you own that game, you have my sympathy…
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