Retro gaming is the new hotness

Probably my most-repeated inner lament is that I wish that I had all the gaming options I had today back in college and afterward when I was living those bachelor years, flush with spare time. Now it feels as though a massive practical joke is being pulled on me, what with more interesting gaming entertainment out there than I could ever sample, nevermind play to any degree of completion.

And it’s not just new games and MMORPGs that vie for my attention but also the rapidly growing market of retro gaming. It used to be that retro gaming was pretty much either emulators or hard/expensive-to-find old systems/cartridges/CD-ROMs. Now that companies have seen how we’ll throw money at the same games we’ve owned a half-dozen times over, they’re packaging them up again and making them incredibly easy to attain. PC players have virtual platforms like Steam and GOG that are full of old classics dusted off and booted up again. And console players can either partake of retro titles sold through virtual stores on modern machines or by purchasing one of the wave of retro all-in-one consoles that are being released.

We had the Genesis and Atari retro consoles going for a few years now, but the release of the NES Classic two years ago seems to have fired a starter’s pistol for a whole new wave of nostalgic monetization. Now we’ve seen yet another Genesis console, the SNES Classic, the Neo Geo Mini, and the newly announced PlayStation Classic. Plus whatever Nintendo will announce later this fall (either GameBoy or N64, most likely, although I’d love a SNES Classic 2).

I’m not going to go nuts snapping up all of these retro consoles. I’m very pleased with the SNES Classic, for sure, and it gets a lot of play in our household. But that was my favorite console of all time and hard to collect for. Do I really want or need a PlayStation One with 20 games for $100? I can get Final Fantasy VII on my tablet or through one of several other ways these days, and I’m not exactly champing at the bit to replay it right now.

GOG is a godsend for its continual expansion of its retro PC library. That, in my opinion, is a lot more difficult to establish, what with the work needed to make older games run on modern PCs. Will we ever see an IBM 486 retro desktop? For all I know, they’ve done it already. Or are doing it. Hey, they did it with the Commodore 64, right?

Whether or not I buy these games and systems doesn’t matter to me as much as knowing that work is being put into preserving these titles and bringing them over to systems and one-shot devices that can keep them operational for the next decade or so. That sparks in me the desire to see more, more, more in this field, even if it does sometimes smack like nostalgic double-dipping by studios.

2 thoughts on “Retro gaming is the new hotness

  1. Wilhelm Arcturus September 24, 2018 / 10:12 am

    While it has warmed up a bit, I don’t think there is much in the way of “new” to retro video gaming. I think there has been some retro version of the Atari 2600 for more than 20 years at this point, and Nintendo had the Virtual Console on the Wii from day one. So farming the back catalog has long been a thing, especially for Nintendo.

    I do think that the cost of making new games, especially on consoles where graphics need to be state of the art, has given some new life to the retro idea for companies that otherwise have tended to ignore that area. I think it took Nintendo finding yet another way to sell old games via the NES retro hardware to get Sony to finally admit that chip prices are so low that they could knock off a PS1 with a few games for cheap and actually make money at it. The problem just becomes the games themselves. Some companies seem to be content to make zero money on old games than cooperate and get a little money, while enough companies have disappeared over the years that the rights aspect is somewhat murky.

    No, you’ll never see MS-DOS 486 retro hardware, if for no other reason than it is so much less expensive to emulate on current hardware. Even the Commodore 64 seems a bit silly, since emulators for it and the Apple II have been available for 25 years now. It is more a way to package the games that come with it in some legal fashion that can earn a bit of cash than because there is anything special about the hardware. And going back to 6502 systems, finding rights to the software becomes a huge pain.

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