Retro’ing it! – A Perspective


It’s late at night and it has been an overly busy day.  I’m a bit tired out and I just want to chill out in front of the TV.  Maybe I’ll play a game?  Yea, I’ll do that.  I’m not quite sure what I want to play when all of a sudden the urge hits.  I dig out my Super Nintendo and connect it to the TV.  Why am I doing this?  I have all these new games to play, but instead I’m grabbing Super Punch-Out! for a system that came out nearly twenty years ago.  That’s right, it’s the bug… the retro bug and tonight I’m totally retro’ing it.

But why does this happen and how did it get started?

I know I’m not alone on this as retro gaming has become increasingly popular throughout the years.  There are websites dedicated to it where people can come together and discuss all things retro.  There are tons of retro games sold every day through places such as eBay (I should know, I do it).  And of course the companies that have taken advantage of this trend but we’ll get to that later.  In my mind it started with some cool folks who came up with the idea of emulating the classics.  Ah yes, emulation.  I’m sure some companies cringe at the word (looking at you Nintendo).  But in my mind emulation has pushed the retro scene to what it is today.

It all started in the 90’s.  As computers became more powerful, the ability to do a lot of fun new things came along with it – like emulating.  I remember when I first had the ability to play all those old classic NES games right on my computer.  It was amazing!  And then more possibilities came around such as playing arcade games – Frikken Arcade Games! – right at home on the computer!  It was truly something special.  Of course as time progressed so did the emulation.  There would eventually be emulators for all types of older consoles and just not on the computer, but even on newer consoles and even cell phones now!  There was a huge audience for this.  I’m not saying retro gaming became a new idea when emulating came around, I’m just saying I think that was the point in which it found a huge audience and the companies sure took notice.

As I said, I’m sure certain companies cringed at the idea of emulation and dumping roms.  I believe Nintendo had a real issue with it.  But if it wasn’t for that idea, would we have all of the craze we have today?  Possibly not.  When the Wii came out, they announced that they would have something called Virtual Console.  What was this?  Well, it was Nintendo realizing that there was a market for retro gaming.  They realized that people loved retro gaming so they offered the virtual console which includes many classic games from their previous consoles and from some others.  Did you ever think at one point we’d see Nintendo carrying Sega games?  Crazy huh?  Not only did the big N capitalize from it, but even Microsoft and Sony did by offering classic games on their online services.  Microsoft even plans on taking it a step further with the introduction of Game Room soon.  So retro gaming is more popular than ever at this point.  So why am I digging out my Super Nintendo?

While all these services are great, you just can’t get that exact retro feeling without the original system.  This is the ultimate in the whole retro scene – owning the original game and system (even if it’s a huge arcade machine).  So I’m sitting here and playing Super Punch-Out! and it just takes me back to those good old days.  I tend to think that’s one big reason for the retro love, the nostalgic factor.

Nostalgia plays a big factor in anything retro.  It takes us back to a different time and place where things were different – probably good.  Hey, being a kid was fun after all.  When we’re young we want to be old.  When we’re old we want to be young.  As we get older we tend to hold those memories to a very high degree and use things, such as games, as a time portal to reconnect with those memories.  I think that’s a big reason why retro gaming is so popular.  It has that ability, similar to music, to take us back to really different times.

I can still remember my family eating breakfast while my brother and I were playing Super Mario Bros.   Why do I remember that?  Because I remember being amazed that I had the ability to smash bricks with my head.  I can also remember my older sister playing Mario and constantly getting 1-ups.  Her game would never end!  I kept waiting and waiting because I had Ikari Warriors in my hands and ready to go!  I think it ended in a fight but it’s funny to think about now.  Even up to the Dreamcast era I can recall so many good memories of all my friends hanging out and playing Powerstone and Marvel vs. Capcom 2.  It’s such a great feeling and to be able to have that connection is awesome.

This isn’t to say that nostalgia is the only reason retro gaming is popular.  There were a ton of great games created in the past and a lot that are still better than today’s games.  Sure, the graphics have changed, the consoles have a lot more power, the controllers are loaded with buttons, and even the TV’s we use are completely different.  But it always comes down to gameplay when it comes to enjoying video games and a ton of retro games have amazing gameplay.  Look at all the RPG’s that have come and gone and folks still look back at Chrono Trigger as being one of the best.   And that’s a game that a lot of folks want in their collection.

Remember how collecting baseball (or if you were a geek Marvel) cards was a big deal?  Game collecting is a pretty big thing now.  I love the hunt of trying to find games to add to my classic collection.  Even crazier is how much some of these classic games can go for.  As mentioned, Chrono Trigger is a game that many want in their collection.  A complete version of it can cost hundreds of dollars.  Recently, there was a not so popular game by the name of Stadium Events that sold on eBay for around $13,000!  Imagine that?  An old NES game sold for $13,000 because it was rare and complete and someone really wanted it in their collection.  Fascinating.

Retro gaming is here to stay.  With so much support for it whether it is emulation, companies adding it to their systems, or collectors paying top dollar for their favorite complete games.  Retro gaming is just too popular.  They are like classic art pieces and should not be forgotten.  Be it nostalgia, gameplay, or any other reason you may just love a certain game or system, keep it alive people.

Now excuse me, I gotta get back to laying waste to Bald Bull!

Just my perspective is all!

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