Video games have been a worldwide pastime for more than 20 years now, which would lead one to think that those gamers from yesteryear have moved on to more sophisticated electronics or hobbies.
Fortunately for the major video game makers, retro gaming is back in a big way, and there are many ways to recapture that thrill you first felt when you gobbled up those pesky blue ghosts in Pac-Man or finally finished Street Fighter II on only one quarter at the arcade.
As it turns out, many of us who grew up in the golden age of video gaming, mainly the mid 1980s and 1990s, have become fully functioning adults with real jobs and a lot less time to spend playing our Nintendo, or have we?
While newer video game consoles get released about once every three years replacing the older technology, each one seems to take a step backwards to fulfill the needs of the classic gamer.
On all three new consoles, the Microsoft XBOX 360, the Sony Playstation 3 and the Nintendo Wii, each company has implemented a function that allows gamers to buy their favorite games from previous consoles or older arcade machines for a nominal fee.
The games usually run from $5 to $10 a piece, depending on the game and the company, but they can be played easily on your fresh new XBOX 360, PS3 or Wii in addition to the myriad of games that come out monthly for each console.
While video game makers still take aim at younger children, many realize that the majority of their fan base is coming from people who grew up with the games and now have more income to spend on them - the same ones that grew up playing the classics such as Super Mario Bros. on the original Nintendo entertainment system.
Even an anonymous employee from a major video game retail chain said the average gamer is somewhere between 18-30.
St. Charles Parish gamer John Pabst can attest to that. While browsing for what's new at a local game shop, he passes the newer games by, seeming uninterested.
"It's always the same game no matter what buy. You shoot the bad guys and the sports games are the same every year, nothing really changes," Pabst said.
"Personally, I think you canít go wrong with one of the discs that has a few older games on it."
And he was right. He actually bought a copy Midway's Arcade Treasures for the original XBOX.
"What can I say, I love Defender," he said, referring to a 25-year-old arcade classic space jet shooting game included in the compilation he purchased.
While finding a working Nintendo that was released in 1985 may not be the easiest task, for a mere $5, owners of Nintendo's newest console, the Wii, can download the game to their console and enjoy the classic plumbers of Super Mario Bros. in all their glory.
Microsoft has a variety of classics on their Xbox Live Arcade Service, which many can be played online against a friend, or complete stranger - which turns your living room into a virtual arcade where you can set up the competitors and knock them down accordingly.
The service, which runs about $6 a month and then $5 to $10 per game, is worth it simply because you can play classics such as Ms. Pac-Man against a friend in Norway, or Street Fighter II against a guru in Japan.
The Playstation Network, which is free to play, also offers some classic hits and older Playstation games for download, but their service still has a lot of kinks to be worked out and pales in comparison to the service offered by Microsoft in that respect.
While the newest games such as Gears of War for the XBOX 360 or Virtua Fighter 5 on the PS3 look so realistic it's scary, the games of yesterday are coming back daily and they certainly serve a market - even if itís a fresh faced gamer who wants to see where Mario got his roots, or a Dig-Dug junkie from back in the day who would like to play against someone thousands of miles away.
|Photo by Caleb Frey|
|POWER UP. Raymond Corlis, 12, canít get enough of playing the classics like Nintendoís original Super Mario Bros.|