Retro Active: The Rise of Retro Gaming

Welcome to Retro Active, a new feature here on Everyday Gamers that will cover the history of gaming, including reviewing some of the games that were the the inspirations for what we play today. For those of you who grew up with video games, we hope this feature will take you back to when you first identified yourself as a gamer or maybe remind you of that first console or game you truly fell in love with. If you are new to gaming, we hope this feature will give you a greater appreciation for what came before the current consoles and PC powerhouses. Maybe you will even find yourself wanting to play some of the games we discuss. There are many that still stand the test of time.

So why are we starting this feature? Retro Gaming is on the rise. You don’t have to look very hard to find games being remade or more and more older games being made available like never before. It is much easier to find and play older games now then it ever has been.

The Rise of Retro Gaming: Retro Gaming is nothing new. Like most things in life, there will always be a group of people who cling to the past. There is also a tendency to look back on what has come before with kind of “rose colored glasses.” We have all experienced this. Think about that old cartoon or movie you loved as a kid that, when you got to see it years later, you realized how bad it really was. Still, there is a genuine love for the things that we grew up with, and that is not a bad thing.

virtual-console flashback c64

The Virtual Console, Atari Flashback and C64 DTV are examples of the rise of Retro Gaming

Recently, however, Retro Gaming has truly been gaining steam. The last generation of consoles helped spur this on. The Playstaion 2 still allowed you to play PS1 games, allowing those who wanted to play some of the best games from the previous generation to do just that. Then you started seeing the rise of video game collections highlighting anything from the Colecovision to the arcade hits from such companies as Sega and Capcom. As more and more of these collections started to appear, it became apparent that people really did want to play the older games.

Then came the rise of the “Plug and Play” game systems. You could take a device no larger than a joystick and plug it directly into your TV to instantly be able to play gaming classics. It did not take long for some of the gaming giants to jump on the bandwagon. Atari released the Flashback in 2004, which had 20 games built into the system, including Adventure and Haunted House. Many other companies have released plug and play games, including EA with a plug and play Madden and the QVC exclusive C64 to TV, which plays Comodore 64 games.

What really brought Retro Gaming into the spotlight, however, is the Virtual Console on the Nintendo Wii. Back when Nintendo’s next console was still codenamed “The Revolution,” one of the most exciting bits of news for gamers was going to be the ability to download games not just from Nintendo’s rather impressive console library but also from Sega Systems and the Comodore 64. Those of us who grew up with these consoles were excited to get out hands on the games we played as kids. Though it may not have completely lived up to its potential, the Virtual Console has been a welcome addition to the Wii, especially for hardcore gamers who have not really found many games on the console to their liking.

The growing popularity of Retro Gaming has not stopped there. XBox Live Arcade is home to the original Golden Axe and Gauntlet as well as the re-rendered Street Fighter 2 HD and Bionic Commando: Rearmed. Games like Geometry Wars have borrowed from an old-school design and ascetic to create addictive games, while the PSP and DS are seeing re-releases and remakes of older games all the time, as evidenced by the recent release of Chrono Trigger DS. We have also seen older games getting completely revamped and renewed, whenther it means rebuilding from the ground up with games like Tomb Raider Classic or completely changing the game like the new Bionic Commando or the unfortunately lackluster Golden Axe: Beastrider.

Some retailers have also caught onto the trend. While GameStop has primarily turned its back on those who want to play games from older consoles, Play N Trade has gone as far as carrying the Retro Duo, a system that plays both old NES and SNES games. Go through a Best Buy or Walmart during the Christmas season and try not to bump into the latest Plug and Play games. You might even find knock off systems in malls that have a few name brand games and a whole bunch of not so well known in an attempt to take advantage of the growing interest in retro gaming. It is here to stay.

Retro-Active: So that is why we are starting the Retro-active feature. Many of us, the writers of Everyday Gamers, have a soft spot for the older games, and we want to share what we know and hear what you have to say about the experiences that lead us to identify ourselves as gamers.

Leave a Reply