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June 2017 Retro Gaming Article


June 21, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Retro games have a classic warmth on CRTs, but preservation necessitates modern compatibility

One day, all old game consoles will fail. On that day, be thankful someone saw the future and ensured classic games have modern compatibility.
If you're reading this, you probably like classic games that were the shining pinacle of technology about 25 or 30 years ago - maybe more. Perhaps you were introduced to games like Berzerk, Missile Command and Defender in the arcade. I'll be you were happy to see those gems come to home gaming consoles like the Atari 2600 and ColecoVision. Those home ports weren't as good as the arcade versions, but we loved playing them day and night in our living rooms, dens, and bedrooms.

Zaxxon on a CRT Decades later, the game consoles I bought as a kid still work. I've bought several consoles online to fill in the gaps that my childhood allowance didn't afford. As a retro gamer, I love sitting on the floor in front of the TV with my son and play my favorite Atari 2600 games with him. It's a blast from the past and he loves many of the games I've shared with him. We also have a Wii U and PS4 that keeps us up to date with modern games too. But it's the old games I love.

RCA vs HDMI

I have a few more modern compilation discs containing retro games. This lets us play Out Run on the PS2 and Spy Hunter via the PS3. Occasionally, we play ROMs on the computer when we can't locate a specific game. We've even purchased several of the all-in-one joystick games as well as a few of AtGames' Flashbacks. Playing retro games is an addiction.

You'd think we'd be set for life with all this stuff. To a degree, yes. But most of these scenarios involve older CRT televisions. While I still have a few of them, my primary gaming areas have newer HD style TVs requiring HDMI for optimal viewing.

This creates a problem. Most of the old consoles are in the basement with the older CRTs while the newer ones are in another location. The older consoles aren't able to output a good signal on modern TVs. Ideally, I love playing original cartridges on original game consoles with the familiar controllers. But that scenario has a finite life span. All equipment will eventually fail.

This year's Flashback consoles from AtGames feature HDMI output and the ability to play in 4:3 aspect ration of that old beast of a TV you grew up with. This is a tremendous step forward in allowing old games to integrate with modern TVs. You can also use your original controllers with the Atari and Sega Flashbacks. This is one method for future-proofing old games in a modern era.

Are ROMs The Only Future For Playing Classic Video Games?

Many consider ROMs the future of retro game preservation. Computers are continually becoming more powerful and capable of emulating bigger better consoles. However, that only allows gamers to experience the games outside their intended space. playing ROMs eliminates the physical media and often the original controllers.

I love playing old games, but the game itself is only part of the overall experience. Fitting an old cartridge into the game slot and feeling that old controller in your hand is a great tactile experience. So does all that disappear with future proofing that ability to play Zaxxon? Not at all!

companies like Hyperkin and Polymega are creating new consoles that make use of both classic media formats and controllers. The "box" may be new and have modern amenities, but it also caters to the original game carts and controllers. Thus we have an HDMI output that looks far superior to older consoles trying to work via RCA connections. These two companies are the first I've seen to allow old media and controllers to carry forward and bond well with modern technology.

Hyperkin's Retron 77 and Polymega's console are two examples that make me think the future of retro gaming won't be relegated to ROMs on your computer. Sure, it will continue to be an option, but I love how these two consoles modernize retro gaming and make use of many original components - media and controllers. The future may be brighter than we think as favored hardware succumbs to age.

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