• Elliott

Retro Games: Refreshingly Old

Updated: Mar 7, 2020

It's 2020, and the state of the gaming industry is a little strange right now. The capitalist grip of greed has slowly but surely grabbed many large publishers by the throat, with once-revered studios such as Blizzard, Bioware and Bethesda coming under heavy fire from the community for rushed releases, failed promises, microtransactions and just general dishonesty. It's sad to see studios with such stellar back catalogues fall prey to corner-cutting and generally anti-consumer practices that are driving people away from their latest releases.

Now, this isn't to say that there aren't still tons of great games being created by many talented studios. The Indie scene in particular has been smashing it in recent years, but with many of the formerly fan-favourite studios falling from grace, and the increasingly-present scourges of "live services", "in-app purchases" and "season passes" sneaking into games left right and centre, I have taken it upon myself to travel back in time to enjoy a simpler era of gaming history.

Although not literally, unfortunately.

Back In Time

Retro gaming. Old games, from a simpler time. At this point I suppose anything pre-2005 is considered retro, so this could be anything from old arcade cabinets from the 1980s, to the Playstation 2, Xbox or Gamecube era. It feels like retro gaming is experiencing something of a resurgence, with '80s and '90s nostalgia at an all time high in the cultural zeitgeist thanks of the likes of Stranger Things, IT, Black Mirror and Mid90s all capitalising on nostalgia for those days of yore. And for good reason, too - there's just something satisfyingly simple and straightforward about playing older games. There are no system updates, no patches, no friend requests or dying batteries in wireless controllers to worry about. You just plug the system in, whack a game in (after maybe giving it a quick blow, heh), turn it on - and you're away. Ultimately, playing video games is supposed to be a stress-free experience and just plain fun; and the sweet simplicity of turning your Game Boy on for a quick round of Tetris is unrivalled. It's gaming stripped back to its core, before things got complicated and expensive.

How can I get in on the action?

If you're after the most authentic retro gaming experience, you'll need to get your hands on some old hardware. I had the pleasure of going to a retro gaming fair at a school leisure centre last weekend, and I came away with a plethora of tasty goodies. Check your local events centres and community halls, there may well be something similar coming up. There are also usually retro gaming stalls at events such as Comic Con, EGX, PLAY and the like. You've got to know what to look for, and have a ballpark figure in your head before you buy as it's easy to get ripped off, but you'd be surprised at just how thriving the retro scene is! Second hand shops like CeX and charity shops can be a good place to look too, and if all else fails, there's always eBay. I myself recently completed my Nintendo home console collection, with 7 generations of gaming now represented in my household! And no, I'm not counting the Virtual Boy.

My haul from the MK retro game fair last week

The more convenient and inexpensive alternative, of course, is to get your hands on one of the many "classic" retro systems released in recent years. Both Nintendo and Sony have got in on the retro nostalgia craze, with the PS1 Classic, NES and SNES Classic all available with some of each system's most popular titles built into miniature recreations of the original hardware, with HDMI compatibility for your convenience. Failing that, most modern consoles have a selection of retro titles on their respective stores, and the Nintendo Switch Online service offers a load of NES and SNES titles as part of their monthly subscription service. There are, of course, less legal forms of emulation, but I couldn't possibly endorse that...

Right now, I'm reliving my childhood, playing through Super Mario Land on my Game Boy and Command & Conquer: Red Alert II on my PC - and I couldn't be happier.

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