Hi viewers and welcome back. Recently, we started to talk about Retro Gaming. In Part One, we spoke a little about what makes the Retro scene so popular. But in part two, we should probably expand upon that a little more. Last time, we cited the simplicity, creativity, longevity and affordability of older systems and their respective games, as part of the reason for the increasing popularity of the scene. We didn’t talk about the great music on offer, for example. Now in this second part, we’re going to talk about the less quantifiable aspects of Retro Gaming. So before we move on to talk about the machines and games themselves, let get this matter checked off…
More to Retro Gaming than Gaming
There’s a somewhat spiritual aspect about Retro Gaming for a lot of us. Stay with me on this. That hum of the CRT screen as it pops on, the whine of the console as you flick the power switch. Physically plugging in a controller or memory card, the clunk of a cartridge slotting in. Then the wonderful isolation. You see for me at least, there’s a good amount of noise and distraction to modern gaming, outside of the game itself. Notifications about friends coming online or a new community post. Another game has finished updating. You got an achievement for that thing. Player X invites you to party chat. It drives me bonkers. It’s amazing how much a notification here or there can pull me out of the game. Of course, there are things you can do to limit all that, however, it’s non-issue on older platforms. Further to this, games want to hold your hand so much now. It’s all very common place for a game to give you an objective, with a massive arrow telling you precisely where to go. To the point sometimes, I wonder if the game would rather just play itself. Not really so with Retro Gaming, you’re mostly on your own.
Retro Gaming doesn’t look as good
Well no, of course older machines don’t have all the fancy high resolution graphics. Does that matter? Many modern games now don’t go all out on the visuals and see great success. Look at the recent acclaim for titles like Celeste, Dead Cells and The Messenger. Not limited to smaller or Indie studios, look at how well Square Enix did with Octopath Traveler, for example. That title may have the recently trademarked “HD-2D” look, but it’s clearly rocking it old school. When presented with great game play, awesome music and good stories it’s pretty clear, Retro Gaming can still deliver the goods. It’s almost a shame that so much focus is placed on graphics. You see, those 4k graphics, while all very pretty, push up development costs. A lot. Developers feeling pressured to chase the latest and greatest in general, all inflates their overheads. The result of this being that they cannot afford to take as many risks. Far less now do we see really off-piste titles like we find in Retro Gaming.
Can’t I just use a Pi?
The Raspberry Pi option is, in my opinion, a totally valid one. However, not something we’re going to focus on in this mini-series going forward. Why? Because it doesn’t play my original cartridges or discs, and that’s what we’re focusing on here. Real hardware and collecting. That said, a Raspberry Pi can be a wonderful thing for those just wanting to play an old or rare game. Furthermore, I do feel such devices have an important role to play in Video Game preservation. Original hardware will fail, get broken or otherwise be inaccessible. Discs and cartridges will gradually be harder to find, therefore, emulation is a great way to protect our past. Another plus to emulation would include cutting out some of the headache involved with getting old machines to display well on modern screens. More on that in another instalment, but simple HDMI to TV is an undeniably simple method. In addition, they offer ways to polish up old visuals to a more modern standard. If you’re into all that. Legalities and moral grey areas of emulation aside, there’s a place for it and perhaps, an important one. This is the last time we’re going to look at such options going forward here but sure, if you don’t want a load of old machines and big TVs around the place, it’s one way to go.
Retro Gaming in the future
Hopefully between this and Part One we’ve at least touched on what makes Retro Gaming so attractive. It isn’t just for those of us that grew up with it, as in fact, many younger gamers are coming to the scene, discovering the history and forerunners of what we have now. In the following instalment, we’re going to take a look at what you’ll need to start building a retro collection. We’ll go over some of the pitfalls and problems you may face and what you can do about it. Later, we’ll talk about individual consoles and games in detail, hidden gems and setup options. So if your interest has been piqued, stay tuned because we’re really getting stuck in with following episodes!