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What Qualifies As Retrogaming?
Whether or not a game or system qualifies for retrogaming is a difficult thing to quantify and something that different people will often think very differently. The ‘retro’ in the word ‘retrogaming’ is in itself a little bit misleading. Retro, by definition, is a style that intentionally evokes memories of an older style that has since gone out of fashion. So movies from the 1930s aren’t retro, though the craftsmanA recent film made in the style of an old silent film, he Retro. If we apply the same logic to video games then something like super man It is not retro, but a game like Shovel knight That’s because it pays homage to the NES games of old. Gamers have appropriated the word ‘retro’ for the new word ‘retrogaming’, but contrary to the traditional definition, ‘retrogaming’ refers to old games rather than games that play like old games.
The origins of the word ‘retrogaming’ are, as we’ve established, rather murky to begin with, but the definition is no clearer. With the speed at which technology is developing, games released at the beginning of the console generation look noticeably worse than those released at the end of the generation. And that’s just the lifespan of a single console. Games get old pretty quickly, but in terms of the actual number of years since release they might not be that old. It also doesn’t help that the current indie development scene has a fascination with making games that deliberately look and play like games of yore. It’s all so confusing. At what point is a game old enough to be considered retrogaming?
Well, depending on who you talk to, you’ll likely get a different answer. Someone like me who has been playing video games for over twenty years and started my gaming life with a Commodore 64 is going to have a completely different perspective on whether or not the game is old to a kid whose first console is the PlayStation 4. But that doesn’t necessarily make one of us right, it’s just a matter of perception. I might look at a game like The prince is clumsy For the Commodore 64 as a fairly primitive side-scrolling platform, but for my father who grew up with Pong The game was like nothing he had ever seen.
The PS2 is not a system that immediately comes to mind when I think of retrogaming; I’m thinking sprites, MIDI and 2D music. But those are the eyes of a thirty-two-year-old gamer looking at it, not a ten-year-old. The lovers of The devil never cries, Iko and Twisted Metal: Black They’re games I remember picking up and being blown away by, but to a kid only used to PS4 the games might seem positively archaic.
Because we all, depending on our age and experiences, have different ideas about how old something needs to be to be Old, there must be some objective rule. For my money, once a system has been discontinued by the manufacturer, we can safely call it old enough to play to be considered retrogaming. By this definition, the latest console to enter the retrogaming umbrella would be the PlayStation 2, and while some of you may object and scoff at it, consider it; The PlayStation 2 was released sixteen years ago. Every few years another new console joins the retrogaming ranks, and while they may not meet our personal ideas of retrogaming, they still fit the criteria.
But age is only the beginning. All we’ve determined is how much time has to pass before we can safely refer to something as retrogaming. If we accept that retrogaming is playing video games or consoles that have since been discontinued, then how to play discontinued games is the next step in understanding exactly what retrogaming is.
The first and easiest way we can play old games is to pick up a remaster or a port. These are becoming more and more common in recent years, with the PS4 in particular receiving port after port of popular (and not so) PS3 games as there is no true backwards compatibility available for the system. But the PS4 has also seen some older games released. Final Fantasy VII and X Both were ported to the latest PlayStation console, and go back even further than that, Grim Fandango Re-released with some graphical and control overhauls.
As technology evolves, there are also more options available to players who only have the current generation of consoles. With a service like PlayStation Now, people don’t even have to buy the old games they want to play, with Sony offering a Netflix-like subscription plan to get access to a wealth of older titles. It’s backwards compatibility, almost retrogaming for a monthly fee. If you have the money and a stable internet connection, this might be a better alternative to dusting off your old consoles and fighting to get them to work with your high-end TV.
Another way we can play older games through improving technology is through emulation. This falls into two categories; First, there is the emulation we see in the PlayStation Store or Nintendo’s Virtual Console. Here games are emulated by making your modern console behave like an old one. Recently the PS4 introduced PS2 games to the PlayStation Store and they run through emulation, just like Nintendo does on the Wii U.
Of course, there is also illegal imitation. Often there is no way to play an old game without illegal emulation. Grim Fandango It was recently re-released on PS4, but before that happened, there was actually no way to legally play the game unless you happened to have a very old PC and a copy of the game. While this is technically illegal and essentially piracy, there needs to be a better system to make sure legacy games and platforms are preserved for future generations. playing like Grim FandangoYou don’t have to risk losing time, so while illegal imitation isn’t necessarily something I’d trust outright, in some circumstances it can be understandable or even necessary.
The last way we can play old games is the old fashioned way. That means picking up the console it was released on and a copy of the game itself and playing the thing as God intended. No download, no emulation, no tips or tricks or cheats. Just you and an old console and a dusty old cartridge and a wired controller. And there is something very satisfying about that.
Playing an old game on a new system feels inherently different from the game at the time, and playing it howYou played it at the time. I still remember playing Final Fantasy VI When I was a young kid, working my way through one of the best JRPGs of all time on my trusty SNES. I’m playing the game again right now on my PlayStation Vita and the game is as good as ever. The new technology powering the palm means the game runs smoothly, controls well, and looks as lovely as ever. But playing it now on a handheld just feels different from this game since it was released on a control pad tied to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.
There are many reasons to play an old game. Maybe you want to experience important historical moments in the evolution of the medium, or maybe a shorter arcade title fits your schedule better than the latest, huge, blockbuster game. But maybe you just prefer playing old games. Nostalgia can be a powerful agent, and if it’s nostalgia you’re after then there are few better ways to recreate a moment in a game than playing it on the original hardware.
I’ve been interested in retrogaming for a long time, and it’s not for historical or academic reasons, and it’s not about how much free time I have. I enjoy retrogaming because playing an old game, like watching an old movie, or listening to an old song, brings back memories of a long time ago. if i watch back to the Future I remember renting the videotape from a local store and watching it on a Sunday afternoon with my parents. when i hear time tunnel That reminds me no Rocky horrorBut of old school discos where the song was played regularly.
Similarly, when I hear the opening chords of the Final Fantasy VI Theme I’m not thinking about playing it on my PlayStation Vita, but being in the spare room at my friend’s house where we’d spend a whole day taking turns playing the controller trying to get to the end of the story. Playing the game on the SNES feels completely different than playing it on the Vita because of the memories that come flooding back while holding the controller. There’s something about holding the old controller, blowing on the cartridge to get rid of the dust, and running a system from a bygone era. It’s not about experiencing history, but about remembering a time when these things There were no history.
Retrogaming can be considered anything up to and including the PS2 generation, and these games can be played through emulation or by collecting a port or remaster. But for me, retrogaming means playing the old games the way we played them back then. Playing a Commodore 64 game on a PC using emulation is all well and good, but actually sitting and waiting while the tape loads is a whole other animal. Playing NES classics on your virtual Wii U console is a great way to quickly experience super man orZelda’s legend Again, but there’s something entirely more satisfying about putting the cartridge in the slot and sitting cross-legged in front of the TV because the controller cable isn’t long enough to reach the couch.
If you’re a gamer, chances are you probably have a different interpretation of what retrogaming is to the next gamer. The boy who thinks Crash Bandicoot He is ancient. Thirty-something who grew up with games that came on tapes. The grandfather who played pong in the arcade. We all have different ideas about what is appropriate for an old game. But what retrogaming is for me, what it really is, is capturing the past and reliving fond memories from years gone by. That’s why there’s still a Super Nintendo Entertainment System in my house and why a few times a year I’ll take it out of the cupboard under the stairs and it’ll spend a weekend under the TV. My friends will come and we will play Street Fighter II Together as we did over twenty years ago. And there is something incredibly special about it.
What do you think qualifies for retrogaming? Do you like picking up classics to play on your PC using emulation? How about waiting for them to port to the current gen console you already own? Or maybe you’re like me and think there’s no better way to experience a game than as it was experienced upon release? Whether it’s through piracy, academic parties, or to relive memories, retrogaming is something gamers of all ages can enjoy.
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