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January 2017 Retro Gaming Article


January 16, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Has purchasing a new game console become bland due to the games or my advancing age?

Video game consoles
I understand why Kids get excited to buy anything, but games today just don't rev me up the way they used to.
I'm not opposed to accepting my age and facing the fact that youthful exuberance may be a thing of my past. At the same time, I still get excited about new products coming to market - from music to games. I haven't lost the ability to get stoked! Yet, the last few consoles didn't come close to the excitement I had for an Atari 2600 when I was a kid.

Over the last several years, I've picked up a PS3, NeoGeo X, Wii U, and PS4. The PlayStation buying experiences were pretty bland compared with the Wii U.

Kids always want the latest greatest thing, without regard for history. As my son delved into gaming several years ago, I ensured he played the classics from 8-bit to 80's arcade favorites in tandem with modern games. From this he still loves the 8 and 16-bit games from my past as much as the modern games. He racks up astounding scores on Robotron:2084 and has a keen sense of navigating through Uncharted 4!

NeoGeo X

SNK NeoGeo X handheld unit I was excited for the NeoGeo X due to it's unique handheld-to-TV capability and I'd never owned an AES, but loved many of the games. The AES was the first console to duplicate the arcade games on a home console. Being able to share these games with my son was really cool.

However, it became quickly apparent, the product was going nowhere and promised game additions were canceled as disagreements played out between SNK and Tommo. Despite this, we enjoyed many of the games and it fueled our passion for Metal Slug, Cyber Lip, and others. Neither of us had much of a frame of reference for these games, but we came to love them and it became part of our retro gaming arsenal.

Wii U

Nintendo Wii U I really wanted the Wii U since it launched. However, it quickly became apparent it would have a short life cycle and the game library would be small. I held out for a price drop that never happened. Finally, I gave in and bought it with the launch of Splatoon. There were plenty of titles I wanted to play.

Splatoon turned out to be one of my favorite games. Along with Nintendo must-haves from Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze to Mario Kart, there were plenty of titles to excite me about the console. My son and I bought it one Summer and his excitement certainly rubbed off on me.

PlayStation 3

Sony Playstation 3 game console I bought the PS3 toward the tail end of it's life cycle with zero fanfare. I simply didn't want to be left behind and was curious to check it out when the price dropped - probably a holiday sale. While the graphics were obviously improved, the games were more akin to watching/controlling a movie. Pushing boundaries while playing seemed rife with cut-scenes and trying to guess what to do next.

I'm not a big fan of FPS full of idiots yelling into headsets. it astounds me that so many of these games are approaching double-digit sequels. I'm more of a Plants Versus Zombies or Splatoon kinda guy. The PS3 game library doesn't excite me. There hasn't been a game I really craved and couldn't wait to buy. Most of the few titles I have were impulse buys.

PlayStation 4

I yawned as the PS4 came to market. There weren't any games that excited me. When I spoke with friends, they could only point to a handful of titles to recommend. Even the PSVR didn't intrigue me. I've tried a few VR options and while impressive in their own right, it's not the experience I seek from a video game.

To be honest, I bought the PS4 so I could play the 2 Atari compilations from AtGames. It was a Christmas gift this year for my son. He gets stoked about new consoles and the possibilities that come with them. We picked it up together at a WalMart, but I wasn't dying to get home to start playing. In fact, we got home rather late and didn't open the box until the next morning.

I also picked up the Megaman Legacy game along with Rising Star's SteamWorld Collection. I'll admit Uncharted 4 was awesome, but the titles don't jump out at me when I'm shopping.

Age Plays A Role

I won't deny my age has a lot to do with my feelings toward new purchases. Kids have a remarkable ability to ratchet up their enthusiasm and that may wane as we age. However, I assure you I'm not very mature. I'm just fed up with games these days. Maybe this tale would benefit from some info about my earlier purchases that really got me pumped up.

My First Atari

Atari 2600 quarter view After playing Space Invaders at a local bowling alley, I was blown away when my buddy got an Atari 2600 for Christmas... and could play it at home. My eyes popped out of my head! I instantly began a campaign to convince my parents that I needed an Atari VCS!

I adored arcade ports most, since I was familiar with the games, but my heart would always race when my Mom took me to the game store. I'd look through the boxes to see what was new. I'd evaluate each game from the cover art. When something really caught my eye, I'd read the back for more detail. I was bursting with excitement every time I found a potential addition to my small pile of games.

You can bet I dashed home as fast as possible to pop my new game into my 2600. From Defender and Berzerk to Vanguard and Pac-Man I was a happy kid! I was disappointed with Space Chase (but played the Hell out of it anyway) and couldn't believe how awesome Demon Attack was. My son and I still play a lot of Demon Attack.

My First Nintendo

Nintendo NES console - front left view My next big craving was Nintendo's NES. I had been removed from gaming for a while, but couldn't resist the allure of Nintendo's ads and how amazing the games looked compared to what I had played.

A friend and I were going on a week-long ski trip and wanted to chill out with some video games and Nintendo was the hot item. I began shopping around for one and no one had stock - No One! Down, but not out - we stopped at every shopping mall on the 5 hour drive to the ski resort. We must have visited 5 or 6 malls before discovering a Kay-Bee Toys store with inventory.

The clerk told us he didn't think he had any, but would check in the storeroom. We were super stoked when he reappeared with the box! That was a great trip and each night ended in beers and NES. I still own that console and my son and I often play Blades Of Steel on it!

My Next Atari - The Jaguar

Atari Jaguar console with Cartridge inserted Clearly Nintendo brought video games back from the brink of destruction, but the Atari Jaguar launch was an amazing day for me. Just the idea that an Atari product was coming to market was incredible! A friend and I took a very extended lunch break to go to Nobody Beats The Wiz to pick on up.

That night we played Cyber Morph with wide-eyed wonder. We were amazed at what Atari was offering. I bought every game I could get my hands on. It wasn't long before the gap widened greatly between the good and bad games. The good ones were awesome and the bad ones were nearly unplayable. Still I bought them all as the console took a quick exit from retail shelves.

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To wrap up my feelings - I'm not stuck in the past. I appreciate many of today's modern games while still enjoying a good game of Yar's Revenge. However, I don't think my current enthusiasm for Uncharted will last 30 years. While I'm always down to battle the Qotile, jumping from ledge to ledge with Nathan Drake probably won't last nearly as long as my passion for jumping on alligator heads in Pitfall!

I haven't lost my passion for video games or the excitement of a cool new console, despite growing older. I'm simply not as excited about story-based games with definitive endings - forcing me to buy the next sequel. I love playing Defender to see if I can beat my high score. It's always a fun and challenging game. It never ends. It just gets more difficult.

The PS4 is a nice system, but the most fun I've had on it was playing games from the 80s. Advancements and technology have enabled games to become almost cinematic, but I don't want to "play" a movie. I want an experience that challenges me while delivering fun. There are no where near enough games that deliver fun.

I bought a ton of games for the Wii. It's a great console and offers a lot of alternatives in the motion control Wiimotes. Ever since that console, I've bought few games-per-console than ever before! Modern games can be fun, but they don't have the lasting appeal of those I grew up with.

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