Retro Video Games and Why I Collect Them
by Best Tech
You’re digging through a box of old stuff and you stumble across some old games that you used to play religiously. Dust has collected over the 10+ years that it’s been laying in the box but you take a wet cloth and wipe it off. The slightly faded label says “Pokemon”. Suddenly, memories of you spending countless hours training your Charmeleon into Charizard and raising your Mewtwo to level 100 flash into your mind. In your head, you begin to wonder what the franchise is up to now and look it up. More than ten new games have come out. You think to yourself, “Well, I guess I have a lot of catching up to do”.
It is kind of funny that this story revolves around Pokemon with the resurgence recently due to Pokemon Go, but this was about three years ago for me, and I grew up playing video games. I remember playing the original Nintendo and Duck Hunt when I was barely able to walk. I remember using Scorpion in Mortal Kombat and trying to do the fatalities. I remember the feeling of unboxing my N64 on Christmas Day (No this is not me). Unfortunately, I didn’t grow up in the wealthiest of families either. For each of these systems, I would have maybe 2-3 games. I remember going to friends’ house to play their Playstation and the Playstation 2 and was introduced to JRPGs such as Final Fantasy and Xenogears. I was always around video games but it was always with other people.
Video games were the “cool” thing when I was growing up. Everyone had a video game system and that’s almost all that my friends at school would talk about. It was never really about playing by myself either. Even for single player games like Donkey Kong Country, you played until you died and you’d pass the controller over. It was a social activity. An activity where friends would play games together or against each other. It was about interacting with someone else, not just you and the video game. It doesn’t seem like video games are about that experience anymore.
I still have memories of a time when controls were simple: two buttons and a D-pad. Games today are just so complicated. A controller that has four shoulder buttons, four buttons on the right, two axis sticks that you can push, and on top of that, button combinations. It sometimes gets overwhelming starting a new game. You can’t just pick up and play anymore. It’s almost necessary to go through a tutorial to just learn to play the game. Although there are a handful of video games that are deemed “couch co-op” compatible, the rise of online multiplayer has almost turned the experiences I spoke of into a distant memory. I can no longer shove someone when I get the last hit in a fighting game. No longer can I say “in your face” in their face. These personal interactions are getting harder and harder to come by, especially since video game arcades are harder to come by as well, but that’s a whole different subject.
But there are people like me. People that don’t want to let those types of experiences be forgotten. That is what has gotten me into collecting old retro video games. I want to preserve and experience those times when video games were much simpler. Gameplay and story were more important than graphics and how “big” a game’s world was. The interaction between players was just as important as playing the actual game. That is what I miss and that is what I hope to recapture every time I insert that cartridge into the system.
So what is the point of me writing all of this? Well, I wanted to kind of give you insight into who I am: a video game collector and a nostalgia junkie. These past few years have seen a rise in the retro video game market. Old video game prices have been jumping two to threefold. Games that could have been bought for $10 are now $40. There are more resellers buying and selling games now as a job. I suppose if there is a market, there will be dealers. I am but one person that caught the nostalgia/collecting bug, but trust me, I am not the only one. Keep an eye out for things that make references to classic games. If you are aware of it, I’m sure you’ll start seeing it more often than you might think.