When I saw Wreck-It Ralph for the first time, I was transported back to the days when I was a kid going to the corner arcade. I would plunk quarter after quarter into a Dig Dug or Q-Bert machine. These were my games. I loved playing them over and over. My other favorite gaming place was a 7-Eleven where they had Mappy and the Goonies video game.
However, my gaming life did not start there in the arcade. It started at home with the Atari 2600 and my TI 99/4A computer. Games like Adventure, Parsec, Pitfall, and Burger Time were games I would play at home. When I read Ready Player One for the first time, I again was brought back in time to when I played those games at home or at the homes of friends. I remembered all the old gaming systems. There was Intellivision, ColecoVision, the Commodore 64, and many others.
What Is Old Is New Again
You’d think that these old, 8-bit games with primitive graphics and simple gameplay would be long forgotten in favor of the newest games that are so much more immersive and challenging. Why would anyone choose to play as Pitfall Harry over Lara Croft? Yet there are so many retro gaming options right now. I walked the video game aisles of my local Target and Walmart. There, I saw a ton of retro games, retro gaming decor, and clothing.
Retro Gaming Is Hot
Back in October, Madeleine Buckley wrote about the Retro Revival trend that is hot right now. Everything ’80s has been coming back in waves with movies, TV, and now many of the video games. Arcade1Up took the classic gaming cabinet and shrank it down, but filled each with four games from the past. These have been popular purchases for gaming enthusiasts. The trend has even gone smaller with World’s Smallest Video Games, where you hold the gaming cabinet in your hand, then play tiny versions of classic greats like Frogger, Pac-Man, and even my beloved Dig Dug!
Not Every Retro Gaming System Is ’80s Based
The Sony Playstation was first released back in 1994. I did not jump on that bandwagon until a bit later, as I was still sticking with my NES. I had to; I was invested in the system big time. I mowed tons of lawns each summer so I could get the latest Nintendo game for my NES. Thus, I wasn’t about to leave it all for the newer shinier system with the way better graphics. That is, not until I did.
There were so many great games for me to play on that system. My favorite, however, was Twisted Metal. It was basically a fighting game with tricked-out, crazy cars, including a psycho ice cream truck. I would play that game for hours. Sony recently released the Sony Playstation Classic, a smaller system that was pre-loaded with 20 classic games, including Twisted Metal and Metal Gear Solid, the other game I played all the time.
Sony Was Not the First to Repackage Its Classics
Nintendo decided to take 30 of its classic games and repackage them into a tiny version of the NES. They called it the Nintendo Classic. It was very popular. You couldn’t find it for the longest time. I see it all over the place now, and I’d get it if I really wanted one more thing to clutter up my house. Nintendo also released a mini version of the Super Nintendo gaming system.
Instead of picking either of those up, I subscribe to the Nintendo Switch Online service for $19 a year. I’m able to play almost every game that was included in the Nintendo Classic. Plus, I was reunited with my greatest gaming love — The Legend of Zelda — and I played that game almost every day after the release in 1986. I’m happy to pay the money to play these old games despite actually having more than 50 of my original NES games and my original NES system.
There are so many of the classics that I enjoyed, including Pro Wrestling. I remember playing that in college with my roommates and having match after match together. So, you can imagine I love the retro nostalgia that is going on right now in gaming; I see my favorite Nintendo classic available in one device, and I can experience the revival of characters like Spyro the Dragon in the Spyro Reignited Trilogy on my XBox. Being able to play the original but completely restored and updated has been fun. However, what is more fun is that my son has picked up this game and is falling in love with it, too.
It Isn’t All About the Graphics
The games of today have incredible, realistic graphics. We’ll probably look back on them in 30 years and see how simple they looked. Yet, given the chance, we’d certainly play our favorites again. There is something comforting about picking up a game that you played long ago. They transport you back to where you were when you first discovered how fun it was to play those games.
For me, it was my bedroom in my parent’s house, my college dorm, my best friend’s house, and so many other places, too — including a restaurant my family visited every summer when I was a grade schooler. I took my family there a few years back. They still had the Ms. Pac Man machine in the corner, and I was so happy to be able to share that with my kids. It’s not about the quality of the graphics, but the quality of the fun we had together.
That may be the biggest reason of all for this retro video game revival — remembering the fun and excitement of playing these games for the first time, reliving the memories of a simpler time, and sharing them with those you love.