Over the past few years there has been a definite shift towards the retro-game industry, hoards of people are returning to the grassroots of gaming, back to the simple days of simple graphics and simple, yet fun gameplay. This is most noticeable itself in the shrine we like to call Sega-16, when I joined the community just over two months ago the forum was around fifty short of one thousand members, fast forward to today (when the article was written) and you can quickly see that there are over fifteen hundred members now, a large increase. So one has to pose the question why? Why are there so many people flooding back to their roots, back to the things we now like to call retro and classics? Isn’t the continual growth of the gaming industry enough to keep us satisfied? Well clearly not. Here is my experience.
The Wonder Years
Back in the day when the Mega Drive was the biggest thing on the planet (yes, bigger than the SNES) my Father on the eve of my ninth birthday (I think) came into my living room with a shiny black box, and my heart raced. “It couldn’t be, could it?” I wondered. Before I had time to confirm it in my mind I caught a glimpse of the picture on the front, a brand new shiny model 2 Mega Drive 2. Oh the joy! Armed with this for the next six or so years of my childhood, I amassed a puny collection of only nine games. Sure why would I want any more? My next door neighbours had a whopping fifteen and the other ones just up the road had five! Imagine five games kept us happy then. Between this monster selection, rentals, and the odd trip to the cousin’s house, I was most definitely a content little boy (except when firing controllers off walls), though not for long. You see there was a beast on the horizon.
This beast was of course, the Playstation. What a machine it was too! Sure, it was almost real life! Imagine, it was like virtual reality in your living room, astonishing. Of course the Sega was now surplus to requirements, so being the Samaritan I am I donated it to my younger cousins, expecting to never see it again. Things changed though. The Playstation years were great, and I got mine second hand with four games and a bag load of demos. Unlike before, my collection of games now stretched into the teens. My favorite titles were the Final Fantasy series, and we must remember RPGs were in the wilderness in Europe and America before this link in their history rocketed them to the top of the games charts. The series was so good that I and many of my friends also purchased a Playstation 2 purely because the series would recommence on this console. From here on, things went downhill.
The PS2’s ability to double up as a DVD player, which I remember were very expensive at the time, was another reason to justify its price tag, but if the games didn’t deliver it wouldn’t matter. For me and many others, it didn’t. Final Fantasy X and X-2 were to me and my friends an abomination. I’m not just talking two fellas but six people! Only two of the six of us had the will to even finish the damn thing, and my usual joy of completing every inch of the game and beating the hardest boss in it even wilted after the dark Aoen Valefor. So fair enough, Final Fantasy stunk, so what else would we get into? I’m half embarrassed to say it but the game we got the most enjoyment from was Smackdown vs Raw. A bunch of us playing ladder matches with the multi-tap and herein lied the snag. It was the games simplicity that was the key factor in our enjoyment. Also the fact we were playing a multi-player game with all of us on one screen again. All of us sitting around roaring, drinking, and crying our eyes out with laughter when one clown would make a dash for the ring with a ladder whilst the melee were busy bruting it out on the ramp. For us, this was a throw back to the days of the Mega Drive when 8-player micro machines would fuel every lad’s birthday party that year. Some people may call it nostalgia, but to me it was the pinnacle of when gaming was fun. Counter-strike, Unreal Tournament have their strengths, but when we used to meet up for Lan gaming events all we ended up with was googly-eyed perfectionists concerned only with headshots and minimalistic communication.
A Retrospect Retrogamer
With all these ideas intact in my mind all I needed was a catalyst, and a simple stumbling across Mega Drive emulation online was this kick-start. Emulation helped remind me of the glory days of gaming; it got the fire burning inside me again. Before I knew it I had purchased a Mega Drive off one of my mates (it had obviously been lying in his attic for years), and soon I was up every attic, in every press; hounding my friends in schools for their old games (even though they looked at me like I had two heads). I was in second hand shops, charity shops, then on eBay, online game stores, the lot. You see, once I started it was like a drug, and over the years it has become a full-fledged addiction. Everyone on this site will surely testify to hobbies such as random eBay surfing, etc., and the first thing that pops into our heads when a package with that order arrives in the post is: what’s next on my list?
I think one of my mates, (himself now a collector of SNES for a year and with one hundred games already) summed it up best when commenting on GTA San Andreas. A guy in our class was telling us how great the game was. “You get to buy clothes, eat, drink, do weightlifting! You get tired, you get to be in relationships” (if he said you get to do your homework would it be more appetizing?). My friend listened to what he was saying and then after contemplating for a second, sarcastically roared out “I get to LIVE!!! No I’ll take living in the real world before what a computer game can offer me any day, and when I want fun, I’ll go to that shiny black box!”