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.

Justin Towell

Justin was a GamesRadar staffer for 10 years but is now a freelancer, musician and videographer. He's big on retro, Sega and racing games (especially retro Sega racing games) and currently also writes for Play Magazine,, PC Gamer and TopTenReviews, as well as running his own YouTube channel. Having learned to love all platforms equally after Sega left the hardware industry (sniff), his favourite games include Christmas NiGHTS into Dreams, Zelda BotW, Sea of Thieves, Sega Rally Championship and Treasure Island Dizzy.