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Retro games are starting to feel REALLY old

As the evening ended, I was left feeling very strange. The games that still play in crystal clarity in my mind are now fuzzy, shaky and thin. The hardware is massive, yet empty-feeling. LCD screens are blurry and you can see not merely every pixel, but every coloured sub-pixel display element that makes up every pixel.

Mega Drive games have been a familiar presence in my house for over two decades now. I took them to uni even though PS2 and Gamecube were the machines of the moment (I took them too). They've always been on display, often in use and always loved. But it really has been 20 years since they were cutting edge. They’re the kind of ‘old’ that my dad’s vinyl records were when I was a kid. Bought before I was born, still playable if you make the effort, but totally obsolete. Curios from another age, at least as far as younger people are concerned.

The only explanation is that my threshold for ‘modern’ has been elevated exponentially in just a few short years. I’m used to rechargeable on-board power, being able to turn off consoles without getting up and resolutions so good you can’t see individual pixels during regular play let alone the three colours. Do they still have those? I don’t even know.

Erm... nope, still don't know. It’s the first time the 16-bit era has really felt old to me. Not just the handheld technology, but everything about the games. The size of the cartridges. The dodgy physical connections. Even the plastic used to make the machines and extra controllers feels old.

But if even games that were released inside my lifetime are now positively ancient to me, what chance do young gamers have of appreciating them? Why should they give Virtua Racing the time of day? I remember when it was cutting edge, £69.99 technology. Now it’s £1.95 + postage from eBay. And going unsold.

I love the way games like Castle of Illusion, Flashback and Ducktales are getting remade. I still love everything they represent. But even I have to admit that the originals are fast becoming attic fodder. Despite that, I still had a fantastic evening with these old games. But they truly are 'old' now. And it pains me to say it.

If you liked this but want to know why Mickey Mouse is a big deal anyway, then check out Why Mickey Mouse used to be at the cutting edge of gaming.

Topics

Retro

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37 comments

  • pinoklin - April 22, 2013 6:54 a.m.

    well in my case my NES is a pain in the ass when i try to turn it on. but the other day i managed to play some smb and it was awesome, but it felt as bit old on how mario was controlled, i have grown used to movement being perfect and precise so i kept dying in the most absurd situations because the response from the character was not fast enough. needless to say it was fun but frustrating.
  • jack-lindsey - April 21, 2013 6:47 a.m.

    Dont agree i look upon vintage games as being reborn on portable, my S3 has every game known to man pre Ps1/N64 and a good few post ps1/n64
  • Fruitbat - April 21, 2013 3:30 a.m.

    I think this is more decrying the faults with ancient hardware rather than the games themselves; a lot of retro games are available on WiiWare and most of the problems listed here are gone; for much older games like NES and Master System, it's worth just using a PC emulator with either an original controller and adaptor or a USB replica, not to use all the fanciest filters under the sun but to smooth out the rough edges that came with the hardware of the day. Castle of Illusion is still very much playable as a game, I can tell you that.
  • vincentdarkwood - April 20, 2013 9:46 p.m.

    When they announced Duck Tales remastered, I decided it was time to remove some dust from my old NES and bring the memories back to life. Luckily the NES has video/audio outputs so i didn't have any trouble plugging it into the TV. When I finally managed to get it running i was not disappointed at all, the game was still the same awesome expierence I remembered from years ago. So I don't think every retro game is powered by nostalgia
  • dcbernman - April 20, 2013 8:35 a.m.

    Liek dis if yu cry, evry teim. For me, the oldest games I'm familiar with are on the SNES (never really got into the old Sega consoles, though riotous playthroughs of Bananster Brothers at a friend's house resound in my memory) and I'd like to give the old Sega consoles a few chances. I've been really enjoying the old games on GoG, and while some remain timeless to me (Master of Orion 2, anyone?) Baldur's Gate, while obviously amazing for its time, feels really old to me too... but I also have to remember that our sensibilities have changed since the 90s, and that has an effect on how we perceive old games. When I'm able to get past all the F2P MMOs and other modern staples, I still enjoy my favorite classics as much as I ever have. Which is funny, because just about all of these old games I've played since 2009, when I was 18. So I think there's plenty of room for younger gamers to find joy in the classics.
  • AtlanteanLancer - April 20, 2013 6:35 a.m.

    we shouldn't engage in hyperbolas when comparing old games to modern the way we see the old games in our nostalgic visions is NOT the way they truly are, not only has the technology changed our expectations but our child-like minds are gone as well if you didnt experience it back then, might as well not even bother. and if you have, better leave those memories innocent and intact nothing can ever again replace the feeling of Yoshi's island or Donkey Kong, and that's a bit sweet and sad at the same time.
  • RADencker - April 19, 2013 11:07 p.m.

    This game was THE platformer for me back on the Genesis. One of the best looking 16-bit era games. Can't wait for it' s HD remake.
  • Galgomite - April 19, 2013 4:37 p.m.

    Justin, the last time I read one of your articles you were gushing about Sonic and Nights. I assumed you had a rad old-school setup, not a Megadrive lost in your garage! Perhaps nostalgia really has run its course for you, but at least seperate the wheat from the chaff. There's a world of difference between even a derivative 2D platformer and a janky, 20fps tech demo like VR. 3D racers of all stripes are still a popular, advancing genre, so why would you be nostalgic? 2D platformers, meanwhile, have slipped if anything over time thanks to wireless controllers and laggy HDTVs. Before you give up on a solid and likeable platformer like Castle of Illusion, you owe it to yourself to play on a decent CRT screen, with a high-end connection like SCART. And BTW: Adult eyes + Nomad = Blindness:)
  • J-Fid - April 19, 2013 3:13 p.m.

    Maybe this is a Sega thing? I still enjoy playing my old Game Boy Color games. They look fine to me (for what I'm expecting) and they still play just as well as they did when I first got them.
  • Bobkatt - April 19, 2013 3:39 p.m.

    Probably not. On the GG or Nomad you could actually see what was going on onscreen even if the viewing angle and lighting was less than optimal in the room. ;)
  • MrXLiebezeit - April 19, 2013 3:09 p.m.

    To me this kind of seems like complaining that Black and White movies aren't good because they're black and white. But then there are some people that can look past it....
  • larkan - April 20, 2013 12:27 p.m.

    Games are not art, and like everything else, once you've watched or played something half a million times, it gets awfully tiresome to see them made over and over and over again (indie devs making 8-bit games and charging $15, I'm looking at you.)
  • MrXLiebezeit - April 20, 2013 3:09 p.m.

    Yes games are art. And any art has that same feeling. If you see the same painting over and over again it gets old. I'm not going to argue with you "Games are not art" people, because you obviously have no idea what art even is, and explaining it to you is not going to work. I'm not even going to try but I am going to say that they are But I do agree that indie devs making 8 bit games is one of the worse things to happen, because it does make the older games seem tired out to our brains. And honestly it's very unimaginative on their part, just like I feel people who make black and white movies these days are.
  • MrXLiebezeit - April 21, 2013 6:47 p.m.

    I disagree. They are art, they are just crappy art. If that was the argument then cubism and impressionism wouldn't be art. Though many don't consider those art, but I guess that's something for another discussion, in another place(as in, not gamesradar)
  • Bobkatt - April 19, 2013 3:06 p.m.

    Gameradar: "" There is no such thing as flash memory. It’s gone. In fact, Virtua Racing never even had battery back-up in the first place, unlike F1 from Domark, the save files for which (incredibly) still work on my cartridge. In VR's case, the game probably expects me to write the time down with pen and paper."" Technically not true. The Japanese version of Virtua Racing did have battery saves.
  • GR_JustinTowell - April 19, 2013 3:29 p.m.

    Good thing they passed on the saving to the cust... oh.
  • Bobkatt - April 19, 2013 7:57 p.m.

    Yes I think it was jolly decent of them. Not like today when games cost nearly nothing to print, but are they nerly free as a result, no. Pinchy bastards! But just what was the profit margins on that game after the hardware scale back anyways?
  • W.A.C. - April 19, 2013 2:37 p.m.

    This is big part of the reason why I play older games on emulators. You can't get older games to look this nice on original hardware. http://i.imgur.com/XY9m84l.png http://i.imgur.com/PwQPDtX.png http://i.imgur.com/H6pXMht.png http://i.imgur.com/mLAxnQ8.jpg

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